On Friday afternoon, the topsy-turvy world of baseball rumor mongering delivered what we in the industry refer to as a doozy.  Whispers from several Major League sources suggested that the Houston Astros were planning on having 50-year-old Roger Clemens start a September 12th home game against the Chicago Cubs, after his second start for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.

Clemens spoke with reporters this afternoon to promote his September 7th start for the team, and made his strongest statement to date on his supposed comeback attempt bringing him back to baseball’s highest level.

I don’t see it happening.

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner stressed to the assembled media that despite the rampant speculation, he was only pitching for the Skeeters one more time to have fun, with no ulterior motives attached to pushing back his Hall of Fame eligibility or further distancing himself from MLB’s steroid era. If that was his intention he said that he’d also attempt comebacks at the age of 55 and 60.

We’ll never know if Major League Baseball stepped in at some point over the weekend to quell the plans of Clemens and Astros owner Jim Crane. However, it’s certainly possible for the league to have considered an appearance by the pitcher this season to not be in the best interest of baseball.

While a start at Minute Maid Park certainly would’ve been a boon to Houston’s ticket sales and marketing efforts, it also would have broken a measure of the good faith that exists between fans and teams that asks that the sanctity of the game be protected by a minimal amount of effort on the part of operators/owners to act in a manner that best serves competitiveness.

Allowing Clemens to pitch once again at the Major League level, while fun, would have essentially represented a gaming of the system to serve the wants of both Clemens and Crane. So, whether the league’s finger prints were on Clemens’ announcement today, or if the pitcher came to the decision on his own, all that matters is that the right thing was done.

Comments (12)

  1. This is the best you’ve articulated why you don’t think Clemens should be allowed to pitch, but is a 50 year old Clemens who can throw in the high 80s really such a departure from the “competitiveness” that the Astros are currently showing?

    • As I’ve said before, I think the intention in this matter is more meaningful than most people. That intention isn’t born out of maintaining or improving competitiveness. It’s to market a product, sell tickets or push back eligibility.

      • I assume you mean the intention of selling tickets (as opposed to Clemens intention to avoid the HOF ballot)?

        As others have said, I think you’re creating too high a standard. Clemens will be competitive enough that it’s not an issue for me. This isn’t akin to Eddie Gaddell.

  2. If Clemens thinks he can get in better shape, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him try a brief comeback next year.

  3. I think Roger just doesn’t want to be upstaged by the new iPhone announcement that day.

  4. I was fortunate enough to catch a Roger Clemens v. Nolan Ryan matchup at Fenway back in the day. At the time, it went down in my head as the stuff of legends. Seeing the two play catch in the outfield before the game, I never imagined how far apart they would eventually be, respect-wise. No matter how many times he jams his hand into a barrel of rice this off season for arm strength, Clemens should not be allowed to make baseball his own sideshow, even if it is in long lost Houston. I agree with Parkes.

    Hell, I’d rather see Pete Rose bet on his own team than see true cheaters prosper and get paid using PED’s. But I guess, Melky Cabrera is hitting .346 so this is where we’re at. Please MLB, take notes from the mistakes of cycling. It can’t continue this way.

    • Out of curiousity what do you think that baseball can learn from the “mistakes of cycling”? Cycling has the strictest drug testing regimen in sports and a high percentage of riders still dope.

  5. He’s not coming back because they now test in MLB.

  6. I thought it was the NFL that was called the No Fun League?
    The idea that a team like the Astros, who are looking like (at least) a 110 loss team, could ruin the spirit of competition by bringing in Roger Clemens is to fully admit that someone is taking this way too seriously.

    • And to say it reminds people of the black cloud of the steroid era is to further bugger belief and stretch credibility when it looks like the still-prestigious NL batting title will be won by a player who was caught for using a banned substance (and ridiculously tried to hide it) during the same season.

      • I believe that Cabrera will finish the season a few at bats short of what’s required for him to qualify for the batting crown. He’ll be listed as the leader right up until the last day of the season, but won’t qualify to win it.

        • He will qualify. If a player is short of PAs, the rules stipulate that they give him 0′fers until he gets to the threshold. So his average will drop slightly, but not likely enough to cost the title – unless McCutchen improves.

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