It appears that the stars are aligning for Roger Clemens to return to Major League Baseball.
Just months after being acquitted of lying to congress, Clemens has signed a deal with the minor league Sugar Land Skeeters organization.
For some, the timing of this decision is all too convenient. Clemens is expected to be on his first ballot for the Hall of Fame this fall, and with the steroid accusations and congressional scandal still fresh in the minds of so many, playing minor league ball makes for a nice public relations move.
It also serves as a stepping stone back to the majors.
In his press conference for the Skeeters, Clemens indicated that the whole process of returning to play some level of competitive baseball dates back to April of this year.
According to Clemens, Skeeters manager and former Houston Astros hitting coach Gary Gaetti reached out to him, asking for Clemens to visit the park and pitch for the team. After a few email and text exchanges, the ball started rolling.
Fast forward to August, and Clemens is slated to start a game for the Skeeters on Saturday night against the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Clemens indicated that he has been throwing in some measure since retiring, be it for his sons or various other organizations with which he is affiliated, noting that throwing sessions on the side and actual competition are two very different beasts.
When asked why he decided to do this, Clemens replied, "Basically, for fun."
As the press conference continued, the point was brought up that the Skeeters were there for players to try to get into the major leagues, and was that his intention, to get back into the majors?
Candidly, Clemens replied, "I've been to the major leagues and back a few times," though he did not rule out the possibility. While he thinks, or so stated, that the idea of a return is premature, that did not stop the Houston Astros from sending a scout to see him.
For some, that might come across as an all-too-convenient happening. With a return to the majors, the clock would be turned back on Clemens' bid for Cooperstown.
While a 50-year-old playing in the majors is not common, it is not the first time it has even occurred. Satchel Paige was 59 when he played for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965.
When Michael Jordan decided to come out of retirement the third time to play for the Washington Wizards, he did so for the love of the game—nothing more, nothing less. He certainly wasn't padding his statistics and was already a lock for the Hall of Fame.
For Clemens, could it be that he just loves the game and wants to play? Does there have to be an ulterior motive?
If Clemens did decide to make the leap to the majors this season, the Houston Astros would obviously be a team that would embrace his return. It would serve as a huge PR move for a team that has seen loss after loss all season long.
It would be a smart fit for Clemens, too. The Astros organization has never wavered in its support of him.
The only other organization that could possibly take a stab at having Clemens would be—hold your breath—the Boston Red Sox.
No, they have not scouted him as far as we know. However, Boston is another team that has lost serious clout with its fans, and bringing back a one-time icon would be tremendous for ticket sales at the very least.
More so, the team would then likely retire his No. 21—fittingly, considering no other player has worn it since he departed for Toronto in 1997.
For now, Clemens is only concentrating on Saturday and having some fun.
For some, the lure of the game can prove too strong to stay away.
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