Make way for Roger Clemens.
Of all the dramatic things we've seen this season, the controversial 50-year-old is leaving the courthouse and golf course to make a play for a few more cheers while pitching in a minor-league baseball game in the Houston area this Saturday night.
The news was first broken by Mark Berman of Houston's Fox 26 and he reports that Clemens will start for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. Berman says that the team put Clemens through a full workout and that his fastball was clocked at 87 mph.
Not bad for someone who spent the last few years dodging perjury charges in federal court. And honestly, he probably can't do any worse than Scott Kazmir, the former major leaguer who has posted an 0-5 record with a 7.89 ERA for the Skeeters this season.
What's really crazy is that SB Nation's Rob Neyer says there's a rumor that the Houston Astros might be staging a bake-off among the four ex-MLBers on the Skeeters' roster — Clemens, Kazmir, Tim Redding and Jason Lane (a former Astros outfielder turned pitcher) — and giving a September start to whichever pitcher performs the best. That seems absolutely ridiculous as new GM Jeff Luhnow is trying to change the franchise's current culture (though with the Astros' current Triple-A roster, perhaps it isn't).
If Clemens were somehow to get the nod from the bigs, his Hall of Fame eligibility clock would be pushed back to at least 2018. That's interesting, because not only would it strip Barry Bonds of a Cooperstown-eligible partner to share the scrutiny with this winter, but it'd also allow Clemens to delay his Hall chances to a time when the voting bloc's attitude toward suspected drug users may have softened or changed.
But that, of course, is getting way ahead of ourselves. Clemens last played professional baseball in 2007, going 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 17 starts with the New York Yankees. His last appearance came against the Cleveland Indians in Game 3 of the 2007 ALDS, when a hamstring injury limited him to three runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.
Clemens has stayed in the public eye since then, not only for his legal troubles and Mindy McCready ties, but also for baseball news. He pitched a perfect inning during the University of Texas' annual alumni game last January and took in a Red Sox game from atop the Green Monster seats once his court case concluded.
At the very least, the return of the Rocket is guaranteed to sell a few more tickets for the Skeeters this weekend, not that they needed any help. The Human Fireball — a man who literally sets himself on fire and runs around the field — is also scheduled to appear at the park on Saturday. Talk about poetic coincidence.
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