Roger Clemens' first outing since once again coming back from retirement was a success, and it's just a matter of time before Rocket ends up back in the majors before the season ends.
At age 50 and on the mound for the first time in five years, Clemens looked like he didn't miss a beat.
The Rocket went 3.1 innings without allowing a single run or walk while surrendering only one hit and striking out two. He did all that in just 37 pitches.
According to ESPN.com staff, scouts from the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals were on hand to watch Clemens pitch. Clearly there is some interest in the 50-year-old from big league teams.
Here's why Clemens will be back in the majors before the season's end.
Publicity For Bad Teams
Say what you want about Clemens and his many issues on and off the field, he still brings a boatload of cameras and media attention wherever he goes.
That being said, there are several perennial basement-dwellers who would love to attract some extra attention to their team down the stretch run of the MLB season.
It might come with a price, but that price will help bring in extra money from ticket sales that will help sell out normally empty stadiums. And maybe, just maybe, it could result in more national games for teams that usually have no shot at such a distinction.
As evidenced by the interest being shown from the Astros and Royals, some of the bad teams around baseball are thinking the exact same thing. After all, why else would they scout the Rocket?
Extra Arm For Competing Team
Don't think for a second there aren't more competitive, playoff-bound teams watching Clemens' comeback attempt. They might be watching from afar at first, but the more realistic Rocket's comeback chances are, the more interest good teams will show.
Pitching is always at a premium, and it's clear as an MLB team that you can never have enough. So if a ballclub knows they have a shot at bringing in a solid pitcher—and Clemens can prove to be that—they won't hesitate to sign the Rocket.
It isn't known just how many innings Rocket has left in that old arm, but it's not like he has to pitch an entire season. At best, he might make two regular-season starts before the playoffs begin, and that should be enough to make him ready for postseason play.
He might not be the pitcher he once was, but Rocket's experience could go a long way in shoring up a playoff rotation or as an insurance policy for a top team.
Hall of Fame Ballot
Rocket is set to be on the Hall of Fame ballot this year, but all that could be stopped if Clemens pitches in one major league game this season. In my opinion, that is his ultimate goal.
Clemens doesn't have much left to prove, and while we're all impressed that he can still pitch at age 50, that doesn't change the fact that there will always be suspicions about his career overall.
Maybe the Rocket would like to push his Hall of Fame attempt back another five years in order to give more time for his negative image to be repaired. It's also possible that Clemens wants to avoid being snubbed for the Hall in order to avoid such an embarrassment.
No matter what he does or when he is on the ballot, Clemens may never be able to avoid missing out on the Hall of Fame. The best he can hope for is to win the hearts and minds of baseball writers everywhere by shocking the world and being effective at the ripe old age of 50.
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