Why Roger Clemens' Astros Return Would Make Bud Selig, MLB Look Stupid
The controversial 50-year-old right-hander had not pitched since 2007 before making a start with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent League last Saturday (8/25). He went 3.1 innings and allowed just one hit while striking out two.
The Houston Astros scouted his start and owner Jim Crane is reportedly (h/t CBSSports) open to the idea of bringing Clemens aboard for a few starts to close out the season. He'll make one more start for Sugar Land on September 7 (h/t ESPN) and could sign with Houston following that.
From my point of view, there are more than a few reasons why a Clemens return to MLB will make both Bud Selig and the MLB in general look incredibly stupid.
Simply a Publicity Stunt by the Astros?
For an Astros team that was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (h/t CBSSports) before the month of September even came, there's not much reason for excitement over the season's final month.
That is, unless the team brings aboard Roger Clemens and the media circus that would no doubt accompany him as he makes his return to MLB.
However, for as much attention as his return would get, it would be hard to view his pitching for the Astros as anything more than a publicity stunt.
The Astros are in full-blown rebuilding mode, and they have traded off everyone even remotely resembling a veteran over the past few seasons. Adding someone like Clemens to the mix does not help the team in the long term or short term in any aspect outside of ticket sales.
Seeing as he would likely not attend games he's not starting, it is not as though he would be a sounding board or positive influence for his teammates.
Clemens Could Very Well Embarrass Himself
While his legacy has already been tarnished, from a pure production standpoint Clemens still ranks among the greatest pitchers to ever take the mound.
The fact that he is even competing at 50 is amazing, and his 3.1 innings of one-hit ball in his Skeeters debut were impressive.
However, as Astros GM Jeff Luhnow put it during his scouting of Clemens' first start, he has the "best stuff he's ever seen for a 50-year-old" (h/t Ultimate Astros) in what can be interpreted as a tongue-in-cheek assessment of what Clemens has left in the tank.
His fastball no longer eclipses 90 miles per hour, and his breaking stuff is no doubt not as sharp as it once was. While he was able to get Independent League hitters out, there is a chance Clemens could go out and make an absolute fool of himself.
Then again, I'm sure there are more than a few people who wouldn't mind seeing that.
Attention Is Taken off of Exciting New Playoff Format
This season marks the first year that there will be two wild-card spots in each league, as more teams than ever are in the hunt for a playoff spot moving into September.
From a media standpoint, this postseason push should be the biggest talking point surrounding the MLB over the next month. However, it we've learned anything from Brett Favre, it's that we love to beat the comeback story into the ground.
Nothing should take away from what promises to be an intense and entertaining final month of the season, and the Clemens sideshow would almost certainly do just that.
After Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, How Bad Does This Look?
This season saw a pair of notable PED busts, as Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera and A's starter Bartolo Colon were each nicked with 50-game suspensions.
Cabrera was a legitimate NL MVP candidate for the Giants, as he was hitting .346, with 11 home runs and 60 RBI at the time of his suspension and is still in position to win the NL batting title.
Colon, who turned 39 this year, was out of baseball altogether in 2010 before coming back and going 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA as a member of the Yankees last season. This season he was even better, as he went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA over 24 starts with the A's, and losing him is a big blow to Oakland's playoff push.
With two fairly high-profile players getting burned for PED use within the past month, it certainly does not look great welcoming someone like Clemens back into the league with open arms.
A Hall of Fame Loophole?
Out of baseball since 2007, Clemens is set to be Hall of Fame eligible for the first time this coming year, as he and Barry Bonds highlight what is sure to be an interesting vote.
The class also includes Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling along with holdovers Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith and Tim Raines, among others.
Should Clemens make a major league appearance, it would restart his Hall of Fame clock and make him eligible in 2018 along with Chipper Jones, among others.
By that time, the voters may very well have let Barry Bonds in and paved the way for Clemens and his all-time great numbers to be inducted as well. In essence, it would be giving voters five more years to forgive and forget by simply making a handful of starts for an out-of-contention team.