There really isn't a good reason for Roger Clemens to pitch for the Houston Astros in 2012. There is a reason, but it's not a good one.
The Astros are in last place in the NL Central at 45-89. They have absolutely no hope of escaping that hole before the season ends. Right now, they're playing for nothing, and yet the idea of a 50-year-old former star making a comeback with them just won't die.
Earlier this week, Clemens—who's been pitching in an independent league, according to ESPN.com—told the website that a return to the mound in 2012 isn't in the cards. However, he vaguely suggested it would be fun to have the opportunity to knock a contender out of the playoff race.
He told ESPN.com:
I'll crank it up and get it over 90 for a contender. We'll knock them right out of the playoffs. That would be the fun. Pitching against somebody that's not in contention wouldn't be any fun for me. It's not going to happen.
Of course, you have to take that with a grain of salt. You can't be too stingy with your skepticism when you're talking about someone who was charged (yet later cleared) with lying to Congress about his steroid use.
The Astros haven't done anything to stop the rumor mill, either; team owner Jim Crane told ESPN.com, "We haven't heard from Roger, so that's still up in the air."
The truth is, there is one reason Clemens would have for returning to the Astros at the end of the season, even though it would be meaningless, even though it wouldn't help the Astros accomplish a single thing. If he returns to the big leagues this season, Clemens delays his Hall of Fame eligibility by five years, according to The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.
Otherwise, he's eligible this year. And this year, he'll have a much harder time generating votes.
Five years from now, voters may feel differently about whether or not Clemens is deserving of being admitted to Cooperstown.
There is the possibility that once this perjury story dies down, voters may look more favorably upon Clemens. This year, voters may still be swayed by the series of scandals that have dominated his life for the past four or five years.
But is that what getting into the Hall of Fame should be about? Working the system? If Clemens isn't deserving of a spot in Cooperstown, that's that, and that is the way it should stay. There's always a way to manipulate the system in order to change fate, but that doesn't mean it should happen.
An alliance between Clemens and the Astros could be mutually beneficial. The Astros will be able to draw a colossal crowd if Clemens returns to the mound—a hard feat for a last-place team to accomplish—and Clemens increases his chances of getting into the Hall.
But that's not what this honor should be about. Getting into the Hall of Fame shouldn't come down to a technicality. It should come down to whether or not a player truly deserves to be there.
And if the voters don't Clemens deserves it, then that's life.
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