Roger Clemens: Does Major League Baseball Want You To Forget He Ever Existed?

David RushCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2010

The Roger Clemens we now know, with lawyers by his side instead of ballplayers.
The Roger Clemens we now know, with lawyers by his side instead of ballplayers.Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

To a certain extent this is excerpted from a recent write up on a battle between All Time Yankee's & All Time Red Sox, though while writing about Roger Clemens and all of his recent travails it certainly felt like an interesting enough, or topical subject onto itself.

So we fleshed it out a bit with remarks about particular periods of seemingly extraordinary performance and we hope you'll find it a worthwhile, conversational read.

That's it for the preamble, DR. 


I admit it, at first it was complete and total brainlock that kept me from considering Roger Clemens from this format.

After, I readily considered giving it the old, well he was a juicer sluff off, which to a certain extent I still am, though eventually I came to feel it was an issue that deserved some open minded coverage from both sides of the coin.

So here we are (Career regular season stats can be found below). 

The Rocket burst onto the Red Sox scene in 1984, (when he won the Rookie Of The Year award in a truncated 9-4 season), and by 1986 he was already en route to being considered the best pitcher in baseball, going 24-4 with a 2.48 E.R.A, 238 K's winning the first of three Cy Young awards in a Red Sox uniform. 

But by 1993 the Red Sox nation started to see a flameout and only three years later he was unceremoniously left to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays.

North of the border, the Rocket suddenly rekindled, winning 41 games in '97 & '98 as well as his fourth and fifth Cy Young awards. At the time, it just seemed like a change of venue boost; nobody really considered the possibility of Roger Clemens using performance enhancing drugs (or even knew much about performance enhancers back then), but looking back on it now, familiarized as we have been by the seeming ease with which one could—remember Ben Johnson!—or can get their hands on the stuff on Canadian turf, it goes to figure if there was a starting point for the usage 1997 & 1998 would be it.  

In 1999 at the age of 36 Clemens joined the New York Yankees, and while he was nowhere near the effective pitcher he was in Toronto or in his earlier years with the 'Sox, he did win 77 regular season games for the Bombers in the ensuing five seasons. (One can openly wonder about the practical, continued or rampant use of steroids in the explosive eye of New York and all it's press vs. the laid back environs of Toronto.) 

It was also in New York that he had his first real taste of post season success. With the 'Sox he had been known as a regular season phenomenon, but a post season or big game bust. In nine postseason starts ranging from the age of 23 to the age of the 32, all with Boston, Clemens went 1-4.

With the Bombers, Clemens got 17 post season starts, winning seven and losing four with the highlight coming in 2000, (eight innings of two hit shutout ball vs. the rival cross town Mets), amidst the Piazza bat throwing incident when a presumably, if not momentarily deranged Rocket tossed a splintered bat that landed only few feet from Piazza's person.

Then in 2004 at the age of 41, Clemens signed with the hometown Astros and did something that would have been considered beyond belief for almost anyone else as he went 18-4 for Houston and helped pitch the club into the NLCS.

The following year, Clemens won 13 games with a 1.87 ERA and made it back to the big dance as Houston squared of in the 2005 World Series with the Chicago White Sox in what turned out to be a losing effort.

Finally, at the age of 44, Clemens retired after a shot half season or so with the Yanks and from there looked to be on a dead track to becoming a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Of course that won't happen now with all the allegations of steroid use, Clemens seemingly crazy denials, even going so far as to indict his wife as the recipient of injectable materials delivered to his Texas home.

All this continues to beg the omnipresent, two fold question, when did it start and where do the accusations leave Clemens as far as the game's far reaching, historic channels go?

For now, it seems he is simply a non-person as far as Major League Baseball is concerned. Bud Selig very definitely wishes Clemens would go away for a long while, disassociate, as the Commissioner tries to work himself out from under never ending questions about performance enhancers and how they affected the game these past fifteen years or so.

For the everyday fan, well, he or she has been left to wonder if the miraculous turnaround seasons in Toronto, the ageless wonder seasons he engendered at home in Houston where he was able to do and train as he pleased, (not even accompanying the club on trips when he would not be pitching), were actually less to do with heaven sent or god given ability then to whatever it was he or personal trainer Brian McNamara might have been injecting into his rear.

One would think his numbers in Boston were legit because if he was juicing then, why would he have had so much fall off over the last couple of seasons in Beantown? Clemens attributed his rebound with the Jays to the addition of a lethal split finger, fastball, but with what we know now all of that is subject to serious debate.

From 1986 to 1992, seven full seasons, Roger Clemens was as good as it gets on a Major League level. The question from there is, was that as good as he was ever meant to be on a Major League Level with much of the ensuing success due to performance enhancing substances? 

The difference comes to this. In scenario A, Roger Clemens was a dominant pitcher with a blazing fastball who burned out after a truncated period of time and was meant to toil in mediocrity from there. In scenario B, he goes on to win another 150 games or so and ends up being considered one of the five greatest right hand pitchers in the history of the game and a surefire Hall Of Famer.

We know Clemens prefers scenario B. Most of the rest of us aren't so sure all the protracted success should have ever come about and slowly but surely Roger Clemens the pitcher is fading from our memories. 


Feel free to chime in. Have a great New Year, 



24 Seasons354184.6583.1270970701184604916.2418518851707363158063467215920143202401431.1737. 
162 Game Avg.179.6583.12343406202362019182177632248179721431.1737.


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