Roger Clemens was downright Roger Clemens-like Saturday evening for the Sugar Land Skeeters as the former Cy Young winner took the mound for 3 1/3 innings to pitch the home team to a 1-0 win over the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Clemens has spent recent years battling perjury charges in U.S. courts, but on Saturday night, he was back to what he does best. He threw as fast as 88 mph, allowed just one hit and struck out two batters in his start in the independent Atlantic League.
Clemens' return to baseball — albeit an independent league in Texas — has had many speculating that the Rocket could be launching a major league return. While Clemens insists that is not the case, his dominance in his return could start a progression toward a comeback with the local MLB club, the Houston Astros, who have said they would welcome Clemens if he can still compete.
Part of the intrigue surrounding a possible Clemens return is that the former shutdown major leaguer is due to be on the Hall of Fame ballot later this year. If he were to play professionally again, his voting would be pushed back to five years after his latest MLB appearance.
While some people would be ready to hang up the spikes and try for Cooperstown, Clemens' career has an interesting wrinkle. The record seven-time Cy Young winner spent years in the thick of performance-enhancing drug use accusations, and he was found not guilty earlier this year on perjury charges related to whether he lied before Congress about using those drugs.
Hall of Fame voters haven't had to consider many marquee MLB stars who were linked to steroid use yet, but many writers have speculated that when Barry Bonds, Clemens and the like get their chance on the balloting, their rumored connections to performance-enhancing drugs could keep them from Cooperstown. Clemens, who has insisted he never used steroids, could buy himself both some time to distance himself from that debate as well as some goodwill — by showing he can still summon his body to pitch at an advanced age — and boost his chances for the Hall with a major league return.
So, what do you think? Would another try at professional baseball help Clemens at this point?