Roger Clemens’ Fall From Glory Sad to Watch, As Cooperstown Once Seemed Like Inevitable Destination

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Roger Clemens' Fall From Glory Sad to Watch, As Cooperstown Once Seemed Like Inevitable DestinationWhen Roger Clemens struck out 20 Mariners on April 29, 1986, it was just a small sample of the greatness that was to come.

But 26 years, 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, 118 complete games, 11 All-Star appearances, seven Cy Young Awards and two World Series titles later, we're left with a sinking feeling.

Those numbers should not only provide a ticket to Cooperstown, but they should do the packing. For years, it looked as if Clemens could start preparing his induction speech, as he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer through and through.

There was little debate that we'd never see another Rocket lift off.

All of that praise was deserved at the time, for Clemens' accolades were unmatched in the modern era. But it came despite a questionable off-the-field reputation.

Some would say Clemens acted "diva-like" from time to time, criticizing Fenway Park's amenities, complaining of having to carry his own luggage and seeking special perks during his on-again, off-again retirement phase.

Others would question the integrity with which he played the game, as he was labeled a "headhunter," and someone whose fuse was undoubtedly short.

Just ask Mike Piazza, who had a broken bat thrown in his direction after it shattered during an at-bat against Clemens in the 2000 World Series. That came just months after Clemens beaned him in the head with a fastball during a regular season game, yet The Rocket wasn't ejected from the Fall Classic affair, and he went on to pitch eight shutout frames and helped the Yankees capture their 26th of 27 championships.

Simply put, Clemens was a guy who couldn't care less what you thought of him, because he was going to show up to the ballpark and dominate you. Why? Because he could.

Nolan Ryan was a feared power pitcher, but Clemens was both feared and dominant on a consistent basis. And that makeup was not only what made him special, but was what won over fans and made you forget any baggage he had. The God-given talent was simply too incredible to ignore.

It wasn't until that talent came into question that Clemens was really thrown onto the hot seat. Was that God-given talent that was too incredible to ignore too incredible to be real?

That was the question that Clemens and the baseball world suddenly faced with the emergence of steroid allegations, highlighted by the 2007 Mitchell Report, in which Clemens' name was mentioned 82 times.

Clemens has maintained his innocence following the release of that report, in which former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee claimed he injected the hurler with Winstrol (a synthetic anabolic steroid). But a federal jury has since indicted Clemens on perjury charges.

The ongoing perjury trial, coupled with allegations of adultery, has taken over Clemens' post-retirement days, and the right-hander's last pitch seems like forever ago — when in reality, it was less than five, short years ago.

Clemens will officially be up for the Hall of Fame in 2013. But rather than redeeming his one-way ticket to Cooperstown, Clemens is hung up with security. And judging by the way the voters have responded to steroid allegations thus far, that ticket could get torn to shreds.

Definite? No.

Fair? Probably.

Sad? You bet'cha.

Then again, Clemens might not care much. At this point, he's got bigger fish to fry.

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