Is Clemens Just Trying To Push Back His HOF Ballot?

Roger Clemens is 50 years old. He’s one of the best pitchers of all time, and wants to make a comeback. He’s signed to an independent league team, and now we get MLB Trade Rumors posts like this:

Astros owner Jim Crane told Mark Berman of FOX 26 Sports in Houston that he is open to the idea of signing 50-year old Roger Clemens. The Astros have not been contacted about signing Clemens this year, but they’re preparing for the possibility, Berman reports. The Astros were in attendance at a recent workout to watch Clemens, who signed with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters this week.

Crane said he doesn’t aim to set up a publicity stunt for the sake of selling a few extra tickets. He’d seek approval from MLB before completing a deal with Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Clemens already has a personal services contract with the Astros, Berman notes.

So, what’s going on here? I think its pretty simple. The Astros are in last place. There is a month left in the baseball season. Clemens is throwing 87 mph, which isn’t going to entice anyone to put him on the mound for a full season. He can probably pitch a few innings without embarrassing himself, but not much else. This isn’t a ‘comeback’, its a brief sideshow.

I’d bet that farm that Roger Clemens is trying to push back the date which he will be voted on for the Hall of Fame. Players are eligible five years after their last MLB appearance. For Clemens, that was five years ago. However, he just emerged from a high-profile, media circus trial revolving around his testimony before Congress on use of steroids. We’ve seen voters do silly things and punish certain steroids users, and Roger Clemens would likely be the next one in their cross-hairs.

But if he pitches in one more MLB game, he pushes the ballot back to 2017, when some of the steroids stuff might have already blown over. Boom, first ballot, a plaque and a speech for Clemens.

And does anyone really blame him? Roger Clemens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Voters all of the sudden are getting selectively righteous, and his timing is bad. If he cares about his baseball legacy / place in history, it makes sense to have a little fun and pitch a few show games in September. Its not like he’s going to be worse than Dallas Keuchel, right?

About EJ Fagan

E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

12 thoughts on “Is Clemens Just Trying To Push Back His HOF Ballot?

  1. I think that’s exactly what’s happening. He got lucky by being found not guilty, which is different than being exonerated, and wants more time for the stance to soften on the steroids issue. It’s smart, but it also shows how manipulative he is. When he went to Toronto and started putting up great numbers again is when i started believing he was juicing.

  2. That’s been a popular theory on Twitter, but I don’t think that’s his main motivation. Rather, Clemens is just an insatiable competitor, and he would probably like nothing more than to followup his acquittal by having one more successful stint in the majors. I hope he makes it back. As one of the best pitchers in the history of the game, it would be a treat to see him one last time.

  3. It’s really arrogant for you to imply that anyone who thinks Clemens doesn’t belong in the Hall is not being thoughtful. Voters do silly things? I’m sure some do, but denying baseball’s highest honor to a man against whom there is ample evidence of cheating is not one of them. His wife and his close friend used HGH, which they got from Clemens’ trainer, but Clemens never used it? His longtime trainer testified against him in court? Baseball’s exhaustive investigation implicated him? These aren’t guarantees of his guilt, but neither should they be ignored.

    Maybe we’ll never know the truth, but to dismiss anyone with a different viewpoint so casually — Hall voter or not — is disrespectful of your audience. I happen to think that voters refusing to honor “certain steroid users” isn’t punishment but rather those cheaters getting what they deserve.

    • I’ve written about this a million times and I’m kind of sick of making the same argument. So, really quickly, one more time:

      1) Clemens has never, ever, once, ever, at any point in time, ever, in his entire life, been caught cheating or been caught doing something close to cheating, or confessed to to cheating.

      2) A few (unproven, see #1) allegations against Clemens have him using PEDs from 1998-2000, which were ‘cheating’ at the time if cheating means there was no official sanction for their use, and a huge proportion of Clemens’ competition were also using without sanction.

      3) Even if the (unproven, see #1 again) allegations against were true, he would under no circumstances be the biggest cheating pitcher in the Hall of Fame. Bigger cheaters in the HOF (who have all been caught cheating, confessed to cheating, and/or written autobiographies about their career as a cheater) include: Whitey Ford, Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton.

      Also, see #1 one more time.

      I’m pretty confident saying that these sudden Hall of Fame moral crusades are incredibly stupid.

  4. What did he do that was cheating? There were no rules at the time in baseball for steroids!

  5. EJ.

    Your 3 points paint a very positive picture of Roger.

    There are points that point to a different conclusion:

    1. Andy Petitte said Roger said he did it….(until he found 50/50 wiggle room in his second testimony.

    2. The MitchellReport did allege Clemens took steroids.

    3. His trainer said he shot him up ( yes the trainer was sleazy, but not necessarily lying)

    4. The Clemens admitted to the trainer shooting up Rogers wife in their BEDROOM!

    5. Clemens lied when he said he wasn’t at a Canseco party…..where Jose said Roger was talking to a steroid dealer.

    • An impartial jury found Clemens not guilty of perjury. Other than that, we have a collection of gossip, news reports, and the testimony of a convicted felon. We don’t know a) If he actually used anything serious/banned b) How much he used banned substances or c) How much it effected his performance.

      Steroids hysteria is just bad tabloid moralism gone mainstream by people who don’t know anything about baseball history.

  6. EJ- just looking at the 5 points I stated…..which are all true. Seems where there is smoke there’s fire.

    And because Clemens got off on perjury, it says more about money and the judicial system…….remember OJ?

  7. Ej – how does a lack of baseball history knowledge play into Clemens innocence or guilt?