|Clemens’ chances at Hall are slim||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on September 23, 2012
After being acquitted in mid-June in his perjury trial, a 50-year-old Roger Clemens shocked the baseball world by announcing that he would be making a comeback. He started his first game since 2007 on Aug. 25 for the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent team in the Atlantic League. He's made two starts for the Skeeters and hasn't allowed a run yet.
There's even speculation that Clemens will start for the Houston Astros in late September, just to prove he still can pitch at the highest level.
Clemens is merely pulling this publicity stunt as a way to turn the focus away from his trial earlier this summer. Even though Clemens was acquitted of perjury, the verdict remains open about whether he used performance-enhancing drugs during his career.
Clemens is likely hoping that pitching in the big leagues this year will prolong his eligibility for Hall of Fame voting. He was expected to be on this year's ballot, alongside another alleged steroid user, Barry Bonds.
Maybe Clemens didn't want to be on the same ballot for the first time with Bonds, since it seems the writers will not be voting Bonds to the Hall of Fame, at least this year. Sammy Sosa will also be on this year's ballot.
If Clemens pitches a game for the Astros, his Hall of Fame candidacy will be pushed to 2018.
By that time, there might be a clearer picture of how the writers intend to vote for the Hall of Fame. Obviously, the Bonds vote will set the tone, since he's the all-time home run king.*
Personally, I have no idea whether Clemens used steroids nor should I. Speculation suggests that Clemens cheated, thus jeopardizing his otherwise Hall of Fame career.
Yes, he pitched at a high level until age 44 and now is showing that he still has something left in the tank, albeit against independent league players. Does that mean he used steroids? The great Satchel Paige pitched until age 58, and there likely wasn't even any trace of PEDs back then.
Some athletes are just gifted. It's shame that players like Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez felt they had to use steroids, even though they would have been Hall of Famers without them. Bonds, Sosa and Clemens fall into a different category since they only "allegedly" used steroids.
Does Clemens think that the public opinion will change about him if he prolongs his candidacy? Frankly, I think not, but my opinion means nothing compared to that of the voters. If I had to guess though, I'd think they'd be in the same boat.
The skepticism lies in the scenario of what to do if a player is voted into the Hall of Fame and then a positive steroid test turns up from past records. Does that player get removed? Some have called for a separate "Steroid Wing" of the Hall of Fame, but that would give the notion that it's OK to cheat and still be rewarded.The Bonds and Sosa votes this winter will set the precedent of what to expect from the writers concerning steroids. If Clemens thinks he can buy some time by making a start this season with the Astros, so be it. But time doesn't necessarily heal all wounds.