Fans of the Rocky movies know what I am referring to. After being retired for years, Rocky was asked why he was returning to the ring in the last Rocky installment, his response was “there’s still some stuff in the basement.” In other words, he couldn’t move on with his life until the fire burning inside him was completely out. That is the fire of competition, which all athletes have burning inside them. It causes men like Brett Favre to keep coming back to the game they love, even after the game has passed them by.
Roger Clemens seems to still have some stuff in the basement. Apparently there are still some embers from that competitive fire that once burned inside of him, still glowing. We know this because it has been announced that Clemens will be starting for the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent league team down in Texas, on Saturday. However, Clemens has stated this is just for fun, meaning it isn’t really a comeback…yet.
This reeks of a comeback. If Roger just wanted to have fun, he could join a men’s amateur league similar to the one I play in now (HVNABA), which is comprised of former professional and college players. That could have been competitive enough for Roger if he just wanted to have fun, so there are other options out there for him aside from professional baseball. Pursuing professional baseball at any level shows that he is attempting a comeback at 50 years old. The question is would any team give him a chance?
Roger is throwing in the high 80s right now, so if he makes a comeback, we won’t be able to call him the “Rocket” anymore. That being said, he will probably be able to help some teams, the Mets being one of them. I would swap out Chris Young for Roger Clemens without even seeing Roger’s Independent League start this Saturday. If the Mets planned on starting pitchers that throw 83mph, they should have angled Citi Field so a breeze would come in from center field, and give Chris Young’s fastballs a chance to hit 85mph on the radar gun.
Roger Clemens isn’t one of the more popular names in baseball these days, but a lot of fans would be intrigued with a comeback story. It would give people a reason to root for Roger for a change, instead of root against him. This may be a way for Roger to clear his name a little. If people see him as a vulnerable athlete, with a true love of his sport, it may lead to some forgiveness for what Roger has been accused of over the past decade.
Roger is going to see how he feels this Saturday, and who knows, maybe he will just decide to hang them up after he gets the stuff out of his basement. But something tells me that Saturday won’t be the last we see Roger standing on the hill, playing professional baseball. I don’t have a crystal ball, but some team will be inviting him to spring training in 2013. I wonder if he’ll wear the number 50?