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Clemens' return is major plus for baseball lovers

Clemens' return is major plus for baseball lovers

There is much that could be said about Roger Clemens' decision to return for at least one more season. It could be chewed, spewed and dissected in a dozen different directions.But my immediate reaction was simple: Thank goodness.
The announcement Friday that Clemens has accepted a one-year, US$18-million deal from Houston means there probably will be a few more times I get to see him pitch in person and a whole season for me to put my TiVo to use. It's like being a Walter Johnson follower in 1926 or '27, only with better gadgets.
From the selfish perspective of one who really enjoys watching baseball, it's a treat to know a 42-year-old Clemens and a 41-year-old Randy Johnson are going to pitch in 2005. They even may be as good once again as anyone else who goes to the mound.But whether they are or not, they're going to throw very hard and carry themselves like they are Julius Caesar and the guy with the stick in his hand is a plebian.
Fastballs and sliders
Whether they overpower hitters or take their lumps, as Clemens did in the sixth inning of Game 7 of the NL Championship Series against St. Louis, there's nothing in baseball I enjoy more than watching Clemens and Johnson mix fastballs with sliders (Johnson) or split-finger pitches (Clemens). So it is a very good thing - if not exactly a surprise - that Clemens has accepted the Astros' offer.
While Clemens hinted he might hang up his spikes if Houston did not re-sign Carlos Beltran, he simply had too much talent left to join his brothers on the chili cook-off circuit. He just couldn't help but bust owner Drayton McLane's chops, throwing his weight around to push McLane's offer to Beltran up to US$100 million - a level that must have left McLane wheezing after Beltran walked away for the want of a no-trade clause.
Beltran should have taken McLane's offer, with or without the clause. The bet here is he would have been happier staying put than he will be trying to fulfill the monstrous expectations that await him in New York.
Without Beltran and Jeff Kent (who signed a two-year deal with Los Angeles), the Astros probably won't be picked higher than third in the National League Central. If the Rocket gets back in the playoffs, it probably will be after a trading deadline team to another contender, perhaps even back to the Yankees, where he can pitch alongside Johnson.
As a matter of fact, make this a clip-and-save: That's what is going to happen. The Astros will wind up shopping Clemens and he either will steer his way back to a reunion with George Steinbrenner, this time to chase a World Series championship alongside Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Johnson, or (less likely) go back to Boston, where his career began in 1984.
While Clemens enjoyed making the Astros once again coax him out of retirement, his desire to spend time with his family is sincere. And it doesn't just include his wife and their four sons but also his ailing mother, Bess.
With 328 victories and 4,317 strikeouts, Clemens knows he is going into the Hall of Fame five years after he does quit. By playing this season, he postpones his induction until 2011, at the earliest.
Clemens has achieved much, but there's one thing he has never done.
No no-hitters
He has made 639 starts without throwing a no-hitter. Nolan Ryan had a record seven in 773 starts. Johnson has two, including last year's perfect game, in 479 starts.
Bill James - who else? - developed a highly complicated formula to determine the odds for a pitcher to have thrown a no-hitter during his career. Clemens recently moved into the top spot on the list of guys who should have one but don't, passing Hall of Famer Don Sutton, who didn't have one in 756 career starts. Pedro Martinez and Sam McDowell are next on the list.
The drama would be delicious if Clemens took another no-hit bid into the ninth inning. He has had only one complete game in the last four seasons, so the odds are stacked against him. But it's what I would wish for him and the fans of power pitching this season, especially if it is Clemens' last.


Updated : 2021-10-20 20:54 GMT+08:00