On July 18, Roger Clemens was found not guilty on six counts of lying to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs during his time as a MLB pitcher. This jury decision put to end a long and litigious saga that for years cast a dark shadow on Clemens’ illustrious baseball career. After playing baseball at the highest level for 23 years and spending the better part of 5 years embroiled in lawsuits about steroids in baseball, what does a newly-acquitted Roger Clemens want to do?
Play baseball, of course.
On August 20, it came out that Clemens would return to baseball as a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters, part of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He will pitch in a game for the first time since his retirement in 2007 on August 25.
Inevitably, speculation has already started as to whether this could evolve into a return to the Major Leagues. “I think anything is possible, if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in,” said Clemens in an interview with CBS This Morning. Clemens continued to say, however, that it would be difficult and that he is determined to balance time spent with his family.
At 50 years old, many say that Clemens’ return is a pipe dream. It’s easy to see the perspective of this being Clemens’ attempt to put one more chapter in the story of his career – that his exit from the public eye comes not from Clemens in a courtroom but on a pitching mound. Clemens himself has disputed that narrative, saying to Sports Illustrated “As far as all that stuff going on in D.C., it had no bearing on me needing to play baseball. I just want to play and have fun.”
But let’s remember what made the Roger Clemens controversy so compelling – this isn’t an average baseball player. Clemens’ stat line currently reads at 354 wins, 3.12 ERA, and 4,672 strikeouts (3rd all time). He won 2 World Series, was named to the All-Star team 11 times, and received the Cy Young Award a dominating 7 times (most all time). Clemens made a career out of unprecedented achievements – which was why when he became linked to the divisive PED debate it was such a flashpoint issue. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see his performance in 2012.