Is Roger Clemens Looking Toward 2019 Hall Of Fame Ballot?

KISSIMMEE FL - (FILE PHOTO) Roger Clemens at Houston Astros Spring Training at Osceola County Stadium (Photo by Scott A. Miller/Getty Images)

Roger Clemens might be making a comeback, and the Astros might be interested. Is there a point in waiting for the 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot?

When you woke up yesterday, you were not thinking about Roger Clemens making a comeback. Today there is an article about Roger Clemens making a comeback. You should probably just go back to bed.

That article would be this one, from Ken Rosenthal -- a perfect marriage of ridiculous story and reputable source. Rosenthal suggests that Roger Clemens signing with the Sugar Land Skeeters isn't the move of a bored retiree and a publicity-hungry team. Rather, it's a trial run to see how ridiculous or effective a real comeback would be.

This isn't a baseball question, though. Rosenthal's headline:

Clemens could reset his HOF clock

Ah. And from the article:

By returning to the majors, Clemens could restart his Hall of Fame clock — his first year of eligibility currently is 2013, but he would postpone that until five years after his next retirement if he pitched even in one major-league game.

The Astros, meanwhile, would gain a potential gate attraction for the final month of the season — a potential consideration for a team that entered the week with 40 losses in its past 47 games and fired manager Brad Mills on Saturday night.

The idea is that Clemens- Holy crap, 40 losses in their past 47 games. Goodness, Astros.

Anyway, the idea is that Clemens wouldn't be a part of the 2013 Hallpocalypse. He is scheduled to be on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013, along with:

  • The all-time home-run record-holder (dirty)
  • Another slugger with more than 600 home runs (dirty)
  • The greatest offensive catcher in history (beady eyes/Murray Chass said he had back acne)

Add a guy who might be debatable for some writers (Curt Schilling) and a deserving slugger who isn't in because of suspicions and gut feelings (Jeff Bagwell), and it's going to be the absolute messiest Hall of Fame ballot in the history of the museum. That's all before you get to Clemens, who is one of the ten greatest pitchers to ever play baseball. At least statistically. Before you get to that other stuff. Which is slightly relevant.

If Clemens makes an appearance -- even if it's just a one-off sideshow to promote a hastily concocted "Roger Clemens Bobblehead Day" -- he'll get on the 2019 ballot. Other first-time candidates on that ballot should include Chipper Jones, Johnny Damon, Omar Vizquel, and ... uh, Marlon Byrd? It'll be a substantially less controversial class, especially with Manny Ramirez failing to make an appearance in the majors this year.

The War on Bonds will be mostly over, and we'll know which side won. Will the voters give Bonds credit for the pre-chemistry years? Or will there be a zero-tolerance policy that keeps Bonds far away from election? It's likely to be a combination of both, with more voters pushing for a Bonds election as the years progress. By the time Clemens would be up, the larger rhetorical battles will have already been fought. Bonds gets to be the large, surly canary in the coal mine.

That doesn't mean that Clemens has a great chance for a quick induction, but he'll have a much better chance of getting inducted before it becomes the responsibility of the Veterans Committee. He'll get more years on the ballot after the dust clears.

And the Astros get ... look, I don't know. I guess when you're that bad, just make it interesting. Chris Farley could have been a calm, wry political observer, but that wouldn't have been nearly as fun. He decided to turn a physical condition into physical comedy that made people laugh. It's sort of like that, but with losing 120 games and famous old pitchers.

Of course, Clemens might not even be interested in returning. The Astros might not be interested in Clemens returning. Bud Selig might laugh and hang up the phone. This is still in the land of "what if"s. Clemens could also give up back-to-back homers to Pedro Feliz and Delwyn Young in consecutive innings, sending scouts away screaming in terror. There are a lot of possibilities. The likeliest scenario is Roger Clemens not pitching an inning of baseball in the majors this season.

This has nothing to do with baseball. It's about marketing, both from a player and team perspective. But it would be fun, too. And it would probably give Clemens a better chance to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot longer, which would probably mean a better chance at getting elected. If there was ever a 50-year-old who could do it, it'd be Roger Clemens. Or Jamie Moyer, and that isn't even a Jamie Moyer joke.

Of all the dramatic things, this would be just about the most interesting one possible. Here's hoping.

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