The Atlanta Braves appear to be coasting toward the one-game wild-card playoff — they are 81⁄2 games back of the Washington Nationals in the National League East and 51⁄2 in front of St. Louis for the top wild-card spot.
The American League playoffs have a hodgepodge of possibilities from overachievers (hello, Oakland) to underachievers (here’s looking at you, Detroit) and much in between.
That said, the biggest eye-popping development in baseball is the report that Houston may add Roger Clemens for the stretch run. Yes, that Roger Clemens, the 50-year-old right-hander who has pitched eight scoreless innings for the Sugar Land Skeeters and shut out the U.S. legal system on the steroid charges by focusing his defense on the scumpuppy who is Brian McNamee rather than Clemens’ guilt or innocence.
If the Astros try to do this, baseball needs to step in. Houston is 45-98 — 53 games under .500 and 30 games back of the wild-card spot. The Astros were eliminated about the same time their fans turned their attention to preseason football practice.
(It may have even been spring football practice, but we’re trying to be kind.) So it’s not like the Astros are making this move to make a push for a competitive edge.
No, Houston has only two avenues of explanation. Either the Astros are tanking on purpose to secure the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft, or they are trying to sell tickets. The first one is out since the Astros are 11 games clear of baseball’s next biggest loser. So if the Astros are going to be a sideshow carnival, will the rotation be Clemens, the Yak Woman, the bearded lady, Bud Norris and the sword swallower? Selling tickets is great, but being a circus is not.
As for Clemens, his motivation for this is clear. He may say he wants to pitch because he loves the competition. Great. He’ll even allude to the fact that he wants to help the young pitchers. Sure, you do Roger, because your career has been about sharing. (Did the sarcasm come through there?)
Some may say he’s a spotlight chaser of the highest order and he has very little else beyond the glow of the stadium lights. Hey, all of those are cool and there are millions of us who would do just about anything to pitch in the big leagues.
However, here’s saying he is hoping to reset his Hall of Fame clock with a single appearance, let the dust settle and the public opinion soften on the steroid mess and try again on the ballot five years from now. Dude is obsessed with being in the Hall, and if he appears on the ballot this coming offseason as scheduled, he has no chance. Plus, he would be among the heavy-lifting class of big-time steroid names such as Bonds and Sosa.
Do the right thing, baseball. We’re not holding our breath.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...