As many predicted, Roger Clemens's latest attempt at retirement didn't last long. The Rocket will return to the Major League mound at the end of June (June 22 is the current date being given) and will once again try to help his home town, Houston, to their first World Series win.
The Astros were one of four main suitors (along with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers) but it always looked likely that Clemens would either pitch for the Astros or retire altogether. Houston were unable to sign the Rocket before May 1 having declined to offer arbitration during winter. At the time, some writers gasped and claimed that the Astros would have to watch helplessly as Clemens negotiated with other teams. Yet the timetable only made it more likely that Houston would be his destination. Clemens will turn 44 this year and after dominating National League hitters through most of the season, the final month and post -season during 2005 showed a Rocket running out of fuel. This time around, he will be able to go flat out over the final three months or so of the regular season.
Whether Clemens will finish his career in the post-season is another matter (if he ever does decide to bring his career to an end). The Astros put together a stunning run to claw their way into the play-offs and ultimately to their first ever World Series in 2005. Expecting them to repeat that feat again may be too optimistic. Clemens undoubtedly makes them a better team, both through his own performances and the massive lift his mere presence will give to everyone involved. Yet he cannot fill every hole in that club, and there are more than a few to be found.
A superhuman effort will be needed for the Astros to grab hold of the NL Wild Card. Still, if there's one man who can do it it would be Roger.