Is Roger Clemens returning to the major leagues?

Is Roger Clemens returning to the major leagues?

From Comcast SportsNet
SUGAR LAND, Texas (AP) -- Hours after Roger Clemens agreed to join the Sugar Land Skeeters, he was back on the field playing in an over-50 softball league. And the ultra-competitive Clemens, now a half-century old, was quick to point out just how well he did against that group of geezers. "I hit two homers, by the way," he said. Things will be a bit tougher on Saturday when he is scheduled to start for the independent Atlantic League team at home against Bridgeport. The right-hander agreed to play for the team on Monday and was introduced on Tuesday. Whether this all leads to Clemens pitching in the major leagues -- the seven-time Cy Young Award winner played that down, conceding he's nowhere near big league pitching shape. "I'm 50 years old. We're just going to go out and have fun with this and make it fun for the fans," said Clemens, who has a touch of gray stubble on his chin but still sports a shock of blond highlights in his hair. Clemens didn't understand all the rules of his old-man softball league at first. When he hit his first home run and dashed to first base, his teammates told him to stop. He thought it was because home runs weren't allowed. It turned out that the over-50 set doesn't see the need to run all of the bases on a homer. "I really play in that league for the exercise and the fun," he said. He laughed off questions about playing professionally at an age when he qualifies for an AARP card. "I hope nothing breaks and I hope I don't pull anything," a still fit-looking Clemens said. Some believe his return to the minor leagues is the first step to another comeback in the major leagues, where he last pitched for the New York Yankees in 2007 at age 45. Clemens is set to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot going to voters late this year. If he plays in a major league game this year, his Hall consideration would be pushed back five years. He isn't sure how he'll be perceived by voters when his name appears on the ballot. "Sure, the Hall of Fame is great, I've told people that. But it's not going to change my life either way," he said. "But if there's something there that somebody feels like they have a grudge or want to hold something against you, I can't control that one bit." Clemens said thinking about a big league comeback is premature. He dismissed the theory that the minor league appearance was a step on the path to a big league return. "I've been to the major leagues and back a couple of times," he said. "I've retired and unretired, so I wouldn't consider thinking that far ahead. I'm just going to try to get through Saturday. I think I can compete a little bit." A return at his age wouldn't be all that outlandish, considering that Jamie Moyer returned from elbow ligament replacement surgery to start for the Colorado Rockies this season. Clemens chuckled when asked about Moyer. "People are trying to ingrain that in my mind that 50 is now the new 40," he said. "But I'm not buying it because I'm still having to pack myself in a lot of ice." He says he talks to new Houston Astros owner Jim Crane often but that he has not talked about pitching for the Astros and that he doesn't see that happening. He isn't committing to playing more than one game for the Skeeters, who play in a Houston suburb, saying he wants to see how Saturday goes first. Clemens was accused by former personal trainer Brian McNamee in the Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball of using steroids and HGH, allegations Clemens denied before Congress. The Justice Department began an investigation concerning whether Clemens had lied under oath, and in 2010 a grand jury indicted him on two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress. He was acquitted of all the charges on June 19 after a 10-week trial and has largely stayed out of the public spotlight until now. He's glad to be talking about baseball again instead of that difficult chapter in his life. "Everybody has their own opinion and they dwell on that so much," he said. "In between all of that, handling that business up there and doing what was right for me and my family and taking that head on, I was still doing the work that I've always done. So it wasn't gloomy or depressing." Clemens had two great seasons with the Astros after he turned 40, going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 2004 to win his record seventh Cy Young Award. He was 13-8 with a career-low 1.87 ERA in 2005. Tal Smith, a longtime former Astros executive who is now a special advisor to the Skeeters, is one person who wouldn't be surprised if Clemens made a comeback in the majors. "Knowing Roger and how competitive he is and what great shape he is in, and the fact that Jamie Moyer pitched close to 50 and Nolan Ryan pitched well into his late 40s, if anybody can do it, Roger Clemens can do it," he said. Clemens earned about 160 million and won 354 games in a 24-year career with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. His 4,672 strikeouts are third-most and he was named to 11 All-Star games. Now he will see what he has left for the Skeeters that have a roster which includes former major league pitchers Tim Redding and Scott Kazmir and Jason Lane, a teammate of Clemens' on Houston's 2005 World Series team. Smith believes this is a great opportunity for Clemens and he thinks it could change some opinions as a possible Hall of Fame vote approaches. "I hope this helps," Smith said. "I think voters should remember that he's been acquitted of all charged and that he never tested positive. I hope this story dies down in future years." Clemens and Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti have been talking about this since April. But he received another push toward the field early this summer when he visited Dr. James Andrews in Florida for a checkup. "He said: The MRI looked great. Your shoulder looks like you're 30. You should go pitch -- just kidding,'" Clemens said Andrews told him. It was then that he started thinking he could actually play for the Skeeters. After throwing for the team on Monday, where his fastball was clocked at 87, the multimillionaire got himself a new gig. "We're going to have fun with this and see if I can get through a few innings without Gary having to go to the bullpen, and we'll see where it goes from there," Clemens said. Smith takes issue with those who think this is simply a media stunt. He said that the Skeeters regularly sell out Saturday night games and that there were only 500 tickets available for this Saturday's game before Clemens was signed. "I can understand why he's doing it," Smith said. "He loves baseball. He love the competition. Baseball has been his life and there's no reason he shouldn't try to continue it. If he's successful it just adds to his legend, and if he's not, it was fun."

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Kevin Durant's legacy won't be secured with just one NBA title with Golden State Warriors

Kevin Durant's legacy won't be secured with just one NBA title with Golden State Warriors

For the second time, Kevin Durant is in the NBA Finals. He’ll be with another team, the Golden State Warriors, that’ll be favored to win for the second time in three years.

Even in victory – and Durant will claim he doesn’t care what everyone says about how he got there – questions will remain for one of the league’s most prolific scorers.

Like LeBron James when he eloped to the Miami Heat to get his first two championship rings, credit won’t automatically come with it.

It took James returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to begin turn the page on “The Decision” in 2010 when he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach.

James led them back from a 3-1 deficit to upset Golden State to win last year’s Finals.

That was without Durant, who has led a team that has yet to lose game in these playoffs with four-game sweeps of the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs.

“They’re in a groove,” Spurs big man Pau Gasol told Bay Area News Group after they lost 129-115 on Monday night. “They know what it takes to win and obviously they’ve been champions, they’ve established records that have never been set before and they’re on a path to get another championship.

"In all my years in the league, they’re playing at the highest level right now.”

[RELATED: Smacking some sense into the Jordan-LeBron and MVP debates]

With Durant, they should be that good. There's no extra credit for that. They have the league's most lethal shooter in Steph Curry, a two-way elite shooter in Klay Thompson and weapons galore. Durant had double-doubles in two of the wins vs. San Antonio, including 29 points and 12 rebounds on the closeout game.

He likely will make up for the 2012 disappointment with the Oklahoma City Thunder when they succumbed in five games to James and the Heat.

They appeared to be on the right track after winning Game 1 over Miami by 11 points only to lose the next four.  Durant could never get back to the Finals, with his next biggest failure professionally coming a year ago.

The Thunder were on the verge of upsetting the defending champion Warriors only to blow a 3-1 series lead in the conference finals. And he responded by joining them.

At least when James bolted Cleveland to join Miami, he didn’t run to a team that had kept him from a championship. The Boston Celtics had eliminated him six games of the conference semifinals despite his triple-double.

Durant one-upped James with his surprising move in free agency, bypassing his hometown Wizards by not even granting them a meeting. Yes, he’s a one-time MVP of the NBA who is now the best player on Golden State that already has a two-time MVP with Curry.

There are a lot of reasons to want to play in the Bay Area. The location alone is enough. But co-owner Joe Lacob has created a fantastic environment with the front office led by Bob Myers and an elite coaching staff. 

Durant's work won't be done by raising one Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy next month. They've done that in Golden State without him.

To the contrary, it'll be just beginning. He'll be judged by how much higher he can take them and in the end even that might not be enough.

[RELATED: Wizards hope to sign Wall to contract extension]

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Jordan Reed missed OTAs Tuesday but was still putting in work with Chad Johnson

Jordan Reed missed OTAs Tuesday but was still putting in work with Chad Johnson

Jordan Reed was reportedly absent from the Redskins' voluntary OTA practice on Tuesday, but a picture on Twitter shows the stud tight end didn't skip the session just so he could lounge around on the couch.

Chad Johnson, expert on all things such as repeatedly hauling in footballs and transforming the end zone into the 18th green at Augusta National, posted this photo of him, Reed and one other fellow, presumably following a workout:

For those who want to freak out that Washington's top offensive threat didn't show up in Ashburn for his team's OTAs, it's important to remember that 1) it was not required and 2) judging by that snapshot, Reed has had no trouble staying in football shape on his own or finding people to hone his craft with.

By the way, peep that hashtag from Johnson. When a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro uses the word legendary to refer to someone else, that someone else should feel pretty good about himself. 

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