|Why is this man smiling? (Getty Images)|
Given the rumors that have been circulating, this is hardly a surprise, but it's noteworthy given that it's coming straight from the mouth of team owner Jim Crane: the Astros are open to signing Roger Clemens.
Clemens, of course, will disinter his baseball career when he takes the mound for the independent-league Sugar Land Skeeters on Saturday. Clemens, age 50, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2007. Those two facts make it unlikely that Clemens, no matter how great his career was, can still be effective at the highest level.
Nonetheless, Crane seems poised to bite. "I think the fans might like it," Crane told FOX 26 in Houston. "It might be fun and certainly get a few people in the ballpark. I don't see anything negative about that, but the Astros wouldn't want to do it for the money, the extra gate or anything like that."
|The Clemens comeback|
Crane went on to raise the possibility that, in the event that the Astros sign Clemens, the "extra proceeds" could go to charity. It's a bit unclear what he means by "extra proceeds," but, sure, that sounds fine.
The real question is to what end. The Astros are mortal locks for the top-overall pick in next year's draft, which is another way of saying they're a long way from even the hint of relevance. If Crane insists that they won't do it as a publicity gambit, then why, exactly, would they do it? I get Clemens's motivations, whether it's to sate his competitive desires or (more likely, more cynically) to push his hall-of-fame clock back another five years and perhaps time it to an influx of less judgmental voters. But why would the hopeless Astros want any part of a 50-year-old firebrand if not to sell more tickets?
In any event, Crane's comments suggest that Clemens in a Houston uniform at some point after the rosters expand is more likely than not. Prepare accordingly.