Roger Clemens, “The Rocket” recently said that if he were to be elected into the Hall of Fame that he would chose to don a Red Sox hat on his plaque and be immortalized in Cooperstown with the “B” on his head.
Clemens is, in my opinion a top three pitcher of all-time and I love to argue him as the best of all-time but I won’t get into that argument, his credentials alone would be an article in itself. He’s a gamer, he’s got that competitive spirit that if your team was going to a Game Seven, he wants the ball in his hand and the entire team’s destiny in his control. And chances are, that he walks out to the mound and make it happen. Clemens loved every second of baseball, he loved middle of the week games in July just as much as loved pitching in October. Clemens was there to win and he knew that anytime he was on the mound that he gave his team a great opportunity to do exactly that. I’ve heard stories of players being afraid of him while they were in the batter’s box, they didn’t want to give him any type of fuel to strike them out. Not only were batters afraid of The Rocket, umpires knew about Clemens’ competitive spirit and Lance Berkman put it best when he spoke about Clemens saying “He doesn’t get a pitch that’s three inches outside. And then he glares at the umpire for 20 minutes and throws the next pitch a foot outside and gets the strike call.”
Roger Clemens has always been one of my favorite players and at many points in my life he was my favorite player. PEDs or not, he was flat-out just exciting to watch. Even when he reached his 40s and his fastball wasn’t as effective as it was in the past, he relied on one of the most devastating pitches in the history of baseball, his split-finger fastball. Clemens’ splitter could probably rival Rivera’s cutter or Pedro Martinez’s circle-changeup in terms of effectiveness.
Clemens totaled seven career Cy Young awards, three of which came in a Boston uniform along with the 1986 AL Most Valuable Player award. In The Rocket’s prime, he was untouchable and he knew that, which makes it even harder to find success against him. Roger, TWICE struck out 20 batters in ONE game. TWICE. Also in a two year span (1987-1988) he accumulated 32 Complete Games and 15 Shutouts, both seasons happened in a Boston uniform as well.
On the topic of gracing the Boston hat on his Hall of Fame plaque, Clemens said, “That’s where I got my start and my nickname. It’s where I grew up.” Along with that remark, Clemens went on to say, “I’m not worried about it. I don’t confuse my career with my life, or refuse to let one person define what who I am as a person” Which is basically a polite way of saying, I know that I am one of the best pitchers to ever play the game of baseball and I don’t need voters to tell me that.
Also, for the record, Clemens got ROBBED of the 1990 Cy Young award too. Clemens should have eight Cy Young Awards, four in a Red Sox uniform.
*1990 AL Cy Young voting via Baseball Reference*