Wednesday, August 29, 2012
He flops down at the far end of the bench. He looks at his pitching arm, flexes his fingers, then wraps his arm in a towel. ****'s Manager, Gary Gaetti, comes down the steps and sits next to him.
"I can still bring it, Coach," says Clemens. "Fifty, and I still got it. And I haven't played in five years."
"Gotta start your comeback somewhere," says The Manager. "So what if it's the Sugar Land ****, versus the Bridgeport Bluefish. The Atlantic League. It's still Professional Baseball."
"After seven Cy Young Awards, I never thought it would be like this. Just turned 50 on August fourth."
The over flow crowd, more that 7,700, find parking in the far field area. Clemens, moves up the steps and waves again to the crowd. They cheer back. He bows.
"I'm thinking 50 is the new 25," he says to the Manager.
He sits again, rotates his pitching arm, and wiggles his fingers.
"You know, since I've been out of baseball, now for the five years, my name is on the Hall of Fame Ballot. I want the voters to see me play. They figure I was on some kind of drug, so let them test me know. I can do this. You saw me. I'm still as good as I was. Bring it on. I'll show them."
The Manager turns toward Clemens. His voice is low, eyes narrow, a toothy grin. His face a light pink. "But it's the Bluefish you're pitching against. Not the Dodgers. This is Double-A. You looked gassed after three innings, Roger."
"Look, I never really retired, you know. Not really. It's a lot of work to go out and pitch. Come on . I'm just having fun."
"Be a lot faster getting back in the Majors if...you know...They got drugs now that are undetectable. Roger, you're 50 years old. You gotta face reality."
The Manager's face turns red, two bulges form on his forehead. As he looks sideways at Roger he picks at the sharp end of his tail.
"I'm back because I loves the competition and the big stage. I can do this again. So what if I got an ego the size of Texas. I know that."
The Manager's face contorts, the grin is larger. "Roger? Look at me. You know who you're talking to?"
"What," says Clemens. "Wait," He jumps back. .
"The Hall of Fame, it's all you got left. This is the era of the Human Growth Hormone. By the way, I had a big hand in developing that, thank you very much."
"I did not take drugs."
"Roger, this is your life. You have to get back on a Major League roster. Then your balloting will be extended another five years. That way you won't be lumped in with all those other players who showed up on the List, the Mitchell List. You'll have a better chance then to get elected to the Hall."
"Who are you, anyway." says Clemens.
"Being on that List tags you as a juicer. Hey, I didn't make you use the stuff."
"I'm clean now...I've always been clean...it's all I know how to do. Pitch."
"Hey, look into my eyes," says the Manager. "You see that? Every time a reporter want an interview, or somebody's looking for an autograph, every little kid that looks up at you, they'll be thinking, you cheater, you used drugs, you are a disgrace to the game." He smiles.
"The fans still love me. You heard them cheer."
"Eighty-eight mph ain't going to get there. Three innings, come on, the Bluefish? They aren't the Angels...poor choice...not the Rays. You're nothing Clemens. You've become someone that fans laugh at."
Clemens begins to cry.
"They were all using it," says Clemens. He blubbers. "I wasn't going to let them get away with it, after all I'd done. I had to do it. I had no choice. They're the cheaters."
The Manager, waving his red tail in the air, head back, laughs loudly.
"Football doesn't even test for HGH. Remember when I threw that bat at Piazza in the World Series? I was so pumped, I forgot about it until the next day when I saw it on SportsCenter."
"Word is The Astros'll give you a chance. It's a stunt. They got nothing to lose, on their way to another 105 game losing year. A sad...obvious...attempt to suck up to the fans. But hey, I'm all for dishonesty."
"I'm not a bad guy," says Clemens. His mouth is open as he cries. "I had to do something. My word against McNamee, guy who gave me the stuff. He made me take it. But the Jury believed me. Me...not him."
"I was there, my friend. Of course, I'm just about everywhere." A toothy grin. "The judge crippled the prosecution. He didn't allowing the majority of the evidence. Had the jury seen everything..."
"Jury said I was truthful. All that matters," says Clemens.
"Here's why you won. You had more convincing lawyers, they didn't like the Prosecutor, and they though The Man was coming down on you out of some kind of spite. What evidence? You got lucky. Not Guilty and being Innocent are two very different things."
"Come on, just give me a second chance. 4,672 strikeouts, 11 All-Star teams, a 24-year career. I don't want it to end this way. I can do this."
Still crying, "I got a right to be here. I still got a chance..."
"You want to get back in the Majors, Roger? " says the Manager, his grin larger, his fingers working, his tail straight up in the air.
"It's what I have to do in return, isn't it?"
"Bravo. Now you get the picture. Look, they're undetectable. It's some new stuff that only I can get..."
A gust of hot air hits there faces. A loud voice booms from the top of the dugout. The Manager cringes.
"Hey, get away from him," says The Voice. "You have no good reason to be here."
"Go away, can't you see I'm busy here." He loses his grin. "Besides, when I leave here, I'm going over to see Mike Trout, and the other guy, Trumbo. See if they're interested. Then off to Boston, and the Yankees. They always seem to be ready to negotiate."
The Manager strokes his long tail, his dripping grin is back, and he laughs loudly, shaking his head.
"Get away, and stay away from Trout, and the Angels. If I see you trying to push your drugs on any baseball player, or anybody, for that matter, you'll be in one heap of trouble, my friend."
"You don't scary me."
There is a tremendous blast of air. It hits the Manager flush in the face. He rolls backwards, tail over horns over claws, and hits hard against the far wall.
He jumps up, fists out. "Is that all you got?"
"All right already. I'm leaving. But hey, I got a whole bunch of other...Delights...up my sleeve. You can't stop me forever." A high pitch squeal and he scurries off down the tunnel.
"Thank God," says Clemens. "What just happened?" His voice very loud, very shaky. He looks around. "I don't know what just came over me. Oh, man." He looks at his arm, and wiggles his fingers. "What am I going to do? What am I going to do?"
Tears run down his face.
Manager Gaetti looks down at Clemens. "Roger. You okay? What are you doing sitting way down there all alone?"
Clemens sniffles, wipes his eyes, and joins the manager at the rail. In silence, he watches the rest of the game.
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