Oscar Wilde once said the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
Roger Clemens and Gary Gaetti no doubt were talking about that one day in recent weeks when they devised a solution that would have everyone talking about them. Clemens would come out of retirement at 50 to pitch for the Sugar Land Skeeters, who are managed by Gaetti.
Thus, the announcement Monday that Clemens will be in a Skeeters uniform Friday night and pitch for them Saturday night in Sugar Land against the Bridgeport Bluefish. Those are teams in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, in case you wondered.
There’s a lot of competition for attention in Houston’s sports market these days.
The Texans, of course, get it because they are the Texans. The Rockets have gotten it because they signed Jeremy Lin and then added the guy from “Desperate Housewives,” Carlos Delfino. The Astros have gotten it because they are so bad they fired their manager.
We’re here, too!
The Skeeters have been practically begging Astros fans to come to Sugar Land. Their pitch is that even if the team isn’t in the major leagues, watching baseball at Constellation Field is a better experience than watching it at Minute Maid Park.
Even before they knew Clemens was going to pitch for them Saturday night, the Skeeters had scheduled a “Human Fireball Appearance.’’ Now they have a Rocket to go with it.
So it’s not difficult to understand the Skeeters’ motivation. But what about Clemens? You’d think he’d been in the public eye enough in recent years. Wouldn’t he prefer to be misremembered for a while?
Full disclosure. I was the sports editor who approved publication of a story in the Los Angeles Times in 2006 that reported Clemens was among players named in an affidavit for using performance-enhancing drugs during his career. The story was incorrect. Clemens was not named in the affidavit. The Times ran a rare front-page retraction. I take full responsibility.
A little more than a year later, Clemens was among 89 players named in the Mitchell Report, an investigation authorized by Major League Baseball into the use of banned substances in the sport. That prompted a House committee to hold hearings. Clemens was among players who testified.
He later was indicted for lying to Congress. But his first trial ended in a mistrial, and two months ago, he was acquitted. As far as I’m concerned, the case is closed.
And unless anyone has evidence that has yet to be revealed, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner should be in the Hall of Fame.
But why would he want to pitch in Sugar Land?
His agent, Randy Hendricks, said Monday that it’s a “fun, local, one-time kind of a thing.’’
But the Skeeters say it could be a two- or three-time thing if the Bluefish don’t embarrass him.
I’m all for having fun. This doesn’t appear to be a Brett Favre, Sugar Ray Leonard (you could name just about any boxer) or even Roger Clemens attempt at a serious comeback.
Clemens retired four times, returning from one of them to win a Cy Young Award for the Astros before giving it one last go with the Yankees in 2007 at age 45.
If this is another real effort to play in the big leagues, which he might reveal at a news conference in Sugar Land on Tuesday, Clemens has a long way to go before he can even be considered Houston’s best comeback story.
Two seasons after his retirement from the NHL, Gordie Howe played with his sons for the WHA’s Aeros, winning the league’s MVP award at 46, then returned to the NHL to play a season with the Hartford Whalers at 51.
George Foreman returned after a 10-year retirement to win the world heavyweight championship with a knockout at age 45, then made $138 million when he sold naming rights to the grill he had been promoting.
Enjoy the ride
You might be able to think of others. I doubt Clemens aspires to be in their category.
I really do believe he’s just doing it for the fans’ amusement.
And his own.
He doesn’t mind people talking about him, or else he wouldn’t have appeared in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue with his bikini-clad wife, clucked like a chicken on “The Simpsons,’’ or announced his final comeback over the public address system at Yankee Stadium.
I think he’s also got another motive for pitching Saturday night. He wants to get in free to see the Human Fireball.
Roger Clemens’ career with the Astros
Roger Clemens is scheduled to return to baseball Saturday when he pitches for the Sugar Land Skeeters. Here’s a look back at Clemens’ previous stint with a Houston-area ballclub.
Roger Clemens came out to retirement to sign a one-year contract with the Houston Astros on January 12, 2004. (Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle)
Roger Clemens was a hit during his first season with the Astros in 2004, going 18-4, starting for the National League in the MLB All-Star Game, winning his seventh Cy Young Award and helping the ballclub reach the NL Championship Series. (Karen Warren / HOUSTON CHRONICLE)
Roger Clemens returned to the Astros in 2005 on another one-year contract, going 13-8 with a career-best 1.87 ERA. He helped the Astros reach their first World Series, where they were swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox. (Karen Warren / HOUSTON CHRONICLE)
Roger Clemens of the Houston Astros pitches during the fifth inning of the 2005 MLB All-Star Game at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 12, 2005. (PAUL SANCYA / AP)
Astros pitcher Roger Clemens, right, pours champagne on team owner Drayton McLane as they celebrate the Astros’ 6-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs to earn a wildcard playoff berth Oct. 2, 2005 at Minute Maid Park. (BRETT COOMER / HOUSTON CHRONICLE)
Roger Clemens is doused with champagne by Jose Vizcaino in the clubhouse after the Astros’ win 7-6 victory in the 18th inning of Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Astros and the Atlanta Braves,. (Karen Warren / HOUSTON CHRONICLE)
Craig Biggio and Roger Clemens speak to thousands of screaming fans Friday morning, Oct. 21, 2005 on the south side of Minute Maid Park in a City of Houston sponsored sendoff before the team left for their flight to Chicago, where they would take on the White Sox in their first World Series appearance. (Johnny Hanson / Houston Chronicle)
Roger Clemens started Game 1 of the 2005 World Series against the Chicago White Sox. (Karen Warren / HOUSTON CHRONICLE)
Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio were in attendance as the Astros were recognized prior to the Texans’ game against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 30, 2005. (Steve Ueckert / Houston Chronicle)
Roger Clemens waves to the crowd while holding his National League championship ring box with Astros owner Drayton McLane in the background during the ring ceremony. (KAREN WARREN / Houston Chronicle)
Roger Clemens talks to the media during a press conference announcing his return to Astros on May 31,2006. Clemens agreed to another one-year deal. (Dave Rossman / For the Chronicle)
Roger Clemens pitches in the first inning during a Corpus Christi Hooks-San Antonio Missions minor league baseball game at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi on June 11, 2006. Clemens started the game in preparation for his return to the Astros. (KAREN WARREN / Houston Chronicle)
Roger Clemens stands on the mound with Logan Fischer, 10, one of the baseball buddies from the Round Rock Select Cougar team during the National Anthem before the Round Rock Express-New Orleans Zephyrs minor league game at Dell Diamond in Round Rock on June 16, 2006. Roger Clemens started the game in preparation for his return to the Astros. (KAREN WARREN / Houston Chronicle)
Roger Clemens made his season debut against the Minnesota Twins on June 22, 2006. (James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle)
Roger Clemens waves to the crowd as he leaves a game against Cincinnati Reds during the seventh inning on Sept. 20, 2006 at Minute Maid Park. Clemens, who pitched six innings in the last regular scheduled home start of his Astros career, finished the year with a 7-6 record and 2.30 ERA. (MELISSA PHILLIP / HOUSTON CHRONICLE)