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The Rocket That Fell To Earth

This article is more than 11 years old.
rocketJeff Pearlman’s new book makes a convincing case that Roger Clemens used performance enhancing drugs.

It also makes a convincing case that Clemens is a self-centered and thoroughly deluded man so given to lying that he probably believes his own lies.

Pearlman includes in The Rocket That Fell To Earth lots of material that reflects well on Roger Clemens. At the beginning of his career, he was a good and faithful teammate. He has often visited sick children and been generous to family members and others in need. He was, of course, a magnificently successful pitcher for many years. In fact, when we spoke recently, Jeff Pearlman speculated that if Roger Clemens had retired in 2003, when he first announced that he would, he’d be in the Hall of Fame today.

Unhappily for Clemens (but perhaps inevitably, given his manic need to compete and be the center of attention) the pitcher extended his career, first with the Astros, and then in one final season with the Yankees. During that time, his performance came to seem increasingly unbelievable. That was, of course, also the time during which the names of other players were surfacing in connection with the Balco investigation and, later, the Mitchell Report. The smartest of those other players admitted that they’d used steroids, human growth hormone, or both. For the most part they were able to get on with their lives more or less normally, whether or not those lives included more baseball. The most stubborn or deluded of them, including Roger Clemens, have found themselves involved with desperate former associates, investigators, congress people, judges, and lots and lots of attorneys.

At the end of The Rocket That Fell To Earth, Jeff Pearlman characterizes Roger Clemens in retirement as “Houston’s baseball version of Enron – an embarrassment most people wanted to forget.” It is a sad and ironic postscript to the career of a man who wanted nothing more than to pitch so well and for so long that he would always be remembered.

This program aired on April 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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