Roger, Over and Out?

At 38, Roger Clemens—the greatest pitcher ever to come out of Texas—is losing his edge. He is no longer the strutting, rosin bag-slamming, fist-pumping fireballer who terrorized the American League and won five Cy Youngs.

Roger Clemens hates this. He has just beaten the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1, and now, cornered by a battery of microphones and a half-circle of reporters, he is forced to answer questions about the game. He does not like post-game interviews. He’s not crazy about reporters, either, which is probably putting it mildly. He does not relish explaining himself to people who he feels only dimly grasp the game’s nuances. But he knows what is expected of him and he does it anyway, fielding question after question, even though some of them clearly tick him off. In spite of his mastery of the Jays on this late-April afternoon—in seven innings he gave up seven hits and struck out eight—the reporters will not let go of the idea that today’s victory is now the exception rather than the rule. That Clemens’ performance, in fact, is the exception that proves the rule. That he is somehow lucky to have his old stuff again. That the 38-year-old Clemens, one of the game’s greatest pitchers—and arguably the greatest pitcher ever to come out of Texas (including the much-glorified Nolan Ryan, who never won a single Cy Young, much less a handful)—is rapidly losing his edge. Roger, over and out. The reporters are not making this up. The former University of Texas star who won successive Cy Young Awards with Toronto in 1997 and 1998 has, since then, leveled into nothing more than a .500 pitcher. His tepid 14-10 season last year, when his ERA was nudging 5, has given way to a 6-6

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