We don’t know exactly when Roger Clemens began using steroids during the 1998 season, a year before he found himself delivering seven shutout innings in the World Series clincher for the Yankees, but his former trainer Brian McNamee told George Mitchell that it was late and that the Rocket thought they had a “pretty good effect.”
The numbers suggest “pretty good” was quite an understatement.
From Aug. 2 through the end of his final season with the Toronto Blue Jays, Clemens made eleven starts, winning seven times while throwing three consecutive shutouts at one point during that stretch. He struck out at least eleven hitters in seven starts, including three games where he set down at least 15.
What’s scarier is this: On a team that was 10.5 games in back of the Red Sox for the Wild Card in August, Clemens went eight innings eight times and threw 130 pitches six times in those final eleven starts. In comparison, he lasted eight innings five times and threw that many pitches just three times in 21 starts prior.
At age 35, he felt young again thanks to the needles he provided and the juice McNamee injected into him. He won the Cy Young unanimously that year and then, well, you know the rest.
121 more wins. Two world titles. Two more Cy Young awards. The largest single season salary in the history of baseball.
He was an all-time great before he ever used the stuff, when his work ethic was something that concerned the Red Sox. But he made the shortlist of the greatest pitchers in history for what he accomplished late in his career.
Now he is a part of a long list, joined by mostly journeymen who probably needed the juice just to stay in the game. But he is not one of those guys. He had it all and wanted more. Clearly, his greed goes way beyond money. This was about his legacy. This was about one day having a monument of his own in left center at Yankee Stadium.
This was about being remembered for ever.
Well, he got his wish.
Roger Clemens 1998 Pitching Gamelogs – Baseball Reference
Clemens Misses Yet Another Chance To Make The Right Choice – Fenway West
Roger Clemens got off easy – 100 Percent Injury Rate
Now That We’ve Got the Names, Questions Abound – The Big Lead