Roger Clemens was retired. Now he isn't. Did he change his mind to spite the Yankees? Did he just want to pitch in his hometown, with his buddy Andy Pettitte? Did his love of the game pull him back before his retirement officially kicked in?

The Writers' Bloc felt definitely a pull -- a pull to comment on the Rocket and make a little fun of those New Yorkers who are calling Clemens an "Asstro."

Steve Wulf
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

At least Roger has solved the mystery of what logo will be on his Cooperstown cap. Here it is:


I wish to withdraw my participation in that last standing ovation. Roger has now touched 'em all when it comes to reasons for changing sides: Money (Red Sox to Blue Jays), Ring (Blue Jays to Yankees), Home (Yankees to Astros). He has at least brought the Yankee fan and the Red Sox fan closer together. They were betrayed by the same love.

Chuck Hirshberg
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

A very good morning to you, New Yawk City! Rub your bloodshot eyes, pick up today's Daily News and regard the headline: "TRAITOR!"

Roger Clemens
Ahh, weren't we all wiping away our tears when Marlins fans give Clemens a standing O?

Now read the outrageous news: Roger Clemens, a Texan, is going to play baseball in Texas! Now, before you burst into tears and curse the day that Roger was born, as only New Yawkahs can curse, prick up your ears and listen: Hear that? It's the sound of baseball fans from the Aleutian Islands to the Arabian Sea, laughing at you. Here 'em? They're picturing you, Mr. New Yawkah, standing there with the Daily News in your hand, jaw a-droop, your Buddha belly popping through your open bathrobe, scratching your buttocks in bewilderment. Hear em?


Let me spell it out for you, Yankee fans: The chickens have come home to roost. It was your owner, George Steinbrenner, who destroyed whatever remnants of team loyalty remained in professional baseball. Not just by shopping for players the way Zsa Zsa shopped for clothes, but by treating those players like chattel -- publicly ripping them the moment they faltered, shipping them off with insults when he tired of them and stabbing them in the back whenever it suited him.

That's how your team was built, Yankee fans. Time and again, Steinbrenner snatched beloved local heroes away from communities across the nation and made them Yankees, leaving their fans feeling as disillusioned as you do now. How do you like it?

Let me spell this out for you, too: Roger Clemens has done absolutely nothing wrong. He changed his mind; or maybe he planned this scheme all along. So what? He's not running for office. He didn't dress up in a veil and a gown and promise to give himself to you and you alone. I hope he comes into the Stadium this summer and crushes Steinbrenner's colony of pinstriped mercenaries like so many New Yorkers roaches.

Have a nice day! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Jim Caple
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

It may be funny to you, Chuck, but you're not the one who has to re-edit the Clemens episode of "Yankee-ography."

Robert Lipsyte
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

Roger Clemens is The Last Samurai. This is all we need to know.

Appreciate that and get past any idea that anything else is going on, that he is sticking it to Steinbrenner, to Yankee fans, to the Red Sox, the Hall of Fame, that he is trying to avoid his family or the terrible transition to civilian life.

What else can he do?

He may be the purest warrior in the major leagues. I've even come to believe that throwing that broken bat back at Mike Piazza was no conscious act. It was bushido conditioning, reflexively returning enemy fire.

The Samurai eventually disappeared when the emperor broke up the old franchises and consolidated into one big league. As in baseball, free agency appeared and the Samurai, who had traditionally pledged themselves to one club, began hiring out. They were called Ronin at this point, and they were more mercenary than ritualists.

That's our boy, Roger the Ronin, who would rather go down fighting than grow fat and fade away. And in the National League, where he'll have to expose his head, he may just get his death wish, another Japanese tradition. Ask anyone named Matsui.

Patrick Hruby
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

Loyalty, schm-oyalty. Whether you love or hate Roger Clemens for signing on with the 'Stros, give the man his props: He pulled off the shortest "retirement" in recent sports memory, shaming even the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard.

I mean, what sort of long-delayed leisure pursuits and life goals did the Rocket finally get around to during his short-lived time away from the game? Did he sit in a rocking chair and skim the Cliff Notes version of "Who Moved My Cheese?" Finish up a half-round of golf? Catch the first 20 minutes of "Return of the King"? Enjoy two sips of a low-carb beer? Hop in and out of a hot air balloon that's going to take someone else around the world? Set sail for the distant shores of Staten Island?

Whatever Clemens did to fill those days, more power to him. He lived the dream of every American: Retiring early, healthy and wealthy. In fact, I'm going to follow his brass-ring-grabbing example and announce my retirement from the WB, right here and now. So long, everyone! It was a hell of a ride! I'll never forget our WB predictions for 2004! Sniff, sniff.

Oops, changed my mind. I'm back. Hope no one missed me -- and that no one decides to take back any retirement gifts that may be headed my way, especially if it's a luxury sedan with a GPS system. Really, you guys are the best. No wonder I can't stay away.

Luke Cyphers
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

I don't really care what he does, but it feels more normal living in a New York that hates Roger Clemens.

Alan Grant
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

This isn't about spite. Clemens came back for himself. In fact, that's the only reason any great athlete plays the game -- for himself. Sure, he might say all the right things to get folks all tingly. He might say it's for the fans, for his kids, for Houston, for his home state. But I think it's a bunch of crap. I think he's playing for Roger Clemens. And that's the way it should be. Any athlete knows that unless he's playing for himself, he's not really a player at all. He's a performer.

But if he does play for himself, and he walks out to the mound and lights it up, then those around him, in this case, the Houston Astros, their fans, the state of Texas, all have the luxury of sitting close enough to get a contact high. And if some folks, most notably George Steinbrenner, while inhaling those same fumes, begin to gag, that's just a bonus.

A sweet bonus.

Eric Neel
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Roger Clemens signs with Houston

This isn't complicated, really. Do you still want to see him pitch? I do. Houston, New York, who cares?


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