Kindred: Forget Roger; Get Maddux on the phone

2012-08-22T07:00:00Z Kindred: Forget Roger; Get Maddux on the phoneBy Randy Kindred | rkindred@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

Used to be the easiest job in America was weatherman in San Diego. That changed this week … perhaps only for a week, but it absolutely changed.

Overnight, it became great to be Lindsay Kirk, event marketing director for the Sugar Land Skeeters independent baseball team. Her product suddenly sold itself. No tickets remain on the team’s website for Saturday night’s home game.

Roger Clemens, 50 years old with seven Cy Youngs, will pitch that night against the Bridgeport Bluefish. Filling Constellation Field, capacity 7,500, has never been easier.

Former Houston Astros executive Tal Smith, a special adviser to the Skeeters, told The Associated Press the team often sells out Saturday night home games. This week’s game, which includes an appearance by “The Human Fireball,” had only 500 tickets available prior to Clemens’ signing, Smith said.

Still, the former fireballer quickly sold the rest, which begs a question: Does anyone have Greg Maddux’s cell number?

If Clemens can pitch at 50, or at least give it a try, why not Maddux at 46? Surely the Normal CornBelters could make his No. 31 available.

Like the Skeeters, the Belters are an independent team. Like Clemens, Maddux is a multiple Cy Young winner (four) and in the 300-win club.

It’s the closest thing Normal could come to replicating what will take place Saturday in Sugar Land, Texas. It has as much chance of happening as a Barry Bonds celebrity roast, but it doesn’t hurt to dream does it?

A week ago, who knew Clemens would wind up in a Skeeters’ uniform? Not even Lindsay Kirk.

Word is Clemens hit 87 mph on his fastball during a workout Monday. That was a changeup in his prime, but good enough for the Skeeters and manager Gary Gaetti, another former major leaguer, to decide to sign him.

What was there to decide? In the world of independent baseball, handing Clemens the ball under any circumstances puts people in the seats, money in the coffers and your team on the map.

Put Maddux on the mound at The Corn Crib and traffic would be snarled on Raab Road. Suites and seats would be full. Belters’ front office personnel would be smiling from ear to ear, fitting for a team sponsored by the Illinois Corn Farmers.

Clemens has committed to this “comeback” no further than Saturday night, at least publicly. Buy that if you want, but barring his right arm falling off this likely is headed for a late-season appearance with his hometown Astros.

At 39-83 heading into Tuesday night’s game at St. Louis, the Astros need help filling seats more than the Skeeters. Trotting Clemens out there would breathe life into a dying franchise, if only for a night.

It also would postpone Clemens’ eligibility for the Hall of Fame by five years, arguably the motivation for all of this.

Given the cloud of alleged steroid use still over him, despite his acquittal in June of charges he lied to Congress about it, public sentiment and Hall of Fame voters might be more forgiving five years down the road.

There are no clouds over Maddux, who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014. That is, unless he suits up for the Belters.

If only we had that number …

Randy Kindred is at rkindred@pantagraph.com. The Kindred Blog: www.pantagraph.com/blogs

Copyright 2015 pantagraph.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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