Roger Clemens has been all but erased by the Yankees in recent years. He wasn't at the final game at the old Stadium, he hasn't been at Old-Timers' Day and there aren't any highlights of his days in a Yankee uniform on the big board even though he was on plenty of the teams celebrated in living color.
The reason for Clemens' exile was obvious. He was named in the Mitchell Report as a steroid user, accused of perjury by the Federal Government and facing trial on those charges, which makes for a less happy atmosphere than the Yankees like to present when they get the old gang back together.
As you've surely heard by this point, Clemens isn't facing those charges any more. He was acquitted by a jury on Monday, an event that makes him far less toxic even if it doesn't come close to clearing the air of steroid use that will continue to linger over his head.
That leads to the question of whether or not the Yankees will be welcoming Clemens back into their Bronx family. The team didn't comment when asked about whether Clemens would be invited to this year's Old-Timers' Day on July 1, but the questions are likely to keep coming.
There would have been a resounding answer back in the George Steinbrenner days and the answer would have been positive. July 1 would have been all about Clemens, assuming, of course, he was ever exiled in the first place.
As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post points out, it's not like Clemens' time in the Bronx was light on memorable moments and they, along with more than a little help from Suzyn Waldman, treated his 2007 return to the team like it was a mixture of the Second Coming, D-Day and the night a Twilight movie comes out.
Hal Steinbrenner hasn't proved to be much like his old man since taking over the reins, but it seems inevitable that the moment will come when Clemens is back on the field at the stadium. It might be a smaller moment at first, a la Joe Torre's return after the elder Steinbrenner's death, but there's no compelling enough obstacle.
Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi both came out with pretty strong positive statements after the verdict, which indicates the clubhouse wouldn't have any problem with a Clemens return. Andy Pettitte, who testified against Clemens, probably wouldn't relish a reunion with his fellow Texan but there's probably a way to make Yankee Stadium big enough for the both of them.
The media will be mixed. Some, like Davidoff, will be in favor while those that would keep Clemens out of Cooperstown are likely to think anything to do with him is a bad idea and it will add up to a lot of noise.
Fan reaction is harder to predict, although it seems hard to believe that there won't be enough cheering to keep the scene from getting too ugly. There's enough unhappiness over the government's expense of time and money on this case that it might even turn out to be a more positive reaction when all is said and done.
Clemens is part of the history of the Yankees. Now it is okay for them to get back to admitting it.
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