Jeff Pearlman’s book “The Rocket that Fell to Earth,” about Roger Clemens, is an engaging read at times, and at other times he cannot help but reiterate the same point. 

It’s clear to me that Pearlman hates Clemens, hates his talent, hates his money, hates his lifestyles, hates his success.  The book is a little one-sided, presently mostly the view of Clemens from rivals or people opposite him.  We all know that Clemens is a self-serving jerk.

But maybe we as fans don’t want to believe it, or at least hear about it constantly.  Yes, it’s odd that Clemens named all his sons with a K (Kody, Koby, et cetera).  Sure, it is weird that Clemens said repeatedly he hoped his ailing mother Bess—a wonderful and tough mother by any account—would live long enough to see him into the Hall of Fame.  Not for any other reason, Rocket? 

Roger Clemens ended his career in a New York uniform
But let’s not think for a moment that Clemens is anything but the best right-handed pitcher of all time.  I won’t bother posting the numbers.  You know them. 

But the story isn’t about his numbers; it’s about him as a person.  He is a slime ball, an egomaniac who drove himself to the max and decided that wasn’t enough.  The steroids aren’t enough for me to hate him; who is to say that everyone did roids or no one did roids?  We don’t know.

But Pearlman harks about it, drudging up Brian McNamee again and again, and to be fair, this is a biography, and Mac had a spot in Clemens’ life.  He ought to be there.  But I do not like hearing about him, perhaps because it ruins some fantasized dream I wish to have about Clemens.

Reading about Roger’s past is interesting, his days in Dayton (the best part was the trip out!) and being the third starter on his high school team.  Clemens went to a junior college, fixed his delivery, and went to the University of Texas, where he dominated.

He went to Boston.  Dominated.

Toronto.  Dominated.

New York.  Struggled a bit, but was still a top 7 pitcher.

Houston.  Dominated.

New York Deux?  Ugh.

That is what I want to remember about Clemens, the domination.  The hard fastballs on the black, the sliders bearing down, the splitters falling off the table.  The mechanized delivery that never flinched. 

I want to remember the greatness.  But should we?  Pearlman gives a mostly fair look, but Clemens’ baggage seems to be never-ending.  It’s hard to know if Pearlman wanted it fair or not.

AHP Rating:
3.0 Balls writes its book reviews with the following system:
Four Balls: An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the local book story to get a copy.
Three Balls: This book stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Two Balls: A book worth reading/owning and is usually above average.
One Ball: This book has something to say but is nothing special.

What did you think of The Rocket that Fell to Earth?