Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 02 January 2008
The Rocket – Baseball Legend Roger Clemens
You can buy it here
Timing is everything, especially in baseball and book publication. The book “The Rocket – Baseball Legend Roger Clemens,” written by Joseph Janczak, seems to have swung and missed, however. It came out in late September as an ode to Roger Clemens, but this was mere months before Clemens was named repeatedly in the Mitchell Report for having used performance enhancing drugs.
Janczak wrote this book as a fan boy of Clemens, not an unbiased biographer. He makes his partiality obvious with this quote from the preface: “Unlike many of today’s fabricated and overhyped movie or pop stars who would not or could not be able to attain greatness if left to their own devices, the Rocket is 180 degrees the opposite.”
There are many other instances when this book seems as if it were published by a PR firm representing Clemens. The very first chapter covers the philanthropy work of both Roger and his wife Debbie Clemens. Major League Baseball fans, meaning the fans who worship Clemens the most, care very little about Clemens’ off-the-field work. There was no reason for Janczak to lead with this or even to dedicate an entire chapter to it.
Perhaps acting as a present-day Nostradamus, Janczak dedicated four pages to steroid discussion. In these pages, which seem so out of place considering the evidence put forth by former Senator George Mitchell, the author gives 12 reasons as to why Clemens would never use performance enhancing substances. The ones that are the oddest are the following: Clemens has an intense workout that keeps him in shape, but Janczak seems to forget that steroids help an athlete recover from these very intense workouts; that pitching cannot be helped by steroid use, but that is false; and Janczak also argues that Clemens “has never been a Ted Williams” at the plate, which is laughable because pitchers do not need to have hitting skills.
The bias toward Clemens may unsettle fans who do not enjoy the Rocket for one reason or another, and it even may be over the top for those who care about Clemens.
Janczak uses stilted language at times, which seems to demonstrate that he does not know much about baseball. He reports scores of games several times throughout the book and says something like the Astros lost 7 runs to 4. It seems odd that he had to signify that score had to be tallied in runs in baseball rather than some other unit of measurement.
Because Clemens declined being interviewed, the book does not lend itself a sense of authority. All of the other quotes in the book come from players who opposed Clemens but weren’t him or from publications in which Clemens had been quoted. It was unfortunate that Janczak could not get interviews with Clemens.
For die-hard Roger Clemens fans, this book is something you should read. It goes in-depth into Clemens’ life, both on and off the field. There is a distinct chance that you can gain some knowledge from it. For the average baseball fan, it is unlikely for you to gain much of anything and you may be unsettled by the bias. I give this book 1.5 balls.
Our Rating System is based on a four ball system as follows:
Average. It has something to say but is nothing special.
Something men usually have - also means its a cut above average, and worth reading/owning.
Stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
More than just what two men have when hanging out together, it means it is an exceptional book that truly earns a walk - straight to the local book store to get a copy.