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|One near certainty, Jose Vidro will be the team's leader next season.|
In fact, one baseball man who kidded NL manager Jack McKeon recently about all the pressure he'd be under to start Clemens says McKeon gets it.
"Jack said, 'Unless he loses every game he pitches from here on out, he'll get the ball,' " our source said. "This is one of those stories like the Sosa-McGwire home run race, or Ripken saving the game. That's as good as it gets -- 41 years old and starting the All-Star Game in his home town? That's a Disney movie."
Well, obviously, not even Clemens is on that page yet. But we've canvassed a couple of his buddies in baseball about what it would take for Clemens to come back for one more season. And they laid it out this way:
Reasons he won't: If the Astros win the World Series, no way he'd play again. Or if he has trouble staying healthy, or even feels the cumulative physical toll of the long season, he'd quit.
Reasons he will: But if he feels as good and keeps pitching as well as he is right now and the Astros get close but don't win it all, he could easily opt for one more year.
So ultimately, his future could well come down to just how far this team goes. As one friend put it, "My view is that October will tell."
Well, that might have caused problems if other guys had tried it. But Clemens was smart enough to call both Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio for their OK before agreeing to that time-off plan. And once they signed off, that was that.
So far, in fact, this has gone so well that Clemens even told ESPN Radio's Michael Kay in New York that the Astros' Kangaroo Court is now threatening to fine him for showing up when he isn't pitching.
"Maybe there's something to that," quipped one NL executive. "Maybe (the Astros) stumbled upon something everybody should try. All this rah-rah teammate stuff -- maybe it's overrated."
|Biggest dropoffs from starters to bullpen|
|Team||Starters' ERA||Bullpen ERA||Difference|
|Biggest dropoffs from bullpen to starters|
|Team||Bullpen ERA||Starters' ERA||Difference|
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to send Jayson a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.