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Rose beats Clemens

Page 2 staff

Poll Results

When it comes to a duel between the all-time hits leader and the active leader in victories, Page 2 readers overwhelmingly believe Charlie Hustle can beat The Rocket.

In our latest case of When Worlds Collide, 63.7 percent of Page 2 voters (1,043) think Reds legend Pete Rose would win an All-Star battle with Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens (596 votes).

Check back again next week when we seek your help in describing what would happen if two sports titans (one a current star, the other from the past) went head-to-head.

Below are two of the best of the nearly 300 letters from Page 2 readers who described how the matchup would play out.

Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens wouldn't hold back in a duel with Charlie Hustle.
Rose steps up to the plate. Clemens, staring him down from the time he left the on-deck circle, starts his windup.

Cheddar! -- 96 on the outside corner for strike one. Rose, unfazed, bets Roger that if he throws that exact same pitch again, he will end up scoring. (You'd think that Charlie Hustle would have learned his lesson about betting on baseball, wouldn't you?)

Clemens, not one to back down from a challenge, takes the bet and guarantees that Rose won't score. Clemens kicks ... and deals ...

Gorgonzola! -- mid-90s on the corner again. This time Rose hits it off the end of his bat, which shatters, but he gets just enough of the ball to squib one down the first base line. Wouldn't you know it, right between Buckner's legs again!

Before you can blink, Rose is rounding third and there's going to be a play at the plate. Clemens shoves Fisk out of the way at the dish and takes the throw from Dwight Evans, who's patrolling right. Rose comes barreling down the line. It's Ray Fosse all over again, folks. Clemens is preparing to receive the ball. It hops 15 feet in front of him and ...

Pete Rose
Pete Rose would leg out any hit he could get off Clemens.
Holy cow! -- Rose is still holding the handle of his bat and decides he's going to exact revenge for Mike Piazza. He throws the handle at the Rocket, who ducks Rose's projectile, misses the ball, and lowers his 6-4, 240-pound frame into Rose's ribs.

Rose, running at full steam, knocks Roger out cold, but he's in no shape to move either, because, after all, Roger Clemens isn't Ray Fosse. Fisk retrieves the ball from the base of the backstop and tags Rose out six feet up the line.

There you have it, folks -- a perfect ending. The Rocket's out cold, and Charlie Hustle has lost another bet.
Bob Allen
Ballwin, Mo.

In honor of the brief stints both players spent north of the 49th parallel (and just to prove how tough these warriors really are), the matchup takes place on the frozen tundra of a ball diamond in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In late November.

Wearing his old Red Sox uniform, Clemens takes the mound to warm up in the chill night. The crisp snap of the ball smacking the frozen leather of the catcher's mitt dispels any doubt in the crowd's collective mind -- Rocket Roger has his A stuff tonight.

Roger Clemens
Clemens can fire anything to first that comes his way.
A second later, a roar goes up from the assemblage as baseball's reigning Hit King briskly trots into the batter's box. Clemens glares at his opponent, a withering look known to make brave men quake. Rose glowers right back.

Rose fights off the first pitch, an inside fastball, with a broken bat foul. A quick glance at the shorn handle, and Charlie Hustle sprints to the dugout for a new bat. Sliding head-first down the steps, he scrambles to his feet, grabs a new weapon and rushes back into the batter's box, complete with another head first slide. His once pristine Reds uniform now scuffed and dirty, Rose suddenly seems more at ease.

Clemens rears back and fires again, pure smoke. Rose, his attention distracted by a microphone-wielding figure rushing toward him from the third base bleachers, doesn't even swing.

"Pete!" shouts Jim Gray, "I need to ask you the tough questions about your ban from baseball!"

"Do you really have to grill me about this right now?" Rose snarls, even as Clemens winds up to deliver what could be the fateful third strike.

At the last possible second, Rose reacts to the pitch hurtling over the outside corner and manages to coax a weak dribbler down the first base line. True to his name, Charlie Hustle takes off toward first, determined to leg out the grounder.

Pete Rose
Rose could match Clemens stare-for-stare.
Jim Gray races across the infield to cut him off, still spewing his litany of betting slips and bookies. Clemens jumps from the mound to field the hit, but instead scoops up the intrepid reporter and hurls him directly in front of the hard-charging Rose. (The Rocket later maintains that in the heat of the moment he mistook Jim Gray for the ball. Why he would even want to throw the ball directly in the path of the runner in the first place is a question that goes conveniently unasked.)

The hard-charging Rose never even breaks stride. Gray is bowled over in a storm of dust and churning cleats, and when the carnage settles, Charlie Hustle is standing safely aboard the bag.

Last seen disappearing with Vegas linemaker Michael "Roxy" Roxborough, Rose offers no postgame comment.

"Damn," Clemens says at the press conference, with a shake of his head, "this guy's good. He should be in the Hall of Fame or something."
Drew Karpyshyn
Edmonton, Alberta

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