If the phrase ghost in the shell can be applied to "an individual's consciousness", it wasn't Roger Clemens: Baseball God, who beat the Twins on Monday night. It was his ghost.
Clemens isn't the same pitcher he used to be. This isn't a secret. His fastball struggles to break 92 at it's peak, and although his bust in Cooperstown with bear the moniker "The Rocket", even he will tell you he's done blowing people away. In 33 days Roger Clemens will turn 45, and he now relies on his split-finger, on changing speeds, on the black of the plate to get batters out. And on who he used to be.
As hitter after hitter fell away from him on Monday, each falling prey to Clemens' reputation or splitter or his own aggression, it was easy to succumb to the veil painted by the eyes. For all intents and purposes it looked like the man about to win his 350th game wasn't in the twilight of his playing days, but at the apex of a great career. Pausing Clemens in mid-motion gave nothing away. If you lost the pinstripes and the extra weight and the lines forming around the eyes and simply were able to focus on the form, on that same delivery that's existed for as long as many fans can remember, it could be Roger Clemens in his prime.
Press play again and notice the sag, the age and a uniform not bearing red. Note the pitch selection and speed. No longer does Clemens feast on opposing lineups by his own physical prowess; it's something else that allows him to continue.
At a certain point in the career of every athelete the body decays and muscles betray themselves. It's what remains inside that gives strength to the body, that allows the character to continue and to play on--to play on, in Clemens' case, longer than the experts allow.
Nothing and no one should take away what this feat means to a player like Roger Clemens. At nearly 45 he's just won his 350th game, only the 8th man to ever accomplish the feat in Major League Baseball. He pitched eight stunning innings, and allowed one run on just two hits.
What should be recognized, is that the sooner baseball realizes exactly who The Rocket is in 2007, the sooner baseball can put an end to what's been an amazing career. Roger Clemens is no longer one of the game's premier pitchers, he's a player who survives in many ways on the player he once was. His body and specific attributes betray the fact that he's not who he used to be. It's his mind that remains, his competetive soul and consciousness. What beat the Twins on Monday night was essentially a 27-year old's spirit in a 45-year old's form.
The Twins were beaten by the Ghost In the Shell.