By Eric Neel
Page 2

Roger Clemens

A longtime friend of mine died of cancer this year at age 41. Other than a one-time confession to a certain undeniable attraction to catchers in pads and masks, she wasn't a big baseball fan, but she and Clemens converged for me as the summer unfolded. Missing her, wanting to punch some cosmic wall at the idea that she was gone so soon, drew me to him. Every fountain-of-youth start and unrelenting riff on his microscopic ERA felt like a hopeful, angry blow to mortality. Screw the fates. Damn the frailty of the body. This was what 40-something looked like. Could look like. Until this year, I'd always thought the old line from Dylan Thomas, the "rage against the dying of the light" bit, was melodrama. Rage on, Roger.

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