Watching "60 Minutes" Sunday night, I couldn't decide which was sadder: Roger Clemens channeling his Inner Bill Clinton ("I...did...not...shoot...steroids...with...that...man"), or the scratchy, 16RPM version of Mike Wallace in the other chair.

And then there's Monday's press conference, turned listening session, turned freak show. (Enough said.) Next, it's off to The Hill...and not the kind with a wad a hard rubber nailed to the middle.

For me, the question isn't did he or didn't he. (We'll probably never know.) For me, it's why Clemens chooses to play this out so fiercely, and so publicly.

From a retirement transition standpoint, The Rocket was stalled long before the Mitchell report's allegations. And that is why this fight looms huge for Clemens. It's all he's got right now. His take-no-prisoners defense is filling a vacuum created by his failure to find something new to do with his life. Yes, it's about salvaging his reputation and any hope of Hall of Fame enshrinement. But this fight gives him even more: a sense of purpose that even he may now realize pitching can no longer provide.

By his own admission, Clemens has flunked retirement repeatedly.

His inability to find a suitable post-pitching career turns his current situation into a Game Seven: yet another fight he can win with equal parts sheer will, hard work and brute force.

It's not about the money. The taint is there, in permanent ink -- and with it, zero hope of serious endorsement dollars (living proof: see "McGwire, Mark," and "Sosa, Sammy"). No doubt, though, a blank check-toting Judith Regan is beating a path to East Texas as I tap away.

You just need to look at Clemens's personality -- on display for two-plus decades -- to understand why he is attacking his attacker so fiercely. It is entirely consistent with how he has approached everything in his career, if not his life: Winner take all.

Think I'm washed up, Boston ? I'll sign with your division rivals and extend your miserable curse. Broken bat in my general direction? (See "Piazza, Mike, 2000 World Series.") Not on my mound. Forty-something groin a bit testy? I'll give you seven strong frames.

If he had figured out what was next after pitching, I don't think we'd be seeing Clemens in full Rambo mode now. I'd go as far as to say he wouldn't have donned Pinstripes this past season. He took a swing at mentoring his major league-hopeful son, but that didn't cut it. That's his only publicly known attempt at non-active duty detail, and it may well have kept him too close to the game to allow serious thought about any truly viable post-pitching (if not post-baseball altogether) options.

Figuring out what comes next after our life's work ends is, in itself, hard work. It can be really tough stuff that takes lots of reflection and good guidance. It takes time.

Layer on top of that an Alpha type who has known nothing but the utmost success at work, and you've got...well...where Clemens finds himself right now: Hall of Fame, or bust. The saddest part: he is far from alone in this department.

Michael Burnham is CEO of My Next Phase, a consulting firm offering non-financial retirement planning products and services (www.mynextphase.com).


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