Patriots

On Bard's (maybe) big move

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On Bard's (maybe) big move

With yesterday's Ankiel-like performance in Toronto, questions surrounding Daniel Bard's spot in the Red Sox rotation are spinning faster than Donnie Sadler around the base paths. In fact, according to Rob Bradford at WEEI.com, the Sox are more focused than ever on picking up another starter and sending No. 51 back to the pen.

On one hand, the idea of Bard in the bullpen especially in light of his mediocre (at best) stint in the rotation is as exciting as ever.

In this scenario, if all goes to plan, the Sox will get Andrew Bailey back around the All-Star break and eventually have some combination of him, Bard, Crazy Alfredo and Franklin Morales handling duties in the seventh, eighth and ninth, while Vincente Padilla and Scott Atchinson fill in gaps along the way.

Considering there were times this season when we feared the Sox might have one of the worst bullpens in baseball, I'd say the above arrangement at least on paper is pretty sweet. If Beckett and Lester can stay on point, Buchholz can build off this recent resurgence and Doubront can keep on keeping on, throwing Bard into the bullpen with those other arms could be the piece that takes this pitching staff to another level. Combine that with an offense that's scored the second most runs in baseball and should only get better as the season wears on and . . .

We'll see.

For now, let's get back to Bard and one important question:

At this point, are we even sure that merely moving Bard to the bullpen will solve his pitching woes? That a new role and a quick snap of the fingers will erase all the issues that contributed to literally one of the worst outings in more than 100 years of baseball history?

After all, it's not like Bard was exactly tearing it up in his last stint as a reliever. He was awful in September. He was the worst pitcher on the staff, and that's saying something. That's like being the dumbest guy in a New York Jets fan club.

As a result, despite all the on-paper optimism, I think we're at the point where moving Bard to the pen is as much about getting him out of the rotation as it is bolstering the bullpen. And that any hopes that he'll be a factor down the stretch should be put on hold until he proves otherwise.

And if all else fails, maybe Bobby V. should give Bard a whirl in center field.

It worked for Ankiel.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

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Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.

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“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout." 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press