Red Sox

Beckett gets a chance to slay some demons

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Beckett gets a chance to slay some demons

Considering we're only two months into a six-month season, it's a little early to start talking about guys coming "full circle." But tonight at Fenway, Josh Beckett can take a large and rather symbolic step towards keeping his once-disgusting season trending in the right direction.

The last time Beckett took the mound against the Detroit Tigers, it was a downright disaster.

You ever wonder what it would be like if John Wasdin and Mark Melancon had a baby together? Of course you have. We all have. And on April 7, we found out.

As you remember, it was Beckett's first start of the season, his first start since September's collapse, and to celebrate, he was absolutely horrendous.

4 23 innings, 7 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts and . . .

the poisonous-cherry-on-his-feces sundae . . .

Five home runs.

He'd given up five homers in a start only once before in his career. In 2011, he hadn't give up his fifth home run until July 28. And considering how last season had ended, it was really the worst possible way for him to kick off the 2012 campaign. (Thankfully, the local media was calm and cool, and didn't overreact in the slightest.).

But since then, Beckett's been solid. In fact, save for one ugly start against Cleveland, he's been the Sox best pitcher.

He's pitched into the seventh inning in six of his subsequent eight starts. He's gone at least seven innings in his last three starts, while giving up no more than two runs in any of them not surprisingly, the Sox are 3-0.

And the most impressive stat of all: After giving up those five homers in his first 4 23 innings, Beckett's surrendered only four homers in his last 51 23 innings. He's no more likable than he was back in April, but you can't deny that he's finally righted his tubby ship, and almost ALMOST looks ready to re-claim his title as ace of this Red Sox staff. Can he do it?

We'll see what happens tonight, when Beckett takes the mound against the team that got his season off to such an inglorious start.

But just to be safe, I wouldn't park you car in the lot behind the Monster.

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

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

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.