Red Sox

To boo or not to boo?

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To boo or not to boo?

As we were reminded last week, nothing polarizes sports fans quite like religion and politics. In fact, nothing polarizes anything quite like religion and politics.

Lets never talk about that stuff again, OK? We dont need it. Especially when there are plenty of other hot button issues to argue over.

For instance, booing.

Is there anything in sports that polarizes fans faster than the concept of booing athletes?

Whether its an issue with the home team, or the home players, or former heroes returning as enemies, when we talk about booing, true colors come flying out. We end up debating morality and basic human rights. Everyone gets preachy and nothings ever accomplished.

In other words: Its awesome.

Im already bracing myself for January.

SHOULD CELTICS FANS BOO RAY ALLEN?

I dont know.

They should do whatever they want. This isnt a moral issue; its booing. Its part of the game. And if you think theyre wrong, thats your right, but theres no point in lecturing. Youd be better off trying to convince Tim Thomas to vote for Obama.

People will believe what they want to believe. And right now, a lot of people believe that Josh Beckett deserves to be booed. Not for getting injured, but for being Josh Beckett. Not for his back spasms, but because back spasms are an injury consistent with the notion that he's out of shape.

Bottom line: Beckett's become the face of this year-long Red Sox nightmare, and fans are ready to wake up. They don't want to see him anymore. Hell, if they really wanted to be cruel and unusual, they could have cheered the injury. Celebrated the possibility that this guy might disappear for 15 days. But they booed.

It's OK.

Beckett will be OK. Ray Allen will be OK. Johnny Damon was OK. And if booing makes a fan feel better, who's to say whether it's right or wrong?

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.