Red Sox

Francona will not manage in 2012

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Francona will not manage in 2012

MILWAUKEE -- Although his name continues to be linked to the still-vacant managerial opening with the Chicago Cubs, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona has come to a realization.

"I'm not going to try to manage next year,'' said Francona by phone Wednesday, "for my benefit.''

Francona parted with the Red Sox two days after the season ended following a disastrous month of September which saw the team go 7-20 and blow a 9 12 game wild card lead on the final night of the year. Worse, the collapse was followed by a slew of stories detailing player behavior in the Boston clubhouse.

Francona interviewed for the St. Louis Cardinals' job last week, but the Cardinals hired former catcher Mike Matheny, who has no previous managerial experience, last week for the position.

"When I interviewed in St. Louis, I was genuinely excited about it,'' said Francona. "St. Louis was such an exciting opportunity. But we were all beaten up at the end of the year, and after (interviewing) I took a step back and began to look at things realistically.''

Theo Epstein's presence in Chicago as president of baseball operations has stirred recurring speculation that Epstein and Francona would re-unite. The two have kept up an
open dialogue, but Francona isn't a candidate for the Cubs' opening.

"I've talked to Theo numerous times,'' said Francona. "We both know each other well enough where we can can be honest with each other. I don't think it's the right opportunity.

"I need to take a step back and re-energize. That's probably in my best interest right now. In fairness to myself, it's the best thing to do.''

The 2012 season will mark the first time since 2001 that Francona hasn't been in uniform since his playing career ended and will be the first time he doesn't draw a paycheck from a team since coming out of college.

"I worked for Cleveland (in an off-field role as scout) in 2001 and it ended up being good for me,'' said Francona. "After a while, your perspective can get blurred. I think maybe this will be valuable (to take some time off).''

Instead, Francona may explore some broadcast opportunities. He's been contacted by representatives from Fox, ESPN and the MLB Network.

"I'm going to explore some things in broadcasting and see where it leads,'' he said. "It may be a way to stay in the game, enjoy it and also be able to step back and look at things.''

Francona filled in for Tim McCarver for the first two games of Fox's ALCS coverage and earned universal praise, prompting the interest from networks.

"That surprised me, because I was terrified,'' he said. "I'm not deluding myself, thinking I'm the next coming of John Madden. But I did enjoy it. We'll see. Baseball's what I know. Maybe there's a place out there that makes sense for me. I'd at least like to look.''

Having been around the game for 30 years, Francona has also heard from lots of friends in the game, with offers to get back into baseball in a non-managerial capacity. For now, however, he'd prefer to take some time off.

It will take a while, he knows, to adjust.

"I'm sure that will be really difficult for me,'' he said. "Not going to spring training will certainly be a huge void, but I guess I'm glad. I want to get myself re-energized and if and when an opportunity arises (to manage again), I'll be ready.''

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.