Red Sox

Haggerty: Signs are there that Sox are giving up season

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Haggerty: Signs are there that Sox are giving up season

CLEVELAND So this is what happens when a baseball team gives up all pretense of hope for a season, or caring about how theyre perceived.

Sure there were still angry competitors raging against the dying of the 2012 Red Sox dream. Dustin Pedroia practically had hot, piping steam coming out of his ears as he barked out a request for reporters to hurry up and ask him whatever questions were coming his way after his first career game as a designated hitter.

Pedroia had a pair of hits and scored a run in Bostons 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night at Progressive Field, and his hitting tear continued for another day as the little infielder played in his 14th straight game.

But he wasnt able to get up with a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning when Pedro Ciriaco and Carl Crawford ran into a rare 6-5-6-4 double play that killed a potential rally what was then a tight one-run game.

It was Ciriacos mistake in being over-aggressive attempting to go second-to-third on a fairly routine infield ground ball, and he appeared to be wearing the burden of the loss following the game.

I thought the ball was going to pass him, so I went and he made a nice play, said Ciriaco. I should have waited to see if it went through. I made a mistake.

Its an easily forgivable miscue from a minor league middle infielder thats hitting .341 for the Sox, and has consistently been one of the best stories during a sunken regular season. Ciriaco is not the problem with his baseball team, but his gaffe helped slap the Sox with their third loss in a row and sank them to three games under .500 for the first time.

Wearing that kind of substandard record and consistently letting games slip through their fingers in mid-August has brought some harsh realities to most of the Sox players. They know the season is over, and that winning streak their shiny, happy manager keeps talking about simply isnt coming.

There were looks of resignation on many of the Sox players faces as they chewed up corn on the cob, picked at the postgame spread and shuffled out of the Cleveland visitors clubhouse. Its the same clubhouse that some of these players strutted through five years ago with World Series confidence, but that was truly a long time ago.

There were others that just dont seem to care about wins or losses anymore.

Like John Lackey as he apparently needs to travel with the team and work with trainer Mike Reinold while recovering from Tommy John surgery a fairly standard rehab that literally thousands of pitchers have come back from stronger-than-ever over the last 30 years.

But for whatever reason the underachieving righty needs to travel with the team even though he wont be throwing even one measly pitch for them.

Lackey was so busted up after the latest defeat that he was strutting around the clubhouse with a can of Bud Light in each hand, or what is known as double-fisting on every college campus in the history of mankind.

So much for the Bobby Valentine ban on alcohol in the Sox clubhouse that was implemented during spring training.

For a guy that was at the epicenter of last years chicken and beer shenanigans and somebody that isnt expected to help out this years team in any way, shape or form it was another clear case of some Sox players that just dont care anymore.

Not all.

Not even most.

But instead its a few rotten apples that are ruining the bunch as they continue to infect a team thats trying to shake its past reputation.

They dont care about the ultimate fate of this years team, and thats been obvious in the consistently bogus results.

They clearly dont care to protect reputations they feel were sullied when the truth about last years fractured, flawed squad came to light.

The conventional thinking was that Lackey would be removed from the equation after he underwent offseason elbow surgery, and would rehab in Fort Myers or at home.

But instead hes essentially morphed into Barney from the Simpsons hanging around the team with an 82.5 million contract and no accountability of any kind.

It probably shouldnt be surprising in the end, however.

Why should players that suffered no real punishment for last years misdeeds feel like theyre anything but bulletproof when they do the exact same things this year?

The Red Sox had a chance over the winter and again at the trade deadline -- to sweep out the problem children, and jettison the I Like Beer backup singers to parts unknown.

They didnt do it and that same swaggering indifference threatens a group of young players trying to do the right thing while the regular seasons walls are already closing around them.

There was a lot of talk that things would be different about this years group of Sox players. But action speaks louder than words, and theyre screaming same old, same old as the Sox sink back toward the bottom of the AL East with the second-highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball.

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.