Red Sox

Martinez, Millar among '04 Sox honored at Fenway

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Martinez, Millar among '04 Sox honored at Fenway

BOSTON For Pedro Martinez it was mission accomplished. Winning a World Series was the reason he was brought to Boston. Anything short of that would have been a failure. It took until his final season with the Red Sox, but he finally accomplished his mission.

And, if he had not won that 2004 World Series?

I would have probably retired right after then, he said. I dont know. I would have been so disappointed that I came here with a purpose and that was the purpose. And Ill probably say I was the only player out of all that players that felt like I had something to achieve for this team because I was called in to build the team around me as the ace of the team. And it took me to the last year to actually finally get it. But I could finally say, Mission Accomplished.

Martinez was one of several players from the 2004 team honored in a ceremony before Tuesdays game against the Rays at Fenway Park. What made that team special, said Kevin Millar, was the chemistry.

You got to pull for each because youre not fooling us, Millar said. We can fool you guys. We can say the right thing and we know there are a few teams out there that say the right thing in front of the camera. But you cant fool your teammates . . . We pulled for each other and that was what was cool.

When Johnnys running into a wall or whatever, you want to work harder to make sure that effort doesnt go for naught, said Keith Foulke.

Foulke was on the mound for the final out of the World Series, retiring Edgar Renteria on a comebacker in St. Louis as the Sox swept the Cardinals. Even though he was the closer, he did not allow himself to envision that moment ahead of time.

No not even close, he said. I never once thought about what could happen. You start looking too far ahead and start dreaming, then all of sudden someones going to smack you in the face where youre at and bad things happen. It wasnt until the parade is when it sat in for me.

The players, along with manager Terry Francona, and coaches Brad Mills, Dave Wallace, Ron Jackson, and Lynn Jones, arrived for the ceremony riding on duck boats, as they did during the celebratory parade eight years ago.

You remember the tightness of that team, Millar said. We werent the best players. We had a few superstars with Pedro and Manny Ramirez. But we were the best unit.

But, Martinez still has one more thing he wants to accomplish at Fenway Park.

Ive been to the Green Monster many times, he said. Everyone has the history of signing the Green Monster. I refused to until I won for Boston. And I keep forgetting every time I come back. Now I feel like I can finally sign it and leave my name on the Green Monster. And I havent signed it yet.

Now we can all go and sign it and say Mission Accomplished.

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.