Red Sox

McAdam: Debunking three Valentine myths

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McAdam: Debunking three Valentine myths

BOSTON -- Bobby Valentine has been so many things -- standout amateur baseball player, manager, broadcaster, competitive ballroom dancer -- that, even at 61, it's difficult to get a clear picture of him.

Making matters more complicated is that few people are neutral about Valentine. Valentine has both his ardent supporters and a seemingly equal number of vocal detractors -- and not many who are in-between.

In the last five days, Valentine has gone from stealth candidate to potential Red Sox managerial frontrunner.

Whether he's hired or not, here are three myths about Valentine that require debunking:

1) He's a winner.

That would depend on your definition of "winner."

It's true that Valentine's career winning percentage is .510 (1117-1072) over 2,189 games in the big leagues.

But a closer look reveals that Valentine, true to his winning percentage, was more "slightly above-average" than "winner" in his two previous turns.

In his first manager's job, with the Texas Rangers, Valentine spent eight seasons in the dugout and never reached the playoffs. In fact, for a time, Valentine held the dubious distinction of having managed the most number of games by an active manager without once qualifying for the postseason.

Managing the New York Mets, Valentine had six straight winning seasons and twice took the Mets to the playoffs -- once in 1999 as a wild-card entry which lost in the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves and again in 2000, when he directed the Mets to the World Series (where they lost to the New York Yankees in a famed Subway Series).

In 15 years, Valentine managed a team into the postseason twice. Similarly, his teams cracked the 90-win plateau two times. His teams never finished better than second.

2) He wouldn't stand for the kind of frat-house behavior that sank the 2011 Red Sox.

Actually, Valentine twice oversaw teams which had some similar issues.

In 1999, as the Mets season was ending, at least two of the team's stars -- Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson -- were otherwise occupied. In Game 6 of the NLCS, Bonilla and Henderson were in the clubhouse playing cards while the Mets tried, unsuccessfully, to force a Game 7.

Then, in 2002, some stories alleged that as many as seven players on the roster had smoked marijuana. Some, it was reported, hired limousines rather than take the team bus so they could smoke postgame.

When Valentine was fired after the 2002 season, owner Fred Wilpon said Valentine had lost control of the clubhouse and the players.

Given the late-season implosion the Sox underwent, complete with players drinking beer and eating fried chicken, Valentine undoubtedly had some explaining to do in his interview with Red Sox management and ownership.

3) At 61, Valentine is too established and too set in his ways to incorporate some of the new statistical metrics which the Red Sox employ.

To the contrary, Valentine has long been eager to incorporate advanced statistical data for in-game strategy, dating all the way back to his first major league managerial
job in Texas.

There, Craig Wright, a forerunner among sabremeticians, supplied him with data and Valentie embraced it.

At the time, Wright's information was rather basic; statistical anaylsis has grown mightily in the last 25 years or so.

But when you consider that some organizations still eye such data wearily, the very fact that Valentine was willing to incorporate such information as early as the mid-to-late 1980s signals a willingness to try new things and listen to what others have to offer.

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.