Red Sox

Papi has Beckett's back

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Papi has Beckett's back

It's now been more than three weeks since David Ortiz graced the Red Sox lineup, but while Papi struggles to work that Achilles back into shape, his mouth is working fine.

This morning, in a conversation with Rob Bradford, Ortiz sounded off on the recent booing of Josh Beckett, as well as the insinuation that the Texas Tough Guy may not have been as injured as he let on last Thursday against the Tigers.

"Are you kidding me? said Ortiz. When it comes to Josh Beckett, this is a guy who likes competition. Trust me, the way he was pitching that night, he wanted no part of being out of the game . . . "

He later added: "I think it was totally wrong about how lots of people made it sound like. Im pretty sure a lot of those people who wanted to make it sound like he faked an injury regret it right now.

OK.

It's easy to jump on Ortiz here for siding with Public Enemy No. 1, but I think the more interesting angle is that, yet again, we're faced with an example of a teammate backing Josh Beckett. It's another reminder that while No. 19 might be the most hated athlete in Boston, and a guy we all like to blame for poisoning the Sox clubhouse and ruining our lives as we knew them, the other guys on the roster don't seem to mind him.

And of course, that's a problem in and of itself.

Or maybe it's a sign that we've all gone overboard with the Beckett bashing?

I don't know. I hate Beckett as much as the next guy does, but if he's such a horrible presence in the clubhouse, why do teammates keep defending him? Why not just stay quiet and let him take his medicine? I'm telling you, through all the hatred that's been thrown Beckett's way, we still haven't seen any evidence that the players (aside from maybe Youk) feel the same way. And you know what?

It doesn't matter.

Even though Beckett's attitude gets most of the attention around here, the far more troubling development is that as he proved again this afternoon Beckett's no longer an effective pitcher. Whether it's a matter of age, injury, conditioning or dedication . . . he's toast.

He had a 6.08 ERA in July, with a 1.65 WHIP. He gave up 33 hits in 26 23 innings. He has been useless. And this afternoon brought us much of the same: Five innings, eight hits, EIGHT runs, three home runs and, most likely, another loss.

Wonder how Papi feels about that?

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.