Red Sox

Surprise! The writers got it right

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Surprise! The writers got it right

Mike from Attleboro -- the leading contributor to Michael Felger's old mailbag and one of Felger's favorite callers to his radio show -- is now contributing occasional pieces to CSNNE.com. Today he gives his take on the Hall of Fame voting.

When the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballots were distributed last month, for the first time ever, the names Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens had check boxes next to them. Finally, after about a decade of hypothetical sports talk posturing, hyperbole and speculation, the Baseball Writers Association of America was forced to look the Steroid Era of baseball square in the eyes and make a decision: Will the continued hysteria around PEDs keep two of the generations most iconic players out of the Hall of Fame? Or will the BBWAA continue the Three Blind Mice routine they perfected as they traded accountability for access while covering these players?

Today the inductees were made public and the results were straight from Brewsters Millions: None of the above, which is more than appropriate considering Monty Brewster could have pitched for the Yankees instead of renting them to play the Hackensack Bulls if he spent some of that 30 million inheritance on Deca and HGH.

Personally, Im just stunned because I think these self-important windbags accidentally got it right. They kept the steroid cheats out of the Hall.

Ill freely admit that when the ballots were distributed I wasnt holding out much hope. These sanctimonious keyboard debutants cant agree on the value of defense, postseason play, sabermetrics, or the impact of longevity as they relate to Hall of Fame voting, so what would make anyone think that there would be some hard and fast consistent guidelines regarding the steroid era?

Luckily for fans, most of the BBWAA chose to treat the steroid question just like any other stat or quantitative metric these self-important sorority sisters bandy about to enshrine players. It was put in to context randomly, politically and non-scientifcally, except in cases where its simply too enormous to ignore. As a result, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa will have to compete with Pete Rose for table space if they want to hold court in Cooperstown this year.

Ultimately the sanctity of the Hall of Fame was protected because the steroid era coming home to roost on Hall of Fame ballots simply gave the BBWAA another chance to do what they do best: Climb to their lofty perch on the moral high ground they used to triage out statistically worthy players like Dick Allen and Albert Belle and arbitrarily decide who should and shouldnt make it based on gut feeling alone. They all do it, even the best of them.

Take one of the greatest sports writers this country has ever seen, Bob Ryan.

In 2006 Ryan wrote a column about Belle that compared him favorably from a stats perspective to Jim Rice, Tony Perez and others, and then went on to make the argument that Belle's surly demeanor and aggressive behavior was so detrimental, it actually countered his numerical qualifications for the Hall of Fame. And that isnt even including the steroid speculation that should rightly accompany Belles career. Imagine if he liked fried chicken?!?

If Bob Ryan can go on record and exclude Albert Belle from enshrinement simply because he was a superhumanly truculent jerk in the clubhouse, then suspicion of PED use alone is more than enough to keep someone like Jeff Bagwell, who is only tangentially linked to PEDs, from the Hall. To me, Bagwell looked like a steroid guy, used Andro, trained like a body builder and was buddies with Ken Cammenitti. Is that enough prove that hes guilty of PED use? Nope. Is it enough for me to suspect that hes a sauced-up Dale Murphy, minus one MVP and four Gold Gloves? Yup. No Hall for you, Beefy.

I hope that BBWAA members now realize that no due process whatsoever is owed to these players in regards to steroids. Nobody is trying to change history and pull off the Back to the Future revisionist crusade in a uniformly dirty sport that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency unleashed against Lance Armstrong. The results of baseball games, championships and records are and should be untouchable. All that is in play with Hall Of Fame voting is a players qualifications for a significant post career superlative.

So please, Knights of the Press Pass, continue to make the players wait. If Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris can languish on the ballot for years as the BBWAA debate their statistical qualifications, then a steroid era player can cool his heels in Cooperstowns greenroom as we wait and see if Brian McNamee has any more vintage soda cans in his possession. If Bob Costas and Mike Lupica want to routinely act like sports journalisms version of Moses, reminding the masses of their commandments, then the very least the BBWAA can do is keep Bonds, Clemens and Sosa in Hall of Fame purgatory for the full fifteen years.

You say this isnt fair? I say too bad. Baseball players and their union had multiple chances to adopt testing and instead they chose to protect cheaters who profited financially from using an illegal substance until congress forced their hand. Quite frankly, they are lucky that they only judgment they are being subjected to is a glorified popularity vote, so spare me your misplaced outrage.

By fighting testing at every opportunity, the players and their union surrendered the right of final judgment to people that cant agree on things like Edgar Martinez being in Hall of Fame because hes a DH or that a Pitcher shouldnt win an MVP because they dont play every day. They should be neither shocked nor dismayed that a players confirmed or suspected steroid use is debated with the same levels of non-uniformity?

Today, an era of baseball players that escaped judgment at the hands of anti-doping science, law enforcement and the MLBs Commissioners office is now being held accountable by a power they can never hope to defeat: the comedic inconsistency and indomitable self-righteousness of the BBWAA.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.
 

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

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NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.

As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.

Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

"We have to be much more offensive," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

"They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So today, they did. We got beat today."

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.

"I just need to take a step back and see what's going on," he said.

Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

"Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow," Baez said. "But I feel like we're still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we're going to be the best again."

Contreras' 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

"Hopefully, it's not a goodbye, it's a thank you, obviously," Arrieta said. "I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that's where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there."

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

"The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short," Turner said. "We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did."

FINISHING UP

Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.

"So other guys got to do it," Maddon said. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

QUOTABLE

Chicago's Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs' runs coming on homers in the series: "That's fine. A run's a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I'll take that, too."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.

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