Red Sox

Wakeup call: Dickie V. issues a warning about . . . Amanda Bynes??

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Wakeup call: Dickie V. issues a warning about . . . Amanda Bynes??

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, September 19:

BASEBALL
No one can accuse the Orioles of coasting back into a first-place tie with the Yankees. Not after 18 innings. Or 5 hours and 44 minutes. (AP)

If you're thinking Dusty Baker would love for the Reds to clinch the N.L. Central at Wrigley Field, considering that the Cubs fired him way back when, think again. (CSN Chicago)

However, since their magic number is down to four, it's possible. (AP)

It may be a badge of honor in some circles, but Ike Davis doesn't like the insinuation that he's a party animal. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Yunel Escobar says he wasn't trying to offend anyone, and he wasn't aiming it at anybody in particular, and he didn't see it as anything bad "at the time". With all that out of the way, he apologized -- and accepted a three-game suspension -- for the homophobic slur he painted on his eye black last week. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Raise your hand if you never thought you'd see the names Dick Vitale and Amanda Bynes in the same sentence. (NBC's Off The Bench) Raise both hands if you never thought you'd see Dickie V. issuing a general warning about her.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Brian Kelly is a Boston native and he loves the Red Sox, but he doesn't sound too enthused about the prospect of Notre Dame playing a game at Fenway Park. (CSN Chicago)

LSU will have to take on Auburn -- and the next few opponents on its schedule -- without starting running back Alfred Blue. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Can you imagine Bill Belichick beseeching local reporters to smile? (College Football Talk) Me, neither.

Injured Tulane safety Devon Walker has been moved to a rehabilitation center. (AP)

HOCKEY
Good news at last for the locked-out players: The NHLPA is restoring their insurance coverage after the league canceled it. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

If you're looking for more good news, you're going to have to look pretty hard. (CSN Philly)

And if they don't start negotiating again soon . . . well, look out below. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Yet another casualty of the lockout: The Summit Series anniversary game. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
They're just gobbling up tickets to see Austin Rivers in New Orleans. Oh, and maybe Anthony Davis, too. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Linsanity begins in Houston. (AP)

President Obama (finally!) salutes the Minnesota Lynx. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
We'll withhold comment on the irony of Jon Gruden calling Michael Turner "road rage" during the Falcons' win over the Broncos Monday night, and Turner then being arrested for DUI a few hours after the game. (AP)

The NFL and its locked-out referees continue to talk at, and not to, each other. (NBC's Pro Football Talk) That's not how you get it done, boys.

26 million later, Vince Young is broke. (AP) And jobless.

L.A.'s hopes for an NFL franchise may have taken a hit. (Pro Football Talk)

Okay, okay; Jay Cutler admits he shouldn't have shoved J'Marcus Webb. He'll defend to the death, though, his right to yell at him. (AP)

And Jeff Ireland admits he shouldn't have sworn at that fan who told him to fire himself as Dolphins GM. (AP) But at least Ireland didn't shove anybody.

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.