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Kyle Lewis – Seattle Mariners’ lone rep. on mid-season Top 100 Prospects List

Kyle Lewis – Seattle Mariners’ lone rep. on mid-season Top 100 Prospects List

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Personally, one of my favorite things about the Major League Baseball All-Star break is the aftermath that always includes an updated Top 100 Prospects List from MLBPipeline.com. This year was no different, as I was curious to see what Mariners – if any – would make the list, especially after trading No. 2 organizational prospect Tyler O’Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals last week.

Single-A Advanced outfielder Kyle Lewis came in at No. 47 overall as the lone representative for the Mariners on the prestigious list. O’Neill, meanwhile, slipped to No. 100 on the list after being ranked much higher during spring training.

WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT LEWIS?

It’s a small sample size due to a knee injury that set the 22-year old’s development back a bit this season, but in 19 at bats through six games for Modesto, he is showing both power and his ability to hit to contact. Lewis has a .368 batting average and three home runs with seven RBI.

Again, very small sample size, but that’s what Lewis has been up to so far this season for at least a somewhat competitive level of the minor leagues. He also played 11 games in the Arizona League, but analyzing Class-A Advanced is as low in the minors as I will go to evaluate a player’s major-league promise. If I start evaluating short-season, single-A players I apparently have nothing to do in my free time.

Anyways, the Mariners like Lewis. If he didn’t start the season injured, I would have expected him to be in Double-A by now, but I would assume that’s where he will begin 2018 with a projected major-league debut in 2019.

By then, the 24-year old outfielder will be ready to make an impact – assuming he doesn’t get traded at the deadline next year like O’Neill was this year.

WHY DID THE M’S TRADE O’NEILL?

The trade with the Cardinals for SP/RP Marco Gonzales was a bit of a head scratcher for me at least.  I know the Mariners need relief pitching and the 25-year old Gonzales gives you some flexibility with the ability to start as well. At least general manager Jerry Dipoto realized the trade for Miami Marlins pitcher David Phelps was NOT going to solve the bullpen issues independently (Unfortunately, that is old news at this point, so ranting about how much I dislike David Phelps wouldn’t be relevant.)

Anyways, I am guessing that the numbers O’Neill put up at Triple-A this year were underwhelming for the Seattle brass. It’s a pretty healthy sample size – 349 at-bats in 93 games for Tacoma, but the 22-year old hit only .244 in a hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He did add 19 home runs and 56 RBI with nine steals, and I’m not sure how he is defensively, but Dipoto must have seen a red flag somewhere.

I really don’t know, but I am trying to justify it for him.

Gonzales, meanwhile, has some major-league experience this year. It might be an experience he wants to forget though – lasting 3.1 innings, giving up five earned runs and three home run balls when he pitched for the Cardinals. At triple-A, however, he pitched well this year, going 6-4 in 11 starts with a 2.90 ERA for Memphis. In his one start for Tacoma, he went six innings and gave up three runs.

I get it that the Mariners need pitching depth and Gonzales can start or come out of the bullpen, I just don’t know if trading a power hitter who is three years younger for Gonzales was the best move. It will end up being one of those ‘wait and see’ trades, I guess. Until we see how it turns out, I am proceeding with skepticism.

Keep in mind the Cardinals system produces outfield talent so quickly, they resemble a Chinese manufacturing plant. This year alone, Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and most recently Harrison Bader, who doubled and scored the walk-off run Tuesday night, have all come from the Cardinals minor-league system. There’s also former Cardinals outfielders Colby Rasmus and that Albert Pujols guy – who came up at as a third baseman but started his career in the outfield.

Tyler O’Neill will be next… I’m not saying Gonzales won’t be worth it – just saying O’Neill will be better.

BACK TO KYLE LEWIS

Sorry, I got super distracted. I have been pretty hot about the O’Neill trade, so I needed to get that out of my system.

Anyways, Lewis will be a fun one to watch over the next two years in the minor leagues. The bottom line is he will need to stay healthy and will the knee injury hinder his speed at all? That could be a huge factor.

The former Golden Spikes award winner in 2016 was drafted 11th overall by the Mariners and immediately jumped to the top of their organizational top prospects list. The Golden Spikes Award is given to the top, amateur baseball player in the country, so winning it in 2016 is nothing to scoff at.

Lewis is the real deal (when healthy).

To put it into perspective, other recent winners of this prestigious award include Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox (2015), A.J. Reed of Houston (2014) and highly-touted Brendan McKay out of Louisville in 2017.

Lewis a big presence at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. Since he’s only 22-years old he will likely fill out that frame and add some muscle. He can hit for power and he can hit for average.

The big question remains: How is the rebuilt ACL going to heal and will that set back his development further? We shall see.

FINAL WORD

The Mariners’ farm system is fairly weak – to be polite, making not only Kyle Lewis more valuable to the team than most No. 1 organizational prospects, but it also limits what kind of pitching additions the M’s can make before Monday’s trade deadline.

Taking the first two games against Boston has been refreshing and maybe Seattle can make a playoff push without landing a top-level, pitching talent.

Enjoy the rest of your week, readers. Go Mariners!

The Hulk Vs. Hercules – Johnny James Battles Ray Hill At Rumble At The Roseland 96

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The Hulk Vs. Hercules – Johnny James Battles Ray Hill At Rumble At The Roseland 96

BY PORTLAND MMA

Fight week is finally among us!! The FCFF is once again starting off the new year with another great card. 2018 will mark a big year for the FCFF as it will mark its 100th event later this year. The FCFF’s Rumble at the Roseland 96 has been relatively quiet leading up to fight week.

This Friday, weigh-ins for Rumble 96 will take place at Bridge City Fight Shop. The weigh-in event will start at 7pm sharp. With currently twelve fights scheduled, twenty four fighters are expected to weigh-in that night.

 

Johnny James Vs. Raymond Hill

Saturday’s main event features a Super Fight between Johnny James and Raymond Hill. Hill came in on less than two weeks notice to fight James. Originally, current champion Alex Aguilar was scheduled to defend his title against Johnny James until he had to pull out due to an injury. Ray Hill hasn’t stepped foot into the cage for almost one year exactly to the day. Hill was supposed to fight Alex Aguilar back in September, but unfortunately had to pull out of that fight due to family reasons. Although he’s on a 3-fight win streak, ring rust could be an issue. Hill will definitely be looking to finish this fight to get his shot once again against Aguilar. Hill is currently 6-1 and ranked #2 in the Northwest in the Welterweight division. I believe he will be willing to stand toe to toe with Johnny James in the slammer. If he can stay on his toes while avoiding James’ punches, I believe he has a good chance. Ray Hill is a tough competitor and will be a great test for Johnny James.

Johnny James is on a two fight win streak after a dominate performance against Saul Ruiz. We should see his full potential in Saturday’s matchup against Ray Hill. Johnny James has shown he has real power in his striking. The one draw back from all of James’ power, is it does leave him open to a counter-punch. Will he be quick enough to get the open shots he needs, though, is the question. Given Hill hasn’t had a full camp to prepare, cardio could be an issue. If the fight lasts till the later rounds, James should have the advantage. One thing is for sure, if he does connect with one of his monster strikes, it will spell trouble for Ray Hill.

I don’t expect this fight to go to the ground at all. With a combined eight knockouts between these two fighters (four Knockouts a piece), this should be a very exciting and intense fight between these two fighters. I don’t believe this fight will reach the 5th round and will end in exciting fashion!

You can still purchase tickets, but seats are getting scarce. You can find tickets at Cascade Tickets or forgo the surcharges and pick them up at Bridge City Fight Shop! Doors open at 6 and the fights will start at 7pm.

 

Bellator 192 to be shown at Rumble 96

The FCFF is a huge supporter of Bellator fighter Chael Sonnen (who also happens to be co-owner of the FCFF). Sonnen is scheduled to fight the same night as Rumble at the Roseland 96 is taking place. The American Gangster and Rampage Jackson are set to kick off the Bellator World Grand Prix, the first fight of many to crown the next Bellator Heavyweight Champion. To support Sonnen, the FCFF will be playing the Bellator card during Saturday’s Rumble 96. Your ticket purchase will get you into the bar to watch both the FCFF event and also Bellator’s live broadcast.

Gracie Barra Portland’s Paige VanZant Makes Her Return To The Octagon At UFC Fight Night 124 This Sunday

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Gracie Barra Portland’s Paige VanZant Makes Her Return To The Octagon At UFC Fight Night 124 This Sunday

BY DAVID GOLDEN

This Sunday in St. Louis, Missouri, Paige VanZant makes her first appearance inside the Octagon in over a year at UFC Fight Night 124. Not only does this mark a return to the cage for “12 Gauge” Paige VanZant, but it also represents her first time competing since joining Gracie Barra Portland. VanZant will be going up against a bit of a wild card in Jessica-Rose Clark, who has been streaky in her career but very dangerous. VanZant will be making her debut at flyweight and will be at a size disadvantage against Clark, who is a stout flyweight. Let’s breakdown the matchup and discuss how this fight might shake out.

Paige VanZant has proven throughout her career that she is a well-rounded fighter. She is willing to clinch and outwork her opponents against the cage, use her footwork to be evasive against strikers, and unload very effective ground and pound on the mat. Against her opponent, it will be very important that she uses all of these tools to avoid the two advantages Clark will likely be looking to exploit. Because of her size, Clark will try to use her power to overwhelm VanZant on the feet and control her on the ground. VanZant’s biggest advantages in this fight are movement and control. VanZant has shown that she rarely stands flat-footed in striking exchanges and has fluid movement when she is throwing combinations. Recently, she has been training Muay Thai at Burke Camp in Oregon City. This small and exclusive school is becoming a destination for some of Oregon’s top fighters. VanZant’s kicking game was already very strong (see her performance against Bec Rawlings as proof); her time at Burke Camp has likely helped improve on that. Control is truly VanZant’s ace in the hole. In three of her four UFC victories, VanZant has displayed great positional control in the clinch and a very fluid and smothering ground game. Look for her to use her strikes to setup takedowns and finish the fight on the ground.

Jessica-Rose Clark has been somewhat underwhelming over the last two years. Her last eight fights have all gone the distance and her two most recent wins were split decisions. This fight is a big step up in competition for Clark, whose biggest win to date came against Bec Rawlings, a fighter VanZant has a highlight reel finish against. VanZant’s edge in experience will be something Clark will have to look past if she hopes to keep her focus on the young Oregonian. Clark has a very strong base and decent takedowns but she has an affinity for striking. Her kicks are very powerful and she is excellent at striking in the pocket. However, if the Australian Top Team fighter wants to get the victory, she will need to focus on getting VanZant to the mat and stifling her offense.

On paper, this fight is VanZant’s to lose. Having faced multiple top-ten opponents, including strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, the experience edge is clearly in her favor. It will be interesting to see if there is a stylistic change for VanZant after the shift in training camps but that is about the biggest question mark for her heading into Sunday’s fight. Clark will have less pressure on her for this fight and that could be a factor if she can get ahead early in the bout. A win over VanZant would certainly give Clark a boost in the flyweight rankings.

NBC SPORTS NORTHWEST AND IHEARTMEDIA PORTLAND ANNOUNCE “RIP CITY” CONTENT PARTNERSHIP

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NBC SPORTS NORTHWEST AND IHEARTMEDIA PORTLAND ANNOUNCE “RIP CITY” CONTENT PARTNERSHIP

NBC Sports Northwest and iHeartMedia Portland today announced a new content partnership in the Portland, Oregon area. The collaboration will rebrand iHeartMedia’s Rip City Radio 620 to NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio. The announcement was made today by Len Mead, GM of NBC Sports Northwest and Robert Dove, President of Pacific Northwest Region for iHeartMedia Markets Group.

Starting January, the companies will bring a new line-up to the community featuring nine hours of combined content simulcast on both KPOJ 620 AM and on NBC Sports Northwest between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. local, with NBC Sports Northwest producing its own three-hour show within that window.

The joint weekday lineup will consist of Rip City Mornings with Dan & Nigel (6-9 a.m. PT), Dwight Jaynes & Aaron Fentress Show (12-3 p.m. PT) and Rip City Drive with Travis & Chad (3-6 p.m. PT). KPOJ will also simulcast NBC Sports Northwest’s Outdoors GPS program. All shows will originate from a new state-of-the-art radio studio being built at NBC Sports Northwest.

“NBC Sports Northwest is dedicated to serving fans across all platforms, so we are pleased to join forces with iHeartMedia to collaborate on programming for Portland sports fans on both TV and radio,” said Mead. “This partnership combines and amplifies the best talent and production teams in the market.” 

 “We are excited to partner with NBC Sports Northwest to bring Rip City Radio listeners the best in local sports programming,” said Dove. “Our combined assets will provide even more access for Portland sports fans across both TV and Radio including enhanced audio and visual content for Trailblazer fans all-in-one destination.”

NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio will be available online and digitally everywhere listeners are via iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s all-in-one streaming music, podcasting and live radio service. Visit iheartradio.com/apps to download iHeartRadio on your favorite device.

Harnessing the reach of iHeartMedia and the regional depth of NBC Sports Northwest, NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio will expand its role as Portland's sports radio home, including live play-by-play of the Trail Blazers, Oregon State Beavers, Hillsboro Hops, and Portland State Vikings games. Programming details will be announced at a later date.

For the first time, NBC Sports Regional Networks this season introduced NBC Sports Gold’s “Blazers Pass,” which allows any fans residing in Blazers territory to purchase select games during the 2017-18 NBA season for $34.99. The package tipped off its first game last night, when the Blazers faced the Golden State Warriors. NBC Sports Northwest will continue to present its traditional TV offering and streaming via “TV Everywhere” of Blazers games, with a record 77 games this season, including the 15 games also available via “Blazers Pass.” Pass subscribers will also receive a complimentary gift package, and will be entered into a monthly drawing for a chance to win a pair of tickets for a courtside experience to a home game. Fans can also enter, at no cost, for a chance to win a courtside experience. To purchase the product or enter to win a VIP courtside experience, go to http://www.nbcsports.com/blazerspass.

NBC Sports Gold - NBC Sports Digital’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product – is available on Apple iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and online at NBCSportsGold.com. NBC Sports Gold is powered by Playmaker Media, NBC Sports Digital’s technology service which provides end-to-end support for companies in need of best-in-class live streaming and VOD solutions.

NBC SPORTS NORTHWEST WANTS TO SEND YOU TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT™

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NBC SPORTS NORTHWEST WANTS TO SEND YOU TO UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT™

Enter for the chance to take your vacation to the next level at Universal Orlando Resort’s three amazing theme parks, where you could experience the all-new ride Fast & Furious – Supercharged™ (opening Spring 2018)!  With three exciting theme parks, five spectacular on-site hotels offering a range of accommodations, and the dining and entertainment of Universal CityWalk™, it’s days and nights of endless fun for every member of the family. Vacation beyond anything you’ve experienced before at Universal Orlando Resort!

 

You could win a 3-night trip for FOUR including:

  • Roundtrip airfare to Orlando, Florida
  • Admission to Universal Studios Florida™ and Universal's Islands of Adventure™ theme parks, plus Universal's Volcano Bay™ water theme park
  • Accommodations on-site at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • Ground transportation between the airport and hotel in Orlando
  • Tickets to Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando Resort™
     

For more information on Universal Orlando Resort™ and for great deals on vacation packages, visit www.universalorlando.com!



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#BlazersPass Cheer Card Sweepstakes

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#BlazersPass Cheer Card Sweepstakes

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Legal residents of Oregon and Washington who are 18 or older. Begins December 2, 2017 at 5:00 P.M. PT and ends December 9, 2017 at 11:59 P.M. PT. Limit 3 entries per person. To enter, and for Official Rules, odds, and prize details, visit [http://www.nbcsports.com/northwest/more/nbcs-nw-contest-rules]. Sponsors: NBC Sports Northwest and NBCUniversal Media, LLC.

Rumble At The Roseland 95 And Submission Underground 6 Set For Weekend Doubleheader

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Rumble At The Roseland 95 And Submission Underground 6 Set For Weekend Doubleheader

BY 

The weekend is fast approaching and your holiday hangover is nearly cleared up. What’s left to do? Get ready for a weekend full of live mixed martial arts and aggressive submission grappling, that’s what! Rumble at the Roseland 95 and Submission Underground 6 (SUG) will be taking place at the Roseland Theater this Saturday and Sunday. With SUG coming back to the Roseland that means not only will fans have some of the best amateur fighters on the west coast they can watch, but some of the best MMA fighters in the world as well.

For a mixed martial arts fan attending this weekend’s shows, it is truly a unique and inviting experience. These back-to-back events allow you up close access to the fighters of the future and a chance to meet and talk to current UFC stars and even former UFC champions. Between the two events there are 42 matchups (that is not a typo there really are 42 total matchups) for the fans to get excited about so let’s take a closer look at a few that could be especially interesting.

Rumble a the Roseland 95

Sean Kalinoski vs Keaneo Moyer

Saturday night’s main event for the 125-pound title is certainly the fight most people are talking about. Keaneo “Young Gunz” Moyer is the most vocal champion in recent memory in the Full Contact Fighting Federation (FCFF) and he has been just as loud inside the cage as out. While “Young Gunz” has been dominant in the FCFF cage, he hasn’t done it without controversy. His contentious relationship with former FCFF champion Cris “Sunshine” Williams has certainly helped Moyer look the part of the bad guy in some circles. Love him or hate him, he is a captivating champion with finishing power, rare speed, and great confidence. On Saturday, Moyer will be facing his toughest test to date as he steps into the cage against Sean Kalinoski. Kalinoski has nearly three times the experience in the cage as Moyer and has more than twice as many wins. Beyond that, Kalinoski is a natural bantamweight with the height and length to give most flyweights trouble. He has a big advantage on the ground and will be where he looks to take the fight. This should be a great headlining bout.

Chance Marsteiner vs DJ Nuttall

This matchup is likely the last amateur fight for local fighter and standout prospect, DJ Nuttall. Nuttall has become one of the top amateur prospects on the west coast and with this lightweight title fight being his last as an amateur, it is one that fans of the Oregon fight scene won’t want to miss. Nuttall is the heavy favorite here; his top game is strong and his submissions have proven to be the real deal. His opponent, Chance Marsteiner, had suffered two losses in a row prior to a big head kick-TKO victory at Rumble at the Roseland 94. With the highlight reel finish fresh in his mind, expect him to come into the fight looking to build on that moment and a victory over the highly touted Nuttall would be a huge feather in his cap.

Submission Underground

Tim Sylvia vs Fabiano Scherner

Former UFC heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia will be making his SUG debut on Sunday against Gracie Barra Portland head coach and one time SUG winner, Fabiano Scherner. Sylvia is a very interesting personality in the world of mixed martial arts. The once loved UFC Champion had a precipitous fall from grace and eventually found himself on the outside looking in. Even with a series of wins out the UFC, Sylvia was never able to find his way back to the top of the sport. While his fighting career has ended, he has become one of the brutally honest personalities in the world of MMA and his desire complete has clearly never waned. Many remember him as an aggressive striker but his love for the ground game has always been clear to those who were true fans of the former champ. Famously, he out-grappled submission expert Jeff Monson at UFC 65; he was looking for a submission the whole time. As far as submission expertise is concerned, Sylvia will be at a severe disadvantage against Scherner, but it will be incredibly exciting to see him inside the cage walls for the first time in years.

Vagner Rocha vs Jesse Taylor

Vagner Rocha is on a hell of a run in 2017. Rocha has two 2nd place finishes at the Eddie Bravo Invitational and became the first Combat Jiu Jitsu Champion earlier this month. Rocha has taken on some of the top grapplers in the country and has proven he is one of the best in the world. Fans will not want to miss the chance at seeing him live; he is aggressive, strong, and relentless on the mat. He will be going up against recent Ultimate Fighter winner, Jesse Taylor. Taylor has been a true comeback story on his run through The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption season. He took the longest road possible to make it to the UFC having once been removed from The Ultimate Fighter Finale and floundering out of the promotion after just one fight. However, with his life seemingly on track and winning TUF earlier this year, Taylor was flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation. It would seem that this competition would serve as a way to keep competing while he continues to work with USADA and the UFC in making his first official return to the Octagon. All that aside, Taylor is a ferocious wrestler and his nearly 50-fight MMA career will give him a good bit of experience to fall back on when the cage door closes behind he and Rocha. With these two highly aggressive grapplers in the SUG cage, this match is sure to be one of the most physical of the night.

Joe Morgan wins the MSP award -- Most Sanctimonious Player

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Joe Morgan wins the MSP award -- Most Sanctimonious Player

Joe Morgan recently wrote a letter on behalf of other members of baseball's Hall of Fame, he said, urging baseball writers not to vote for any players who in any way were associated with using steroids. I will invite you first to read the letter here:

The Hall of Fame is Special - A Letter from Joe Morgan

Dear Howard: 

Over the years, I have been approached by many Hall of Fame members telling me we needed to do something to speak out about the possibility of steroid users entering the Hall of Fame. This issue has been bubbling below the surface for quite a while. 

I hope you don't mind if I bring to your attention what I'm hearing. 

Please keep in mind I don't speak for every single member of the Hall of Fame. I don't know how everyone feels, but I do know how many of the Hall of Famers feel. 

I, along with other Hall of Fame Baseball players, have the deepest respect for you and all the writers who vote to decide who enters Baseball's most hallowed shrine, the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For some 80 years, the men and women of the BBWAA have cast ballots that have made the Hall into the wonderful place it is. 

I think the Hall of Fame is special. There is a sanctity to being elected to the Hall. It is revered. It is the hardest Hall of Fame to enter, of any sport in America. 

But times change, and a day we all knew was coming has now arrived. Players who played during the steroid era have become eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame. 

The more we Hall of Famers talk about this - and we talk about it a lot - we realize we can no longer sit silent. Many of us have come to think that silence will be considered complicity. Or that fans might think we are ok if the standards of election to the Hall of Fame are relaxed, at least relaxed enough for steroid users to enter and become members of the most sacred place in Baseball. We don't want fans ever to think that. 

We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don't belong here. 

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. Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right. 

Now, I recognize there are players identified as users on the Mitchell Report who deny they were users. That's why this is a tricky issue. Not everything is black and white - there are shades of gray here. It's why your job as a voter is and has always been a difficult and important job. I have faith in your judgment and know that ultimately, this is your call. 

But it still occurs to me that anyone who took body-altering chemicals in a deliberate effort to cheat the game we love, not to mention they cheated current and former players, and fans too, doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. By cheating, they put up huge numbers, and they made great players who didn't cheat look smaller by comparison, taking away from their achievements and consideration for the Hall of Fame. That's not right. 

And that's why I, and other Hall of Famers, feel so strongly about this.  

It's gotten to the point where Hall of Famers are saying that if steroid users get in, they'll no longer come to Cooperstown for Induction Ceremonies or other events. Some feel they can't share a stage with players who did steroids. The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too. 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. 

Section 5 of the Rules for Election states, "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player
played." 

I care about how good a player was or what kind of numbers he put up; but if a player did steroids, his integrity is suspect; he lacks sportsmanship; his character is flawed; and, whatever contribution he made to his team is now dwarfed by his selfishness. 

Steroid use put Baseball through a tainted era where records were shattered. "It was a steroidal farce," wrote Michael Powell in the New York Times. It is no accident that those records held up for decades until the steroid era began, and they haven't been broken since the steroid era ended. Sadly, steroids worked. 

Dan Naulty was a journeyman pitcher in the late 1990s who admitted he took steroids, noting that his fastball went from 87 to 96. He told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci in 2012, "I was a full-blown cheater, and I knew it. You didn't need a written rule. I was violating clear principles that were laid down within the rules. I understood I was violating implicit principles." 

The Hall of Fame has always had its share of colorful characters, some of whom broke or bent society's rules in their era. By today's standards, some might not have gotten in. Times change and society improves. What once was accepted no longer is. 

But steroid users don't belong here. What they did shouldn't be accepted. Times shouldn't change for the worse. 

Steroid users knew they were taking a drug that physically improved how they played. Taking steroids is a decision. It's the deliberate act of using chemistry to change how hard you hit and throw by changing what your body is made of. 

I and other Hall of Famers played hard all our lives to achieve what we did. I love this game and am proud of it. I hope the Hall of Fame's standards won't be lowered with the passage of time. For over eighty years, the Hall of Fame has been a place to look up to, where the hallowed halls honor those who played the game hard and right. I hope it will always remain that way. 

Sincerely, 
Joe Morgan

First, let me explan to you that I have personal experience that impacts the way I feel about Morgan's letter. And it's why I believe Morgan's missive to be the most sanctimonious pile of human waste I've read in a long, long time.

Is this the same Joe Morgan who has made the case for his former teammate Pete Rose to be admitted to the Hall of Fame? Yes, I believe it is.

And it's also the same Joe Morgan who played during what I've always called the "greenie" era of baseball.

As a high school and college kid, I worked as a clubhouse boy for the Triple-A Portland Beavers. I had intimate knowledge of what players did in their off time, what they talked about in unguarded moments and what they put into their bodies. The "clubby" always knows what's up in that room. And I can tell you that from the 1960s all the way past the end of Morgan's playing career, the use of amphetamines was rampant in baseball. It was everywhere.

Whether it was Willie Mays' famous "red juice" or the variations of red crosses, black beauties or greenies I saw all the time in the clubhouse -- they were everywhere. I'd see players carting around briefcases and I wondered why they needed them -- until I saw them opened up, revealing pill bottles of all shapes and sizes containing the amphetaminues so many of them used. I'd often have to run cups of hot coffee down to the dugout early in the game to help the players' pills melt quicker so they'd take effect.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Once, while cleaning up the place, I was carrying on a conversation with one of the players I respected. Me, a high school senior, and he, a veteran Triple-A player then in his mid-30s. I asked him why so many players felt it necessary to use those things that made them so visibly jittery and on edge. Why cheat, anyway?

"You reach down and pick up that towel, it doesn't matter if you drop it once or twice," he said indignantly. "But we can't afford to drop anything. This is our job -- this is how we feed our family. We are going to use every edge we can and greenies help. They help some guys more than others but they give you confidence, too. They help."

Covering the Beavers in the late 70s and early 80s I saw the same thing. One veteran major-league player who signed on with the team could barely explain how he got to the ballpark but he could give me the full rundown on all those different amphetamines in his bag.

Joe Morgan, please tell me you didn't know about all those little pills. Oh, you can't? Well, then tell me they weren't as bad as steroids. Well, maybe not -- but they were the most serious form of cheating available at the tme. And in terms of fighting off fatigue, providing energy and confidence, they must have been pretty good because a whole lot of players were using them at all levels of baseball. Certain organizations even supplied them to their players.

So much for what Morgan called the "hallowed" halls of Cooperstown.

I'm sick, too, of people talking about the character and integrity clause in the Hall's qualifications. Seriously? The place has more than its share of scumbags.

And if you can keep players out for their lack of character, why can't that same trait help you get in? If it did, Dale Murphy would have walked in the front door on the first ballot.

Joe Morgan, you've got to be kidding me.

Murphy: Group pursuing MLB for Portland "doing it the right way"

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Murphy: Group pursuing MLB for Portland "doing it the right way"

Dale Murphy pointed to a group of people who represented the Seattle Mariners.

"You know what you need?" he asked. "You don't have a rival. Who's your rival? You don't have one. It should be Portland."

Murphy, a special guest speaker at Thursday night's Friends of Baseball Gala at the Portland Art Museum, went on to praise the group of people working behind the scenes trying to bring a major-league baseball franchise to Portland. Earlier, Murphy shared with me that he'd met with a representative of that group and was filled in on what's happening with the baseball effort.

"Being from here, when people hear the possibility of baseball, they want to know who's involved and you want it to be done the right way," said Murphy, a star at Portland's Wilson High School who now lives in Utah. "I had a great opportunity to meet with Mike Barrett and the one thing I would say is that you should have no concerns about the group that is handling this. These are good people who care about the city of Portland. That's what you want.

"I have the utmost confidence in the group that is pursuing this. They are doing it the right way and it's going to be something that is going to make this city proud. I have a lot of confidence in them. There is so much work to be done and they are doing things the right way. Sometimes people want publicity and adulation but this group is doing it right -- getting the work done and taking care of the things that need to be taken care of. That's what this group has done.

"I want someone who is going to understand Portland and how much we love the city. We want things done the right way and that's what they're doing."

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Murphy's parents still live in Portland, he visits frequently and is visibly excited about an MLB franchise in his home town.

"I just opened a restaurant in Atlanta and I was thinking, 'Man, that would be fun to have a Murph's right by the ballpark.' If something happens here I will be in touch with this group to talk about a lot of possibilities. I would absolutely like to be involved in it. It was such a great opportunity to learn more about what they're doing and be a part of the cheering section. Baseball can mean so much to this area.

"So much has changed in the landscape of baseball franchises. The way they're building stadiums, for instance. The way they built SunTrust Park in Atlanta... with the mixed-use development, a smaller ballpark -- the ballparks become such a part of the community. These people doing this understand Portland and what a special place it is, on so many levels. This group is something the people of Portland can be proud of and get behind."

Murphy is planning on sticking around to watch one of his sons play for Weber State Saturday against Portland State. It's been an eventful week for him, too. Earlier this week he learned that he was on the list of 10 candidates to be reconsidered for baseball's Hall of Fame.

Murphy had a distinguished big-league career and was considered among the best players of his era. He played 18 seasons with the Braves, Phillies and Rockies and won back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1982 and 1983. He was also a seven-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time Silver Slugger Award. Murphy finished his career with a .265 average, 398 home runs and 1,266 RBIs. He led all Major League outfielders during the 1980s in home runs and RBIs. He also ranked second among outfielders in hits and extra-base hits.

TBT: The night Ric Flair told Vince that he'd bought half of WWF

TBT: The night Ric Flair told Vince that he'd bought half of WWF

Today, a special throwback Thursday treat, in honor of that great 30-for-30 special this week on pro wrestling's Ric Flair. Whatever you think of pro wrestling, Flair is one of the most dynamic entertainers you will ever see and was terrific in the ring.

I met him only once, when he was defending his championship in Portland. But he's one of those people who walks into a room and instantly draws your attention. Charisma? Yes, times 10.

[NBC Sports Gold "Blazers Pass" 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 - click to learn more and buy]

This video is from many years ago, the night Flair showed up on Monday Night Raw to inform the beautifully overacting Vince McMahon that he'd bought 50 percent of his company. Enjoy the commentary of Jerry Lawler and the great Jim Ross with appearances by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Kurt Angle.

It's a fun ride back to the days when Flair was at his best behind a mic.