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Biggio got most votes in year where no one got in

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Biggio got most votes in year where no one got in

HOUSTON (AP) Craig Biggio thinks he might have been bypassed for the Hall of Fame because he was on the ballot for the first time with several big stars linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

Biggio received the highest vote total in a year that produced no electees to Cooperstown on Wednesday. Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, appeared on 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots - 39 votes shy.

Steroids Era stars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were also on the ballot for the first time and all fell far short of the required 75 percent. Biggio thinks it's unfortunate if he was lumped in with others associated with performance-enhancing drugs

``I think it's kind of unfair, but it's the reality of the era that we played in,'' he said. ``Obviously some guys are guilty and others aren't, and it's painful for the ones that weren't.''

He wasn't completely sure whether feelings about the others played a role in his coming up short.

``I can't get in the minds of the writers, but it's a possibility that that could have definitely been part of the deal,'' he said.

Later, he seemed to tire of the incessant questions about whether being on the ballot with players linked to steroids kept him out of the Hall of Fame this year.

``All I know is that I went out there and played the game and I loved the game and I went out there to win, and we have a lot of flags on that wall out there that represent that, and that's really the most important thing to me,'' he said.

He thinks he probably also was hurt by the preference of some writers not to vote for first-time eligibles. Biggio, who played his entire 20-year career with the Astros, was disappointed but says the exclusivity of the Hall makes getting in mean that much more.

``When you look at the Hall of Fames, that's what makes baseball pretty special, pretty unbelievable. We're not letting six guys in every year,'' Biggio said. ``You had a list of a lot of guys that were very qualified and nobody was let in. It just says a lot about how special that building really is.''

Biggio retired after the 2007 season as Houston's leader in games, at-bats, hits, runs, doubles, extra-base hits and total bases. He is second in franchise history in RBIs and stolen bases and has the third-most home runs.

Voting is done by writers who have been members of the BBWAA for 10 straight years at any point. Biggio doesn't have a vote, but said he would have voted for both Bonds and Clemens if he did.

``Barry Bonds was the greatest hitter that I've ever played against ... and Roger was one of the greatest pitchers of all time,'' he said. ``I would have yes, I think those guys are Hall of Fame players. Barry and Roger, their numbers speak for themselves and what they did on a baseball field speaks for itself.''

Fellow Astro Jeff Bagwell also was among the top vote-getters with 59.6 percent. He debuted in 2011 with 41.7 percent and jumped to 56 percent a year ago.

Biggio said it would be special to get inducted alongside his longtime teammate and friend.

``We got a 68, and I'm going to go back and study a little harder and hopefully get a 75 next year,'' Biggio said with a chuckle.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What happens in Vegas....

It's almost here.

After a lengthy break between the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Finals, the Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are set to meet on Monday for Game 1.

Who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir give their keys to the series and their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, JJ speaks with several member from the local media to get their insights and predictions.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

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