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Column: Bonds, Clemens will get in. Bet on it.

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Column: Bonds, Clemens will get in. Bet on it.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will get into the Hall of Fame someday, and without using the side entrance, either.

It won't be because people forget, or even forgive, but because they won't care anymore. Everybody in every sport will be on some kind of performance-enhancer by then, the way they're all on ``approved'' supplements already. That day hasn't arrived, but you can see it from here.

Everything is out in the open today in a way it wasn't just a decade ago, when baseball's supersized era was full-on. Back then, nobody felt sufficient heat to do anything about it. There were suspicions, and outrage, too. But they were papered over by the profits flowing into baseball's front offices, or buried on the inside pages of the sports section.

Just imagine if there had been a photo of that bottle of Androstenedione sitting on the shelf of Mark McGwire's locker back in 1998 to accompany The Associated Press story, the way there almost certainly would be these days. The story that hung over baseball like a dark cloud for a decade would have gone through the media wringer in a matter of days, and everybody would have gone off in search of the next thing to argue about. That's what's going to happen, soon enough, to the anger that stretched from the top of the Hall of Fame ballot Wednesday all the way down to the bottom.

Decide for yourself whether that's a good thing. The 24/7 environment isn't just shrinking our attention spans, it's diminishing our sense of outrage, too. The soaring popularity of the NFL in the age of social media is proof of that. Everybody who watches football knows there's a concussion problem always lurking in the background, and most of us suspect the players are a lot bigger than they should be. But we overlook those until somebody drops the photographic evidence in our lap, tsk-tsk for a while and go back to watching the games. It wasn't that long ago, remember, that former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman got busted for steroids, sat out a four-game suspension, and still managed to finish third in balloting for Defensive Player of the Year.

There's no question that baseball has been disproportionately punished for a problem that afflicts just about every sport. Maybe that's because the game was so slow to acknowledge it, and then put in place a program credible enough to do something about it. Whatever the reason, taking another year off to assess where Bonds and Clemens and just about every other great ballplayer from a compromised era fits in the history of the game isn't that big of a deal. The only real shame in what happened Wednesday is that Craig Biggio and Jack Morris, two guys who strung together long and apparently drug-free careers, couldn't gather enough votes from a skeptical electorate to get in. Here's hoping it's sorted out in time so that the same thing doesn't happen to Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas, who will be similarly positioned at the head of next year's class.

There's plenty of confusion out there about who did what, and how much? We always knew the ``clean'' players - and who knows how many of them existed in any sport - were going to suffer in comparison to the rule-breakers. That hasn't changed and probably won't. We were outraged by McGwire's use of Andro - even though it was allowed under baseball rules in place at the time - and only subsequently found out about the much more sophisticated and performance-enhancing substances that players kept in refrigerators and medicine cabinets back home.

Based on the way fans have voted with their feet and remote controls in this age of (mostly) full disclosure, most quit caring sometime ago. In that sense, the people who cast ballots for the Hall of Fame are throwbacks, determined to defend a standard that applied when they began covering the game, but is hardly as unambiguous today. The truth is that rules have always been bent. Check out how many scoundrels of different stripes are in the Hall already, from Ty Cobb to Tom Yawkey. That tells you how the voters decided things in accordance with the prevailing attitude.

Now we know how performance-enhancers work, along with a growing sense of how to use them, even if the claims their being ``safe'' sounds more like a prediction than a guarantee. Yet you can't watch a game without taking in a host of commercials that promise some pill or other will enable you to do something better. Athletes might be the last group of people left in our society who can't bring them to the workplace. That will change in a few years, too. Then Clemens and Bonds and a few of their sidekicks from this year's class won't have to spring for a ticket to visit the game-worn jerseys, baseballs and assorted other artifacts they've already sneaked past the guardians of the moment.

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Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/Jim Litke.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was — Under pressure, run game woes

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was — Under pressure, run game woes

Here is what you need to know on Saturday, September 22, one day before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers  .

Talking points

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Skins add receiver Michael Floyd after signing Perriman — They aren’t looking for these guys to perform like first-round receivers. The Redskins are hoping that one or the other of them is an upgrade over Jehu Chesson, who is back on the practice squad. It is unlikely that both of them will be on the roster after the bye week. One or the other is likely to be cut to make room for another running back or possibly at another position that needs help. My money is on Floyd to stay but we will see.

Five observations from the Redskins Week 2 loss — The closest thing to a "hot take" here is that the Redskins defense did not have a bad day. They did, however, give up three scoring drives. While that’s not ideal, the Washington offense should be able to outscore a team that puts up 21 points especially when the defense also gets two takeaways, both in good field position. It wasn’t a dominant defensive performance, but it was good enough to win. 

Five Redskins under pressure vs. Packers — There is a lot of heat on Josh Doctson and deservedly so. But Jamison Crowder has been marginally less productive, and he is the one who they count on to be the volume receiver. Regardless of what Doctson does, they need more out of Crowder, who has five receptions for 40 yards. 

No answers for Redskins run game trouble — The Colts were set up to stop the deep pass, which means that the Redskins should have been able to run the ball against what often were six-man boxes. The Indy defense did run some unusual alignments, but it will be a long year if they can’t get the running game working consistently, especially against defenses inviting you to run.

Tweet of the week

This is a rare case of the tweet about an article generating a lot of buzz and discussion and the article itself not ranking very high on the popularity list. Many agreed with my take that over the past 18 games, Jay Gruden has called running plays on first down more often than he should have. The Redskins simply haven’t been successful enough to warrant such a heavy dose of running. 

But some complained that “the media” bash Gruden for not running enough at times and then in this post he gets criticized for running too much. Many of those are ones who reacted to the tweet but didn’t read the article, which said nothing about overall run-pass ratio. I’m not complaining at all, happy to have anyone join in on the conversation. But reading the article does make it a more informed exchange. 

Injury report

Game status

Out: Apke (hamstring), Lauvao (calf)
Questionable: Harris (concussion), Richardson (shoulder), Brown (oblique)

Full injury report here

The agenda

Today: No media availability

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 1; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 16; Cowboys @ Redskins 29

In case you missed it

 

REDSKINS TALK PODCAST:

 

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Nationals fall to Mets as postseason chances continue to slip away

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USA Today Sports

Nationals fall to Mets as postseason chances continue to slip away

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jacob deGrom turned in a record 23rd consecutive quality start, lowered his ERA to 1.77 and boosted his record to .500 as he bids to earn the NL Cy Young Award, allowing one run in seven innings to help the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Friday night.

Throwing fastballs in the 97-99 mph range, deGrom (9-9) struck out eight and walked one while allowing just one run and three hits, all singles. Bob Gibson (in 1968) and Chris Carpenter (2005) each had single-season runs of 22 quality starts, the previous major league mark.

The right-handed deGrom has given up as many as four earned runs in only one of his 31 starts in 2018, back on April 10 against Miami. He's now up to 28 in a row allowing three runs or fewer, the longest single-season streak in major league history.

So this game was pretty much wrapped up by the third inning, which ended with the Mets ahead 4-1. Jay Bruce had two run-scoring hits, and Devin Mesoraco and Dominic Smith also delivered RBIs, all off Joe Ross (0-1).

Robert Gsellman worked around Anthony Rendon's RBI single in the ninth for his 12th save.

Washington began the day in danger of being officially eliminated from contention in the NL East, which it won the past two seasons under then-manager Dusty Baker. A loss by the Nationals plus a victory by the Braves would end any chance Washington has of catching Atlanta.

DeGrom is locked in what's considered a tight race for Cy Young honors -- and perhaps league MVP consideration, too -- with Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who is 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Scherzer has won the past two Cy Young Awards in the NL, plus one in the AL when he played for the Detroit Tigers.

In the Mets' 5-4 victory in 12 innings Thursday, Scherzer gave up three runs in seven innings and struck out 13.

Entering Friday, deGrom boasted a majors-leading 1.78 ERA, 251 Ks and 45 walks, and ranked No. 1 in various other categories.

"I think that it says a lot about who he is as a worker. I think it says a lot about who he is as a competitor," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He tends to step it up when it matters the most, and this is probably mattering the most out of all his starts, and he continues to pitch just as dominant as he was before. That's the definition of a true ace."

DeGrom looked good from the outset, striking out leadoff hitter Victor Robles with a 98 mph fastball, then getting Bryce Harper to swing through a 99 mph offering to end the first inning. Harper missed a 93 mph slider to strike out again in the fourth, then grounded out on a chopper fielded by deGrom in the sixth.

Washington's only run off deGrom came on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly on a ball hit to the warning track in deep center field in the second.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets: Mesoraco hadn't played since leaving a game Sept. 3 because of a bulging disk in his back. He was 3 for 3 with a walk.

Nationals: OF Adam Eaton was out of the starting lineup for the fourth time in five games, because of what manager Dave Martinez said was a sore and stiff left knee, the one surgically repaired last season.

WE'RE GOING STREAKING!

Nationals 3B Rendon's second-inning walk extended his streak of reaching base safely to a career-best 29 games; he came around to score.

UP NEXT

RHP Corey Oswalt (3-2, 6.31 ERA) will start for the Mets on Saturday, while the Nationals wouldn't commit to a starting pitcher before Friday's game.

 

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