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Hall of Famers happy to see Bonds, Clemens denied

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Hall of Famers happy to see Bonds, Clemens denied

NEW YORK (AP) Nobody was happier about the Hall of Fame shutout than the Hall of Famers themselves.

Goose Gossage, Al Kaline, Dennis Eckersley and others are in no rush to open the door to Cooperstown for anyone linked to steroids.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa: Keep `em all out of our club.

``If they let these guys in ever - at any point - it's a big black eye for the Hall and for baseball,'' Gossage said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. ``It's like telling our kids you can cheat, you can do whatever you want, and it's not going to matter.''

For only the second time in 42 years, baseball writers failed to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, sending a firm signal that stars of the Steroids Era will be held to a different standard.

All the awards and accomplishments collected over storied careers by Bonds, Clemens and Sosa - all eligible for the first time - could not offset suspicions those exploits were artificially boosted by performance-enhancing drugs.

``I'm kind of glad that nobody got in this year,'' Kaline said. ``I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would've felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were.''

Gossage went even further.

``I think the steroids guys that are under suspicion got too many votes,'' he said. ``I don't know why they're making this such a question and why there's so much debate. To me, they cheated. Are we going to reward these guys?''

Not this year, at least.

Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote and Clemens 37.6 in totals announced by the Hall and the Baseball Writers' Association of America, both well short of the 75 percent needed for election - yet still too close for Gossage's taste. Sosa, eighth on the career home run list, got 12.5 percent.

``Wow! Baseball writers make a statement,'' Eckersley wrote on Twitter. ``Feels right.''

The results keep the sport's career home run leader (Bonds) and most decorated pitcher (Clemens) out of Cooperstown - for now. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have up to 14 more years on the writers' ballot to gain baseball's highest honor.

``Even having just been considered for the first time is already great honor, and there's always a next time,'' Sosa said in a statement. ``Baseball has been extremely good for me! Kiss to the heaven! It was an honor just to have been nominated. I'm happy about that.''

Bonds, baseball's only seven-time MVP, hit 762 home runs - including a record 73 in 2001. He has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer in 2003 to a grand jury investigating PEDs.

Clemens, the game's lone seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts (4,672) and ninth in wins (354). He was acquitted of perjury charges stemming from congressional testimony during which he denied using PEDs.

``If you don't think Roger Clemens cheated, you're burying your head in the sand,'' Gossage said.

Sosa, who finished with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He also was caught using a corked bat during his career.

``What really gets me is seeing how some of these players associated with drugs have jumped over many of the greats in our game,'' Kaline said. ``Numbers mean a lot in baseball, maybe more so than in any other sport. And going back to Babe Ruth, and players like Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson and Willie Mays, seeing people jump over them with 600, 700 home runs, I don't like to see that.

``I don't know how great some of these players up for election would've been without drugs. But to me, it's cheating,'' he added. ``Numbers are important, but so is integrity and character. Some of these guys might get in someday. But for a year or two, I'm glad they didn't.''

Gossage, noting that cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles following allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, believes baseball should go just as far. He thinks the record book should be overhauled, taking away the accomplishments of players like Bonds, Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire - who has admitted using steroids and human growth hormone during his playing days.

McGwire, 10th on the career home run chart, received 16.9 percent of the vote on his seventh Hall try, down from 19.5 last year.

``I don't know if baseball knows how to deal with this at all,'' Gossage said. ``Why don't they strip these guys of all these numbers? You've got to suffer the consequences. You get caught cheating on a test, you get expelled from school.''

Juan Marichal is one Hall of Famer who doesn't see it that way. The former pitcher believes Bonds, Clemens and Sosa belong in Cooperstown.

``I think that they have been unfair to guys who were never found guilty of anything,'' Marichal said. ``Their stats define them as immortals. That's the reality and that cannot be denied.''

The BBWAA election rules say ``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.''

While much of the focus this year was on Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, every other player with Cooperstown credentials was denied, too.

Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, came the closest. He was chosen on 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots, 39 shy of election. Among other first-year eligibles, Mike Piazza received 57.8 percent and Curt Schilling 38.8. Jack Morris topped holdovers with 67.7 percent.

None of those players have been publicly linked to PED use, so it's difficult to determine whether they fell short due to suspicion, their stats - or the overall stench of the era they played in.

``What we're witnessing here is innocent people paying for the sinners,'' Marichal said.

Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt said that comes with the territory.

``It's not news that Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro, and McGwire didn't get in, but that they received hardly any consideration at all. The real news is that Biggio and Piazza were well under the 75 percent needed,'' Schmidt wrote in an email to the AP.

``Curt Schilling made a good point. Everyone was guilty. Either you used PEDs, or you did nothing to stop their use. This generation got rich. Seems there was a price to pay.''

At ceremonies in Cooperstown on July 28, the only inductees will be three men who died more than 70 years ago: Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White. They were chosen last month by the 16-member panel considering individuals from the era before integration in 1947.

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AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker, AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Dan Gelston, and AP freelance writer Dionisio Soldevila contributed to this report.

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Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-1, 7pts) are coming off of an overtime thriller at home over the Rangers thanks to Matt Niskanen's crafty timing.

Through the first six games of the season, Washington is undefeated on Wednesdays, yet has failed to win consecutive games. The Caps hope to change that trend Friday night at home vs. the Florida Panthers (0-2-2, 2pts).

The Panthers have yet to win a game this season, with each of the four games being decided by just one goal. The Panthers have no problem scoring, netting at least five goals in two of the first four games, but have failed to seal the deal. This is where the defending Stanley Cup champions will need to capitalize.

Only the Maple Leafs (33) and Hurricanes (33) have scored times more than the Capitals (24). Washington has a clear advantage in firepower. The biggest key to victory is keeping the space in front of Braden Holtby clean as a whistle. If the Caps control their goalmouth, they should have no issues dispatching the Panthers.

Here is everything you need to know about the Friday night game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. 

CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Friday, October 19, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Panthers on the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS-PANTHERS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: NHL: Florida Panthers at Capitals 
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: Travis Boyd (OUT, IR), Tom Wilson (OUT, Suspension)

Panthers: Michael Haley (OUT, Leave of Absence), Roberto Luongo (OUT, MCL injury), Mike Matheson (OUT, Suspension) 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Evgenii Dadonov, W, Panthers: Dadonov is leading the Panthers this season with two goals and two assists on the season.

John Carlson, D, Capitals: Carlson had a heck of a game vs. the Rangers Wednesday night with a goal and two assists. The Capitals practiced faceoffs in practice leading up to Wednesday night's game and all of the practice paid off with Carlson's goal coming right off the faceoff from Backstrom. 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 123

All-Time Series Record: 64-50-9

Playoff Record: N/A

Last Meeting: Panthers beat Capitals 3-2 (2/22/2018)

Last 10 Meetings: Tied 5-5 

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Kelly Oubre turns into 'Spooky Papi' ahead of home-opener vs. Heat

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NBC Sports Washington

Kelly Oubre turns into 'Spooky Papi' ahead of home-opener vs. Heat

As the weather in Washington, D.C. drops below 60 degrees, most athletes typically arrive at their games in sweatsuits for comfort or suits for luxury. 

Kelly Oubre, on the other hand, is going full gothic for the Washington Wizards' home-opener against the Miami Heat. Oubre is the self-proclaimed "Wave Papi," but tonight he is giving off a vampire-slayer vibe.

Maybe he didn't get the memo that Halloween is roughly two weeks from now.

For the sake of it still being October, let's call him "Spooky Papi."

His black belts and buckles match his rockstar lifestyle, but the bloody, disfigured skull accessory is one of the most ridiculous things we've seen at Capital One Arena. Ever. 

Maybe there's a hidden meaning to it all, or maybe it's just yet another in a long line of Kelly Oubre fashion statements. 

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