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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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Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

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USA TODAY Sports

Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

Caps Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t have a contract beyond the Stanley Cup Final, and any potential talks about an extension will wait until the trophy is awarded, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday.

“No,” MacLellan said, asked if a decision on Trotz’s future had been made. “We’re going to address everything after the playoffs are over.”

Trotz’s four-year contract expires at season’s end.

It’s rare for a head coach to enter a season while in the final year of his deal. But that’s how the Caps decided to handle Trotz’s situation last offseason after another strong regular season performance ended with yet another second round playoff exit at the hands of the Penguins.

It was a suboptimal situation for Trotz, a 55-year-old who ranks fifth all-time in regular season victories but, until this year, had never led any team beyond the conference semifinals.

Despite his lame duck status, all Trotz did was produce his best coaching performance to date. 

Consider:

  • While visiting his son in Russia last summer, Trotz visited Alex Ovechkin in Moscow to discuss the changes he’d like to see the Caps’ captain make to his training and his game.
  • When the Caps reconvened for training camp in September, it was clear there were still some hurt feelings in the locker room. So Trotz and his assistants backed off, allowing some necessary healing to occur.
  • When the team suffered back-to-back blowout losses in Nashville and Colorado back in November, Trotz initiated a tell-it-like-it-is team meeting that many players have pointed to as the turning point of the regular season, which ended with the team’s third straight Metropolitan title.
  • Trotz also got his highly-skilled lineup to buy into a more structured, detailed style of play late in the campaign, a transformation that prompted MacLellan to call this playoff run the most defensively responsible of Trotz’s tenure.
  • In each of the two previous conference semifinals, Washington was defeated by Pittsburgh and, as a result, the Penguins had become a physical and a mental hurdle for the Caps. Earlier this month, Trotz helped direct Ovechkin and Co. past the two-time Cup champions.

Although MacLellan wouldn’t say much about Trotz’s contract, he did say that he’s noticed a big change in Trotz’s day-to-day approach to his job, a change possibly prompted by the coach’s free agent status.

“I think his demeanor has changed a little bit,” MacLellan said. “He seems a little lighter, a little looser, a little less pressure. Maybe a little more freedom about how he goes about things. He’s more relaxed, I guess would be the way to describe him.”

MacLellan also acknowledged the job Trotz’s has done this season, beginning with his delicate handling of the dressing room to start the year.

“I think he’s done a good job managing it,” MacLellan said. “To come in this year with so many questions—from my point of view, the lineup questions weren’t that big of a deal—but just the emotional state of our coming into to start the year [and] how to handle that. I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

Indeed, Trotz’s situation remains unclear on the eve of the Final. But we do know this much: He’s having one of the best contract years in NHL coaching history.

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Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

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FB/The Town of Lovettsville

Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

Welcome to Capitalsville, Va., population: #ALLCAPS

Hoping to become the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup headquarters, the small Northern Virginia town of Lovettsville has renamed itself to Capitalsville, Va.

Caps superfan and Mayor of Lovettsville, Bob Zoldos, had a lightbulb moment while watching Game 7 in a local bar and restaurant, Velocity Wings. Overcome with emotion from the win, he decided to take his idea to the town council meeting Thursday and Capitalsville was born after a unanimous vote to "unleash the fury."

This is not the first time name changes have occurred ahead of a big game. Ahead of the Caps' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Blue Jacket Brewery located in downtown D.C. changed its Twitter handle to "Grujacket Brewery" in support of goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

The name change from Lovettsville to Capitalsville is temporary, with the plan to keep the new name through the end of the Stanley Cup Final. However, Zoldos hopes the sign brings in other Caps superfans from across the DMV to take in a piece of history 20 years in the making. 

Here's to hoping Capitalsville brings the city some luck heading into Game 1 on Memorial Day.

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