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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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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."

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Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season. In episode 1 titled "The Future Starts Now" the Redskins begin their journey toward improvement following the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.

The episode begins immediately following the disappointing end to Washington's season as players participated in locker cleanout day. A somewhat somber atmosphere, the likes of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams reflect on the season and look ahead to 2019.

Following that, it's on to the additions and changes on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on new defensive staff hirings Ray Horton and Rob Ryan as well as Kevin O'Connell's jump to offensive coordinator. Ryan and O'Connell also explain their excitement for next season in their respective roles.

With the coaching staff puzzle becoming clear, the episode transitions to the NFL Combine. Gruden along with Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, President Bruce Allen and Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith take you through the Combine process. Discussions about the interview process and what the Redskins are looking for in players give insight into how evaluations are done. 

The Combine portion has a heavy focus on players Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf and Montez Sweat among others. Released on March 20, one can see and hear from Sweat before the idea of him becoming a Redskin came to fruition and listen to Metcalf's thoughts on Jay Gruden.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart also makes an appearance, discussing his viral moment with Ed Oliver at the combine and the fraternity-type bond conditioning coaches in the NFL share.

Washington's journey toward success in 2019 began the moment the clock ran out on the 2018 season. Episode 1 of "Redskins365" picks up right in that preliminary stage.

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