If you suspect Jeff Bagwell of ‘roiding, why not suspect everyone?

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My totally unscientific sense of things is that Jeff Bagwell is going to fall well short of the Hall of Fame in this his first year on the ballot. Peter Gammons suspects as much. And, after making the case of just how clear a Hall of Famer Bagwell is, has some pointed words for the wait-and-see-on-Bagwell crowd:

We have media members who believe in a black-and-white one-and-done code when it comes to Cooperstown. We have those who believe their eyes are enough when it comes to making judgment, bifocals or no bifocals. Two springs ago, Mike Piazza asked, “How can someone write that I was a steroid user because of acne? When did I fail any test?” Thankfully, Piazza pushes that issue, as one of the greatest offensive catchers and a surefire Hall of Fame performer. Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens are going to be fascinating votes in future years, all very different case studies that will dictate prolonged, complex debates.

Meanwhile, Bagwell never failed any test, to our knowledge. Did he lose body mass later in his career? Yes; so did the indefatigable gym rat Carlton Fisk after he stopped lifting for hours every day.

I have seen no one make a purely merit-based case against Bagwell. It’s all either vague “let’s wait and see” stuff or vague references to the inflated offensive numbers of the 1990s. A few have specifically mentioned PEDs, but only a few.  In reality, I think that just about everyone not voting for Bagwell is doing so because they think he did steroids.

And I suppose I see why a big power hitter of the 90s is under suspicion, but where does it all end?  If you suspect Bagwell, why don’t you suspect Frank Thomas? Because he said he didn’t do steroids? Hell, so did Palmeiro. Do you suspect Piazza? Biggio? Randy Johnson? All of them did quite amazing things too. Given that big players, small players, fast players, slow players, pitchers, hitters, stars and scrubs have all been connected to PEDs, why isn’t everyone a suspect? And if they are, why isn’t everyone getting the Jeff Bagwell treatment?

The level of subjectivity being applied in this arena is doing more harm to the Hall of Fame than letting in one person who was later found to have  done steroids would ever do.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.