Bryant Gumbel’s latest installment of Gumbel to Gumbel, wait, sorry, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel airs tonight. And in his closing remarks he simultaneously defends Reggie Jackson — who I’ve lambasted over his comments on the worthiness of his fellow Hall of Famers — and argues for the inclusion of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, which I strongly support.
Darn you, Gumbel! I shake my fist at you for making provocative and intelligent arguments that challenge my dispositions!
Anyway, here’s his close, which makes a lot of sense, even if I still think that guys like Don Sutton and Phil Niekro belong in the Hall:
You see Reggie was basically right in contending that the hall should be special and its doors should not be opened just because someone stuck around long enough to collect 3,000 hits or 300 wins. Yes, the numbers are proof of some very good players. But as the former star pitcher Jim Kaat has often noted so astutely, Cooperstown’s supposed to be a Hall of Fame – not a hall of achievement.
If the voters are really so obsessed with honoring guys with the numbers, they’d be wise to start rethinking the exclusion of those megastars linked to steroids, and do it quickly. Because the next Cooperstown ballot will, for the first time, include among others, both the seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and the seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens. And while both men have a suspect past, it’s going to be hard to argue they don’t deserve a bust in Cooperstown. After all, a hall of fame that somehow excludes the game’s homerun king and its most honored pitcher and its all-time hits leader, would really be making a mockery of itself.”
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.