No, Hideki Matsui is not a Hall of Famer

Hall of Fame weekend “kind of sad”, “not as much excitement”

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The Baseball Writers Association of America opted not to elect any new living members to the Hall of Fame for the first time since 1965. Scott Miller of CBS Sports asked some living legends about the atmosphere in Cooperstown, New York, and the sentiment wasn’t very positive.

“This year, it’s kind of sad,” former Cardinals great Bob Gibson said.

[…]

“There’s not as much excitement on Main Street as there usually is, and there are fewer guys,” Reds infield legend Joe Morgan said. “There’s usually 40 to 50, and I heard there’s 34. So obviously, that’s a little different.

“But it’s still the Hall of Fame, know what I mean?”

When balloting was completed in January, first-timers Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and others fell short of the 75 percent requirement. Biggio came closest with 68.2 percent of the vote. Jack Morris, in his 14th year on the ballot, received 67.7 percent and will have one more shot at getting in next year.

Major League Baseball seems to enjoy shooting itself in the foot over the performance-enhancing drugs issue. By allowing the BBWAA to make a moral stand against PED users, known or suspected, they effectively kill interest in the Hall of Fame. What reason do fans have to visit the Hall of Fame, or watch the induction ceremony? By suspending Ryan Braun for the rest of the season, what reason do Brewers fans have to keep up with the team over the final two months? MLB is its worst enemy, even when they outsource outrage to the BBWAA.

Eventually, the process will need to be amended to get a more diverse set of opinions and to ensure that at least one new member is inducted every year, lest we have a second consecutive year of… well, nothing. The 2014 ballot will feature a handful of shoo-ins, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Mike Mussina.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.