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.

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“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.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.