Gumbel: the Hall of Fame risks making a mockery of itself

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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.”

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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