Baseball in Boston is dying, you guys


Gonna level with you: many won’t be able to stomach this article, even before it gets to the part for which I am linking it. It’s many, many paragraphs about Boston sports and how exceptional they are and how exceptional and demanding Boston fans are and all of that. That’s not aimed at any of you not from Boston, obviously — that’s fan service to the readers of the Boston Globe and rooters for Boston’s teams — but, man, a lot of that bleeds over to the national discourse and it can be tiring.

Even better: despite all of the claims to exceptionalism — valid claims, mind you, given how many titles Boston teams have won in the past 15 years or so — there are still a few references to Boston fans being put upon, and everyone loves that. The writer’s father didn’t make it to see the 2004 championship, you see, so “therefore, all those titles will never be enough for some of us,” and Boston fans “will never be spoiled.”

But like I said, I don’t link it for that. I link it for the stuff in the second half of the column in which the writer claims that, now and forever more, Boston will be a Patriots town, not a Red Sox town, because . . . baseball is dying, you guys:

The NFL, in spite of its warts, is more popular than ever. Check the ratings from Sunday’s Super Bowl. It was most-watched Super Bowl and TV show ever in the U.S. Viewing peaked at 120.8 million in the fourth quarter. About 129 million Americans voted in the last presidential election. It drew an 85 share in Boston, which means 85 percent of TV sets in use were watching the game. The other 15 percent were either watching “Breaking Bad” re-runs or are Jets fans.

The task for the Red Sox is no longer securing, or maintaining their spot, as Boston’s Most Popular Team. That is gone forever. Demographics and time cannot be denied. The Patriots fan base is getting younger and the Red Sox fan base is getting older. Young people are turning away from baseball because the sport is simply too damn slow for 2015’s society.

This is not a judgment, but rather reality.

No new arguments, here. TV ratings and baseball’s slow pace and the tastes and interests of people between the ages of 18-34, etc. etc.

I’m not from Boston, so I ask you Boston folks to weigh in on my hunch. Which is this: if and when Tom Brady is retired and/or the Patriots sink into mediocrity, Boston will no longer be an NFL city, even if it is now, which I’m not really sure. Boston has always been described to me by people who know it well as a baseball city. My outside observations suggest this to be the case as well, even if people get super excited for the other teams when they win. It, along with maybe St. Louis, usually New York and, perhaps, Cincinnati, may be the only cities where baseball is the king, but the feeling is that it is definitely true in Boston.

Or have I just been sold a bill of goods by Red Sox Nation?

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.