My “Call to the Hall”

At two in the afternoon today, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 inductees…which included, drum roll please, nobody. For the first time since 1996, not a single player received the 75% of the vote necessary to get into the Hall. Performance enhancing drugs, whether proven or not proven, highlighted (or haunted) this ballot. The sad thing is, if one were to have lived under a rock and not heard anything about the backgrounds and just compared numbers, this class would be huge. I have been listening to discussion from the voters and analysts since noontime today, and one of the best points being made had to deal with the museum vs. shrine argument. If I had it my way, the Class of 2013 would bring eight more members to the Hall.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell and Mark McGwire should be, in my opinion, elected into Cooperstown. I understand the allegations and evidence that taint their accomplishments, but their accomplishments are outstanding, and in some cases, unrivaled. And to the defense of Schilling, Bagwell and Biggio, they either weren’t or shouldn’t have even been associated with the illegal use of performance enhancers. Regardless, they should all have a plaque.

The Hall of Fame is in fact a museum. It is there to tell the story of America’s past time through stories and memorabilia. Fans go in there to learn more about the game and teach the next generation more about the game. The writers are making it into a holy sanctuary, in which only those who possessed great numbers and a great character could achieve such greatness. Even though Barry Bonds was proven to have used performance enhancers during his career, he still is one of the most recognizable names in the game’s history. He is the all-time leader in home runs with 762, he had 1996 RBI, 2,558 walks, a record seven MVP awards and a Rookie of the Year award. Even before the illegal drug use, he still had three MVP awards. Another one of the most famous players to ever play, Roger Clemens, should not be denied. He achieved about a 66% winning percentage, 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and a 3.12 career ERA. These guys are the faces of an era of baseball, even though it may be one connected to steroid use.

And even if steroid use was too much of an issue, how come Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, and Jeff Bagwell didn’t make it in? Biggio became the second player with 3,000 hits (drug-users not included) in the game’s long history to not make the Hall on his first year of eligibility. Also, he scored the fifteenth most runs ever. Curt Schilling may not have the best regular season numbers, but they are far above average. More importantly, he is remembered more for his fantastic postseason numbers, which include a 11-2 record, 2.23 ERA and three World Series rings. Most careers are defined by postseason success, and his credentials far-exceed the requirements. Last, but not least, Jeff Bagwell was one of the best first basemen ever. He hit 449 home runs, 1,529 RBI, batted .298 and acquired a .993 career fielding percentage. Players like these should not be overlooked and do not deserve to be.

It has been said today by many people that these eight guys have a good chance of making the Hall eventually. My issue is that if they are good enough and have the numbers, then why can’t they now? They are the faces of an era that saw more impressive statistics than any other point in history. Sure, some of their records may be tainted, but they are records, and the museum should let them in and tell their story. Would a history museum leave out a section about the holocaust just because it was frowned upon?

Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett go at it, receive double technicals (VIDEO)

I would take Melo

ProBasketballTalk

The Celtics didn’t need Rajon Rondo to beat the Knicks at MSG on Thursday; they only needed to get inside Carmelo Anthony’s head.

Kevin Garnett did so masterfully, and Anthony shot a miserable 6-of-26 from the field which helped the Celtics come away with a critical road victory against one of the top teams in the East.

Rondo was suspended for making contact with an official in Boston’s win over the Hawks on Saturday.

Garnett and Anthony were doing plenty of jawing up until this point, but after a battle in the post when the talking continued, the referees finally stepped in and whistled both for double technical fouls.

Garnett’s reputation is that of a physical player who will say literally anything on the court to get his opponents off of their game, and Anthony, quite simply, took the bait on this night.

Anthony knows full well that Garnett might…

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NFL Wild Card Weekend

Happy New Year everybody! Another year has come and gone, and in the process we have survived yet another doomsday and avoided falling off the fiscal cliff; not too shabby. January is great for two reasons; first of all, being the start of a new year, it revitalizes a countless number of people looking for a fresh start. More importantly, it means that the NFL playoffs are set to begin and I can watch my precious Steelers compete for another Lombardi trophy. The only problem is that the Steelers were ousted before even getting into the playoffs. Despite that small tragedy, there are a lot of great match-ups set for this weekend, including a rematch from last year’s playoffs, a showdown between divisional rivals, and a battle between two rookie quarterbacks. This is probably the most excited that I have been when it comes to watching all of the playoff games, as there are so many interesting story lines and potential upsets. Well, without ado, here are my picks for Wild Card Weekend.

Game 1: Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

The first game of the weekend features a rematch of last year’s Wild Card round, one in which the Texans, behind rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, dominated the Bengals at home. This time, both teams come back with some experience after having two very different seasons. The Texans began the season with a 11-1 record and looking like one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the NFL. They did not look like the same team over the last four weeks; they have dropped three out of their last four games and lost their number two seed in the AFC. The opposing Bengals started off the season with a 3-5 record, but have caught fire in the last half of the regular season. They went 7-1 in the second half of the season, and their only loss was by a point to the Cowboys. After the last few years, it has seemed that momentum is key when playoff time comes around, no matter your seeding, so this makes it hard to say which team is the favorite. Hopefully this game lives up to my expectations, but there is a possibility of a blowout here.

Prediction: The Bengals are hot, but I think that there is just too much power on the Texans’ side. I like Houston to win 27-17 at home.

Game 2: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

This division rivalry to me is possibly the biggest toss-up out of all of the games this weekend. Being division rivals, they meet twice a year, which means that they know each other very well. The Packers had won five straight games against Minnesota before the Vikings finally snapped the streak last week. Like the Bengals, the Vikings are coming in hot, winning four straight weeks to sneak into the playoffs. This means that the Packers may not be so dominant this time around, as the Vikings have begun to figure themselves out thanks to Adrian Peterson. Peterson has just been scary down the stretch, rushing for about 850 yards over the last five games, falling just short of Eric Dickerson’s rushing record. Another Viking who is getting much attention this week is quarterback Christian Ponder, who is coming off of his best game all season. This means that the Packers must be ready for a more confident Ponder. On the other hand, the Packers have been a great team over the last few years, and they have Aaron Rodgers, who has continued to dominate the NFL this season with 39 touchdown passes and 8 interceptions.

Prediction: I think that the Packers are too good to lose two consecutive weeks to the same team. I would not be surprised if the Vikings gave them a solid game, but I think the Packers will win in a blowout, 38-14.

Game 3: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens

Sunday’s first game is one that is very unexpected; the Ravens were supposed to win the AFC North, and did, but who they are playing is quite interesting. One year ago at this point, the Colts got to watch Wild Card Weekend from their living rooms, as all they had to worry about which quarterback they would take with the first pick in the NFL Draft. They finished 2-14, and were not expected to make much noise this season despite having Andrew Luck under center. Without much to work with, Luck made it work, and they now enter the playoffs with an 11-5 record, better than that of the Ravens. They have the better record, but the Ravens have a lot to play for. First of all, they were a missed 32-yard field goal from overtime in the AFC Championship Game last season. Second of all, Ray Lewis announced earlier this week that this season would be the last season of his illustrious NFL career. There would be no better way to end his career than to win a second Super Bowl, and I believe that every one of those players will be playing their hardest to let him run off into the sunset.

Prediction: The Colts were a great story, but it is not their time. The Ravens have too much to play for. Baltimore wins this one 24-14.

Game 4: Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins

The final game of the weekend features my favorite match-up. Both teams have had great seasons and deserve some respect, but the focus should be on the rookie quarterbacks, because neither team would be where they are now without them. To me, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III have been the two best rookie quarterbacks this season. Both quarterbacks ended the regular season with quarterback ratings of at least 100, and both have over 20 passing touchdowns and 10 or less interceptions. They have stepped up and have become the leaders of their offense and carry a swagger that is not seen very often from a rookie. This should be another great game; Seattle has the better record, but they are known for being less productive on the road. At the same time, they have had a much better defense this season than the Redskins, ranking in the top ten in both passing and rushing defense.

Prediction: The ‘Skins are at home, but I feel that Seattle’s defense is strong enough to hold back the Redskins. The Seahawks win 20-17.

The games start in ten minutes…so all I have to say is getcha popcorn ready.