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Red Sox Hall of Fame inductees Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra talk Jon Lester, Cooperstown and more at Fenway Park 08.14.14 at 2:13 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez crashes Roger Clemens interview Thursday at Fenway Park. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

Pedro Martinez crashes Roger Clemens interview Thursday at Fenway Park. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

It was a blast from the past Thursday morning at Fenway Park, as three new members of the Red Sox Hall of Fame – Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra – discussed a variety of topics with the media in the EMC Club.

While the hour-long press event mostly revolved around prior experiences and memories, Martinez took the time to discuss the present, focusing  mostly on the departure of Red Sox ace Jon Lester, who was traded to the Athletics at the July 31 trade deadline.

“€œI hope he comes back, because he’€™s a perfect guy to actually have in the clubhouse, influence kids and I think [Lester] is a guy that I’€™m against seeing him leave,”€ Martinez said. “Openly, I’€™m going to say that I’€™m not happy that Lester is not here anymore. I would like him to come back and we had that talk in the outfield and during bullpen sessions, during games. I hate to see that Lester is gone because he’€™s a workhorse, he’€™s a good example in the clubhouse, he’€™s a role model in society … He’€™s everything you need for a young group of guys that are developing.”

Clemens, as he did earlier during his interview with Middays with MFB, remained mostly mum on his opinions regarding whether or not he will eventually get enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but added that his preference, if he does get elected, would be for his plaque to feature him donning a Red Sox cap.

“€œI don’€™t think you have any control over that, I made light of it and said I was going to wear a [University of Texas] Longhorn visor,” Clemens joked, adding: “€œI don’€™t think you have any control over that. … Obviously, [the preference] would be Boston, because I spent most of my time here.”

Martinez also commented on the debate regarding Clemens’€™ chances of one day getting the call to Cooperstown, stating that  players such as Clemens and Barry Bonds should be voted into the Hall due to the fact that they compiled enough accolades before PED accusations began to sprout up.

“I think Roger, with all due respect to everybody that votes, I’€™ll have to say Roger and Barry Bonds are two guys that I think had enough numbers before anything came out to actually earn a spot in the Hall of Fame,” Martinez said. “I’€™m not quite sure, 100 percent, how close they will be before all the things came out, but in my heart, if you ask me before any of that, I would say yes -€“ 100 percent -€“ without looking back. … I believe they have a legit chance and I think, with time, the voters will take into consideration what they did previously.”

Following are more highlights from the media session:

Clemens on whether he identifies himself as a Red Sox above all of the other teams he played for: “Sure. I spent 13 years here and I worked hard. Like I said, this is where I got my start, I got my nickname here and the kids today still call me ‘€˜Rocket’€™ more than they do ‘€˜Roger,’€™ so it’€™s pretty cool. At home, I probably have more Red Sox stuff that I do any other club that I played for.”

Garciaparra on the 2004 season: “€œObviously, it was devastating being traded, no question about that. But I was happy for them winning the World Series. For me, that my teammates made feel like a part of it, which was great. I was grateful. When they were going through the playoffs, I was getting calls from them when they were on the bus, like, ‘€˜Hey, did you see that? Did you see what we’€™re doing?’€™ … They were saying, ‘€˜We’€™re thinking about you,’€™ and I was like, ‘€˜I’€™m watching.’€™

“I never watched the World Series when I played. I didn’€™t want to watch where people were that I wanted to be. I’€™ve only really watched two World Series when I played. One was the Yankees and Mets when they were in the World Series, only because Jay Payton was my roommate in college and one of my dearest friends was playing in the World Series. … And then in ‘€™04, because I knew they were going to do it. … I realize here that the World Series is bigger than you. It’€™s about these people and these fans and the tradition here and what it meant. I’€™m glad, in ‘€™04, that it was finally accomplished, because these great fans deserved it.”

Martinez on the atmosphere at Fenway Park: “I’€™ll tell you what, the aspects of Fenway Park and the tradition, the uniqueness that we have here in Fenway, I can’€™t see it happening in any other place. … You can feel the heat from the bodies from the field. It’€™s so close. … This is the closest to a winter league game that you can probably feel. I always describe Fenway as the only place where you can feel like you’€™re pitching winter ball, because it’€™s loud, you have people right on top of you. … It’€™s a unique feeling that you get at Fenway.”

Garciaparra on Martinez’€™s tenure in Boston: “œWatching him, there were times where I found myself like the fans, in awe of what he’€™s doing. So much so that when they finally hit the ball off him, I would be like the fans and go, ‘€˜Ugh.’€™ I would do so the same thing and then I’€™d realize, ‘€˜Oh, they hit it at me and I need to got to go make the play.’€™ … There were so many moments that made you feel that way and I’€™m grateful that I’€™m his teammate and friend.”

Read More: hall of fame, Nomar, pedro martinez, Red Sox
David Ortiz on The Bradfo Show: ‘I only think about the Hall of Fame when you guys talk to me about it’ 06.12.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz joined Rob Bradford on The Bradfo Show podcast to discuss his future candidacy for the Hall of Fame. To listen to the interview, go to The Bradfo Show audio on demand page.

Ortiz has compiled an impressive track record during his 17-year career, with three World Series titles, a World Series MVP award, nine All-Star nods and 445 home runs to his name. While Ortiz has heard Hall of Fame talk from the media for years, his teammates called him “Cooperstown”€ during the 2013 World Series, when Ortiz posted an otherworldly line of .688/.760/1.188 in six games en route to the team’€™s eighth championship.

While the debate over whether Ortiz will one day have his name enshrined in Cooperstown continues, Ortiz stated that he tends to not think about it.

“€œI’m going to be honest with you, it’s literally nothing. Like, I don’t think about it. I haven’t sat down and acknowledged my numbers to go to the Hall of Fame or anything like that,”€ Ortiz said. “€œI just keep on trying to have fun and try to keep on winning. I know this career is not forever, but I’m just trying to keep on having fun and keep people smiling and try to put on a good show, because at the end of the day, the time to worry about the Hall of Fame, it’s going to come.

“€œI’m going to have plenty of time to think about it and say whatever I want to say or think whatever I want to think about it, but to be honest with you, I only think about the Hall of Fame when you guys talk to me about it.”

The Hall of Fame has been historically been rough on designated hitters, as All-Star sluggers such as Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines have been consistently snubbed year after year. The Hall finally welcomed its first DH this year, as Frank Thomas — who spent 58 percent of his career games at designated hitter — was elected on Jan. 8 with 83.7 percent of the vote.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Cooperstown, David Ortiz, hall of fame,
Pedro Martinez on Big Show: ‘Sad’ that potential Hall of Famers Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens ‘did something wrong’ 01.24.13 at 11:56 pm ET
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Three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez, in an interview on WEEI’s Big Show to discuss his hiring by the Red Sox as a special assistant to the GM, was asked for his reaction to the idea that some of his most dominating contemporaries — players like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa who have been connected to performance-enhancing drugs — were not elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012, their first year of eligibility.

“It makes me sad to see that such names in baseball did not get elected the way they should have because of different situations that they faced in their careers,” said Martinez. “Those are people that I admired, that I respected, that I competed against and it’€™s sad that they couldn’€™t quite see the end of their career finish up the way that everybody expected. At the same time, everybody has to carry the responsibility that they have the best way possible. Everybody is going to be held accountable for the things that we do.

“I respect the way the writers go about their business. My duty was to perform the best way possible. I did it. I did it clean. I’€™m not saying anybody else did it, because I didn’€™t see them, but obviously the writers that have the right to vote must have big reasons why they didn’€™t vote. It’€™s actually sad for baseball to see that probably some of the biggest players ever in the history of the game could not be elected because they did something wrong.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: barry bonds, hall of fame, pedro martinez, Roger Clemens
Three Thoughts on Hall of Fame Results 01.09.13 at 4:09 pm ET
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Three thoughts on the Hall of Fame results as a nation demands to know just one answer: Who voted for Aaron Sele?

1. The steroid guys ‘€¦ Roger Clemens (37.6%) and Barry Bonds (36.2%) had significantly stronger first years on the ballot than Mark McGwire (23.5% in 2007) and Rafael Palmeiro (11.0% in 2011), which is I suppose is not a stunner, given where they rank in baseball history and the presumption that both were Hall of Famers before the PED stuff, as difficult as that is to prove. To that end Sammy Sosa — fair or not, defined as a product of steroids — received 12.5 percent this year, his first year of eligibility. McGwire had his worst year of support, receiving 16.9 percent, and Palmeiro his worst year, just 8.8 percent (very likely he’ll get less than the five percent needed to stay on the ballot next year). This is where the logic of voters simply eludes me — McGwire admitted he took steroids before his first year on the ballot, right? So if you voted for him at that point, what exactly has changed and why has his support slipped? It’ll be interesting to track Clemens and Bonds over the next couple of years and see if voters remain loyal or if they follow McGwire and Palmeiro. My guess? They’ll continue to slowly move up. Voters (not all of them, which is why I don’t think either will ever get to 75%) are going to get more and more comfortable voting in Clemens and Bonds, it’ll just feel safer than McGwire, Sosa and Palmeiro. And there is the one-year protest element at work here (which is of course dopey and proves nothing, either vote for them or don’t), expect both to have a fairly healthy jump next year.

2. There is zero statistical proof — none — that would lead you to conclude that Jack Morris was a better pitcher than Curt Schilling. ERA, winning percentage, ERA+, WHIP, strikeouts, Black Ink, WAR, postseason numbers — all Schilling and all Schilling handily. Seasons with an ERA under 3.30: Schilling eight, Morris three. Seasons with a WHIP under 1.10: Schilling eight, Morris none (Morris never had a season with a WHIP as good as Schilling’€™s career number of 1.14.) Actually, Morris has one edge — career wins (Morris 254, Schilling 216). That’s it — 38 wins. And evidently that mattered a great deal to the voters, since Morris finished with 385 votes (67.7%) to 221 (38.8%) for Schilling. Morris is really close to the 75 percent needed but has to deal with Greg Maddux (and it’s amazing to think he won’t get 100 percent of the votes, but statements need to be made) Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina all debuting on the ballot in 2014, the 15th and final year for Morris. This was a solid first year for Schilling, better than Morris did in five of his first six seasons and Bert Blyleven in his first seven years on the ballot, two recent borderline guys. Schilling’s finish this year does nothing to dissuade my belief that he will eventually (and deservedly) be elected.

3. Worst ballot? My choice would be Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News. She voted for Biggio and Edgar Martinez (both should be in, Biggio will get in next year or 2015 but Martinez will not, which is really a shame. If Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame there has to be a spot for Martinez), Bernie Williams (not worthy, but not an embarrassment), Kenny Lofton (same as Williams) but somehow thought that Shawn Green earned a vote. Shawn Green. She did not vote for Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza or Larry Walker but voted for Green. Oe of the reasons, she explained on Twitter, was that Green did a “ton for the Jewish community.” Also she pointed to his single-game total bases record, his one Gold Glove and the fact that he scored over 1,000 runs, which only 318 players in baseball history can claim (Green is only one run behind Gary Gaetti on the all-time list). How can you take her even semi-seriously after that? And I’m almost OK with the occasional token vote for a player someone might like personally, but can we at least make sure it’s only done if every eligible player clearly better is also on his/her ballot?

Read More: Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling Barry Bonds, hall of fame, Roger Clemens
Hall of Famer Dick Williams passes away 07.07.11 at 5:40 pm ET
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Dick Williams – the man who managed the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox of 1967 – died Thursday at his Las Vegas-area home of a brain aneurysm. He was 82.

Williams also led the Oakland A’€™s to two of their three 1970s World Series titles and led the 1984 Padres to their first-ever National League pennant.

In 21 years of managing, Williams compliled a record of 1571-1451 and earned a place in Cooperstown by making a career of turning losers into winners. He took a ninth-place Red Sox team in 1966 and led them to 92 wins, 20 more than the previous season. The Red Sox came within one win of capturing the ’67 World Series, losing 4-3 to St. Louis.

He was the legendary manager of the A’s, leading them to World Series victories over the Reds and Mets. He was also at the helm of the Angels, Expos and Mariners, where he was fired 56 games into the 1988 season.

Williams was inducted into the baseball hall of fame by the Veterans Committee in Dec. 2007 and elected to wear a A’s cap, despite his numerous run-ins with former Oakland owner Charlie Finley, who hired him before the 1971 season, the first of five straight AL West titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, California Angels, Dick Williams, hall of fame
Boggs, Ripken named to International League Hall of Fame 01.25.11 at 2:01 pm ET
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Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken added to their Hall of Fame resumes. The two players, whose careers landed them spots in Cooperstown, were elected to the International League Hall of Fame for their excellence while in Triple-A.

Boggs spent both 1980 and 1981 in Pawtucket, where he hit .322 with a .418 OBP, .416 slugging mark and .834 OPS. He hit just six homers in Triple-A, but in 1981, he developed extra-base power as a 23-year-old, hitting 41 doubles for the PawSox. In 1980, he hit .306, losing the batting title by .0007 points. He then led the International League in average (.335) and doubles in 1981.

Ripken joined Boggs in the International League in 1981, hitting .288 (fourth in the league) with a .383 OBP, .535 slugging mark and .919 OPS with 23 homers and 75 RBI, finishing in the top five in most offensive categories despite being — at age 20 — the youngest position player in the International League.

Boggs and Ripken both participated in the epic 33-inning game between the PawSox and the Rochester Red Wings, the longest game in the history of organized professional baseball. The first 32 innings took place on April 18 before the contest was finished on June 23, when Pawtucket plated a run to claim a 3-2 walkoff win.

The next year, in 1982, Ripken won the American League Rookie of the Year award with the Orioles while Boggs finished third in the balloting (behind runner-up Kent Hrbek) as a member of the Red Sox.

Boggs and Ripken were joined in this year’s International League Hall of Fame class by former Yankees prospect Steve Balboni, remembered for prodigious home runs and an equally prodigious mustache. Balboni led the Interational League in 1981 with 33 homers and 98 RBI while hitting .247/.337/.532/.870 for Columbus. Balboni played parts of the next two years in Triple-A as well, hitting a league-leading 32 homers (in just 83 games) in 1982 and 27 in 1983.

Boggs will be inducted formally into the Hall of Fame at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium sometime in the coming season.

Read More: cal ripken, hall of fame, international league, steve balboni
Gammons Talks McGwire, Red Sox on D&C 01.12.10 at 11:35 am ET
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Hall of Famer Peter Gammons of the MLB Network and NESN joined the Dennis & Callahan Show on Tuesday morning to discuss Mark McGwire’s admission that he used steroids for most of his career. Gammons looked at how the issue of performance-enhancing drugs will affect the legacies of McGwire, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and others. He also concluded by offering his assessment of the shape of the 2010 Red Sox, whom he believes will be better than the 2009 team.

A transcript is below. To listen to the interview, click here.

How many steps forward versus backwards did Mark McGwire take?

They eliminated doubt, which is I guess a good thing. I found it ‘€“ I don’€™t know how you found it ‘€“ but I found it sad in a lot of ways. I watch some of these guys, and I think about Clemens and some of these other people, there’€™s a delusion there. I couldn’€™t believe that McGwire kept saying that he has the God-given ability to hit home runs. Now, when he was at USC, I can remember the late, great Red Sox scout Joe Stevenson calling me up and saying, ‘€˜Mark McGwire is going to be one of the greatest home run hitters of all time.’€™ Yes, he hit 49 home runs as a rookie. Yes, he had all those injuries with the plantar fasciitis and all that. But to say it’€™s only health reasons ‘€“ the fact is, a lot of people took steroids so that they could work out eight hours a day and get bigger. I think it really hurt him in the eyes, not of people who vote for the Hall of Fame, but in public opionion. For him to say that his home run numbers, the fact that he has the greatest home runs per at-bat ratio of anyone in baseball history, had nothing to do with steroids, I think it hurt him terribly. I think a lot of us were just going, ‘€˜Please, don’€™t say that.’€™

It was like he was trying to accomplish forgiveness and legitimacy for his career. Those two things seem mutually exclusive.

I agree. I know from talking to guys like Mike Holliday, the Duncan brothers, Skip Schumaker, McGwire would take them into the house in the winter and work with them and coach. He loves that. I really believe that first and foremost he wants to come back and teach and share. He was a very intelligent hitter by the end of his career. I know he wants to share that. Matt Holliday,the stories that he tells about McGwire are tremendous. I think he kind of realizes in the deeper recesses of his mind that his chances of making the Hall of Fame are probably slight. He probably felt, ‘€˜Well, if I confess, maybe.’€™ But I think he dug himself a bigger whole with this ‘€“ the whole denial thing. I remember, was it two years ago that Clemens was in front of Congress? I said to Mark Shapiro, I was watching a game in Winter Haven, we were talking about Clemens. I said, ‘€˜Actually, watching him, I think he believes that he never did anything, that he’€™s completely innocent.’€™ Mark said, ‘€˜Well, Psychology 7 will tell you: people who are self-absorbed often become self-delusional.’€™ I think that’€™s happened to a lot of these baseball players, because steroids seem to be so important.

He said he did it for his health, but when he started doing steroids, he started getting hurt every year, and he had no answer for that contradiction.

Absolutely. And he didn’€™t tie, from 1993-94 to 1998, he didn’€™t tie that. He left strings unattached there that lead a lot of us to say, ‘€˜Ah.’€™ I’€™ve spent a lot of time with him over his career. I must say, I really like him. In ‘€™98, I was with him for about five days in St. Louis. They had just lost five games in a row. Todd Stottlemyre went out, knocked down the first two hitters and threw a shutout. McGwire hit a home run in the eighth inning to make it 6-0 from 5-0. Afterwards, everyone wanted to talk to McGwire and he said, ‘€˜My home run is meaningless. Todd Stottlemyre just saved the team.’€™ There were other things like that. For instance, when he broke Maris’€™ record, he was up there, they had that stage after the game at Busch Stadium. Up there, it was McGwire, his son, his ex-wife, and his ex-wife’€™s husband up on the podium with him. I remember saying to Dan Patrick, we were doing something in the studio at ESPN, I said, ‘€˜The great thing about that is that Mark McGwire sent a message to everybody in this country who’€™s divorced that, in the end, it’€™s all about the kids.’€™ He still had that very good relationship with the ex-wife’€™s husband, just because he wanted his son to have the sense of normalcy. There were a lot of things like that. I remember one time in ‘€™96, doing a long interview with him, all of a sudden he started trashing himself for the way his first marriage ended. He was on camera just ripping himself. I was thinking, ‘€˜You know, this guy is really a decent human being.’€™ But now, when he gets up on this stage, ‘€˜Okay, I want to be forgiven,’€™ he lost that humanity that he showed so many times in his life. It made me very sad. It really did.

We know what we think we know ‘€“ there’€™s the statistical evidence of the frequency of his home runs, and the anecdotal evidence of the distance of those home runs. Was there anecdotal evidence that he was hitting the ball further than anyone else in history?

I don’€™t always trust those trackers of where home runs go, but yes, there was enough evidence to say he hit the ball further than anybody, with the possible exception of Canseco around ‘€™89 or ‘€™92. ‘€¦ It really does bother me that a Bonds or a Clemens, who were clearly Hall of Fame players, that we’€™re so insecure and so frail we have to go somewhere else. That’€™ss human nature. Trying to sit through and spend an hour trying to interview Alex Rodriguez last February taught me something for the rest of my life, that the bigger they are, the frailer they are. I actually like him much more because of that. I’€™ve talked to him a lot about how he basically addressed himself, was hyperventilating and everything else. It’€™s odd to me that so many athletes are so insecure. I remember guys on the Orioles telling me that the most insecure guy they ever met was Cal Ripken. Maybe that is all part of greatness. As we sit down and read Game Change in the next week, maybe we’€™ll find the same thing about Bill Clinton.

TJ Quinn listed all the steroids that McGwire used. He talked to players who said that McGwire was one of the big proponents of steroids, how to use them and how to stack them. Did you ever hear anything along those lines?

No, but I wouldn’€™t be surprised. We do know that when he got to the major leagues, that Jason Giambi hooked onto Mark McGwire as his mentor, as his best friend and all the rest. TJ had done the work for the Daily News, where they linked the drug dealer in Michigan down to Southern California. We were talking about this on MLB the other night. ‘€¦ He was never suspended. He was never in the Mitchell Report. There was the Daily News link, but McGwire had kind of stayed away from it. All we had was what our eyes told us, and that can be deceiving. There are examples of people who either got smaller, like Jeff Bagwell because he had the arthritic shoulder and couldn’€™t lift a weight in five years, or some other guys who maybe just naturally got bigger. But the whole McGwire thing has seemed so much larger than life. That one piece that TJ did, I thought, pretty much convinced us that he was guilty. Now, of course he’€™s admitted it. I believe his timeframe. That’€™s probably true. I think some of the testimony he gave about how much he did in ‘€™89, ‘€™90, I’€™m not sure how accurate that is.

The whole Hall of Fame question is an interesting one. I know that some of my sabermetric friends believe that this is all irrelevant, that it doesn’€™t matter who took steroids and who didn’€™t. I don’€™t agree with that. I do very strongly believe that once baseball finally had drug testing in 2004, that anyone who violates the drug policy and is caught is automatically disqualified from the Hall of Fame. ‘€¦

The Hall of Fame is not a right. It’€™s an honor. Should we honor people that essentially cheated? Somebody said to me, ‘€˜It wasn’€™t illegal.’€™ Yeah, but it was in federal law.

So to your mind, Manny is out for the Hall of Fame?

I think Manny and Palmeiro. A-Rod was before testing, before 2004. That was the 2003 random testing that was supposed to be anonymous. But I think that Palmeiro and Manny, I don’€™t think they have a chance of ever making the Hall of Fame.

Does your viewpoint change if they haven’€™t tested positive in Major League Baseball? We know what we think about Bonds and Clemens. Will our views soften over the decades based on who they are and what they meant to the game?

I think they may. We do have those issues. Last spring, Mike Piazza walked up to me and said, ‘€˜Can you believe that because of the acne on my back, that I did steroids?’€™ There are so many players that we think may have done [steroids] but we don’€™t know, whether it’€™s Pudge Rodriguez or whoever. It’€™s a hard thing to live down. I think it would be nice if we had more tests, proof, if we had more ways to judge players. I go back to Bagwell. If you take Bagwell’€™s home runs, RBIs, runs, extra-base hits, OPS, OPS+, slugging, Gold Gloves, Jim Rice is close to Jeff Bagwell in one statistical category. Yet that question will be raised for him when he goes up in front of the Hall of Fame next year. I’€™ve talked a lot to his best friend, Brad Ausmus, about it. Brad has sworn up and down, there’€™s no way that Bagwell did it. But just the notion of it. If Jeff Bagwell is completely innocent but he’€™s punished because other people flew under the radar, that’€™s kind of a sad story.

Could Clemens ever do what McGwire did in offering a confession?

No. I thought McGwire was stilted. It wasn’€™t the personality that I knew on the field or in the clubhouse. But I think Roger is too programmed and too stubborn. I think it would be very difficult. I think he’ll have to do it at some point in his life, but I shudder to think what would happen. I think it could turn into a disaster.

Last time he attempted to tell his side of the story, it was laughable.

It was. That whole question, I actually had a friend who was finishing her PhD in psychology at Boston College, and we used to talk about it in the gym all the time. She used to say, that business of going from self-absorbed to self-delusional is really the essence of most psychology courses. Maybe a lot of these guys will never come out of it. It may be, if ‘€“ I was going to say Pudge Rodriguez, but he might pull the Sammy Sosa stance and say, ‘€˜I don’€™t speak English any more; I only speak English when I sign my contracts’€™ ‘€“ we’€™re still a long way. We were looking at the list of guys coming up in the next few years. Juan Gonzalez is on the list next year. Sooner or later, Pudge is going to come up. Sosa is going to come up. This debate is not going away. I think it’€™s great that McGwire tipped his hat to Bud Selig and the testing policy, that he laid down behind it. That’€™s a good thing. But still, the question remains, if indeed the Hall of Fame is the highest honor a player can get, and since it’€™s not a right but an honor, should these guys be put in the Hall of Fame. I think it’€™s an issue, it’€™s not a statistical right. Ken Rosenthal the other night pulled out the ballot and read the lines about character. It is something we have to think about.

If he hadn’€™t done steroids, would McGwire be anything close to a Hall of Fame player? Without steroids, he had no chance. What would vote for Bonds and Clemens?

Right now, given the evidence, probably no in both cases. And I believe very strongly that Bonds was a Hall of Famer before 1999. What it does to the game ‘€“ and I think Jayson Stark wrote about it very well, what McGwire ignores is what the disillusionment about 1998 means to the sport. I think that’€™s important. I know the other day, when Tom [Verducci] and Kenny [Rosenthal] and I were talking about the question, Bonds and A-Rod and Clemens all would have been Hall of Famers without steroids. McGwire would go to the Hall of Fame based on power numbers. But I’€™m not sure it’€™s that simple.

Why would you want to reward players for greed?

The insecurities of these guys, the frailties. I joke about it all the time, I wish that William Shakespeare were around right now to cover this era. That’€™s what he was writing about. The insecurity that these guys have is just remarkable to me, that need to somehow be perfect. And I really found that in Alex [Rodriguez] ‘€“ his need to make people believe that he was perfect on the field and off. Now, people knowing he wasn’€™t, he was a totally different guy this [past] year. He seemed so much more relaxed, so much happier [after admitting steroid use in an interview with Gammons before the season]. He understood, you know what? It’€™s about team.

What was interesting last night, when we were doing MLB, Costas was asked, what was McGwire like after the interview? Bob said nothing basically changed. He wasn’€™t any different. But after I finished the Rodriguez interview last spring, he came back before I left, and chatted. He said, ‘€˜I hope this frees me. I hope that now I can just go on and be a human being and stop pretending.’€™ I think he got it. He got what he went through. You understood that he was wrong, and I think he understood and I know he understands now, there’€™s no need to be perfect. Just be a baseball player. Derek Jeter‘€™s not perfect, but people love Derek Jeter. I think Alex learned something from that. I’€™m not sure these other guys have learned anything from it.

Did you predict that Adrian Beltre would hit more homers than Jason Bay?

Yes, playing in Fenway Park with that lineup, as opposed to Jason Bay in the Mets lineup, yeah, I did.

What do you think for Beltre? Forty homers?

Thirty, 32.

Bay won’€™t hit 30?

Not in that ballpark.

What about Cameron?

.270, 25 homers, and the best thing about him is the way he absolutely killed ‘€“ what was it, a .954 OPS against left-handers the last five years? He does absolutely kill left-handed pitchers. In this league right now, in the division where you’€™re going to see Pettitte, Sabathia, Price, and Matusz probably three, four times apiece, that lineup against left-handed pitching is going to be really important.

Are the Red Sox the second best team in the American League?

Probably the second-best team in baseball.

Are the Red Sox we’€™ll see in Fort Myers better than in October?

I think they’re better this year. I’€™ll tell you why. The whole run-scoring thing, I’m not that worried about. I think that the depth of the lineup will be very good. I think the depth of the roster is much better. It’s amazing to me they finished second, they had the second-best record, the second-best run differential, and they had 55 games started by [Brad] Penny, [John] Smoltz, [Paul] Bird, a bad [Daisuke] Matsuzaka, [Michael] Bowden and [Junichi] Tazawa. In 55 games, more than one-third of their games, their starting pitchers had a 6.28 earned run average, and they still had the second-best run differential and record in the league. They could change that a lot.”

By the way, in talking to our old friend Mike Roberts, who used to be a college coach but he runs the baseball program at Athletes Performance in Scottsdale, he said that Matsuzaka is in unbelievable shape. He’€™s been there for about five weeks so far. He said the transformation from last year is astounding.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Alex Rodriguez, barry bonds, Daisuke Matsuzaka
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