That’s not the reality of baseball’s Hall of Fame, though.

That truth really hit home for me over the past couple of months, as I set about the task of submitting my first official Hall of Fame ballot, after 10 years in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. It was a monumental undertaking and a distinct honor, but I won’t bore you with those details again here. Talked about those in a different column.

Spencer Drango Mens Jersey I heard all kinds of feedback about my ballot, of course. Most of it was just conversation, pros and cons of my choices, and I loved it. Debate is awesome. Heard a lot of things like this, too: No way Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer. You’re an idiot. Or If you have to think about whether that guy’s a Hall of Famer, he isn’t. Or It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good.

The 2015 first-round pick out of LSU rolled through Houston’s farm system, but his introduction to the majors must have felt like the coldest of cold showers — Bregman was just 2 for 38 in his first 10 contests for the Astros. Yikes, eh? Well, he figured it out quickly enough. In his final 39 games, Bregman hit .313 with eight homers and a .931 OPS.
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But Kit Keller was here. And Marla Hooch. And Betty Spaghetti. And several other of the Peaches now immortalized as dirt-in-the-skirt ballplayers after their movie made a cinematic Hall of Fame, of sorts. A League of Their Own was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2012. The Library of Congress deemed it culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

Those are just guys who finished in the top five of the major awards in 2016.

Nola and Davies had mediocre (at best) performances, but their teams scored a bunch of runs while they were on the mound, so they got wins. Meanwhile, Sale faced Estrada, Miley faced Feldman and Duffy faced Cashner, so none of those pitchers were given wins despite outstanding individual efforts. Santana’s Twins led 2-1 when he finished his day, but the bullpen wasted that lead, so he didn’t get a win, either.

Kris Bryant, who won the 2016 NL MVP, is under club control through 2021. Anthony Rizzo, who has finished fourth in the NL MVP voting two years in a row, is under contract through 2021, too. Staff ace Jon Lester, who finished second in the Cy Young voting, is under contract through 2021. Kyle Hendricks, who led the NL in ERA in 2016 and was third in the Cy Young voting, is under club control through 2020.
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Those are just guys who finished in the top five of the major awards in 2016.

Ali Marpet Kids Jersey There’s also Addison Russell (club control through 2021), Kyle Schwarber (through 2021), Javier Baez (through 2021), Ben Zobrist (through 2019), Jason Heyward (through 2023) and that guy who was on the mound for the final out of the World Series, lefty Mike Montgomery (through 2021).

Youngsters Willson Contreras, Albert Almora and Carl Edwards are still a couple years away from sniffing arbitration. Veterans Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Miguel Montero, Wade Davis, Jon Jay, Pedro Strop and Koji Uehara are around for 2017, at least.

NFL Draft 2017: O.J. Howard finally taken by Buccaneers after slide to No. 19

By all accounts, Alabama’s O.J. Howard is the best tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft class. Howard is now a member of the Buccaneers.

The Bucs selected Howard Thursday with the 19th overall pick in the first round of the draft, giving Jameis Winston another weapon.

Tampa Bay had already added speedster DeSean Jackson in free agency and re-signed running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Howard will give the Bucs, and Winston, another big target alongside 6-5 Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans.

Drawing comparisons to Carolina’s Greg Olsen, the 6-6, 251-pound Howard caught 114 passes for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns for the Tide. He came up huge in the last two national championship games, catching nine passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns.

Longtime NFL receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, who retired in January after 25 years in the NFL, doesn’t like to project how well a player will fare in the NFL, telling Omnisport, “you have to be careful about being a crystal ball guy,” but he made an exception for Alabama tight end O.J. Howard.

“He can be an outstanding pro. I’ll say that without any reservations,” Sullivan said. “He’s going to be a good pro.

“He’s got good size. He has good ball skills. He understands the game, runs well for a big man. He’s really versatile and would be an ideal tight end for somebody in this day and time.”

It came as a big surprise Howard fell to 19 after teams like the Panthers, Cardinals, Eagles and Redskins all chose to pass on him. Howard is solid as a blocker, can line up anywhere on the field and could be a matchup chess piece.

“He can get down the field intermediate and deep,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of Howard. “He’s tough enough to catch the ball in the crowd. He can catch the ball in-line, and he can catch the ball from a displaced position. There aren’t many of those guys around anymore.”nike_chargers_197

this isn’t a middle-of-the-season solution.

Throwing baseballs at heads has to stop. I won’t lay out everything again, but here’s the basic thought: If a pitcher throws at a batter’s head in an obvious retaliation situation, the first offense should be a month-long suspension. Then two months for the next one, and so on.

There is a point I didn’t hammer home enough in that column: The tougher suspensions aren’t about punishment, they’re about prevention.

Elite Mens Andrew Adams Jersey Here’s the thing: If Barnes and the Red Sox knew that he would be suspended for a month if he threw that pitch at Machado’s head, do you really think he still would have thrown at Machado’s head? Nope. Zero chance. Instead, the purpose pitch plunks Machado below the shoulders, and he walks to first base and we avoid all this stupid drama.

Jared Goff Authentic Jersey Also, this isn’t a middle-of-the-season solution. This is something baseball needs to evaluate and implement during the offseason. After years and years of established suspension patterns, I didn’t expect MLB to hand Barnes a 30-day suspension. That would have never held up upon appeal. I was, though, surprised he only got four games, instead of something in the seven- to 10-day range.

The 2016 squad finished last, with a record of 68-94. The team hit a collective .235 and carried a team on-base percentage of .299, both dead last in the National League. The team’s .689 OPS ranked next to last in the league. The Padres’ hitters’ 1,500 collective strikeouts also were second-to-last. At times, the lineup struggled mightily to score runs.

More trouble for Aldon Smith: Detained by police in San Francisco

Suspended Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith was detained by police after a car he was riding in struck a San Francisco police vehicle and injured two SFPD officers, NBC Bay Area is reporting.

Smith’s girlfriend was driving the Yukon SUV and was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Smith is not expected to be charged. He was detained for public intoxication and was expected to be released when he sobered up.

The police officers’ injuries are not life threatening. There was a third officer in the vehicle, who was unharmed.

While the NFL declined to reinstate Smith last December, the league was expected to rule on allowing him back in the league this month.

Game Kids Paul Hornung Jersey Sale did it on purpose, everyone knew it. Then I throw a curveball and I get tossed? Ridiculous, Gausman told reporters after the game, per ESPN.com.

Holbrook doubled down on dumb after the game.

I know that the ball was a curveball, but it hit (Bogaerts) square in the back and just making a split decision at that point right there, there needs to be an end to this stuff (MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with both clubs before the game about that), and I felt like an ejection was the right thing to do at the time, and that’s what we did, he told a pool reporter. Thankfully, we didn’t have any more problems the rest of the game.

One other sure sign Holbrook f—ed this up: Bogaerts wasn’t even mad, didn’t even try to fight Gausman. He ran down to first base, happy that Baltimore had to dig into its bullpen extremely early because of a clueless call.
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Bogaerts came around to score, Boston went on to win 4-2, and Gausman was credited with the loss.

Jones came to the Bengals in 2010 after spending a year out of the league following his release by the Cowboys.

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Burfict, remember, was problematic enough during his Arizona State career that he was benched not for poor play, but excessive personal foul penalties. He went undrafted despite at one point being ranked by some as a top three linebacker along with Luke Kuechly and Dont’a Hightower. As a pro, Burfict has been fined multiple times and was suspended for three games at the start of the 2016 season.

Elite Kamalei Correa Jersey Jones came to the Bengals in 2010 after spending a year out of the league following his release by the Cowboys. He’d already been suspended for the entire 2007 season because of multiple off-field incidents, then again for six games in 2008 for violating the league’s conduct policy. His time in Cincinnati has been less eventful, but that penalty in the playoff loss — and an offseason arrest this past January — have had an impact.

It is this peer group into which Brown is introducing Mixon. This is not the Patriots, with the leadership of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, taking on the occasional risk understanding the player either will conform to their culture of championship commitment or be asked to depart. The Bengals are an organization with no such culture and no such consequences.

After winning the Heisman Trophy and a second straight national championship at USC as a junior, Leinart toyed with the idea of leaving school then, but returned believing he could boost his stock (and the Trojans could win it again). They didn’t repeat, and then he dropped on draft day behind, among others, Vince Young, the Texas quarterback who beat him in the BCS title game and went third to the Titans.

Yes, kids, there once was a raging debate over which was the true franchise quarterback that year: Quinn, from Notre Dame, or JaMarcus Russell, from LSU. Russell went first to the Raiders, then teams started passing on Quinn over and over. The Dolphins took a particular beating by snubbing him at ninth, for Ted Ginn Jr. Quinn’s home-state Browns finally took him.

NFL Draft 2017: Bears swap picks with 49ers to take UNC’s Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2

The Bears need a long-term solution at quarterback and hope they found it in North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky.

Chicago swapped picks with the 49ers in a surprise trade at the top of Thursday’s NFL Draft to ensure they could get their potential franchise quarterback.

Game Kids Ronnie Lott Jersey The Bears gave up a third- and fourth-round pick this year (Nos. 67 and 111 overall) and a third-round pick in the 2018 draft to move up one spot.

The Week 10 bye will come right on time, but also is sandwiched between two road games, including to Green Bay. Their game against the Texans is their first Monday night home game since 2012 … when they won the Super Bowl.

Besides the Sunday night game in Pittsburgh, the quirk in their late schedule is in Week 16, the Saturday afternoon before Christmas at home against the Colts, always an emotional situation for Baltimore fans. They finish against the Bengals again; they lost what turned out to be a meaningless finale last season.

Ravens schedule 2017, record prediction: 10-6

Burleson is capable of bringing good insight into the action as well as raising the fun quotient. He was the brightest spot on GMFB and will provide a good complement to Simms, Cowher and Esiason on The NFL Today.

In an offseason full of a high-profile NFL television hires, headlined by Romo and Jay Cutler (as FOX Sports’ new game analyst), the Burleson move is underrated.

While Romo and Cutler are new the broadcast gigs, Burleson is already a hit on the air. CBS will be thrilled with the results.
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That’s what defined the draft for the Colts this year

Value on value on value. That’s what defined the draft for the Colts this year. They stole safety Malik Hooker in the first round, then Quincy Wilson in the second round, and found good value in edge rusher Tarrell Basham in the third.

In the first round, the Jaguars got the player who will likely be the favorite for offensive rookie of the year in running back Leonard Fournette. But that might only happen if second-round pick Cam Robinson comes along as expected.

Russ’s incredible season was based on his having to be superhuman while playing on a not-great team (truth hurts, Oklahoma). OKC’s lack of superstar talent makes the fact that Westbrook managed to average a triple-double and score thousands of points a night (seriously, thousands, look it up on truebasketballfactsthatarenotexaggerations dot com) totally wild.

In other words, the Thunder are pretty bad without Westbrook: On Sunday night, they were plus-14 with Westbrook on the floor, and minus-18 when he was on the bench.

The Vikings weren’t a playoff contender in Bridgewater’s first season, but they weren’t an easy out, either. His rookie numbers were impressive considering he did it without the support of the league’s best running back, Adrian Peterson, who was injured. While Bridgewater has been successful, a nasty 2016 knee injury still has his career in question.

A solid preseason convinced Raiders coaches that Carr was the man for the job rather than veteran Matt Schaub, and the rookie started every game of his rookie season.nike_steelers_2246

Bringing him aboard means ESPN is hiring its most prominent and fierce competitor.

Wojnarowski is the highest-profile reporter covering pro basketball and is a one-man scoop machine, best known for tracking player trades and signings; he is famed for dispensing his scoops in real time on Twitter.

Bringing him aboard means ESPN is hiring its most prominent and fierce competitor.
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Michael Bennett Youth Jersey Wojnarowski’s hire is also happening at the same time that ESPN is letting some of its other basketball talent go. Last week, longtime ESPN NBA reporters Marc Stein and Chad Ford said they were part of the company’s mass layoffs.

Last year, Wojnarowski started The Vertical as part of a four-year deal reportedly worth millions. His departure means that Verizon, which is scheduled to acquire Yahoo for $4.5 billion in June, won’t get one of Yahoo’s highest-profile talents as part of the deal.

People familiar with both companies say Yahoo told Verizon that Wojnarowski might leave last fall; Deadspin reported on his possible departure in February.

Green Bay shored up its most glaring weakness by adding a pair of dynamic athletes in the secondary. Minnesota found first-round talent despite not having a first-round draft pick. Detroit took quality over need, adding big prospects that won’t fix its problems at tailback or pass rusher.

The Bears? They got a project quarterback and a project tight end for their troubles. Here’s what analysts thought about the NFC North as a whole.

Chicago paid a king’s ransom at the draft to select Trubisky, just months after paying a fortune in free agency to give Mike Glennon the chance to start at quarterback. That’s a big gamble to take a passer at No. 2 overall in a draft notoriously weak at the position. That move limited their draft capital, but they paired their developmental QB with a developmental tight end in the second round — Adam Shaheen was a beast in college, but that was against Division II competition.

The Celtics are back to doing what they were supposed to do: beating the Bulls

The Boston Celtics’ three straight wins against the Chicago Bulls to take a commanding lead in their first round series don’t invalidate the problems we saw when they dropped Games 1 and 2. Boston still overachieved in the regular season, setting up unrealistically high expectations and pushing them into being the most unlikely No. 1 seed in years.

But the Celtics, on Wednesday, finally started looking like a team we recognized again. It wasn’t just Isaiah Thomas having to score or create on offense or nothing would happen; in fact, lineups with him off the floor survived surprisingly well. The game was still close, with the Bulls taking leads several times in the second half, but Boston eventually pulled away decisively in the end for a 108-97 victory.

To go with Thomas’s 24 points came Avery Bradley’s best game yet — 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting — and Marcus Smart providing a solid eight points and eight assists off the bench. Al Horford damn near had a triple-double, with 21 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists, and even Kelly Olynyk was solid.

The Bulls need a fresh start. Chicago is 83-81 over the last two seasons, stuck squarely in the middle of the pack with no obvious path to contention. The Bulls thought signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo would make them better, but they actually got one game worse despite making the playoffs this year. Running the whole thing back again next season would be horribly distressing for the fan base and a doomed idea from the start.

It’s hard to part with a homegrown star like Elite Womens Lou Gehrig Jersey Butler, but Fultz is a worthy return. He’s big (6’5) and fast, thrives in the pick-and-roll and shoots over 41 percent from Elite Mens Jack Doyle Jersey three. He has every tool and incredible instincts as a scorer. There are no obvious holes in his skill set.