Sports Talk Column: Rinse And Repeat

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By: Christopher Grant

o the New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl yet again. In case you aren’t keeping count, this makes the ninth time the Patriots have played in the biggest of all football games. It is the seventh time for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady as they attempt to get their fifth ring, or “one for the thumb” as I believe the Michael Jordan-era Bulls said. All that stands between them and immortality is a plucky Atlanta Falcons team that dominated both Seattle and Green Bay on the way to just their second Super Bowl appearance ever. So, the stage is set for what might possibly be a fantastic game.

I’m just going to get this out of the way first thing: I don’t like the Patriots. I don’t have a very good reason other than they are too good and I find Tom Brady irritating. Brady is the NFL’s Derek Jeter and his team is the football version of Jeter’s 1990s Yankees squads. They always seem to be playing for the championship and because of that, they are pretty much universally loathed. I am no exception to this. Unless it is a team I support riding roughshod over whatever in some particular sport, then I am going to eventually hate whatever the dominant franchise may be.

In the NFL, that team is the New England Patriots, so let me go on record by saying, “Go Falcons!” Thus I, like millions of other football fans, have a lot of hope riding on the right arm of Matt Ryan and the rest of the Dirty Birds.

We can talk more about the Super Bowl next week. Now I’d like to switch our focus to this year’s Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class. I’m not going to protest any of the players selected for induction. If Gary Carter is in, then Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell are certainly deserving.

That said, I do have one gripe and that relates to players from the so-called “steroid era.” Bagwell and Rodriguez are most definitely players from this era and both of them have been mentioned when the discussion of who was doping and who wasn’t has been brought up. It is true, neither man failed a drug test, but you know who else never failed a drug test? Barry Bonds. That’s right, baseball’s all-time home run leader and biggest pariah not named Pete Rose was still denied admission to the hall because the baseball writers who vote on such things are pretty sure he was dirty when he played. I am also guessing they don’t vote for him because he is/was a pretty huge jerk.

Here’s the thing, I am fine if they are going to keep everyone associated with steroids out of the Hall. They think they are protecting the integrity of the game. I get it. But, if you’re going to let in guys who don’t appear quite as dirty as other guys, then you have to let everyone in!

Honestly, at this point, I think the baseball writers need to be completely removed from the equation because their votes often have nothing to do with statistics (which should be the sole factor) and instead focus on whether or not they like the person they are voting for. Too often, off-field factors affect who gets in and who doesn’t. Sure, there can be exceptions. For instance, if a player actually failed a drug test, then go ahead and keep him out. But if all you are basing your votes on is speculation and rumor, then that needs to stop.

I would love for the Hall to form some sort of committee that just selects players based on what they did on the field rather than all the other things the BBWAA considers. Because, honestly, there is no reason Bagwell or Rodriguez belong in the Hall, and Bonds and Roger Clemens do not.

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