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KNBR’s ‘Murph and Mac’ Examine Barry Bonds’ Baseball Hall of Fame Exclusion

The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly joined the show to explain Hall of Fame balloting in baseball’s steroid era.

Derek Futterman

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KNBR

Amid the current team owners’ lockout, now the longest in Major League Baseball history, the sport is still generating publicity. But the headlines have nothing to do with the labor dispute between the owners and players.

Generating debate is the controversial omission of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens from being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in their final year of eligibility.

This year, 394 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voted in the election, with former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz being the only player on the ballot to surprass the required 75 percent threshold. Ortiz received 77.9 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility.

Bonds and Clemens both allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs during their careers, significantly impacting their candidacies for baseball immortality. There was outrage in many corners of the baseball world Tuesday night following the announcement, and widespread disappointment from fans of the game who feel that an apparent “blemish” on baseball history is trying to be forcibly erased rather than remembered.

On Wednesday morning, Murph & Mac on San Francisco’s KNBR welcomed The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly to their program to discuss the exclusion of Bonds from Cooperstown and the negative perception the voting process is receiving by members of the media and fans alike.

“In 2014, the Hall of Fame sort of unilaterally changed its rules and reduced the time you can be on the writers’ ballot from 15 years to 10,” Baggarly explained. “There’s no doubt that was intentional to clear the way for steroid-era players that would otherwise linger on the ballot forever.”

Bonds is widely regarded as one of the best hitters to ever take the field, and is baseball’s current record holder for both the most career home runs (762) and the most single-season home runs (73). He also won the National League Most Valuable Player award a record seven times, also receiving 14 All-Star Game selections and 12 Silver Slugger awards.

“When I hear guys like Chris Russo tsk-tsk… Bonds for using steroids, [I say] ‘What, are you kidding me?’” said Brian Murphy, co-host of the Bay Area morning drive program. “How widespread it was in the game, how owners and GMs and team presidents never told players that they would be facing penalties and kept giving them money, and everyone collectively participated? Now, [it’s] ‘No, Mr. Bonds, you can’t do that.’”

For those who are not members of the BBWAA, the perception of the Hall of Fame announcement has generated negative publicity for Major League Baseball during an already-contentious negotiation towards a new collective bargaining agreement. Baseball’s all-time home run leader in Bonds and a seven-time Cy Young Award winner are barred from Cooperstown – for now.

There is another way in, but it is sure to cause even more public controversy, according to Baggarly.

 “Now [Bonds] goes to the committees,” outlined Baggarly. “All of [these] committees meet twice every five-year period. It just so happens that the Today’s Game Committee will meet at the Winter Meetings in December… and they can consider as many as 10 individuals [for the Hall of Fame]… Can you imagine if the panel who elected Commissioner Bud Selig will be the same people who don’t elect Bonds? If you think the writers are getting blasted, just wait.”

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Jay Williams Calls Listener, Forces Him To Pay Their $1000 Lakers Bet

“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”

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If you owe Jay Williams money, he is going to find you. Just ask Rob, a listener in Orlando who bet the ESPN Radio morning man that the Lakers would advance to the NBA Finals.

Last week, Rob called Keyshawn, JWill and Max and bet Williams $1000 the Lakers would eliminate the Denver Nuggets. Williams said if that happened, he would pay Rob $1500.

Obviously, that is not the way things played out. On Tuesday morning, Jay Williams called Rob demanding payment.

“He owes me my money,” he said. “So you know what we do? We got Detective Pat on the call today. Pat, let’s give this man a call. See if this guy picks up, trying to run away from giving me my money.”

The show’s associate producer Patrick Costello called the number Rob left last week. On the first attempt, the listener did not pick up. Williams vowed to keep up the pressure on social media and national radio and television until he got paid.

“Don’t get me on national TV and radio and then not pick up the phone when I call.”

“You know, getting that money is a wrap, Jay,” Keyshawn Johnson said through laughter. “I told you that.”

The show made one more attempt to connect with Rob before having to turn things over to Greeny. This time, the Lakers fan picked up and acknowledged that he had to pay. He offered to make a donation in Williams’s name.

“I’ll send you my bank account here privately, and then I will send it to the charity of my choice,” Williams agreed.

Rob agreed to the arrangement. Williams asked him if he wanted to apologize for doubting the basketball analyst’s prediction of the Lakers’ demise.

“Apologize? I need the Lakers to apologize to me after that performance,” Rob said. “Because Jesus Christ, that was horrible. That was bad.”

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Stoney & Jansen on LeBron James Retirement Talk: ‘NBA Needs Offseason Stories’

“I think we pick and choose with him. I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”

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As the Los Angeles Lakers exited the court after being swept by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals on Monday night, a grim reality set in across the basketball world regarding the future of forward LeBron James. Widely regarded as one of the best players to ever suit up, James is the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, a 19-time All Star selection, four-time MVP, and four-time NBA champion.

During his postgame media availability on Monday, he stated that he had to seriously think about his future, undoubtedly referencing retirement. James just completed his 20th season in the Association and continues to play at a high level, but is going to think about walking away from the game after falling short of the NBA Finals this year.

“He’s been a pretty good soldier for the game,” said Tom Milikan, morning show producer and assistant program director at 97.1 The Ticket. “There’s been some things I haven’t agreed with him [on] that he’s liked or tweeted or whatever. I think he’s had some ignorance, but I think that applies to every single athlete out there that’s great.”

Throughout his NBA career, James has been the subject of criticism. The ESPN special he participated in titled The Decision saw him reveal he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. He is also a frequent subject across the network’s programming, including on Get Up, First Take and NBA Today.

“I think we pick and choose with him,” Millikan said. “I think I’ve been too hard on him and I’m kind of realizing that.”

Show co-host Mike Stone read messages from the 97.1 The Ticket text line during the show, many of which criticized James for being a “flopping” player desperate for any semblance of attention since he will not be in the NBA Finals. One text suggested his revelation of weighing retirement was done intentionally, surmising that he has a film documentary crew around him and coming back stronger than ever would make for a great story.

“The league needs some offseason stories,” Millikan said. “From what I know, the free agency class is not all that great this year – and one of the big names is Kyrie Irving, and that’s toxic. It’s sort of like, ‘Hey, maybe they’re generating buzz or trying to do the whole Brady thing.’ So be it – I’ve seen it 15 times in my life.”

Stone recognized that athletes like James are genuinely once-in-a-generation type talents, and that his time in the NBA has been defined by more than what he has done on the court. James has also been an immense advocate for greater causes, including social issues, youth education and community affairs. Whenever he decides to call it a career though, fans should rest assured that James has truly given the game everything he has.

“I want to see the best that they have for as long as possible,” show co-host Jon Jansen said of star athletes. “If they end up playing too long, so be it. I don’t care. Then I know I’ve [seen] it all.”

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Danny Parkins: NFL Teams ‘Don’t Really Care About Your In-Stadium Experience’

“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it.”

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On Monday at the NFL Owners’ Meetings, flex scheduling for Amazon Prime Video’s presentation of Thursday Night Football was approved 24-8. Games can only be flexed between Weeks 13 and 17 with 28 days notice required. Additionally, a maximum of two games can be flexed per season, with the entire operation being on “a trial basis.”

“In one year of Al Michaels complaining about the games, they’ve changed two huge rules around it,” said Danny Parkins on 670 The Score as the news broke Monday. “[The] first rule already happened, and the Bears are one of the teams that either benefit or are victimized by the rule depending on your interpretation. You can play on multiple Thursdays this year. You can’t play multiple road Thursdays, but the Bears have two Thursday night games – in Washington and home against Carolina.”

In an effort to broadcast compelling action on a national stage, the National Football League did not give all of its 32 teams at least one game on national television this season. Conversely, the New York Jets, complete with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will be featured on national television for the maximum of six times, including two matchups on Thursday Night Football. The Jets, along with the Chicago Bears, dissented from voting in favor of flexible scheduling, but Parkins assumes it has nothing to do with the fans.

“My guess is [it is] because they already have two Thursday night games,” Parkins said. “Maybe they’re just altruistic and they care about fans and travel and all that, but I bet you that they said, ‘Well, we’re playing in Week 5 in Washington and Week 10 at home against Carolina. We don’t want to risk Bears-Browns or Bears-Falcons being flexed into Thursday Night Football later in the season and end up with three Thursday night games.’”

Many football fans and media professionals have pushed back on granting the property any type of flex scheduling because of the negative impact it has on injury prevention, something that is not as pronounced with other properties solely because of the day of the week. Sunday Night Football on NBC was previously the only property with flex scheduling ability, and Monday Night Football on ESPN is being granted that ability between Weeks 12 and 17 with at least 12 days notice.

“They don’t really care about your in-stadium experience – they don’t,” Parkins said of the league. “As long as you watch on TV, they’re thrilled because that’s where they make a huge, ungodly percentage of their money – more so than any of the other sports.”

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