FILE - Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz reacts as he crosses home plate after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 24, 2015, at Fenway Park in Boston. Ortiz was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, Jan 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Hall of Shame

What a farce Cooperstown has become.

It's hard to even take it seriously, if we're being honest.

Between the efforts of the Veterans Committee to make it the Hall of Good to the hypocrisy of the voting writers, what once was a bucket list trip for me and my kids is forever tarnished. A hollow, self-serving tree house club that now falls somewhere between Branson, Mo., and the world's biggest ball of yarn on my traveling to-do list.

Let's review: David Ortiz, who was documented as being found to be a performance-enhancing drugs user in the Mitchell Report, gets in on the first ballot. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were denied again in their 10th and final time on the ballot.

First, let's get to Ortiz. Is he a Hall of Famer? Yes. And no.

Yes, in the sense of the current climate that has allowed Alan Trammell, Ted Simmons and Harold Baines in recently. Side note: Those three dudes combined for 817 homers, 20 All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers and one — ONE — top-five appearance in the MVP voting. (Trammell was runner-up in 1987.) That's combined from three dudes who somehow were viewed as Hall of Fame worthy. Bonds has 762 homers, 14 All-Star trips, eight Gold Gloves, two batting titles, 12 Silver Sluggers and seven — SEVEN — MVPs. Whatever. And seriously, can you be a serious candidate for the Hall of Fame if you were never a top-five finisher for the MVP? I don't think so.

The stats around Bonds are mind-blowing, and I loved this one that circulated Tuesday evening. David Ortiz' career on-base percentage was .380; if you turned all 762 of Bonds' homers into outs, his career OBP would have been .382.

Speaking of Ortiz, who said at one time that his leaked failed PED test was because of New York bias, which proves bias can be used as an excuse/deflection of anything. His 541 homers and his postseason excellence make him a Hall of Fame candidate for sure.

But if the hall was what it should be, he would be a strong contender, not a lead-pipe cinch, with or without the failed PED test.

And while the eye test and the common knowledge test — Roger Clemens was consistently dinged because he was doing stuff into his 40s that he was doing in his early 20s. Which makes him a lot like Nolan Ryan, but we all loved Nolan, so let's not talk about that.

And we all love Big Papi, because all his numbers, his cuddly disposition and his passion for the game pushed him over the top in the voting.

And that's junk.

And this is where the eye test and common knowledge about PEDs should be weighed again. Yes, Bonds' body transformed over the years, but the dude was amazing even at 170 pounds in Pittsburgh.

Big Papi was a fringe big leaguer before heading to Boston in 2003 — the year he failed the PED test. In his six years in Minnesota, Ortiz bounced between the majors and minors, hitting .266 — as a DH mind you — with 58 homers and 238 RBIs. That's six years' worth of work. That's a season and a half for Bonds, who never failed a PED test, leaked or otherwise.

Then he heads to Boston — and reportedly failed a PED test and he becomes a cross between Ted Williams and Willie Stargell. Hmmmmmmm.

What a sham. And a shame.

Anyone got directions for the best way to Branson?


No call

Wow, that got a little wordy. Let's move a little quicker.

This story has to have several more layers to it. Has to.

Two high school basketball officials in Texas refereed the girls game Tuesday night between Olton and Farwell. Then they went to the dressing room, changed their clothes, packed their bags and told the coaches they were leaving.

And they left, like zebras galloping into the open prairie.

This story has only the departure, not the reason for the skedaddling. (Side question: Skedaddle, friend or foe? I say friend.)

So color me genuinely intrigued by what would cause these refs to R-U-N-N-O-F-T.


Monster numbers

The TV news was glorious for the NFL after that glorious Division round of the playoffs.

As you would expect, the Sunday night classic between the Bills and Chiefs led the way and was the most-watched Divisional round game in five years. It delivered a season-best 21.7 rating share and averaged 42.7 million viewers. The peak hit almost 52 million viewers for the dramatic finish.

It was the most-watched game in that round since Packers-Cowboys in 2017.

And all the games — each of which was won in the final play last weekend — posted strong numbers that were up from last year. Only three NFL games this season have topped 40 million viewers, according to Sunday's Chiefs' win, the Cowboys-49ers in the Wildcard round and the Cowboys-Raiders on Thanksgiving. All of those games were on CBS.

The Bucs-Rams game Sunday afternoon gave NBC its largest NFL audience (non Super Bowls) since reconnecting with the NFL in 2006 as 38.1 million watched the Rams end Tom Brady's season and maybe his career.

There were big audiences for Saturday's games too, but, of course, Aaron Rodgers thinks folks primarily tuned in to root against him because of his vaccine status.

Rodgers has to be an insufferable jackwagon in real life, right?


This and that

— And don't get me started on guys like Scott Rolen and some of the truly good to really good players who the voters are recalling fondly. Scott Rolen? Dude was a .281 hitter and won eight Gold Gloves with 316 homers at a power bat position on the field.  

— Also, is anyone else more than a little surprised that A-Rod only got roughly a third of the votes?  

— Missouri almost beat Auburn last night. Hmmmmm, wonder who had Mizzou and the points because they feared the trap-aspect of Auburn's first game at No. 1 and the never-easy trip from Auburn, Ala., to Columbia, Mo.? Anywell, the students had some interesting signs including one that read "Free Harvey Updyke." 

— Did you see Nick Kyrgios slam a dead ball into the stands at the Aussie Open this week, and the ball nailed some little dude who burst into tears? It assuredly was an accident, and Kyrgios hustled a racket to the lad, which proves yet again that all you really have to be is decent when you're a sports star and we will love you for it.  

— Lots of stories circulating about the financial impacts of COVID and other things during the 2020-21 fiscal year for some SEC heavy hitters. Auburn operated at almost a $10 million deficit, despite getting a $23 million handout from the SEC. Here's more here, and it includes some important numbers like the massive drop in football revenue from limited attendance during the pandemic (down from $31 million to $3.2 million), the huge money it takes to clear a coaching staff (Auburn paid $16-plus million to Gus Malzahn and his crew not to coach at Auburn last year) and the drop in contributions (football donations — "Donations? I thought it was the trash" — dropped from $27.6 million to $8.9 million.)  

— Alabama operated in the black to the tune of $9.6 million in revenue generated in the last fiscal year, thanks to the SEC stipend, which covered the huge dip in football ticket revenue for all the schools.  

— So the knucklehead who ran on the field at the end of the Bills-Chiefs classic Sunday did it because of a $1,000 bet. Hope that bet also covered court costs and legal fees. How big would the bet have to be for you to run onto an NFL field like that?


Today's questions

Seriously, how much — money and potentially alcohol — would it take for you to be THAT fan running on the field?

As for Which Way Wednesday, let's start here:

Which word would you use to describe the Hall of Fame voting?

Which is more valuable and more hall worthy, a DH or an NFL kicker?

Which single professional sports franchise would have the hardest time picking its all-time starting line-up? We ask because the Celtics released the first five names on their all-time team, and there are more than a few true superstars not mentioned.

As for today, Jan. 26, let's review.

It was 36 years ago on this day that one wise Vegas bookmaker offered bettors a chance to wager on whether Fridge Perry would score a TD in the Bears Super Bowl against the Pats. And with that offering — it started at 20-to-1 and was bet down to 2-to-1 — prop bets were born and sports gambling was forever changed.

On this day 24 years ago Bill Clinton famously said, "I want to say one thing to the American people; I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." That was the big lie before the big lie, right?

Strong crew of birthdays today. MacArthur would have been 142. Paul Newman would have been 97. Wayne Gretzky is 61.

We've done a Paul Newman Rushmore before, so that's out.

With a nod to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Rushmore of pipes. Go, and be creative.