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The Baseball Hall of Fame takes are just heating up

CBC Sports' daily newsletter looks at the Bonds/Clemens/Schilling snubs and the even-more-polarizing class of candidates coming next year.

Schilling's rant is only a taste of what's coming in 2022

This shirt, and his latest rant, didn't help Curt Schilling's cause with some voters. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports' daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what's happening in sports by subscribing here.

Baseball Hall of Fame voters pitched a shutout — but just wait til next year

For the first time since 2013, no one cleared the 75 per cent bar required for election. This was not unexpected. Only three guys — Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — were polling close enough to the threshold to have a realistic shot, and polling tends to overestimate a candidate's chances. Sure enough, their support fell by several points in the actual results. Schilling ended up being named on 71 per cent of ballots, and Bonds and Clemens on only about 62 per cent.

As we talked about in yesterday's newsletter, Bonds and Clemens are indisputable Hall of Famers if you just look at their stats. They're two of the greatest players of all time. But both have been linked to steroid use, which disqualifies them in the eyes of some voters under the Hall's so-called "character clause."

Schilling's resumé, though not as solid as Bonds's and Clemens's, is probably worthy of the Hall of Fame too. But he's turned off many voters with his Trumpian grandstanding on social media. After yesterday's results were revealed, Schilling shared a letter he sent to the Hall asking to be removed from the ballot. He said he'd rather wait to be chosen by the veterans' committee, which includes former players, than allow his fate to be decided by baseball writers, who handle the main vote. "I won't allow a group of morally bankrupt frauds another year to lie about my life," he said via Twitter.

2022 is Schilling's 10th and final year of eligibility on the writers' ballot. Even if he gets his wish and is removed, prepare yourself for a hot-take tsunami at this time next year. Bonds and Clemens will also be facing their last chance at election, and two other superstars with PED links will become eligible for the first time: Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.

Maybe this will actually be good for baseball. The sport could use any kind of publicity at this point. But there are gonna be a lot of angry people on both sides next January.

The 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame election period passed Tuesday with no new players headed to Cooperstown. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Quickly...

The IOC and Tokyo organizers are releasing a playbook explaining how they'll pull off an Olympics this summer. They're putting the plan out to the public in the wake of last week's report by a British tabloid that Japanese officials have quietly accepted the Games won't be happening. Seemingly every organization connected to the Olympics denied the report, but questions remain about how exactly you can gather 15,000-odd Olympic and Paralympic athletes and tens of thousands of other people during a global pandemic without incurring a medical and moral disaster. The rollout of the IOC's living document, which will be updated as conditions in Japan and around the world change, is happening next Thursday — exactly one year from the start of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Read more about what to expect here and read Morgan Campbell's take on why you can count on the Tokyo Games going ahead (hint: $) here.

Israel is already vaccinating its Olympic athletes, Denmark to follow. The country has been hailed as a vaccination success story, and today its national Olympic committee said that half the Israeli athletes expected to compete at the Tokyo Games this summer have already received the vaccine. We're not talking about a lot of shots here — Israel sent 47 athletes to the last Summer Olympics, in 2016 — but it's an aggressive approach compared to some other countries. Canada and Britain, for instance, have said athletes should line up behind more vulnerable citizens. Denmark will follow suit as the nation's chef de mission Soren Simonsen said "approximately 150 athletes and 200 officials" would get the vaccine. Meanwhile, the Olympic committees in Hungary and Belgium have asked for their athletes to be vaccinated as soon as possible. The IOC has taken the middle ground, saying it encourages athletes to get vaccinated but won't make it mandatory for participation in Tokyo. IOC president Thomas Bach said today that his organization is "not in favour of athletes jumping the queue." Read more about different countries' approach to athlete vaccinations here.

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford resigned. The team said it was for "personal reasons" and that "the search for a new GM will begin immediately." So it sounds like this was a surprise to them. Rutherford, 71, said in a statement that this "just felt like the right time to step away." We're two weeks into the NHL season. Read more about Rutherford's surprising move here.

Canada's only women's pro hockey team got its first win. The expansion Toronto Six beat the Boston Pride 2-1 yesterday in the National Women's Hockey League bubble in Lake Placid, N.Y. The NWHL is playing a shortened season and playoffs there over a two-week span that began Saturday. Each of the six teams plays seven regular-season games and the top four advance to the Isobel Cup semifinals. Toronto (1-1-1) is in third place. Read more about the Six' first win here.

And remember when…

Mario Lemieux got sidelined by cancer and still won the scoring title?

In 1992-93, the Penguins superstar was making a serious run at Wayne Gretzky's single-season record of 215 points. Lemieux piled up an incredible 104 in his first 40 games. But then came the sad and stunning news that the most unstoppable physical force in hockey history had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Some feared the worst, but Lemieux attacked the cancer like it was a lead-footed defenceman. After missing 23 games and undergoing his final radiation treatment on March 2, Lemieux was so eager to get back in the Penguins' lineup that he personally chartered a plane to that night's game in Philadelphia. The comeback was so remarkable that it even warmed the shrivelled hearts of Philly sports fans, who gave Lemieux a standing ovation before the anthem.

Pittsburgh lost 5-4, but Lemieux scored a goal and added an assist to kickstart one of the greatest scoring runs ever. In his final 20 games (again, after fighting cancer!) Lemieux racked up 56 points (2.8 per game) to erase a 12-point deficit to Pat LaFontaine and beat him by 12 points for the scoring title.

For a different perspective on this legendary tale, check out the latest episode of Rob Pizzo's I was in net for… video series. It features Dominic Roussel, the Flyers goalie who allowed Lemieux's 40th goal of the season on that magical night in Philly. He shares his memories of the comeback game and discusses what it was like trying to stop perhaps the most talented player in hockey history. Watch the video here:

I was in net for...Mario Lemieux's surprise return from cancer treatment

Sports

1 month ago
7:43
In episode 11 of our series, Rob Pizzo speaks to former Flyers goalie Dominic Roussel about a night he will never forget 7:43

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