Harold Baines, Lee Smith elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Smith, who held the major league record for saves when he retired, was an easy pick when the Today’s Game Era Committee met at the winter meetings.

It took 12 votes for election by the 16-member panel — Smith was unanimous, Baines got 12 and former outfielder and manager Lou Piniella fell just short with 11.

George Steinbrenner, Orel Hershiser, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Davey Johnson and Charlie Manuel all received fewer than five votes.

Smith and Baines both debuted in Chicago during the 1980 season. Smith began with the Cubs and went on to record 478 saves while Baines started out with the White Sox and had 2,866 hits.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Baines had 384 home runs and 1,628 RBIs in a 22-year career — good numbers, but not stacking up against the greats of his day. He never drew more than 6.1 percent in five elections by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, far from the 75 percent required.

Reinsdorf praised his former player in a statement. Baines currently serves as a team ambassador in the community-relations department of the White Sox.1

“So happy for Harold. He’s a great player and a great human being,” Reinsdorf said. “I am so honored that I was a member of the committee. He deserved to be in long ago. I am just so excited.

“Not only was Harold one of my favorite players to watch, but I have nothing but admiration for him as a player and as a human being,” he said.

Tony La Russa, Baines’ first big league manager, also was on the panel that elected him.

In the past, Phil Rizzuto and Bill Mazeroski were among the players who benefited from friendly faces on Veterans Committees to reach the Hall. That panel has been revamped over the years, and the Today’s Game Era group was created as part of changes in 2014.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“The era committees were established as a sort of a court of appeals for an opportunity in the event that over time it was felt that maybe somebody slipped through the cracks,” Hall president Jeff Idelson said. “And in the case of someone who received 6 percent of the vote in the BBWAA election, the reason that may have happened could be for many, many reasons.”

Bears LB Khalil Mack torments Aaron Rodgers, Packers in debut

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack was worth every penny of the $90 million guaranteed he signed for with Chicago during the first half of Sunday night’s season opener at Green Bay.

Mack, who entered the 24-23 loss early in the first quarter, was involved in three game-altering plays that helped the Bears open a 17-0 lead at halftime.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“You prepare all offseason for the first game of the season, so I wanted to come back and make an impact, but you want to win these games,” Mack said. “That is the only thing on my mind. I hate losing.”1

A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Mack was at times unblockable, tormenting Green Bay quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and DeShone Kizer.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I was pretty confident the Packers would have a hard time blocking him,” Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said.

At the 9:22 mark of the second quarter, Mack and Bears defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris broke through the Packers’ offensive line and forced Rodgers to the ground. Robertson-Harris was credited with the sack, and the play resulted in Rodgers leaving the game with a knee injury. Rodgers later returned to start the second half.

Later in the first half, with Green Bay’s offense picking up a little momentum behind backup quarterback Kizer, Mack registered a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery — all on the same play — to thwart a Packers drive that had reached the Bears’ 9-yard line.

Olney: My new MLB rule — four pitchers per nine innings, max

Over the past 18 months, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been all but begging major league players for ideas and input on ways to make the product better. He seems ready to discuss even radical ideas, whether it’s some restrictions on defensive shifts, a pitch clock or maybe — eventually — an electronic strike zone.

Here’s a fundamental change that would improve the game on many levels: Limit managers to the use of four pitchers per nine innings, with exceptions built in for injuries and blowouts.cheap nfl jerseys from china

Major league baseball desperately needs to get off the growing front-office addiction to relief pitchers, which is helping to destroy important components of the game.

Among those: the essential pre-eminence of starting pitchers, who need to be marquee-worthy not only for the teams and their marketing departments but also for the players’ union; the scoring of runs by means other than a home run; and batters making contact and putting the ball in play.20

None of this is meant to challenge the analytical wisdom behind the parade of relievers overrunning the sport. It’s been demonstrated beyond any doubt that there are statistical advantages in the growing number of reliever/batter matchups and in the strategy of yanking the starting pitcher before he’s exposed to the opposing lineup a third time. Smart people are making smart decisions to create effective seven- and eight-man bullpens.

But this trend is affecting the game in ways that will never attract the young fans baseball wants and could also alienate longtime fans.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Few starting pitchers concern themselves with getting through five or six innings these days. Rather, they’re increasingly trained to throw as hard as they can, and when their work is finished, they’re followed by relay teams of relievers who also throw really, really hard. The number of pitches of 96-plus mph has more than tripled in a span of just four years, and quite frankly, a lot of hitters — especially older hitters — are getting crushed.

Bucs’ message to Jameis Winston: Stop trying so hard

The big message that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff gave to quarterback Jameis Winston when he returned to the facility this offseason had nothing to do with cutting down on turnovers or throwing more touchdowns in the red zone.

Those are unquestionably areas where he has to improve,nfl jerseys free shipping  but the real message the coaches wanted to impart entering his fourth year, as offensive coordinator Todd Monken put it: “Stop trying so hard.”

They could see it in his performance on the field, but they could also really see it in the locker room with how he tried to lead his teammates.

“I think the best way to put it is, in our league, there’s so much pressure put on coaches and [on] that [quarterback] position,” said Monken, now in his third year with the Bucs. “Nobody gets the credit either way, winning or losing, [more] than the quarterback or the coaches. That’s fine. That’s the way it is.241

“No one is going to blame [wideout] Mike Evans for why we haven’t made the playoffs; they’ve got the quarterback in there, and that’s part of it. We get that. That doesn’t mean we don’t all own it. But I think the biggest thing is, ‘OK, Jameis, it’s OK to be yourself. You don’t have to try so hard. The guys know you are naturally our leader.’

“But at times, it’s hard. It’s hard when you’re hurt. It’s hard when you’re not winning the way you want and you’re trying so hard to get the guys because [you] want to win so bad — we all do. I try too hard sometimes, because I want it so bad.”

Winston suffered a sprained acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) in the throwing shoulder of his right arm in Week 3 last season against the Minnesota Vikings. He didn’t appear on the injury report until Week 7, after he left a game against the Arizona Cardinals with the injury, but sources close to him have said the injury initially occurred against the Vikings. It forced him to miss three games, and in the games he did try to play, it impacted his velocity and accuracy downfield.

Dealing with the injury during the first of two five-game losing streaks, cheap nfl jerseys authentic Winston was still trying to give some of his “rah-rah” pregame speeches, like the one in Week 9 before the Bucs played the New Orleans Saints about “eating W’s.” Winston stuck his fingers in his mouth to form the shape of a W and asked teammates, “How many of you want to eat a W tonight? How many of you want to eat a W?”

After having lost four games in a row, the response from teammates caught on camera was less than enthusiastic — as it appeared Winston was acting more like the Bucs were riding a four-game win streak — and the quarterback was widely criticized in the media for appearing out of touch. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson empathized with Winston.