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On this day 35 years ago, New York Giants Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms was the first player to exclaim, “I’m gonna go to Disney World!” — for which he was paid $75,000.

Cooperstown’s Conundrum

Detroit Free Press

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s mission statement includes a mandate “to preserve the sport’s history, honor excellence within the game, and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball.”

Tuesday’s Class of 2022 results will likely fail those standards on all three fronts.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both notoriously tied to PED use in their careers, are projected to miss induction on their 10th — and final — time on the ballot, per Ryan Thibodaux’s BBHOF Tracker, as they haven’t gained enough votes in publicly known ballots.

Regardless of public opinion, Bonds and Clemens are glaring omissions and speak to the Hall’s hypocrisy.

  • The steroid era is an essential piece of the sport’s history — and Bonds and Clemens are two of its defining faces, both in terms of achievement and infamy.
  • Bonds and Clemens rank first and third in all-time position player and pitcher WAR, respectively.
  • Both of their vote shares have increased dramatically each year since they first appeared on the ballot, showing disconnect between generations of voters.

Meanwhile, the only player projected for induction is David Ortiz — who himself was tied to PED use through a 2003 anonymous test.

The Hall itself has been reeling since posting an all-time high revenue of $24 million in FY 2017. In FY 2019, the most recent available, its income fell precipitously to $14 million.

The decline could be tied to the nonprofit’s refusal to admit several of the game’s most famous players. If it wants to save itself and accurately document baseball’s history, it will have to embrace all of it — no matter how sordid.

Surely, Pete Rose agrees.

What’s Harden’s Future?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden might be on his way out of Brooklyn via trade or free agency — and the Nets can’t let him walk for nothing.

The belief is that Harden will finish the season with Brooklyn, particularly since Kyrie Irving isn’t a full-time player and Kevin Durant is out at least another month.

But since he was traded to Brooklyn last season, The Beard’s been on a roller coaster.

  • Harden is reportedly frustrated having to carry the burden of Irving’s part-time status, per B/R’s Jake Fischer, and doesn’t enjoy living in Brooklyn.
  • The Big Three of Harden, Irving, and Kevin Durant have only played 16 total games in two seasons (13-3).
  • Given the circumstances, they can play a maximum of 10 games together this season — that’s only 19 total regular-season games in two years.

A possible solution: Daryl Morey, the 76ers’ president of basketball operations, was Houston’s GM during Harden’s eight-year tenure. Plus, the Sixers were on Harden’s list of preferred trade destinations last November — and conceivably could work up an offer involving Ben Simmons.

Harden — who’s having the second-worst shooting season of his career (41.9%) and committing a league-high 4.8 turnovers — is due for a max extension next summer which would make him the first NBA player to make $60M in one season.

Perhaps this wouldn’t be a conversation if Kyrie weren’t part-time, and there’s no doubt how lethal the Nets’ trio can be. But Harden didn’t demand a trade to Brooklyn for a “can be” situation.

Rafa Under the Radar

Australian Open

With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer out, only one of the Big Three entered the Australian Open with a shot at history.

Rafael Nadal is part of the three-way tie for the most Grand Slams in men’s history — and happens to be two wins away from No. 21.

Practically hidden as the 6-seed — and having missed the previous two majors — Nadal reached the semifinals by winning a marathon five-set thriller over Denis Shapovalov.

But even without Djokovic in his way, the Spaniard’s attempt at sealing his record-breaking title and adding to his legendary resume is still dicey.

  • The King of Clay has won 13 of his 20 Grand Slams at the French Open, and only five on hard courts.
  • Nadal has only won in Melbourne once (2009) and had lost seven of his previous 13 Australian Open quarterfinals.
  • The former world No. 1 is currently ranked fifth and seeks his 90th career singles title — fourth-most in history behind Ivan Lendl (94), Federer (103), and Jimmy Connors (109).

A championship would add $2.1 million to Nadal’s career earnings of $125 million, third all-time behind Federer ($130.6M) and Djokovic ($154.8M).

Nadal has two days to rest before facing 7-seed Matteo Berrettini, a late-round mainstay who’s reached the quarterfinals or better in every major.

Nadal has the second-best odds (+225*) to win — because the toughest obstacle between him and history is Daniil Medvedev (-125*).

Making Headlines

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Sean Payton is stepping away as head coach of the Saints after 16 years, according to multiple reports. Also, the Bears will hire Chiefs Assistant Director of Player Personnel Ryan Poles as their next general manager, per multiple reports. Jim Caldwell is reportedly interviewing for the team’s vacant head coaching position Tuesday.

MLB: Progress was reportedly made between the players’ association and owners in negotiations to end the lockout. Per ESPN, the union dropped its demand for age-based free agency and cut the amount of its proposed revenue sharing. The sides are reportedly closer on minimum and pre-arbitration salaries.

NHL: Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle skated in his 964th consecutive regular-season game, matching Doug Jarvis’ streak for the longest in NHL history. Yandle can set the mark Tuesday night against the Islanders.

NBA: The Suns signed GM James Jones to a multiyear contract extension. Phoenix (37-9) is currently the best team in the NBA.

Today's Action

*All times are EST unless otherwise noted.
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

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