Connect with us



Scott Rolen has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, preventing a shutout in the BBWAA balloting for the second time in three years.

None of the other 27 players listed on the 2023 Hall ballot cleared the 75 percent threshold for election, though there were a couple of near-misses. The results of the balloting were revealed Tuesday during a broadcast on

Longtime third baseman Rolen was named in 76.3% of ballots cast in his sixth year of eligibility to earn enshrinement. Just missing was former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who received support on 72.2% of ballots in his fifth try at election.

Players can appear on the ballot for 10 seasons after a five-year waiting period after they retire, provided they are named on at least 5% of the ballot during a voting cycle.

Rolen was a seven-time All-Star during his 17-year career, playing for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. His eight Gold Gloves are fourth-most for a third baseman. The 1997 NL Rookie of the Year was a member of the Cardinals when the club won the 2006 World Series.

Rolen, who ranks fifth in WAR among career third basemen according to, was named on just 10.2 percent of ballots during his first year of eligibility in 2018 but rapidly gained support with each passing voting cycle.

The same upward trajectory has held true for Helton, who started at 16.5% in 2019. A .316 career hitter over 17 seasons, all spent with the Colorado Rockies, Helton was a four-time Silver Slugger winner and three-time Gold Glover for his work at first base.

Other players who were named on at least half of the ballots cast included Billy Wagner (68.1%), Andruw Jones (58.1%) and Gary Sheffield (55%).

Wagner, one of the most dominant relievers of his era, has gained support steadily during his years on the ballot. He earned support on 51% of ballots last year. Next year will be his ninth season of eligibility.

Rolen’s narrow election meant that the BBWAA has still declined to elect any new members just nine times in the history of the balloting. The writers also did not elect anyone in 2021. Last year, only Red Sox great David Ortiz was selected by the writers.

The three-year stretch in which the BBWAA has elected just two players matches a historical low. Since annual voting being permanent in 1966, the writers had never failed to elect at least two players during any three-year stretch. They also elected just two players during the three-year periods ending in 1968 and in each season from 1996 to 1998.

Ironically the paucity of electees comes just a few years after a particular fecund period of voting by the writers. During the three-year period ending in 2019, the BBWAA elected 11 new Hall members and during the five-year period from 2015 to 2019, 17 new Hall of Famers were tabbed by the writers.

Unlike 2021, when no new Hall of Famers were elected by either the writers or an era committee – the first time since 1960 that had happened – there will be at least two new inductees giving a speech in Cooperstown during induction ceremonies on July 23. Soft-spoken Fred McGriff will enter the Hall alongside Rolen after being selected by an era committee at the winter meetings in December in San Diego.

Progress was slow for a few more controversial candidates whose performance meets traditional Hall of Fame standards but have seen their cases undermined by associations with PEDs.

Alex Rodriguez, who ran up huge career totals of 3,115 hits, 696 homers and 2,086 RBI was named on 35.7% of the ballots during his second year of eligibility, up from 34.3%. Rodriguez missed the 2014 under suspension for violation of MLB’s PED policies.

Similarly, Manny Ramirez, who hit 555 homers while rolling up a .312 career batting average but was twice suspended for PED violations, made little progress during his seventh time on the ballot. After landing at 28.9% last year, Ramirez nudged ahead to 33.2% this time around.

Conversely, fearsome slugger Sheffield picked up a little momentum in his ninth year of eligibility. He as at 40.6% last year. Sheffield, who hit 509 career homers but was named in 2007’s Mitchell Report, was never disciplined for PED use. Next season will be his 10th and final opportunity to gain election via the writers’ ballot.

Among the 14 first-timers on the ballot, only two received the necessary 5% support to be carried over for consideration next time around.

One of those first-timers was Carlos Beltran, who landed on 46.5% of ballots. Beltran’s Hall case is solid on the merits of a career that saw 435 homers, 312 steals, 2,725 hits and one of baseball’s most sparkling postseason records.

Beltran was a central figure in the controversial sign-stealing scandal that tainted the 2017 World Series title of the Houston Astros, for whom Beltran played. His association with the controversy later led him to resign as manager of the New York Mets before his first season in that role.

While it’s uncertain what role the scandal played in Beltran missing on his first ballot, his level of support bodes well for the future and, perhaps, for the candidacies down the line for other standouts on that Astros squad.

The other first-timer who will stay on the ballot is reliever Francisco Rodriguez, whose 437 saves were enough to him onto 10.8% of ballots.

While the voters have been stingy in recent years, next year could see a more active induction week with a number of interesting candidates becoming eligible next winter. The list of newcomers is headed by third baseman Adrian Beltre, catcher Joe Mauer and second baseman Chase Utley.

Continue Reading


Robinson statue cleats to be donated to museum




Robinson statue cleats to be donated to museum

WICHITA, Kan. — The bronze cleats from a Jackie Robinson statue that was cut at the ankles and stolen last month will be donated to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, the league’s executive director told ESPN on Friday.

“We thought it was the absolute right thing to do,” said Bob Lutz, who founded and operates League 42, which was named after the baseball Hall of Famer and civil rights icon. “It’s looking like the cleats will be delivered by April 11, definitely before Jackie Robinson Day [April 15].”

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said Friday that there are plans to have a ceremony when the cleats arrive at the museum. Kendrick said the cleats likely will be displayed alongside a historical marker from Robinson’s birthplace in Cairo, Georgia — a marker that was damaged by gunfire in 2021 and was donated to the museum.

“We have a story to tell,” Kendrick said.

The statue, which police said was valued at $75,000, was stolen from McAdams Park, where League 42 plays its games. Police said they don’t believe the crime to be racially motivated, based on what they know at this time. Instead, according to police, it’s believed that it was “motivated by the financial gain of scrapping common metal.”

Using surveillance video, police said there were at least three individuals present when the statue was cut, leaving the bronze replicas of Robinson’s cleats behind.

On Jan. 28, police recovered a vehicle that it believed to be connected to the case at an apartment complex in Wichita. Two days after that, fire crews found burned remnants of the statue while responding to a trash can fire at another park about 7 miles away.

On Feb. 13, police announced the arrest of Ricky Alderete, 45. He was charged with felony theft (value over $25,000), aggravated criminal damage to property, identity theft and making false information. A Wichita police officer told ESPN that he believes there will be more arrests in the case.

Lutz, a former Wichita newspaper reporter, founded the league a decade ago in a grassroots effort to provide an outlet for kids and to increase local African American participation in the sport. It now has more than 600 players, uses four fields and provides an indoor workout facility with artificial turf, along with after-school tutoring and financial literacy programs.

The statue of Robinson was erected in the park in 2021.

Continue Reading


‘A whirlwind of epic proportion’: Catching up with new Texas A&M football coach Mike Elko




'A whirlwind of epic proportion': Catching up with new Texas A&M football coach Mike Elko

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As Mike Elko settles in at Texas A&M, he’s familiar with all of the untapped potential. He saw the promise as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator on an Orange Bowl-winning team in 2020, and he has seen up close why unlocking that full potential remains tantalizing.

Not only has Texas A&M never reached the College Football Playoff, it has not won a conference title since 1998. It has failed to reach the SEC championship game since joining the conference in 2012.

In the wake of Elko’s remarkable revival of Duke in his two seasons there (17-9 after the team went 5-18 in the two years before his arrival), this question looms over College Station: Can Elko’s experience with both the power and the flaws of Texas A&M help unlock the potential?

He sat down with ESPN last month to discuss his tenure so far.

ESPN: What have the first few months been like?

Elko: A whirlwind of epic proportion. I don’t know that you can describe taking a job on the day that the portal window opens, two weeks before signing day with no staff, right? Trying to put all of that together into a puzzle, right? So yeah, I mean, it’s a lot, and you’ve got to be really patient and put it together the way you believe in and get it going where you want it to go.

ESPN: If you look back at the last two coaches at Texas A&M, there’s a case that neither built a solid foundation. There have been bursts of momentum but not a lot of consistency. What is it going to take to build a foundation here and go from there?

Elko: I think it starts with good people. That’s where every foundational program starts, is getting the right people, and so it starts with the right people on this floor of coaching. It starts with the right people in this building from a support staff, analytical role from the people in your strength and the conditioning department, and then you’ve got to build culture within your locker room. I think that’s a foundation that a lot of people lose sight of, right? This place has tremendous facility foundation, but within that, you still have to build a foundational core of who your program is going to be about.

ESPN: What lessons do you take from your last stint here?

Elko: The unique spot that I have sitting here for four years [as defensive coordinator] is I know all of the reasons why this place can win a national championship, and then I probably know some of the reasons why we failed, which I think gives me a unique perspective coming in. I come in with a lot more knowledge of what Texas A&M is all about. That can only help, and I just think we’ve got to be intelligent about how we go about building this place because it’s a place where it has high expectations and you have to win now for sure, but you’ve got to still focus on building it in a way that allows you to sustain the success that you have for long periods of time.

ESPN: We are a long way from kickoff, but what can we expect from Texas A&M this year?

Elko: I think you’re going to see a team that’s willing to play for each other and play for this university. I think you’re going to see a team that plays with an awful lot of grit and toughness. I think those have been what you’ve seen from any defense that I’ve coached in the last two years at Duke. It’s certainly what you saw, and I think we’re going to go to work to make that the product, and I think our fans are going to love coming out and supporting this team and how they conduct themselves and how they go about playing game.

ESPN: How much did you learn in those two years at Duke? You have been at a lot of places, obviously, and a lot of different types of places, but there’s nothing like being in the chair.

Elko: You just learn how to be the CEO of the football program. You can do all the preparation you want, until you get in the chair and you feel what it’s really like to have everything around the program involved in the decision-makings. You have to take part of understanding that you’re responsible for everything from overseeing ticket sales to everything. You got to have your hand in every piece of the program. You can’t quantify that when you’re a defensive coordinator. And so I think just getting an understanding of what it all looks like, how to put it all together. We certainly had a lot of success at Duke, but we certainly look back at two years and say there’s a lot of areas we could have done it better and we could have fixed some things or done some things different.

ESPN: You talked a little bit about some of the intangibles of what you want in your identity. What about on the field? You have an established quarterback in Conner Weigman, which is a big piece of that whole thing.

Elko: So Conner’s unique, so I actually recruited the Cypress (Texas) area, which is where Conner comes from. And then obviously everybody knows Conner was a phenomenal baseball player from out of high school, and he was always in the same organization as my son [who plays at Richmond]. And as the years went on, Michael actually kind of played with him a couple of times towards the end of the career, but it was just always a name. He always knew Conner. Conner was a kid that kind of was that big fish in Texas on the baseball field and on the football field. So it’s come full circle to get a chance to coach him for finally a year or two.

ESPN: One of your big gets is Collin Klein as offensive coordinator. Obviously he and Conner are going to be linked together at the hip this next year. Again, it’s very early, but what’s that been like so far?

Elko: I think first, it’s having Collin Klein, who is one of the brightest young minds in all of college football right now, and certainly a guy that played the position in an extremely high level and did it from a toughness standpoint at an extremely high level. And I think all of that commands a certain level of respect. And so you announced Collin as the OC and all of a sudden Conner’s up here 12 hours later and he wants to talk to him. And so you see those guys starting to meet and formulate those relationships. And we also have two other quarterbacks, Jaylen Henderson and Marcel Reed, who are also very talented and we started seeing those guys come around. And so that [quarterback] room means everything, right? Everybody knows this, from NFL to college football. Your ability to develop and play at a high level at quarterback is what helps win and lose football games. I think that’s going in a really good direction.

ESPN: A lot has been made about who has left this offseason. But one thing that was clear in the recruitment of a lot of those guys are the resources that are here. Walk me through a little bit of what you think is available here for you to potentially build an elite SEC roster.

Elko: I think you look at a place that’s spent almost a billion dollars in facilities renovations in the last 10 years. I think you look at a place that sits in the most talent-rich state in the entire country, kind of right in between two of the most talent-producing cities in the entire country in Dallas and Houston. So I think you have everything that you could ever want and need to build a championship-level program. I think we just, I told this to our team when I met with them the first time, we know what we’re capable of, but we also got to understand where we are and that there’s a lot of work to get from where we are to where we’re capable of being.

ESPN: This is familiar territory for the Elko crew. Where did you all go to eat when everyone came back?

Elko: First place we went to eat was the Walk-On’s. We kind of sneaked into a back corner of Walk-On’s and yeah, had a really good meal.

ESPN: Lot of new-coach optimism here. What can this place become?

Elko: I think in the modern day of college football, this is one of the places that has an opportunity to be at the top of the game, and there’s not many places that have all of the foundation and haven’t done it yet. And so I think to some degree there’s places uniquely special and that somebody’s going get in here, some group of players, some group of coaches, and do this right, really for the first time in the modern era of college football. I’m excited to be part of that for sure. And I think there’s going to be a lot of people that buy into that story.

ESPN: Lot of folks will be paying attention right away with Notre Dame coming as the opener.

Elko: Obviously, all of the ironies that come into that. Both from my time at Notre Dame, and obviously there’s a quarterback over there that I’m fairly familiar with. [Former Duke QB Riley Leonard transferred to Notre Dame this offseason.] But I think you come back to a place like this for those types of opportunities and those types of stages, and that’d obviously be a great opening game for us and certainly a challenge we look forward to.

Continue Reading


Sources: Georgia State set to hire UGA’s McGee




Sources: Georgia State set to hire UGA's McGee

Georgia State is expected to hire Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee as its head coach, sources confirmed to ESPN on Friday.

Sources said the other finalists for the job were informed Friday morning that they had not been chosen.

McGee is joining the Panthers after spending the past eight seasons as a Bulldogs assistant, primarily working with the running backs while helping the team to College Football Playoff titles in 2021 and 2022. The 50-year-old played college football at Auburn and had a brief NFL career as a defensive back, appearing in three games for the Arizona Cardinals in 1998.

He also previously coached at a rival of Georgia State, spending two seasons as an assistant at Georgia Southern and serving as the interim head coach for a win in the GoDaddy Bowl (now called the 68 Ventures Bowl) in the 2015 season.

247 Sports first reported on McGee’s expected hire.

McGee is replacing Shawn Elliott, who agreed earlier this month to return to South Carolina as tight ends coach and run game coordinator.

Georgia State is coming off a 7-6 season that included a win over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The school had postponed spring practices and its spring game after Elliott’s departure.

Continue Reading