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Mastrodonato: Good riddance to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens as they miss out on Hall of Fame honors for 10th and final time



Mastrodonato: Good riddance to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens as they miss out on Hall of Fame honors for 10th and final time

When Barry Bonds was convicted of a felony for obstruction of justice in 2011, when he lied under oath about knowingly taking steroids, he walked out of court with a smile.

He laughed and waved at fans, holding the peace sign in the air.

He looked nothing like a person who felt remorse, and he was vindicated years later when another court overruled the charges.

Perhaps today, finally, Bonds feels sorry for the way he acted throughout a 22-year MLB career, one in which he was accused of repetitive violence with both his wife and his mistress, engaged in a detailed cheating scandal that rocked the country, and continuously deceived those who played and/or loved the sport.

In his 10th and final year on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bonds was denied again on Tuesday night when it was revealed that he received just 66% of the votes, and will fall off the ballot for good. Roger Clemens, who also has a long list of folks who have accused him of steroid use and was once indicted on six related felony accounts, finished with 65% and will also fall off the ballot. And Curt Schilling, at 58%, also falls off the ballot.

With 77.9% of the votes, David Ortiz was the only player inducted via this year’s voting process.

Neither Bonds nor Clemens ever tested positive for PED use, but both played the majority of their careers before MLB began a testing program in 2004.

So often people have asked this question: was Bonds a Hall of Famer before he started using steroids?

It’s a ridiculous question. If someone commits a crime, do we skip punishment because of what kind of person they were before doing the crime?

Anyone who has read “Game of Shadows,” the 2006 book by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams that detailed Bonds’ extended steroid use and the impact it had on those around him, is well aware that Bonds essentially had two careers; pre-1999 and post-1999.

His first career was HOF-worthy. His second was HOF-worthy. But we don’t get to erase what happened for him to get there.

“Bonds was keenly interested in performance-enhancing drugs,” the authors wrote in “Game of Shadows.” “He asked their pharmaceutical names and then sought, through third parties, medical advice about the drugs. The medical advice was negative. You shouldn’t take the drugs, he was told, but (personal trainer Greg Anderson) said those concerns were overblown, and Bonds ignored the advice he had sought.”

Thriving in his mid- and late-30s thanks to comprehensive steroid use, Bonds forced the San Francisco Giants to hire his three phony trainers.

“The Giants’ training staff wanted nothing to do with Bonds’ three trainers and urged management to ban them from the clubhouse,” the book said.

His girlfriend and eventual mistress, Kimberly Bell, went on record to say Bonds would forcefully grab her and threaten to kill her.

“He put his hand around her throat, pressed her against the wall, and whispered, ‘If you ever (expletive) pull some (expletive) like that again, I’ll kill you, do you understand me?’,” the authors wrote in “Game of Shadows.”

Bonds’ first wife, Sun, had also accused Bonds of being violent with her. It was detailed in a 1995 Chronicle article: “In tears, she detailed at least five incidents, including being locked out of their apartment without any clothes on in the middle of the night, being pushed into a bathtub and being pushed to the ground and kicked while eight months pregnant.”

Yes, the Hall of Fame asks voters to consider “integrity” and “character.” Here’s a simpler way to put it: does this player deserve to be celebrated in the most honorable way possible?

Of course not. And as fellow Giants great Henry Aaron famously said in 2009, “There’s no place in the Hall of Fame for people who cheat.”

The argument in favor of Bonds usually goes something like, “it’s too hard to play judge and jury without all the facts,” or, “there are already known cheaters and wife-beaters in the Hall of Fame.”

So let’s just keep letting them in?

Or we can use the information we do have — and we have it all in Bonds’ case — to make informed judgments, because that’s what the Hall of Fame asks us to do. And it’s what baseball fans deserve.

Surely, there are players in baseball right now who are still finding ways to get illegal advantages. It’ll happen as long as there are organized sports, particularly those that pay players life-changing amounts of money.

But to continue to pull back consequences for those actions does little to protect future generations. How many up-and-coming ballplayers were paying attention to Bonds’ dominance when he set the new home run record in 2001? How many saw him get away with it when his felony charges were reversed in 2011?

Major League Baseball surely raked in billions of dollars thanks to the fame and attention brought to the sport by Bonds and other steroid-induced cheaters who took over the game in the late 90s and early 2000s. It’s true that former commissioner Bud Selig, admitted to the Hall of Fame by the veterans’ committee in 2016, oversaw the whole thing.

Here’s hoping the committee doesn’t do the same with Bonds.

Good riddance to the Phony Home Run King.


David Banuelos’ impact with St. Paul Saints extends off the field



David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

The backgrounds of Saints players feature a wide variety of honors and accolades from high school, college and earlier minor league stops.

Such notoriety for 25-year-old catcher David Banuelos includes being one of the three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award (given annually to the best collegiate catcher) in 2017 while playing for Cal State Long Beach. Banuelos’ recognized talents led to him being selected in the fifth round of that year’s draft by the Seattle Mariners.

Being recognized for his work off the field has proven to be equally gratifying. Banuelos was the recipient of the Twins’ annual Harmon Killebrew Award in 2018, given to players on all levels of the organization for their community work.

David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints catcher

“I love giving back to the community,” said Banuelos, who has continued his community work in the Twin Cities, prior to Thursday night’s 8-1 win over Indianapolis at CHS Field. “It’s something I was always appreciative of growing up.

“You can make a big impact in a person’s life just with the title that you have. Just taking a couple of seconds out of your day can make a little kid’s day — or year. I’m grateful for being in the position to be able to talk to kids and have a positive impact.”

The award has extra meaning to Banuelos due to the fact that one of his friends back in his native Ontario, Calif., is Killebrew’s grandson.

“It was a really cool award to win because I know the family personally,” Banuelos said. “His mom congratulated me as well for winning an award that was named after her father.”

Banuelos credits his own parents with instilling in him the willingness to give back whenever he can.

Interestingly, Banuelos’ middle name is Clemente, the surname of baseball’s greatest humanitarians, Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Following his death, Major League Baseball established the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a player for his commitment to community service.

While Banuelos was not named after Clemente (it’s his father’s first name), the Pittsburgh Pirates legend has had an impact on him, especially being in a position of influence.

“People like that inspire you to do things (to help),” Banuelos said, “because there are bigger things in the world than baseball. When people like us can give back to the community they appreciate those kind of things.”

Banuelos’ community work usually involves kids, and he and his wife, Jessica, have a son, Ezekiel, who just turned 1. Being a father also has impacted Banuelos’ life, including on the field.

“The way I think has completely changed,” he said. “I control my temper a little more now on the field. It’s made me think twice before I do things — maybe three times. Because there are consequences to everything.”


Royce Lewis moved over from his customary shortstop to play third base on Friday. He made a diving stop behind the bag and threw out the hitter in the fifth. He also had two hits, drove in a run and stole a base.

Alex Kirilloff had a two-run home run, a double and an RBI single. Spencer Steer also homered.

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Grieving husband dies after wife is slain in Texas rampage



Grieving husband dies after wife is slain in Texas rampage


Irma Garcia’s family was already reeling from her death in the Texas school shooting that targeted her fourth grade classroom and killed her co-teacher and 19 students.

Then, a mere two days after the attack, her grieving husband collapsed and died at home from a heart attack, a family member said.

Joe Garcia, 50, dropped off flowers at his wife’s memorial Thursday morning in Uvalde, Texas, and returned home, where he “pretty much just fell over” and died, his nephew John Martinez told The New York Times.

Married for 24 years, the couple had four children.

Martinez told The Detroit Free Press that the family was struggling to grasp that while the couple’s oldest son trained for combat in the Marine Corps, it was his mother who was shot to death.

“Stuff like this should not be happening in schools,” he told the newspaper.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary confirmed Joe Garcia’s death to The Associated Press. AP was unable to independently reach members of the Garcia family on Thursday.

The motive for the massacre — the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut — remained under investigation, with authorities saying the 18-year-old gunman had no known criminal or mental health history.

The rampage rocked a country already weary from gun violence and shattered the community of Uvalde, a largely Latino town of some 16,000 people about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border.

The Garcias loved to barbecue, 48-year-old Irma wrote in an online letter to her students at Robb Elementary School. Irma enjoyed listening to music and traveling to Concan, a community along the Frio River about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Uvalde.

The couple’s oldest child, Cristian, is a Marine. The couple’s other son, Jose, attends Texas State University. Their eldest daughter, Lyliana, is a high school sophomore, while her younger sister is in the seventh grade.

The school year, scheduled to end Thursday, was Irma’s 23rd year of teaching — all of it at Robb. She was previously named the school’s teacher of the year and was a 2019 recipient of the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Education from Trinity University.

“Mrs. Irma Garcia was my mentor when I began teaching,” her colleague Allison McCullough wrote when Irma was named teacher of the year. “The wealth of knowledge and patience that she showed me was life changing.”

For five years, Irma co-taught with Eva Mireles, who also was killed.

The suspect, Salvador Ramos, was inside the classroom for more than an hour before he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, authorities said.

“Welcome to the 4th grade! We have a wonderful year ahead of us!” Mireles wrote last year in an online letter to incoming students.


Associated Press journalist Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.


More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas:

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Twins blow late lead to Kansas City, squander terrific start by Devin Smeltzer



Twins blow late lead to Kansas City, squander terrific start by Devin Smeltzer

Minnesota sports fans, do you want the good news or the bad news first?

OK, the bad news is the Twins blew an eighth-inning lead on Thursday and lost, 3-2, to last-placed Kansas City to begin a four-game home stand against their American League Central rival. They have lost two in a row for the first time since getting swept by Houston May 10-12, and their 4½-game division lead on the Central was in danger of shrinking pending the White Sox’s game against Boston.

The good news was that spot starter Devin Smeltzer was terrific. Called up from St. Paul for his second stint with the big league team this season, Smetlzer did everything he could to convince the Twins to keep him around for a while.

A left-hander acquired in the trade that sent Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018 but in camp this spring as a non-roster invitee, baffled the Kansas City Royals for seven shutout innings in front of an announced crowd of 17,657 at Target Field.

Smeltzer left with a 2-0 lead after seven innings but the Royals quickly turned the tables, touching right-hander Tyler Duffey (2-3) for three runs on three hits and a walk in the top of the eighth.

Throwing a five-pitch mix — fastball, curve, changeup, sinker and slider — Smeltzer tied a career-high with six strikeouts and allowed only two hits while throwing a season-high 80 pitches. He walked one batter, Andrew Benintendo on four pitches to start the fourth inning, but erased him on a double play groundeder by the next batter, Bobby Witt Jr.

It was a master class in deception. Smeltzer’s four-seam fastball topped out at 90.7 mph, and his curveball was routinely in the 75 mph range. None of his three base-runners reached second base.

Smeltzer, 26, missed all of last season because of a herniated disc in his beck that caused him, among other things, to lose feeling in some of his fingers. Taken off the 40-man roster in November, he went to Fort Myers, Fla., as a non-roster invitee and nearly made the Opening Day roster. But he wasn’t called up until May 14.

He started games against Cleveland and Kansas City, going 1-0 with a 1.74 earned-run average. After Thursday’s start, he has allowed 8 hits and four walks in 17⅓ innings and lowered his ERA to 1.04.

Whit Merrifield hit a two-run double to center off Duffey to tie the game with one out in the eighth inning, and Witt Jr. singled him home for the go-ahead run. Ryan Jeffers and Gilberto Celestino drove in runs for the Twins.

The Twins loaded the bases with nobody out against right-hander Joel Payamps in their half of the inning. Gary Sanchez reached when third baseman Emmanuel Rivera dropped the ball after fielding his grounder, and Gio Urshela and Jose Luis Arraez followed with singles.

Royals manager then called for his high-leverage reliever, right-hander Scott Barlow. With the infield drawn in, Barlow struck out Miranda and pinch-hitter Nick Gordon, then got Max Kepler to ground out weakly to first to protect the lead. He pitched the ninth for his fifth save, stranding the potential tying run at third base.

The Twins outhit the Royals, 11-6, and left 11 men on base.

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