So what does that mean for his HOF chances?

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So what does that mean for his HOF chances?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Acquitted in court, Roger Clemens must wait a half-year before finding out whether he cleared his name in the minds of Hall of Fame voters. Standards for conviction are clear in court, less so in baseball, where Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro have been bypassed for the Hall thus far despite distinguished careers. "I think the voters have already spoken, with McGwire and Palmeiro. I don't see him getting into the Hall of Fame as a first-year eligible," said ESPN reporteranalyst Tim Kurkjian, who plans to vote for Clemens. Clemens was acquitted Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C., on six counts that he lied and obstructed Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. "I think everybody believes he was guilty in some form or fashion," said John Harper of the New York Daily News, who doesn't plan to vote for Clemens. "I think that's the real issue as far as voters go. I know that's an issue for me." Rusty Hardin, Clemens' defense attorney, said his client never fixated on whether or not he would gain admission to the Hall. "You know, the Hall of Fame thing, that's always been other people's concern," Hardin said Tuesday morning during an appearance on CNN. "Roger has made clear that wouldn't have driven him. He wanted to be considered the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball. ... "If he's judged in history by people in baseball to have been a great pitcher, that's good enough for him. If the writers decide to put him in the Hall of Fame, that's fine. If they don't, that's their call. This guy is one of the best people who happen to be also a great pitcher that I've ever known." Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa all will be first-timers on the ballot, which in some ways will be a referendum on the Steroids Era. Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio also will be making their initial appearances. "I haven't made any final decision on my votes, but my opinion has always leaned toward the idea that it is unfair to make Hall of Fame voters the steroids police," The Seattle Times' Larry Stone said. "We'll never know definitively who used and who didn't use, and MLB has never disallowed any statistics, so my inclination is to make judgments based on their performances on the field." Asked about Clemens' chances for making the Hall, NBC's Bob Costas said: "A guilty verdict would have damaged his reputation. It remains to be seen how much or if this verdict helps it." Costas doesn't cast a ballot; Hall of Fame voters are veteran members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "I think some people will assume that he may very well have lied, but that the government couldn't prove it," former commissioner Fay Vincent said. "They may have real reservations about his record in light of those questions. But I think it modestly improves his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame." Clemens spent 4 years proclaiming his innocence after Brian McNamee, his former personal trainer, told baseball investigator George Mitchell that he injected the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone about 16 to 21 times during 1998, 2000 and 2001. On Monday, a jury of eight women and four men agreed with Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner. "I think it's great for the game because we can stop talking about it now," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "I'm pretty sure baseball fans are happy it's over." Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, a longtime friend of Clemens and a key witness in the case, wouldn't give his opinion on the verdict, saying only: "I don't even care to talk about that." Pettitte was believed to have given Clemens a boost when he testified there was a 50-50 chance he might have misunderstood a conversation during the 1999-2000 offseason that the government claimed was proof Clemens admitted using HGH. "We get all these trials out of the way, we can move on," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a former Clemens teammate. "Now, it seems like we're beyond it." Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig declined to comment on the verdict. Union head Michael Weiner said Clemens was "vindicated." "We look forward to him taking his rightful place in the Hall of Fame," Weiner said. Vincent called it a "big win" for Clemens and his lawyer. "It's a major defeat for the Justice Department -- one of a series," he said. "I think the government is at a huge disadvantage against really good outside lawyers." Clemens is the latest sports figure to frustrate the federal government's efforts to nab suspected steroid cheats despite prosecution costs of tens of millions of dollars. Bonds, a seven-time NL MVP, was convicted of a single obstruction of justice count that he gave an evasive answer to a grand jury in 2003, and charges were dropped last year that he made false statements when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. A grand jury investigation of Lance Armstrong was dropped last winter without charges being filed, though the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal accusations last week that could strip the seven-time Tour de France winner of his victories in cycling's premier race. Armstrong denies any doping. Federal agent Jeff Novitzky and his teams of investigators have obtained only two guilty pleas from athletes (Olympic track star Marion Jones and former NFL defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield); and two convictions (Bonds and sprint cyclist Tammy Thomas). Jones, who also pleaded guilty to making false statements about her association with a check-fraud scheme, was the only targeted athlete to serve a day in prison. Bonds' conviction still must survive an appeal. Clemens has no such worries. With a 354-184 record, 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, he would have been a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer when the votes are totaled in January. But since the day the Mitchell Report was released, his reputation has been tainted by suspicion. Still, Cleveland Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin was thrilled for Clemens, one of his boyhood heroes growing up in Texas. "If a case goes on that long and the jury decides he's not guilty, then obviously he's telling the truth," he said.

Cubs' bats go silent in shutout loss to Marlins

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USA TODAY

Cubs' bats go silent in shutout loss to Marlins

MIAMI – This is a 37-36 team dealing with injuries near the front of the rotation (Kyle Hendricks), the middle of the lineup (Ben Zobrist) and the heart of the defense (Jason Heyward) while a World Series legend (Kyle Schwarber) gets a few days to clear his head before reporting to Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs are the defending champs, but they really don’t have much of an identity beyond that, unsure what they’re going to get from one night to the next and still searching for that sense of rhythm 45 percent into the season.

Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Miami Marlins followed a familiar pattern for a team that’s been at the .500 mark at 15 different points this season and has been shut out six times already. 

Pitching and defense became the backbone for a World Series team, but the Marlins needed only three hits to score two runs (one earned). John Lackey gave up his 21st home run – he allowed 23 in almost 190 innings last year – in the third inning when Giancarlo Stanton launched an 83-mph pitch 458 feet beyond Marlins Park’s garish pink-flamingos-and-palm-trees sculpture.   

The night after blitzing Miami and scoring 11 runs, the Cubs managed only six hits against right-hander Jose Urena and three different relievers. 

Joe Maddon on Ian Happ: ‘Pound for pound, man, he’s got as good a power as I’ve seen’

Joe Maddon on Ian Happ: ‘Pound for pound, man, he’s got as good a power as I’ve seen’

MIAMI – The Cubs factored Ian Happ into their preseason plans, hoping he could give the team a shot of adrenaline at some point and play well enough to be marketed as a trade chip in a blockbuster deal for pitching.

But the Cubs couldn’t have projected this for late June: Happ batting third behind Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, the switch-hitting presence and middle-of-the-order force needed with Ben Zobrist on the disabled list and Kyle Schwarber about to get a mental reset at Triple-A Iowa.

“Pound for pound, man, he’s got as good a power as I’ve seen, when you look at the size and how far the ball goes,” manager Joe Maddon said Friday at Marlins Park. “It’s a unique combination of size and strength. You normally see a bigger guy with that kind of juice."

Happ (6-foot, 205 pounds) also patrolled right field that night – one of four different positions the rookie has handled so far – with Gold Glove defender Jason Heyward also on the disabled list and the Cubs in scramble mode.

The Schwarber demotion is a reminder of how hard this game is, how quickly it can spin out of control and how small sample sizes can be misleading, even on the biggest stages against some of the best pitchers on the planet.

But check out Happ’s first six weeks in The Show projected as a 162-game average on Baseball-Reference.com: 46 homers, 97 RBI, .916 OPS and 199 strikeouts.

“He’s just really interesting,” Maddon said. “Now you’re seeing him hit better from the right side, too, which is really going to matter. That really makes him a threat. You put him in the lineup based on that.”

The shorthanded Cubs have needed Happ – at the age of 22 – to protect Bryzzo Souvenir Co., add another layer of Zobrist versatility and learn it all on the fly for a team with World Series expectations.

“He’s pretty self-confident,” Maddon said. “There’s times I can tell when it’s beating him up a little bit when he goes through some of those funks where maybe he’s chasing pitches out of the zone. But he seems to rebound very quickly. Strong-minded. Strong-willed. Very confident individual.”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs hopeful Kyle Hendricks returns before All-Star break]

Two weeks into Happ’s big-league career, Maddon got questions about how long the Cubs will be patient and what they would need to see out of him before thinking about a return trip to Des Moines.

Though Happ was hitting .207 as recently as last week, his average has jumped roughly 40 points. He’s homered eight times in his last 13 starts. Fifteen of his 21 RBI have come with two outs. His OPS hasn’t fallen below .741 at any point this season.

“That’s adjusting,” Maddon said. “You get here, nobody really knows you, they throw you pitches, you hit ‘em well. And all of a sudden, you stop seeing those pitches. You’re not going to see them again until you stop swinging at the stuff that they want you to swing at.

“He’s done a pretty good job of laying off the bad stuff. That’s why it’s coming back to him. He’s really reorganized the strike zone here.”

That whole process sped up on Schwarber, who lost the swagger and the ability to crush fastballs that made him such a dangerous hitter. Happ doesn’t have it all figured out, but by the look on his face and the sound of his voice, you would have no idea whether or not he’s hitting. 

“Unbelievable guy,” said Happ, who’s tight with Schwarber. “He’ll go down, rake, be back soon and do what he’s capable of doing, which is hitting the ball hard all over the ballpark. He’s done it his whole life. And he’ll continue to do it.”