News item: Support for Mark McGwire diminishes among Hall of Fame voters.
News item: Grand jury convenes for perjury investigation of Roger Clemens.
On a day baseball celebrated the election of Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice to the Hall of Fame, the shadow of the steroid era lingered.
McGwire drew 21.9% of the vote this year, down from 23.6% last year. Although he admitted using androstenedione at a time the substance had not yet been banned in baseball, and although he refused to discuss steroid use in the sport at a congressional hearing convened for that very purpose, McGwire never has been charged with a crime.
But Barry Bonds has been charged with perjury, and Clemens soon could be. The federal government claims it can prove Bonds lied when he said he never knowingly used steroids, and would make the same claim about Clemens.
Bonds is scheduled for trial in March. He and Clemens are scheduled to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot four years from now, the time of reckoning for baseball's steroid era.
Bonds, the all-time home run leader, and Clemens, winner of an unprecedented seven Cy Young Awards, normally would be locks for first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame.
But, when 28 voters deprive Henderson of a first-ballot election, how many might vote against Bonds or Clemens the first time as a vote against the steroid era?
Each man is innocent until proven guilty, of course. But, by the time the feds are finished, this might be the question for the Hall of Fame electorate: How many might vote against Bonds or Clemens every time?
Who says there are no more secrets in baseball? The Angels negotiated the outline of their contract extension with Manager Mike Scioscia in September and finalized the deal in November.
General Manager Tony Reagins confirmed the agreement last week, following news reports, although the Angels have not publicly specified the terms. However, the extension runs through 2018, with an opt-out clause through 2015, according to two sources familiar with the agreement but not authorized to speak publicly about it.
If Scioscia completes the deal, he would have managed more games for the Angels than Tom Lasorda managed for the Dodgers.
Remember when . . .
The Dodgers' Brad Penny started the 2006 All-Star game by striking out Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz with 100-mph fastballs, conjuring up visions of him as a dominant closer, pumping gas with no concern about pacing himself.
His new contract with the Boston Red Sox provides plenty of incentive for relief work -- up to $1.5 million for appearing in 75 games, plus up to $1.5 million for finishing 50 games.
He has similar incentives for games started, and for now Boston plans to start him. But the Red Sox also have Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz and John Smoltz under contract. Smoltz, rehabilitating a shoulder injury, is not expected to be ready until June.
Hall of Fame members George Brett, Rich Gossage and Dave Winfield are among those scheduled to attend this year's Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation gala Saturday at the Century Plaza, along with Commissioner Bud Selig, Lasorda and Whitey Herzog.
The evening also includes an enormous silent auction for such items as a letter signed by Abraham Lincoln and a baseball autographed by Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.
The event, which raises money for scouts in need, is open to the public. Information: (310) 996-1188.
The Anaheim City Council is expected to announce the end of its legal challenge to the Angels' name change today, four years after first filing suit.
In declining last month to intervene on behalf of Anaheim, a state appellate court debated the existence of curses in baseball. In his dissenting opinion, Justice David Sills noted the Angels -- under the Los Angeles name -- had lost their last two playoff series, each to the Boston Red Sox.
"It [is] as if the Curse of the Bambino had been taken from Boston and hung on the Angels," Sills wrote. "But curses can be lifted. Previous rumors of a curse circulated when the team was the California Angels. It was only as the Anaheim Angels that the team, in 2002, won the World Series."
In the majority opinion, Justice Richard Aronson suggested Sills' legal argument for the city made no more sense than arguing the Angels should have been declared the winner of their playoff series because they had the best record during the regular season.
"The Angels lost to Boston when it mattered, just as Anaheim lost its jury trial with [the Angels]," Aronson wrote. "The dissent queries whether the Angels' playoff defeat was attributable to a curse.
"Delving into the occult is beyond the standard of review. But if there is a curse hanging over the Angels, it may well be this lawsuit. Hopefully, our decision . . . will bring to a close the parties' long season of conflict."
Henderson, Rice receive Hall call
All-time leader in stolen bases makes it on his first try and the former Boston outfielder gets in on his final one. PAGE 6
Mota is headed back to Dodgers
Guillermo Mota, who was once the setup man for Eric Gagne, agrees to a one-year deal to return
to L.A. PAGE 6