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The Globe and Mail

Dowbiggin: Can you really have a Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds?

It seems appropriate this holiday season that baseball be visited by the ghosts of clubhouses past. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Sammy Sosa.

After a few years of dread for MLB, this cohort of hypodermic heroes has finally hit the Hall of Fame market in 2012. Just in time for the baseball writers to decide who gets in and who doesn't. If righteous indignation vented by voters so far is any indication, baseball might not have any inductees from the 1990s and early 2000s.

Cheaters? Their path to fame (allegedly) led through their butts. Or rather, through needles (allegedly) jabbed into their butts to give them a beefy leg up on their peers. It seems an easy decision to keep them out of the HOF.

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From there things get cloudy, however. First, how do these enhanced heroes differ from the HOF members who played from the 1960s to the '90s, consuming amphetamines by the handful to get up for games? Many of the reporters damning Bonds et al looked the other way when they saw greenies liberally consumed in the clubhouse.

Second, how do we know that Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were unique in their time? What about the second baseman who went from 7 HRs to 15 HRs but stayed under the radar? Can we single out only the very best players for drug censure simply because of their fame? Maybe they were just the most prominent names on a long list.

Third, when he bet on baseball, Pete Rose broke a well-established rule posted in every clubhouse. You can't say that of the androstenedione takers through most of the 1990s. The substances used by the Bondsmen were not banned in baseball during the players' prime.

Finally, can you have a HOF without Bonds, the greatest hitter in the sport's history? Who has never been officially convicted of drug taking?

Now, let those who have a clear conscience cast the first no vote.

Billion-dollar Buds

Speaking of holiday gifts, the arrival of Forbes Magazine's NHL franchise values edition is an annual treasure. Forbes puts evaluations to teams, and the NHL then scoffs that Forbes is cuckoo. It's a seasonal pantomime worthy of the Royal Alex.

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Once again, there is hot debate about the precision of Forbes' 2012 numbers but not the broad strokes of their findings.

Forbes' 2012 headline grabber is the $1-billion evaluation of a team without a title since 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs. But its most telling finding is the growing gap between Toronto and the downtrodden dozen or so teams at the bottom of the NHL food chain. Forbes finds that, should the CBA squabble bring a 50/50 split in revenues, the bottom teams will still lose money even if they make it through two rounds of the postseason.

In short, the current talks are not going to provide a cure for what ails the NHL's 30-team business plan, with franchises in cities that can never prosper. And a Merry Xmas, one and all.

"@dowbboy Watching the Coyotes saga, all I could think of is "Yeah, this is why they're shutting down hockey. So the Glendale mall survives."

Mediator, meet Mr. Bettman

With a federal mediator who doesn't do risqué tweets to Sarah Silverman now in place, the process of finding common ground between the NHL and NHLPA has begun.

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The mediator will learn that it's very difficult to be NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. You bust your hump for not one, but three, collective agreements with the NHLPA, all designed to resolve the business woes of your overextended league, and is anyone grateful? No.

The players protest that they are the only ones giving at the office. The media throws your promises back in your face that your hard-won CBAs are the NHL's panacea. Your sponsors make public statements about getting refunds if you don't start playing pronto. And the broadcasters want give-backs, too.

It's enough to give a guy a complex. Luckily the mediator will learn that, if you're Bettman or the members of his negotiating committee, you live in a bubble where none of these things can get at you. You're at your leisure to put the NHLPA into a submission hold that allows you to claim Total Victory: Part 3.

If you're Bettman's mentor, Jeremy Jacobs of Boston, or Murray Edwards of Calgary you own a market where you can dump manure on your fans and they'll beg for more next time. There will always be another hockey player coming down the pike to replace the ingrates you employ now.

And the mediator will conclude, these people can't figure out why we're in the midst of a third lockout since 1994.

Tweet nothings

"@stuartjyork "@dowbboy if all 30 teams shared 33 per cent of rev in a pool, then rich teams would care about league getting out of lousy markets"


Winning Powerball numbers: 5-23-16-22-29. The Powerball is 6. Oh well, guess the NHL will just have to settle with the players after all. / @dowbboy

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