Bo Jackson’s Baseball Career Could Have Been Hall of Fame-Worthy Without Injury

Kevin Walker kept Bo Jackson out of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Walker is the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker who tackled Jackson, then a Los Angeles Raiders running back, during a 1990 NFL playoff game. The tackle resulted in a hip injury for Jackson which he never recovered from.

He’s quite possibly the best two-sport athlete of the modern era, and that’s why he’s the subject of ESPN’s newest 30 for 30 documentary “You Don’t Know Bo.” It’s is a great opportunity for a younger generation of sports fans to understand how incredible Jackson was in his prime.

Rarely does an athlete come along who can do the things that Jackson was able to do.

Deion Sanders played both baseball and football, but he was always an average player on the diamond.

Jackson was equally as talented in both sports, but his passion was in baseball. Football was nothing more than a hobby for him.

“You Don’t Know Bo” features countless sports personalities and former teammates of Jackson, all of whom deliver superlative after superlative discussing the greatness of Jackson.

One of the things that stands out is how author Chuck Klosterman discusses the baseball career of the former Kansas City Royal.

He went on to say that the numbers alone didn’t do justice to everything that Jackson did on the field. His numbers alone don’t jump off the page and aren’t anything historic.

But fans knew there was something special about Jackson and that he would always be considered one of the best athletes to play the game. That sums up how he should be viewed and explained to those who weren’t actually able to watch him.

The numbers, though, do lay claim that had Jackson stayed healthy his entire career, he could have made a very good case of making the Hall of Fame.

In 1990, the season before he picked up the injury, Jackson was entering his prime. The previous season he hit 32 home runs and drove in 105 runs. He was the All-Star Game MVP and finished 10th in the MVP voting.

Profiling very much as simply a slugger offensively, he even managed to hit a career-high .272 in 1990. It’s incredibly likely that with as good of shape as he was in, Jackson could have played productively for another seven or eight years.

His supreme athletic ability would have counted for him when it came to Hall of Fame voters. They’re a breed that relies heavily on narrative, and the story of Jackson’s exploits is second to none when it comes to the feats he could do.

Unfortunately, the narrative of Jackson now is just what he could have done had he not been injured.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Does ESPN Have an East Coast Bias?

On a relatively slow news day in the sports world on Monday, one would expect that an upcoming three-game series matching two of the most storied franchises in baseball would be the top story on ESPN’s featured Sportscenter at 6pm EST. 

The fact the two teams are one and two in their division, and the two biggest markets on the West Coast might have some cache, but not to the execs at ESPN. 

The San Francisco Giants and the visiting first-place Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t even make the tease in the opening storylines, let alone the lead story.  

Four days after LeBron James and the Miami Heat won their first NBA title, Sportscenter led with the victory celebration and parade that took place today in Miami. 

OK, fine, it’s King James and the new “dream team”, certainly the Giants and Dodgers would be up next. 

Story number two? 32-year-old Venus Williams, who has been battling an auto-immune deficiency is defeated at Wimbledon in the first round.

Fine, it’s kind of breaking news, it may be the end of the road for Williams, I get it.  Giants-Dodgers next, right?  Oh, back to LeBron for excerpts of the in-depth conversation that I’ve already seen. 

Keep in mind, if the New York Yankees were getting ready to play the Boston Red Sox, even if they weren’t battling for first place, it would’ve been teased three different ways prior to Sportscenter even beginning. 

ESPN would’ve designated the first five minutes of the broadcast to the matchup, going live to someone in the stadium, and then flashing back to some hack rundown about the history of the “greatest rivalry in sports.”  

Does ESPN really believe that the Yankees and Red Sox are worthy of so much attention, but the Giants and Dodgers can’t even get a mention in their top stories. Do the execs at ESPN think the Yankees and Red Sox are a national story, but two teams that used to battle each other in New York, and then moved to the West coast where they’ve continued the heated rivalry, isn’t?

Of course, it isn’t the first time this has happened. It will happen many more times, and then it will be football season, and it will be even worse.  

I understand that I’m not breaking news with this story, just venting about a persistent problem that nobody seems to care about.  I know the suits at ESPN have heard the whining for years and it clearly has changed very little.

One solution was to move the later Sportscenter to Los Angeles, essentially throwing a bone to us mopey West Coasters, but when you still lead off with LeBron, it’s not doing much for me. 

Essentially, I’m part of the problem. As much as I whine about it, I still tune into Sportscenter every day along with the many other programming ESPN offers. Why doesn’t ESPN listen to my complaints? Because they don’t have to, and yet I keep tuning in. 

So unless you have some great solution as to how to fix the problem, which I’m guessing you don’t, thanks for letting a fellow West Coaster rant about something that will probably never change.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

ESPN Sunday Night Baseball: Boston Red Sox Heavily Favored for 3 Reasons

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are tied for first place in the American League East heading into their series-finale on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. (ET) at historic Fenway Park.

Boston holds a significant 9-2 advantage over New York in the season series, including a 10-4 home victory on Saturday afternoon.

Lines makers expect a similar result in this one, placing Boston as a minus-155 home favorite due to the dominant pitching of Josh Beckett. The line reflects that he will not be matched up with CC Sabathia for the first time in four starts this year against the Yankees.

Let’s take a closer look at Beckett’s 2011 dominance of the Bronx Bombers.

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A.J. Burnett, Colin Cowherd and the Nature of Sports Radio

A.J. Burnett is fuming, steaming and most likely darn right mad.

He’s mad at ESPN voice on the radio, Colin Cowherd.

This one’s a doozie.

Seems the guy with the strange name—that would be Mr. Cowherd—said something on his show about the New York Yankees pitcher that he might, at this moment, want to take back.

Ah, but such is the beauty of our modern day sports talk radio. Once you say it, it’s ON the record. No misquotes, no pleading and no back-peddling.

Seems the guy whose name rhymes with what we used to call Cow Patties put this gem out there on the airwaves for all to absorb:

“A.J. Burnett went through a terrible divorce, and he still might be going through it. His wife was vindictive and spiteful. I don’t feel comfortable telling you everything. The story is ugly.”

So sayeth Colin Cowherd. Oh my.

Now comes Burnett’s agent, Darek Braunecker with his response to Cowherd’s statement. It goes like this:

“A.J. is ticked. He’s not going through a divorce, and if he was, it would not be anyone’s business. They (Burnett and wife Karen) are happily married.”

Oh my.

Looks like the boys in Bristol have themselves a nice little firestorm here, doesn’t it?

And such is the beast that talk radio has become. There’s certainly a lot of it out there.

There’s a guy named Jim Rome who spouts his “take” over and over again. He is the master of repetition and he does take some listener calls, although they are screened harder than guys entering the Pentagon. You are not allowed to take issue with Rome, there is no debate. Praise him and you’re on, otherwise, forget it.

Tampa Bay is blessed with outstanding sports talk radio. We have a guy named Steve Duemig on 620 WDAE who does what talk radio hosts should do—an enormous amount of research and preparation for his three-hour show. He’ll take virtually any call and doesn’t mind screaming at callers who know little about the subject being tossed.

On the same station, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ian Beckles can give a perspective on the NFL through the eyes of a player who spent 10 years in the league. Beckles’ takes are typically sharp and he can back up what he says from watching film and from his experience on the field.

Which brings us back to this tizzy now where ESPN, the king of commentary and the worldwide leader in sports, has gone “no comment” on this brewing feud between Burnett and Cowherd.

Cowherd had some explaining to do.

Either Burnett and his wife are getting a divorce or they aren’t. It’s easy enough. Either this has been filed in court or it hasn’t.

Yes, Cowherd’s got some serious explaining to do on this one.

So is the nature of sports talk radio gossip or fact?

The fact is, if any talk radio host is making a claim, he better be able to prove it, back it up and simply know what the heck he’s talking about.

These shows are ratings-driven, that’s a fact. Controversy is always good. It brings listeners, it drives ratings. But there’s still a little thing out there called libel. It’s something everyone is aware of.

If in fact Burnett’s agent is correct and Cowherd is totally uninformed, then there’s bound to be some real scrambling going on with ESPN’s battery of well-compensated lawyers.

The nature of talk radio is that Cowherd could end up at some point in time, eating crow on the air, taking it all back and throwing out a barrage of mea culpas.

But that remains to be seen, or in this case, heard.

Cowherd, he’s always talking.

But for once, on this one, ESPN isn’t.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Joe Morgan Fired: 10 Guys Who Should Be on Sunday Night Baseball

At last, ESPN has come to its senses and made the move to replace the Sunday Night Baseball team of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

Miller will still be a part of the organization’s baseball coverage while Morgan looks for other employment opportunities.

Morgan was never a very popular color man for ESPN’s baseball coverage, especially among younger viewers. Morgan would drone on about the same topic for several innings, rarely contributing more than common knowledge.

Despite his success as a ballplayer, Morgan offered little insight into the game and often spoke in generalities.

ESPN should use this opportunity to try to incorporate younger people into the game. More entertaining, knowledgeable commentators means more young viewers, which baseball definitely could use. Here are my top 10 picks to replace Joe Morgan in the color booth.

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