Random notes, idle thoughts and keeping it clean around the sports world ...
-- Those who signed on to the Manny Ramirez Inland Empire Tour the past few days may have seen a Hall of Fame-caliber player, but probably not a future Hall of Famer.
Too many voters from the Baseball Writers of America Association, including this one, have indicated they won't mark down the names of confirmed players who used performance enhancing drugs, and even overwhelmingly suspicious ones.
Searching the Internet for opinions on the best "clean" players of the steroids era who will be Cooperstown candidates, I came across a couple of lists that were less than a year old, but already dated.
At the top of those lists were Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.
Whoops. Well, Junior, at least you can stay where you are, Hall of Fame poised.
With the understanding that such "clean" lists can change overnight, there are still more than a dozen players active or recently retired who will be Hall shoo-ins, or get strong support -- maybe, in some cases, because they'll get brownie points for avoiding steroids (as far as we know). Among them, until further notice:
Albert Pujols, Jeff Bagwell, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent, Craig Biggio, Derek Jeter, Omar Vizquel, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.
-- Seven-day nervous time begins Wednesday night for Lakers fans wondering if the defending NBA champs get back both of their key-part free agents, Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza. They shouldn't have to wait long. After one week reserved strictly for negotiating, freed players can begin signing. It usually happens quickly.
You have to love the NBA process, as opposed to baseball's yawning months of gamesmanship. Because of the NBA's salary cap, top players and their agents tend to move quickly to make sure they get a big piece of the pie, and organizations hustle to make their rosters and numbers fit.
-- For years America's best soccer player, Landon Donovan, has been criticized for not meeting expectations when the U.S. played in top international competitions. The 27-year-old veteran countered that image with his performance in the Confederations Cup. Besides his two goals and two assists in the five matches, his overall game and leadership were exceptional.
It's rarely a coincidence when a star plays his best and the team also rises -- in this case to an upset of No. 1 Spain and a near upset of world power Brazil in the championship match. Now, about next year's World Cup...
-- The Angels may be a surprise first-place team to some, with so much turmoil in their starting rotation, a shaky performance from relievers not named Brian Fuentes, and the puny production from their long-time offensive rock Vlad Guerrero. On the other hand, they were big-time favorites to start; the division is mediocre; Jered Weaver has been ace-like; and Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera, Chone Figgins, Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu are having solid offensive years. All they've done is "collapse" into an actual race.
-- Don't worry. We in the media will keep asking and asking Blake Griffin what it's like to be drafted by the worst performing professional sports franchise in the history of mankind until he breaks down, cries and finally believes, like most everyone else, that the Clippers have no shot at ever winning anything.