Sports Roundtable: Bonds' Boycott Our panel of sports bloggers tackles Barry Bonds' threat to boycott his Hall of Fame induction and discusses sensational rookie football running back Adrian Peterson.
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Sports Roundtable: Bonds' Boycott

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Sports Roundtable: Bonds' Boycott

Sports Roundtable: Bonds' Boycott

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TONY COX, host:

I'm Tony Cox and this is NEWS & NOTES.

Basketball season is up and running, and so is rookie football sensation Adrian Peterson. Barry Bonds threatens to boycott his own Hall of Fame induction, and when will Notre Dame's nightmare end?

Those are some of the issues hitting the sports blogosphere this week.

And here to talk about the headlines is Gregory Lee, the online sports editor for the Boston Globe. Also, Dwil who writes for the blog, Sports on My Mind. And Jemele Hill, she writes for

Welcome, everybody.

Mr. GREGORY LEE (Online sports editor, Boston Globe): Hello.

Mr. DAVID WILSON (Writer, Sports on My Mind): How are you doing?

Ms. JEMELE HILL (Writer, ESPN): Hey, how are you doing?

CONAN: Jemele, did I say your name right?

Ms. HILL: No. You can kind of butchered it.

COX: Okay. All right. Tell me, let's - get me straight. Say it for me.

Ms. HILL: Okay. It's Jemele, actually.

COX: It's Jemele.

Ms. HILL: And I'm upset that Greg Lee didn't correct you because he knows me as well as anybody.

COX: Okay. Well, that was…

Mr. LEE: I was waiting for Tony to take care of that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: I want to get that straight. And that actually leads me to another question about you, Jemele, because you're writing for ESPN and And I understand that you are celebrating an anniversary right now because you've been at ESPN for a year, is that right?

Ms. HILL: That is right.

COX: Okay.

Ms. HILL: I think the official date might be November 13th, so I think it's next week. But it's hard to believe that I've been there a year. A lot has happened. And I've certainly enjoyed my time there.

COX: Do they treat you right?

Ms. HILL: They treat me good.

COX: They treat you good?

Ms. HILL: They treat me really good. If they didn't, I know Greg will get after them, as our esteemed president of the NABJ Task Force. So…

COX: Here's my other question for you, though, is this, do you - and I apologize for not knowing this - but when you write, is your photograph attached to your articles or columns or bloggings at all?

Ms. HILL: Yeah. Usually, it is. It's usually attached to my columns.

COX: And the reason I ask that is this. If it weren't there, do you think people would be able to tell that you were a female by the way that you write and what you write about?

Ms. HILL: You know, that's a good question because even with my picture being there, there are times that people still e-mail me. It happens pretty much with every column I write. And they call me man, or good job, dude, or, you know…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HILL: …I hate you, man, or whatever. And then I had to sort of - you know, I have to say, oh, you can still hate me, but I just thought you should at least know my gender because my name is probably, you know, you can't really tell because there are guys named Jemele. So…

COX: That's true.

Ms. HILL: It's - it can be a little confusing. And you'll never know where your story is linked from because they may not - there's somebody who might post my column somewhere and they may not post the pictures so they don't know. But I would like to think that they wouldn't, you know, because this is not like, you know, I'm writing about, you know, Good Housekeeping and making a cheesecake or anything.

COX: I doubt it.

Ms. HILL: You know, I'm talking about like hardcore sports.

COX: I feel what you're saying. Before I bring in the guys in, one more question about that along that line because as a woman and a sportswriter and a sports blogger, how does gender play in terms of either your approach, your word choice, your topic choice, if at all?

Ms. HILL: Well, I don't think it plays that much with me and how I approach things. Although, I'm probably sensitive to certain issues because I am a woman and sensitive to another set of issues because I'm a black woman. You know, certainly, what Don Imus said was more impactful with me because I felt like he was talking about me. You know, he's talking about my sisters, you know, so, how am I not going to stand up for them?

The other side of that is that I think my gender and race probably carries more emphasis or notoriety with readers and viewers because they just don't see a lot of that. There's not a lot of black women that are on TV and certainly not a lot doing sports. So to them, it's - it just kind of stands out. And, you know, when people really hate a column that I write, I mean, they don't have any shyness about pulling the gender in race cars, but you know, you get used to that. I've been used to that for, like, 10 years.

COX: Mm-hmm.

Ms. HILL: So it's no big deal.

COX: All right. Welcome to the Roundtable. We're glad to have you with us today.

Dwil, let's talk about this. Barry Bonds says he's…

Mr. WILSON: All right.

COX: …going to boycott his own Hall of Fame ceremony unless they erase the asterisk from his record-setting home-run baseball. Now, as you know, hip hop clothing mogul Marc Ecko is the guy who bought the ball and Ecko asked fans to vote on it. We all know what all of that was about. Here's the question. Could there be a Hall of Fame induction of Bonds - without Bonds being there, do you think?

Mr. WILSON: I don't know that there could be. I'm not a Hall of Fame voter for sure. And I haven't really talked with anyone who is a voter, who has a vote. So I'm not really sure what the rule is about that. Maybe Jemele might know, because I know she has ties with many people at ESPN who probably do have votes. I don't know what - it's curious to me is that the asterisk is even allowed on the ball.

COX: Well, what about the…

Ms. HILL: Yeah, I guess just to clear it up. They can still vote him in, but he doesn't have to show for the induction. I mean, if - whether he shows up or not or whether he acknowledges or not, he's still in the Hall of Fame.

COX: Yes. Greg, we haven't forgotten about you.

Mr. LEE: No, I'm not.

COX: I'm coming to you in just a second. So don't worry. We're not hating on you.

But, Jemele, you have spoken with the Hall of Fame about this issue. What do they say about the ball, the asterisk, and whether or not Barry will show if he gets it?

Ms. HILL: Well, it's something I plan on writing about for tomorrow. But they were - their response, to be honest, is pretty weak. And actually, I also got -contacted Mark Ecko's people, too. And the Hall of Fame's response, they feel that - their position is, they feel like the significance of number 756 outweighs the defamation that they'll accept.

So they think it's such a historic ball, such a historic moment, that they're willing to sacrifice what I think is the basic principle of the Hall of Fame, which is to preserve history as it happens. Because the problem if they accept this asterisk, they may have to explain why the asterisk is even there, which I think is unfair to Barry Bonds because other than him admitting in, you know, leaked testimony that he did knowingly take it, he didn't violate any rules in Major League Baseball.

So their bringing in a whole ball of wax where they don't need to and right now to me, they're letting a guy who clearly is in this from marketing to pump his name up to even attach himself to a great moment for nothing other than selfish motivations, they're letting him dictate what a museum should do. And as I said, you know, on air at ESPN, this is like letting the cosmetologist decide what to be in the Library of Congress. It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

COX: Let's bring our, until now, silent partner Greg in on this. Greg, what do you think about this issue with Bonds and the ball and the Hall?

Mr. LEE: Well, I just think that, you know, as Jemele mentioned, you know, Barry Bonds hasn't, you know, he didn't do anything wrong. That's the bottom line. If that's the case, there's a lot of players in the Hall of Fame who've done some wrong things, but it's not mentioned next to your name in the Hall of Fame. It's just the bottom line. It's just, you know, the Hall of Fame doing this, you know - this is wrong. It's against what, you know - if you're going to do it to Barry, do it to other people who has done a lot of wrongs, too, as well.

COX: Real quickly, Greg, also because you were in Boston and the New England Patriots are looking as if they may go undefeated over the season.

Mr. LEE: Yeah.

COX: And as you know, Miami Dolphins coach, Don Shula, first said they should have an asterisk if they do it, and then he'd backed off that. It's not a big a deal probably as the Barry Bonds' situation, but what's the reaction been to that in New England?

Mr. LEE: Well, I think the Patriots fans, of course, here and there are very upset by it. But the thing that's just mind-boggling is that people keep giving the Patriots fuel to make them even more angry than they are right now after what happened with Spygate, you know. Bill Belichick is, you know, coaching with a chip on his shoulder, and the team is playing, like, you know, they questioning our integrity and they're playing harder. And now, with Don Shula, you know, they make it seems like he's an old, you know, washed-up coach, you know, bitter, that his record could be gone, and all he's doing is fueling more of the fire for the Patriots. And you know what? I think they could go 16-0 just based on people giving them more, you know, fire for them.

COX: Let's talk fire, there's a fire in Minnesota. His name is Adrian Peterson. He's running like crazy - 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers last weekend, a new single-game record. He's only - he's just getting started in the NFL. Dwil, this guy is really something, isn't he? And by the way, he makes extra money every time he breaks a record like that.

Mr. WILSON: That's right. Yeah. He's a - he's really rushing(ph) running back to me. And that people have strained to find comparisons to Adrian Peterson. And I don't really even see a comparison to me. He's a purely 21st-century running back, who is a combination of many things. He's much faster than most running backs that I've ever seen. As powerful, one of the most powerful running backs that we've ever seen. And his ability, his sense of running is unparalleled. So, if he stays healthy, he's got a beautiful read ahead of him.

COX: The thing that really impresses me, Jemele, about him - I don't want to get your thought - is that, you know, he's running on a team that doesn't really have any other real weapons. It's not like they have a strong passing game. So people know the key on him and yet he's still delivering.

Ms. HILL: Yeah, that's really impressive, because they've had issues at quarterback all year. You pretty much know what you're going to get for him to have that kind of record-setting days or two, really, if you count his other 200-yard game. You know, I guess the NFL defense - I don't care who they are - is amazing. And I don't think I would have said - I know I wouldn't have said this, I thought, you know, LaDainian Tomlinson was pretty much, you know, in a position to be the top running back - the guy that you'd take over anybody else for, you know, a good five, seven years. But now, to be honest, if that question was on the table, who would you take, you know, L.T. or Adrian Peterson, I got to go with A.P. now, because…

COX: Really?

Ms. HILL: …he just exhibits a kind of power and strength and just a fearlessness. You know, L.T. attracts people too, but Adrian Peterson is on a whole new level with how physical he is with people.

COX: Don't you think we need to watch him a little longer to make that kind of comparison?

Ms. HILL: You know what? It's all about upside, too, you know? He's still hasn't learned some of the things that L.T. has learned, and I think in his prime, he will be better than L.T. in his prime, which is, I guess, you could say right now.

COX: All right. Another topic for you, as we bring our sports bloggers' roundtable to a close, this is good stuff, folks. Here's the issue. How sad, if at all, do you feel, any of you, for either Notre Dame or Charlie Weis? One in eight record, Notre Dame is just so deep into the toilet that they might not ever come out this year. Is it a situation in which he deserves a certain amount of sympathy or is this comeuppance for him and for the program?

Mr. LEE: I guess…

Mr. WILSON: Go ahead…

Mr. LEE: Okay. You know, I was having this conversation with boss today, and I'm a believer in karma. And Notre Dame, for what they did to Tyrone Willingham and based on the precedent they've set for previous coaches and getting rid of Tyrone Willingham before his five years was up and giving him a shot and then giving Charlie Weis a new contract of, you know, 10 years - you know an extended contract after two years of coaching with Tyrone Willingham's players, and then for the team to fall in his face right now. It's getting - Notre Dame is getting what it deserves based on what they did.

COX: Dwil?

Mr. WILSON: I have to agree 100 percent with Greg. And as a matter of fact, maybe Charlie Weis is getting all the karma from videogate from the Patriots.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HILL: Yeah. That's a good rhetoric there.

Mr. LEE: Yeah. Stuff like that (unintelligible).

COX: Yeah, that is true.

Ms. HILL: Well, or you can look at it this way. Maybe, he really wasn't that good a coach and was helped by videogate.

Mr. WILSON: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HILL: Yeah. And maybe, what we're seeing is Charlie Weis without the videotape.

Mr. WILSON: I think so.

Mr. LEE: And you hear lots of questionable play-calling last week when they lost against Navy, which really would make my boss mad because his daughter goes to Notre Dame. So he would really set it off in his office on Monday.

COX: Well, you know, there must be something - and we got about a minute left, so I'm going to bring this to you, Jemele, because it's your anniversary, and because I screwed up your name in the beginning of the segment.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: You can make comparisons to Nebraska and Callahan, but you don't hear the same thing coming out in Nebraska. It seems as if they know that he's going to be out, Tom Osborne is back, running the show. But I don't get the same sense of outrage there that I do over Charlie Weis.

Ms. HILL: Well, you got to look at the monetary investment. I mean, they pretty much, what, I think it was 10 million dollars. That's a lot of money to give a guy who has still hasn't won a ballgame and who's still hasn't really beaten - I don't think he's beaten any top-game teams, and I'm sure…

COX: No, he hasn't. Right.

Ms. HILL: …in he's - off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure he's…

Mr. LEE: He hasn't…

Ms. HILL: …record against top 25 teams overall is probably pretty poor. I think what upset people about Charlie Weis is that they gave him that deal when he had the same record as Tyrone Willingham.

COX: That's true.

Ms. HILL: And it just seem to me, why people call him racist is because there was a benefit of the doubt given to Charlie Weis that was never extended to Tyrone Willingham, even though their records are pretty much the same.

For some reason, he got the genius tag and Tyrone Willingham didn't.

COX: He got the door…

Ms. HILL: And I'd say he's doing…

COX: …and that's what we've got to do…

Ms. HILL: …yeah. He's doing a lot better at Seattle, Washington…

COX: …we've got to hit the door…

Ms. HILL: …than he did in Notre Dame.

COX: We've got to hit the door because our time has run out. I want to thank you very much, Jemele Hill, Dwil, Gregory Lee, joining us for the sports bloggers' roundtable. See you all in a couple of weeks.

Mr. WILSON: All right. Thank you.

Ms. HILL: All right. Thank you.

Mr. LEE: Thank you.

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