A GRIP ON SPORTS • Yesterday, baseball’s Hall of Fame once again welcomed a new class of honorees. And once again a place that should be reserved for the great invited a couple of really good players. Read on.
• There was a time not all that long again when the members of the Greatest Generation used to consistently make fun of the Baby Boomers’ penchant for giving their children participation medals.
Oh really? How about Pee Wee Reese?
In 1984 what was then known as the Veteran’s Committee voted the Dodger shortstop into the Hall of Fame.
A guy who hit .269 for his career. Oh sure, he was a good fielder. And he was, according to most accounts, a good friend to Jackie Robinson. But a Hall of Famer? C’mon. He was a run-of-the-mill player.
But he has a plaque.
So does Enos Slaughter. And Rube Marquard. Waite Hoyt. Nellie Fox.
All fine players. But none worthy of being part of an entity designed to honor the best of the game.
Yes, Vladimir Guerrero and Chipper Jones earned a spot. Maybe Jim Thome. But Trevor Hoffman? Alan Trammell? Jack Morris?
Before you start sputtering, let me admit under the criteria that have emerged over the years, sure. They all are as worthy as many who already have been inducted. But that’s the problem.
The Hall of Fame should be more exclusive. If you are going to allow in Carlton Fisk or Billie Williams, you have to invite Edgar Martinez and Carlos Beltran.
So maybe there should be a Hall of Honor in the Hall of Fame. A spot reserved for the best of the best. The top 20 position players of all-time. The top 10 pitchers. Every year a hand-picked committee – me – goes over the eligible players in the Hall of Fame and picks the Hall of Honor members for that year.
Babe Ruth. Willie Mays. Walter Johnson. Hank Aaron. Ted Williams. Christy Mathewson. Stan Musial. Rogers Hornsby. Cy Young. Ty Cobb. Honus Wagner. Grover Cleveland Alexander. Tris Speaker. Jimmie Foxx. Greg Maddux. Charlie Gehringer. Lou Gehrig. Tom Seaver. Chipper Jones. Mel Ott. Tom Seaver. Frank Robinson. Mickey Mantle. Warren Spahn. George Brett. Ken Griffey, Jr. Randy Johnson. Joe DiMaggio. Al Simmons. Pedro Martinez.
It’s tough. Should some of the really old-time players, like Eddie Collins, be included? Who takes the last pitching spot, Lefty Grove or Pedro Martinez? How about Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan and Tom Glavine? Or Frank Thomas, Ivan Rodriguez and Al Kaline?
Sorry, no. It’s the Hall of Honor, the best of the best.
And there is another sub-group.
If the assembly consists solely of players already in the Hall itself, many of the steroid users are eliminated. But there is no doubt Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens belong on the list and would immediately jump into the Hall of Honor.
But will Derek Jeter when he’s eligible? Or Albert Pujols? Who knows? That’s for another day.
We are sure of one thing, however.
Hoffman wouldn’t be in.
• Our Dave Nichols didn’t concern himself with something so mundane as the Hall of Fame and its honorees. No sir. He’s got bigger fish to grill. He’s out to save baseball from itself.
Lower prices. Good. Expansion. Fine. Revamping divisions? That works. Everyone with the designated hitter. OK. Messing with shifts and pitching changes. Sorry, going to draw the line there.
Let the game on the field deal with itself. Like it did in 1968 when no one could get a hit. There was no major rule changes back then to … wait, they lowered the mound? And instituted the D.H. a few years later? Oh. … Never mind.
WSU: As it’s preview season, we can pass along one concerning the Cougars. It’s courtesy of the Eugene Register-Guard. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Jake Browning is ready to show everyone what he and Washington can offer. … The kickers are one of Colorado’s strengths.
EWU: The USATF Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships ended yesterday at Eastern.
Mariners: Honestly, where would the M’s be without Marco Gonzales? Not in the wild-card hunt, that’s for sure. Of course, a seven-run first made his 12th win a lot easier. As did a great catch from Denard Span. The final against the Angels was 8-5. … The West-leading Astros come to town tonight. … There is a new arm in the bullpen. … What happens to Felix? … As we covered yesterday, Coors Field has been a house of horrors for the M’s and the A’s. Oakland lost there again yesterday.
Seahawks: Duane Brown has a contract extension. He’s looking forward to finishing his career in Seattle. So what does that mean for Earl Thomas? … New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer spoke yesterday after the Hawks hit for the first time.
Sounders: The late-season surge continued for Seattle with a 3-1 win over New York City FC.
• Hey, I’m on the radio for three hours today. And again Thursday. If you want to listen today from 3 to 6 p.m., you can here. I’m joining Rick Lukens. We’ll talk about a lot of things, I’m sure. The weather, war wounds (golf is hard) and the like. Until then …
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