Street debates are edgy and passionate and you have to carry all the statistics, “right up here,” said Javier tapping his head.
Javier stood on the Grand Concourse and fired the first shot:
“Mark McGwire hit 583 home runs. The Hall-of-Fame debate begins and ends right there.”
But this debate wasn’t decided in the Bronx.
“The decision makers play by their own rules,” said Javier. “They don’t care about the game.”
If the voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America judged his game then McGwire would have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame a year ago along with Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.
“I thought all three of us had a chance to get in,” Gwynn said last year. “The fact that Mark didn’t get in, I think it’s more of people making a statement about the Congressional hearings than it is what he was able to do on the baseball field. I don’t mind saying I think he’s a Hall of Famer. I do.”
Not enough voters agreed and McGwire received less than 25 percent again this year. Gwynn said that McGwire, “dominated an era.” So what does it say about the Hall of Fame if he is not included?
“It ain’t worth much,” said Javier.
And this is only the beginning. In the coming years a group of self-appointed baseball experts will determine whether the Hall of Fame is relevant or not.
If you believe the bluster, the voters may exclude: Barry Bonds – the greatest offensive player ever – Roger Clemens – the greatest pitcher ever – Sammy Sosa – who is already one of only five players to hit more than 600 home runs – and Rafael Palmeiro – who is one of only four players with over 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
If that happens, “The baseball writers should rip down all the plaques,” said Javier. “Maybe they can turn the Hall of Fame into a country club and put a golf course out back. It sure won’t be about baseball anymore.”
And we haven’t even talked about Pete Rose, who the commissioner continues to deny eligibility.
“Pete Rose has 4,256 hits,” Javier said. “The Hall-of-Fame debate begins and ends right there.”
But none of these debates will be won on the street.