Whatta week… The world watched the Yankees get stomped by Colorado in the oxygen-challenged field that was supposed to clear the way for the Bombers’s big hits. Instead the Yanks were swept and outscored 13-5. And the Red Sox were ushered out of town by the unlikely buzz saw better known as the Seattle Mariners.
And interesting times seem to beget interesting times. This week, two of MLB’s bubble players made inroads towards bullying themselves into the Hall of Fame. For one, Toronto’s Frank Thomas hit his 500th home run and said he was proud because he “did it right,” a shot to others who’ve had their names muddied by steroid abuse rumors. He hit his 500th blast in Minnesota’s doomed Metrodome, where he hit his very first homer while playing as a rookie in 1990 for the White Sox, a team he stuck with through 2005. The pitcher this time around was Carlos Silva. I put that tidbit in there because we share a last name but that’s where the similarities end. The poor guy didn’t have the foresight to be Portuguese. Though being Portuguese would have not helped his chances in the Major Leagues. I think there was only one Portuguese MLB player and he was no good and no one ever spelled his name right and I could really be just a rumor, anyway, and well, I could go on because the guy probably just should have stuck to soccer.
And this week Houston’s Craig Biggio weaseled himself into Hall of Fame contention despite this season’s .250 batting average and, well, a pretty average career. If they had a category for tenacity in Hall of Fame voting, this would be a no-brainer. After all, the 41-year-old second baseman was tossed out trying to turn his 3,000th hit into his 659th career double, sixth on the all-time list. Not bad company. And we don’t really need to get into his run for the “hit by pitch” record, do we? Tenacious, sure, but there could be another word for that sort of behavior. However, as average as he’s been — certainly in the last few years, I’d hate bear witness to his being the first 3,000+ hits major leaguer (aside from Pete Rose) to not get into Cooperstown. But I’d get over it. Then again, Frank Thomas’s career may push the Hall of Fame voting envelope, as well. With the exception of Big Mac McGwire, who was passed over in his first HOF ballot, last year, every eligible player to hit 500 has been given a fancy induction party. And they are all good names. Hall of Fame names. Names like Aaron, Ruth, Mantle, Mays, Williams. Do Griffey, McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Thomas also belong there? Lou Gehrig fell a few shy of 500 homers but still got in. Can you say overall numbers and contribution to the game? Some of these contemporary players have something other than homers in their corner. Others are one-issue players. Times, they are a changin’.
photo credit: http://www.cluas.com/