The Cooperstown buzz has mushroomed from mere whispers to a mild murmur this week, mostly because we're only a month or so away from the announcement that Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn will NOT be sharing their magical induction day with Mark McGwire, that apartment-sized superhero who saved the game of baseball for the children before he singlehandedly ruined the game of baseball for the children.
Ripken and Gwynn are shoo-in, first-ballot enshrinees, but society remains ambivalent about "taking stock" and doing some serious soul-searching re: the state of the sport which Big Mac singlehandedly saved for the children outweighing the state of the sport when Big Mac singlehandedly took it away from the children with his testimony before Congress in '05.
We'll see a lot of crusades and pep rallies in the months/years ahead.
And, it'll be big fun watching sportswriters and sportscasters AK-47ing us with their flip-flopping, backpedaling and bandwagon-jumping.
Honestly, how much crebility is there contained within a HOF band of voters which A) Doesn't pay to attend MLB games and B) Has visited Cooperstown once, maybe twice?
A guy scribbles down some quotes from C.C. Sabathia -- and now that guy is voting for alleged MLB immortals?
America has a serious disconnect with "the process," so ya might as well have Costa Ricans voting on North Dakota re-zoning initiatives.
This Haystack's stance was made abundantly clear years ago, so there's no need for a Haystack re-hash right now.
The only sensible mode is to put it in the hands of the fans. They pay to watch ballgames, they pay to keep Cooperstown open on summer weekdays.
"Yeah, but then it becomes a popularity contest."
It already is, Jasper ... it already is.
Maybe with the fans in control, Hall of Famers such as Jim Kaat, Ted Simmons, Tommy John, Lance Parrish and Bob Boone will be inducted before they're dead.
Maybe Buck O'Neil, too.
That's why it was amusing to hear an interesting exchange on radio yesterday between The Sports Reporters' co-host Steve Czaban and Comcast's Carol Maloney.
Maloney made a good point that, 100 years from now, Ripken's consecutive-game streak (2,632) is what they'll still be talking about.
Zabe made a better point.
CZABAN: "100 years from now, they'll be talking about our war with Mars."
Speaking of the Ghosts of MLB Past & Present, approximately one month before the '06 season ended, Tim Kurkjian occupied the airwaves of the X Games Network and pondered potential classic matchups which extended beyond the perameters of a time/space continuum.
In his Top 3 of pitcher-batter matchups that he was Jonesin' to see, Kurkjian offered the following (in reverse order):
3) Walter Johnson vs. Barry Bonds
2) Randy Johnson vs. Ted Williams
1) Nolan Ryan vs. Babe Ruth
At first glance, a showcase of The Big Train, The Big Unit and The Ryan Express bringin' the heat against the ball-whacking acumen of Game of Shadows, The Splendid Splinter and The Bambino might appear fascinating. Upon further review, it's unoriginal and passe (and that conclusion is from a Haystack which is usually pro-Kurkjian).
The argument against such matchups is that Hollywood already addressed these matters when, in "The Natural," we saw Roy Hobbs strike out The Whammer (both were wearing street clothes) in that clearing by the train tracks.
Then, Hollywood gave us a few legendary matchups when John Spartan and Simon Phoenix slugged it out after years spent in cryogenic purgatory.
True, some will argue that there's no way that the Alien should EVER beat the Predator (especially for those of us who bet the "over"), but then Freddy and Jason went one-on-one and, well ... Hollywood was clearly making a mockery of serious confrontations.
So, to counter Kurkjian's assertion -- and to get our minds off of Big Mac not gettin' an invite to the party -- time might be better spent pondering blockbuster showdowns, rather than "Sandy Koufax vs. Albert Pujols."
First AB: Grounder to third ...
Second AB: popout to SS ...
Third AB: strikeout swinging ...
Fourth AB: sharp single to CF ...
Then again, that's playing by 1960 rules.
Playing by Y2K06 rules, Pujols is spending his third AB facing Don Newcombe and his fourth AB digging in against Orel Hershiser.
That's why it's more enjoyable to ponder matchups with more zing -- such as Lou Gehrig vs. Brett Myers.
First AB: The Iron Horse hits the first pitch into the upper deck for a 2-run HR.
Second AB: Looks at two pitches, lines the third off the fence in RCF for a triple.
Third AB: Myers nibbles with two off-speed pitches, Gehrig fouls back the third, then hits the fourth into the third deck in RF for a 3-run shot.
Fourth AB: Lou is walked intentionally. Roberto Clemente follows with a 3-run HR.
Fifth AB: Batting against Charles Nagy in relief of Myers, Gehrig lines the first pitch he sees off the top of the fence in RCF for a 2-run double.
What a great day for Larrupin' Lou ... 2 doubles and 2 unforgettable homers.
Next up: It's Warren Spahn vs. Adam Dunn.
By the end of the eighth inning, Dunn has struck out four times on a total of 12 pitches (one of which he did manage to foul tip) ...
These are the matchups which boggle the mind.
Steve Carlton vs. Scott Spiezio ...
Bob Gibson vs. Phil Rizzuto ...
Whammy Douglas vs. Lou Klimchock ...
This could go on all day.
And, just wait 'til we start with great goal-scorers vs. great goaltenders.
Who wins between Syl Apps and Jarmo Myllys?
Think it over, America ...