Hall of mirrors

Before the obligatory Gatti hospital tripAdmittedly, I used to hold the concept of the Hall of Fame in the highest esteem. When I was a kid reading as much about baseball as I possibly could, Hall of Famers were flawless demigods from a thousand years ago who pitched comets and swung bolts of lightning.

My parents took me on a pilgrimage to Cooperstown when I was in fifth grade, and I dutifully took pictures of the plaques for Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and personal favorite Ty Cobb. As recently as a few years ago, I vowed to be in Canton when Dan Marino was enshrined into the football Hall.

As have many of my stances, my position has changed quite a bit over time. Marino’s big day came and went; I never even made the conscious decision that it was too much of an effort to make the trip from New Jersey. I spent a couple days in Springfield, Mass., for a prep basketball tournament last winter and declined to check out the Basketball Hall, though I drove by it several times. (It was really cold outside.)

The baseball Hall, in particular, seems more and more laughable to me, a morality-soaked tug of war between old school Murray Chass types and new-age Dave Cameron-ites. Omar Vizquel is probably going to make it to Cooperstown, while Barry Bonds probably won’t, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

Plus, I’ve gotten to know a few baseball Hall of Fame voters, and though some are sharp, by no means does that apply to all of them. One in particular, I wouldn’t rely on to vote on what I have for lunch. For the most part, I tend to laugh off most Hall of Fame debates – that don’t involve Bonds – as the harmless rantings of fans, and fans with press passes.

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Putting the future on hold with Bryce Harper

Weird grip, no?

I watched Bryce Harper go through the motions last Friday night, his attention to detail and serious countenance connoting a longtime veteran of the sport.

I listened as the 18-year-old Harper, sporting a ridiculous mustache, crafted a respectful and droll media presence, relaying with an underlying trace of irony to a group of reporters that he was “trying to get better every day” — repeating that four times in the course of a minute.

A little later, I was down in the tunnel talking baseball with Hagerstown hitting coach Marlon Anderson when I heard a bit of commotion coming from the visitors’ clubhouse. I looked over as a shirtless and smirking Bryce Harper emerged from the clubhouse, pointed at a teammate and hollered, “Better be careful, or that bag’s gonna be gone when you get back.”

This was the Bryce Harper I’d been waiting to see all night.

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Bonds jersey recalls glorious failure of Turn Ahead the Clock Night

Hang time

I often have my packages delivered to my parents’ house since I live in an apartment, and when my father recently dropped off a delivery I had been eagerly awaiting, I immediately tore it open and pulled out a jersey I would consider a holy grail.

My dad took one look at my new Barry Bonds “Turn Ahead the Clock” jersey and said, “Son, that’s the ugliest jersey I’ve ever seen.”

I couldn’t quite argue. Beauty is most certainly in the eye of the beholder, and yet even I had to admit this thing was hideous.

Hideous like a fox.

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Rearview mirror: The coolest, and un-coolest, athletes of the 2000’s

Top: Coolest.  Bottom: Least coolest. (Like I have to tell you) Note Reggie in bottom left holding hands with a referee

Another set of lists as part of our friends at Trumbull Island’s Year/Decade-ending Top 10 list hysteria. Here are the Top 10 coolest athletes of the decade, and the Top 10 least coolest athletes. I’m sure I’m missing some, but I think it’s a pretty good primer. I think you’ll see Nas is generally a good barometer here. Feel free to let me know some other guys I missed.

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Meet the new king … How will success affect A-Rod now and forever?

 Top of the World
After the Yankees won the World Series on Wednesday night, Alex Rodriguez spent some time gleefully saying that he was now “just one of the guys.” That he had earned his pinstripes, so to speak.

This, to me, is wishful thinking on A-Rod’s part. His salary, his very public personal life, his… interesting… personality – none of these dictates someone who will simply blend in.

So if he’s not that, what exactly has he become?

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‘Vick Bowl’ shows fans love having a (milk) bone to pick with Mike Vick

Remnants of the Vick Bowl Here’s the long and short of it: If you go see Michael Vick play this season, you’re probably going to have some dog biscuits thrown at you.

At least that’s my experience.

Vick’s traveling circus came to my home state on Thursday night, a few hours after Warden Goodell reinstated him for Week 3, and regardless of how good he still is – he was iffy against the Jets – he’s a bigger star now than he ever was before the dogfighting debacle.

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Words to live by: Albert Belle

Remember Albert Belle? Prodigious slugger for the Indians and Orioles who was completely and totally insane? You know the guy — he hit 381 homers in 12 years, once almost decapitated Fernando Vina, nailed a heckler in the chest with a baseball, put a GPS in his ex-girlfriend’s car to stalk her, and ran down some kid on Halloween after he egged his house.

After the GPS incident, Belle said, “You didn’t write a story about my Hall of Fame induction. You guys never report the good stuff that I do.” Mind you… Belle’s not in the Hall of Fame. Obviously, this guy’s good for a solid quote.

Belle called the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday to talk about how lousy the Indians are now. When asked if he would ever manage the team — which I believe would be a tremendous thing for the sport’s entertainment value — Belle replied, “Unless they got me a lot of new players, I don’t need a headache like that.”

But the real gem of the interview came when it was pointed out that some of Belle’s craziness may be interpreted as “roid rage,” and he pointed out:

“No, I was just an angry black man.”

You know something? Works for me! I think Bonds should have tried this tactic in front of Congress. Hell, maybe Giambi too, just to throw ’em a curveball.