Monday, August 08, 2011

Who's In Your New York Hall of Fame?

The obvious choice.
ESPN New York, perhaps if only to raise my blood pressure, has decided to put together a New York Hall of Fame.  Theoretically I'm completely into this idea.  All good, no doubt.  It's fun to debate such things.

Andrew Marchand is on the panel of "experts" and says what we all know (or should):  Babe Ruth is the king.  Anyone leaving him off their ballot shouldn't have a ballot.

The 20 nominees are certainly good, but they seem to also leave some players out.  For instance, the only Rangers nominee is Mark Messier, and as I just discussed with good friend Harold, Mess isn't even the greatest Ranger (that would be Brian Leetch).  Messier, as much as I revere him, was at his best in Edmonton.  Mike Bossy is the lone Islander (OK with that).  But it appears that teams with "New Jersey" in their name aren't eligible.  How else can it be explained that Martin Brodeur isn't there?  Yet both the Jets and Giants are represented, albeit lightly, with only Joe Namath and Lawrence Taylor getting a nod.  They play in New Jersey, right?

The Knicks are light as well, with Clyde Frazier and Willis Reed the picks (no Patrick Ewing?).  Nobody from the Nets (who once played on Long Island with a guy nicknamed Dr. J - just saying) was selected.

Boxing got one nominee with Mike Tyson.  No love for Pele, who briefly wowed with the Cosmos.  What about horse racing?  Did Secretariat amaze us at Belmont or was that a dream?

Yes, I see problems here.

Tennis (Arthur Ashe, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, etc) and other sports are ignored completely as well (how about the brilliance of then-Lew Alcindor, playing high school ball, or Chris Mullin at St. John's?).

The list is very baseball-heavy and I get that, as there is no doubt in my mind that New York is a baseball town, and it always has been.  The Mets get Tom Seaver (duh), the Giants bring Willie Mays, Mel Ott, and Christy Mathewson (perhaps the most inspired name on the list - different, for sure).  The Dodgers...Jackie Robinson.  Funny, the song was called "Willie, Mickey and the Duke", yet Mr. Snider is nowhere to be found.

The rest are Yankees: Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Casey Stengel (who also played for the Giants, and managed the Dodgers), George Steinbrenner, Joe McCarthy, and Yogi Berra represent the team that has won 27 championships.

No active players can be included, so Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, etc must wait.

I'm still amazed Ewing isn't in the top 20.  I would have taken him over either Casey Stengel or Joe McCarthy (and no disrespect to both of them, plus Tyson made it over Whitey Ford).

The "experts" by the way, are the aforementioned Andrew Marchand, Rob Parker, Johnette Howard, Wallace Matthews, and Ian O'Connor.  With all due respect, I'm not impressed.  To that end, perhaps the Worldwide Leader could explain their criteria for this, because as I see it, this panel is utterly gutless as they are afraid to be anything other than PC.  Four of the five picked Jackie Robinson for their "Hall of Fame", with only Marchand going against the grain.  In fact, Marchand picked the same five as me:

- Ruth
- Gehrig
- DiMaggio
- Mantle
- Taylor

Look, I get the social significance of Robinson, but that's not what we're talking about here.  I'm talking about greatness - athletic greatness.  To insist on picking Jackie Robinson is to say that you're afraid - period.  I'm not.  I recognize that he is one of the most important FIGURES of the 20th Century, but he is not one of the greatest ATHLETES in New York history.  That's what I thought I was voting for here.

In fact, TWO of these "experts" (Parker and Matthews) picked Robinson and Joe-freaking-Namath!  Again, I get the impact ol' Joe Willie had on professional football, but I also get he wanted to kiss Suzy Kolber.  Are the two intertwined?  Not really, but it says that Namath's impact is more about one game (Super Bowl III) than his career (which, while terrific, often gets overblown).

I tried watching the "experts" videos and they made my hair hurt.  O'Connor simply makes me want to scream, and I'm so freaking sick of him knocking Ruth because he didn't play against African Americans.  HOW is that Ruth's fault?  Besides, there's long been some thinking that Ruth was actually black!  So your mileage may vary.

And Matthews calling LT "a system player?"  Beyond crazy!

Mays was an amazing player.  Robinson was a specimen and a graceful man.  Mantle, is his prime, with better health, was as good if not better than Mays (Mays was a better fielder).  DiMaggio, if not for health issues and the war, was just as good.  Gehrig was a monster.  So was LT (albeit in football).

None of them was Ruth.

This is one of those "I miss 'The Press Box'" moments.

ESPN is doing it for other cities as well (Boston, Chicago, Dallas, LA).  For giggles, I voted on the other cities:

Boston: Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, Ray Borque, Larry Bird.

Dallas: Ben Hogan, Tom Landry, Byron Nelson, Emmitt Smith, Doak Walker

Chicago: Ernie Banks, Dick Butkus, Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Bobby Hull (and the fact that they included Harry Caray on their ballot doesn't speak well).

Los Angeles: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Sandy Koufax, John Wooden, Wayne Gretzky (by the way, Chick Hearn is on their ballot but VIN SCULLY ISN'T?  Scully would have gotten my vote over Gretzky.)

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