Don't lie to yourself.

Palmeiro is nothing more than a very good player who has benefited from being a left-handed hitter in bandbox ballparks, Camden Yards and Ameriquest Field in Arlington, featuring right-field jet streams. Not counting the strike year of 1994, Palmeiro played five seasons in Baltimore and five in Arlington during 1995-2004. He averaged a little more than 36 homers a year in Baltimore, counting last season's 23, and almost 45 a year in Arlington.

Yes, he still had to make home-run contact. But is he Reggie Jackson?


That's the argument you hear for Palmeiro: Reggie's in the Hall of Fame, and Palmeiro passed Reggie's 563 homers on the all-time list.

Oh, please.

Rafael Palmeiro
No one's denying Palmeiro has a sweet swing. But that doesn't make him Hall-worthy.

Reggie Jackson made 14 All-Star teams and won two World Series MVPs, as well as the 1973 regular-season MVP. In 27 World Series games, Reggie batted .357 with 24 RBI and 10 homers -- including, of course, three in 1977's deciding Game 6 against the Dodgers.

Has Palmeiro ever been called Mr. October? Mr. Anything?

OK, Mr. Viagra. Five years after he retires, Palmeiro will be remembered mostly for doing Viagra ads.

Palmeiro hasn't played in a World Series. In 22 postseason games, he has only four homers and eight RBI, with a .244 average. Not exactly immortal impact.

Forgive me, but I want my Hall of Fame to admit only larger-than-life players. Make that Gary Coopers-town. If you have to think twice about it …

Wade Boggs? Yes! Ryne Sandberg? Uh, well …

Sandberg belongs in the Hall of Very Good. Yet Boggs and Sandberg will both be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 31.

Andre Dawson (one MVP, eight All-Star teams) and Dale Murphy (two MVPs, seven All-Star teams) are notable Hall snubs. I'd trade Palmeiro for either of them.

Still, I don't lie awake nights wondering how, in the name of Babe Ruth, Dawson and Murphy aren't Hall of Famers. I don't want a Hall of Sympathy for Very Good Players.

I want rare greatness, Olympus-high standards. Roger Clemens? Obviously! Barry Bonds? Even pre-steroids, no doubt. Mariano Rivera: Sure! Greg Maddux? No-brainer. Curt Schilling: Darn right. Randy Johnson? Never been anything quite like him.

Sammy Sosa? Uh, well, just because he had three 60-plus home run seasons at the height of the steroid era …

Sosa is not in my Hall of Fame either. Sosa has too often been the master of the meaningless home run. In the clutch, Sosa too often has swung at strike three in the dirt (he has led the league in strikeouts three times). Sosa too often has been a liability in right field.

If you want to put Sammy in your Lovable Cartoon Character Hall of Fame, fine. But he's not in my Hall.

Mark McGwire? Gut feeling: Yes, with or without steroids. He was a 12-time All-Star (to Sosa's seven) and helped carry three Oakland teams to the World Series (to Sosa's none). McGwire was the most feared power hitter of his time.

Though Jose Canseco goes into detail in his book about how he educated Palmeiro about (and injected him with) steroids, Palmeiro heatedly denied ever using steroids when he testified before Congress. Canseco joined Palmeiro in Texas for the final two months of the '92 season. That season, Palmeiro hit 22 homers. The next, he hit 37 and turned into a legitimate 40-homer threat.



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