Taking a bite out of the Crime Dog
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

For all of you who threatened to burst major arteries arguing the validity of Rafael Palmeiro's Hall of Fame credentials, here's a little stat to ponder: Fred McGriff, 484 homers.

Which raises a question: How many guys have made it to the Hall of Fame after never being the best player on their own team?

Fred McGriff
By the way, did you even know McGriff was still playing?
Bill Mazeroski is one. Maybe even Willie McCovey.

But how about a player who once played for the Devil Rays?

One number -- 500 homers -- is considered magic when it comes to the Hall of Fame, but McGriff is going to test that one. Put Palmeiro in there four or five times before McGriff, the way I see it. McGriff is and was a tremendous power hitter, a run producer, a pretty feared guy for a long time. But he never distinguished himself defensively, never seemed to inspire anyone with his personality and never stunned anyone with especially clutch hitting.

He's a poor man's Frank Thomas, or a poor man's Rafael Palmeiro, for that matter. He's Dave Kingman with a better personality and a .286 career batting average. It was considered an indictment of Palmeiro that he never hit 50 homers; McGriff has never hit 40.

If I'm putting together an all-'80s team or an all-'90s team, McGriff is nowhere to be seen. He's a testament to hard work and good conditioning and longevity. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And look, forget the foam-front Tom Emansky cap; just get that image out of your mind for the time being. Wondering whether a man who shills for something like that -- and does it so woodenly -- could be Hall-worthy has absolutely no place in this discussion. Well, maybe a small place, a tiny, closet-sized office off the main house, out back by the pool. You can barely turn around in the damned thing. Isn't even plumbed, for God's sake.

This Week's List:

  • If someone told me my life depended on my ability to stop an NBA player from scoring in a one-on-one situation -- unlikely, I know, but play along -- here are the bottom three on my list: 1) Allen Iverson; 2) Nick Van Exel; 3) Tracy McGrady.
  • The question, posed to an NBA player: Who would you prefer to play in the conference finals?
  • The answer: "It matters not."
  • The only possible identity: David Robinson.
  • The Kings-Mavs series is answering the age-old question: How can you possibly spell "Dirk" without "D"?
  • Wait, there's a battle for the ball and a purposeful elbow and a few harsh words and a mean glare and here it comes: Double technical.
  • You watch Raef LaFrentz for any length of time and you come to one conclusion: The man can foul.
  • He's Joumana Kidd, without the kid: Reggie Jackson, the world's newest and bestest Kings fan, always aware of the camera.
  • Saturday, Game 7, we'll find out a little about one King: Mike Bibby, the forgotten man.
  • Just as we had it all figured: Jimmy Jackson, making a difference.
  • The whole Robert Johnson and Charlotte thing sounds great, but here's a question: Has anyone outside of Charlotte identified a need for expansion in the NBA?
  • Just for the heck of it: Mark Olberding.
  • Steve Boros, Frank Lucchesi and Dave Bristol were otherwise occupied: Jack McKeon, manager, Florida Marlins.
  • Nothing like putting the ball in play and putting a little pressure on the defense: Brewers, 24 K's in 17 innings on Thursday.
  • A guy this versatile, it's a wonder the Marlins didn't interview him before hiring Jack McKeon: Royals pitcher Albie Lopez went off on Twins' third-base coach Al Newman after Newman sent a runner home, apparently against Lopez's wishes.
  • Legend has it Grover Cleveland Alexander wouldn't pitch for his 300th until The Booze Network promised live cut-ins during "Speakeasy Tonight": Roger Clemens is going for No. 300, but the rotation might be altered to make sure he doesn't win it in Boston, or so the Yankees can make sure the game is going to be on the team-owned YES Network.
  • Every once in a while, someone comes along to make life easy for a generation of bad comedians: Mo Vaughn.
  • In the land of lords and knaves, serfs and kings, an outfielder: Eugene Kingsale.
  • And, no: I don't really know where that last one came from, either.
  • Plays harder than anybody in baseball, and that's when he's dogging it: Eric Byrnes, A's.
  • When I think gender equity, I think: Vijay Singh.
  • And finally, considering everything it's cost him in the male community: You just have to hope Doug Christie's wife appreciates all that finger-waggling.
  • Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at tim.keown@espn3.com.





    THE LIST

    ALSO SEE:


    Tim Keown Archive

    Keown: Heading for higher ground

    Keown: Gaining perspective

    Keown: More hot air than draft

    Keown: Re-taking the field

    Keown: Time out

    Keown: Bad seed





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