One of the writers from one of my previous places of online employment is putting the finishing touches on a big-ass baseball Hall of Fame feature. I know you all join me in hoping it's as awesome and all-encompassing as the one I did for the very same site a few years ago. If so, it'll be the sincerest form of flattery.
Now, by my count, there are 11 ballplayers making their HOF ballot debut, so I'll need someone to Mapquest "memory lane" for me:
What Aaron Remembers Most - His flukish 50 home run season in 1996 immediately springs to mind. His sideburns and assorted shirtless poses made him quite popular in both the gay and straight communities. In fact, he was one of the few athletes whom I remember being openly questioned on his sexuality in a national interview. Good to see the media acting more responsibly these days. In case you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic. Well, duh.
Should be in the Hall of Fame of… - Sex symbols of the 1990s who were inspired by Fox Network nighttime dramas like The Heights, Party of Five and Models, Inc.. Oh, and Studs…it was syndicated, but it was on our Fox affiliate in Los Angeles back then.
What Aaron Remembers Most - Beck's then-manager Dusty Baker setting the template for the ruining of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood's careers by pitching Beck into the ground. "Shooter" was also a San Diego Padre for a short time, filling in for an injured Trevor Hoffman to the tune of 20 saves in 2003. Also, the media's misguided romanticism of Beck's love for the bottle and nonexistent self-control was nowhere to be found in his eventual obituary.
Should be in the Hall of Fame of… - Fat guys, mullets and Miller Lite.
What Aaron Remembers Most - In an age before "Moneyball" and OBP-obsession, this guy never, ever walked. Never. I also remember ESPN's Stuart Scott being the last sportscaster to pronounce his name "Shuh-JUAN". In the early '90s, everyone did this before Dunston went all "Chone Figgins" on us and expected the public to believe it was "SHAWN". Sellout.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Chicago Cubs who were overrated because they played for the Chicago Cubs. Alphabetically, we'll slot him right after Andre Dawson. Zing!
What Aaron Remembers Most - During his prime with the California Angels (1986-96) my Oakland A's absolutely owned him as Finley was 8-20 vs. the green n' gold, lifetime. His bumpkin dialect and aw-shucks demeanor were always good for a laugh in post-game interviews. Oh, and his wife beat the sh*t out of him, pretty much ending his career.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Inexplicable spousal abuse victims who didn't duck and mullets (looking like a good '08 induction class for mullets).
What Aaron Remembers Most - One of Sparky Anderson's myriad of over-hyped (mostly by Anderson) prospects in the '80s and '90s, Fryman had one or two solid seasons on some awful Tigers teams. His spotlight was mostly eaten by teammate Cecil Fielder, so outside of this and few solid seasons in Cleveland, I don't remember much about the guy.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Ballplayers who didn't really return their early '90s rookie card investment. My class action suit is pending. (For those wondering, Todd Van Poppel has already been served).
What Aaron Remembers Most - One of the last Black athletes who was referred to as "uppity" in an actual newspaper article. Uppity! That's what they called George Washington Carver! Reportedly had a falling out with then-teammate Deion Sanders when m'man Prime Time – aiming for broadcaster Tim McCarver – inadvertently hit Justice's girlfriend, Halle Berry, with a bucket of water. Finished his career in 2002 with the A's.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Light-skinned bruthas who wore bad mustaches for awhile – preferably in the
What Aaron Remembers Most - He was the starting second baseman on the '91 World Champion Minnesota Twins and his fake-out of the Braves' Lonnie Jones probably won the Series for the Twinkies. Solid, occasionally spectacular player before a trade to the Yankees and some well-documented, uh, "throwing-to-first base challenges" turned him into a 5'2" bucket of goo.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Underappreciated Yankees who somehow ended up playing for Kansas City. Steve Balboni made this elite group about 10 years ago.
What Aaron Remembers Most - Wait…he's been retired for five years? It seems like during every spring training since 2002, there's been one of those awkwardly-worded stories on MLB.com with a headline of: "Nen – Robbed of Health – Finally Expects to Contribute". Seriously. He'd tell fans that he was feeling "better than ever" and he was always "excited" about his team's new acquisitions like Jose & Deivi Cruz.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Closers whose arms were mashed into pulp by Dusty Baker. Hey, it's Rod Beck! We've come full circle.
What Aaron Remembers Most - Without even looking it up, I remember that he was the MVP of the 1987 All-Star Game. I am not proud of this knowledge. He also sought to cash in on the marketing opportunities of a name change, going from "Tim" to "Rock". Posed on a '91 Topps baseball card while sitting on a large rock. Oh, those wacky '90s. Went to the A's in 1999 and promptly contracted lupus.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Criminally underrated ballplayers. Raines was terrific up until his early 30s, when injuries – and more than a decade of losing – led him to accept a spot on the bench with the 1996-98 New York Yankees. Probably could've started on some teams a lot worse and padded his hit total closer to 3,000.
What Aaron Remembers Most - What the…? Didn't he already come up for a HOF vote before this year? Ah, and Wikipedia confirms this as Rijo got some votes in 2000 (he didn't play from 1996-2000 after a serious elbow injury). He then came back and won five games in 2002. I like that memory a lot better than the one where the A's trade him to Cincinnati in 1987 and he magically learns how to pitch as soon as he becomes a Red, then mows Oakland down in the 1990 World Series. Still burns, kids. Still burns.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Good players in the '90s who were once traded for the remains of Dave Parker. Hell, the Angels gave Milwaukee OF/DH Dante Bichette for him straight-up.
What Aaron Remembers Most - I remember that no one seemed to like him very much, a la A.J. Pierzynski today. After Oakland brought back SP Dave Stewart for what would be his final year in the bigs in 1995, he and Stottlemyre got into a bar fight with patrons during spring training in Arizona. After a 14-win season, the A's gave him away to St. Louis (as they'd do with Dennis Eckersley and Mark McGwire, too). Oh, I've got a long memory.
Should Be in the Hall of Fame of… - Guys who sign a 4-year/$32M contract at the age of 34, then only pitch about 200 innings (in 39 starts) over the lifetime of the deal.