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A Giants-Centric View of the Hall

The Hall of Fame something blah blah blah something outrage thrilled outrage about time when will it be time outrage not in my America.

Now that we have that out of the way, I'd just like to point out that I'm sort of fascinated with the Hall of Fame. It's a popularity contest, mixed with list-making, crossed with niche-expert pelvis-wagging, and divided by streams of cognitive dissonance shot from a fire hose. Love it, love it, love it. The debate is the best part. I guess there's a museum or something somewhere. I'll have to stop by if I'm ever in the area. But the debates, man, that's what I'm in love with.

I'm a big-Hall guy. The more the merrier. Maybe this is related to me being a Will Clark fan, but I wouldn't have a problem with Don Mattingly and Larry Walker in the Hall. Bobby Grich and Dale Murphy. Let 'em all in, and I'll buy more shirts at the gift shop*. That's not everyone's view of what the Hall should be, and I respect that.

And the best way to put the Hall of Fame into perspective is this: Will Clark isn't in. When I was growing up, Will Clark was the most famous man alive. He was John Wayne in a JFK exoskeleton, and his purpose on this planet was to give little children hope and joy. In his first at-bat in the majors, he took Nolan Ryan out of the Astrodome center field, which was 589 feet away from home plate, if I remember correctly. He was the best.

He's not a Hall of Famer. When he was playing, Clark was the Hall-of-Fameriest player in the game, at least from this Bay Area-centric perspective. When he was having his best years, Clark was the embodiment of the Hall of Fame -- a natural talent doing things that few before him could do. When a guy like that can't really come close to being inducted, it makes you realize how long a great player has to be great in order to get elected.

Which is all a long-winded intro to say this: There's a really, really, really, really great chance that the Giants currently don't have a Hall-of-Famer on the team right now. And while that's not a shocking statement, it's sort of weird to think about.

Matt Cain would have to stick around for another ten or fifteen years, doing exactly what he's doing now. Tim Lincecum would have to avoid that Bret Saberhagen/David Cone pit that swallows so many young pitchers. Madison Bumgarner is still futzing around with the first paragraph in the novel of his career -- he's just as likely to hit for the cycle and steal four bases in a game as he is to stay healthy and effective enough to be elected. Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey have the preternatural talent, but so did 1,000 other guys over the last couple of decades.

Things happen. Baseball happens. Life happens. This isn't meant to be a depressing post -- far from it. These players are all great players who will define what it was like to be Giants fan, but there's still a great chance that they won't ever get into the Hall of Fame. Thinking of that gives you a flash of context that you might not have had before, and it sort of makes me respect the Hall a little bit more.

We watched Bonds, and we watched Kent; we knew what we were watching with the former, but didn't really know with the latter until he was gone. I hope that if any of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Posey, Sandoval, or Pill forge a Hall-of-Fame career, I realize what I'm watching while it's going on. (An aside: The 1964 Giants had six Hall of Famers on the roster, with five of them occasionally playing in the same game. The Braves had two -- three, if you count Joe Torre, who will make it as a manager. Nine Hall of Famers in one game. That's pretty cool.)

The Hall of Fame is filled with players better than Will Clark. It's filled with people who did Tim Lincecum things for 12 years; it's filled with Matt Cains who did them for 18; it's filled with Camp Panda survivors who lasted for decades. There's a chance that one or more of the current Giants will be in the Hall. That would be amazing. There's a better chance, though, that none of them will, and that makes me appreciate how exclusive the Hall of Fame really is.

And in case you were wondering, this is why people get so fired up about Jack Morris.

*I would like to borrow some money for the Hall of Fame and plane tickets and shirts. E-mail me for details.