November 17, 2007
More baseball pandering from Rudy

So imagine there's a guy who played right field for a total of 12 seasons, only seven of which saw him appear in as many as 120 games, and who was out of baseball by the time he was 34. He had a career 260/345/476 AVG/OBP/SLG line, had 275 career home runs, scored 826 runs (one season of 100 or more), and 851 RBI (three seasons of 100 or more). Does this player sound like a Hall of Famer to you?

Well, his name is Roger Maris, and he sounds like a Hall of Famer to Rudy Giuliani.

At campaign stop this week in Fargo, where Maris grew up, Giuliani recalled that he was a college freshman in 1961 when Maris set the single-season home run record of 61 while playing for the New York Yankees.

"I was there when he hit his 61st home run. I was in my first year of college and I went to many of those games in 1961," Giuliani said.

"It is a particular source of just great contentment for me, an honor to be in Roger Maris' hometown," Giuliani added.

Yes, Rudy came to this bold conclusion while campaigning in Roger Maris' home town. I'm sure that was just a coincidence.

Giuliani said the Yankees retired Maris' jersey No. 9, "and if it's good enough for the Yankees to retire No. 9, it's good enough to put him in the Hall of Fame."

Of course, as any Yankee fan who remembers Graig Nettles could tell you, the team continued to employ the number 9 for twenty years after Maris played for them. It wasn't retired until after his death in 1985. The Yankees have also retired Thurman Munson's 15, Don Mattingly's 23, and Ron Guidry's 49. I look forward to hearing Rudy make the pitch for their enshrinement when he visits Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana.

I like Roger Maris as much as any Yankee fan, and I respect his accomplishment tremendously. But the Hall of Fame exists to honor careers, not single seasons. The guidelines for induction were clear on that from the beginning. I can't find a citation online right now, but go read Bill James' "The Politics of Glory" for the full background on that. People have been arguing for Maris' inclusion for as long as I can remember based on his longtime ownership of the single-season home run record, but that won't do. His career doesn't measure up. It's not really close, even. There's no shame in that - Maris was a good ballplayer, and he appears to be in no danger of being forgotten. But calls for him to be a Hall of Famer are at best ignorant, and in this case utterly shameful.

Not that Rudy has any shame, of course. You Red Sox fans, you can have him.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 17, 2007 to Baseball