Barber, McGriff thinking about Halls of Fame

by Gary Shelton on November 23, 2022

in general

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Greatness doesn't fade. Sometimes, it just goes into the closet for a while.

Which brings us to Ronde Barber. And to Fred McGriff. The immortals in waiting.

This week, it will be 10 years since Barber last intercepted a pass. It has been longer, 6,732 days, since McGriff hit a home run. Still, they wait.

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Once again, Barber is hopeful. For the sixth time, he is a semi-finalist in the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting. McGriff gets another shot, too. He's on the Contempprary Baseball Era ballot, meaning once again his worthiness will be debated..

Maybe I'm a softie, but I vote for both guys. Barber, because he had better instincts than anyone I ever saw on a football field. McGriff, because of his amazing consistency (and his refusal to join in the steroid free-for-all that was going on around him).

But how will voters feel?

For Barber, it seems like a slam dunk. He was the fourth great player on that great Bucs' defense. People talk about his sacks, but that's always stuck me as a gimmick statistic. It's only brought up when a player is good at it.

But Barber excelled as a slot corner. He could play zone and man. His teams won.

Oh, it won't be easy. Darrell Revis seems like a shoe-in, and voters seem to be slow to elect a second player from a position group. But Barber belongs. If you saw the great Bucs' teams, and if you saw the lousy ones that came after, you know it. The ball loved Barber. His teammates loved Barber.

McGriff's case is more complicated. He hit 493 home runs, and he won three Silver Slugger awards. But in his years on the regular ballot, McGriff never got as much as 40 percent of the vote.

Critics will tell you that McGriff wasn't Frank Thomas or Jeff Bagwell. Maybe that's true. But at his best, he was a scary sight for opposing pitchers. And maybe that's how you should judge players. By the length of the shadows they cast.

Barber and McGriff will make things interesting around here when the vote is tabulated, and I'm certain there are different favorite sons for other cities. Overall, however, it's kind of a blah ballot.

Scott Rolen may get in the baseball Hall, but are you going to lose sleep over it either way? There are reasons to argue the steroid wars again -- Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are both eligible to be ignored -- but the Hall seems safe from both.

As the list of great players who find the door locked to the Hall grows, it seems to me that the fan, as much as the players, are getting robbed.

Here's a suggestion: Why not a Hall of Shame. You could put it behind the real Hall in Cooperstown. You could even shape it like a jailhouse.

There, between fame and infamy, you can put all the scalawags: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, A-Rod and Mark McGwire, Pete Rose and Joe Jackson. They wouldn't make the Hall of Fame, but they would be there to be remembered (and scoffed at). That way, justice wouldn't just be in the ands of the ones that people found out about.

When it comes to Halls, admittedly, I'm an easier sell than some people. I'd put Simeon Rice in, for example.

And I'd put in Barber. And McGriff.

Heck, there is room.

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