Gorillas in Our Midst

They're All Going to Cooperstown. Which Ones Will Have to Pay Admission?

Mike Piazza
FOR: With a .329 career average and 314 home runs at age 32, Piazza would be on the fast track to the Hall if he were a left fielder or a first baseman. Only fools would argue that he isn't the best-hitting catcher ever. AGAINST: In a word, defense. That's why he's never been MVP. And the wear and tear of catching, coupled with a career spent in pitcher's parks, should render his career numbers merely spectacular instead of otherworldly. HOFM: 131 VERDICT: Just make sure his bronze is a bat's throw from Clemens's.

Mariano Rivera
FOR: He's a Rollie Fingers on steroids. Rivera's post-season record of 6-1, with 24 saves and an ERA of 0.91, will actually weigh more heavily than his regular-season accomplishments. (His .617 winning percentage is much better than that of most other top closers.) AGAINST: Ironically, his glitch against the Diamondbacks—it took a throwing error and a broken bat single to beat him—may have been a wake-up call to voters who had come to take him for granted. He's still got only 215 career saves, and it may take well into the 300s to guarantee immortality. HOFM: 90 VERDICT: He'll get a plaque—and cousin Ruben will sell it on eBay.

Bernie Williams
FOR: He epitomizes the fin de millennium Yankees. Those World Series rings are mighty impressive, and he's got a .305 average and a batting title. And did we mention those World Series rings? AGAINST: He epitomizes the fin-de-millennium Yankees. He's excellent in any number of areas but not outstanding in any. His career average is only .305, and heading south. He's 32 and he's got just over 1600 hits, only 207 home runs, and less than 900 RBIs. Compare his numbers to, say, two-time MVP Ken Griffey Jr., who is a year younger and has more than twice as many homers, or Larry Walker, who has a .315 average, three batting titles, an MVP award, and a home run crown, and you'll see why Bernie, like the rest of us, may have to pay to get into Cooperstown. HOFM: 111 VERDICT: He needs more rings.

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