Open Shots

By Dave Reardon

Friday, September 5, 1997


Maris’ record isn’t
safe from Griffey yet

DON'T look now, but Ken Griffey Jr. really does still have a chance to at least tie the single-season home run record of 61 set by Roger Maris 36 years ago. After two more last night, Junior has 48 homers.

Griffey is quite capable of hitting 14 home runs in the 22 remaining regular-season games. It's not likely, but it is reasonably possible. Too bad the Mariners haven't wrapped up their playoff spot. If they had, they could bat Griffey in the leadoff spot and give him a better shot at it -- then again, that might not be a bad idea, anyway . . .

Hideki Irabu isn't likely to set many records this season, except for most tantrums thrown after lousy performances.

Irabu probably should have been a relief pitcher from the get-go; his temperament is more suited to that role than that of a starter. The guy has good stuff, but he doesn't react well after making mistakes. Who knows? He might develop into a fine closer.

Closers usually don't have to recover from mistakes. If they make one, the game's over, and they start over fresh the next time. But they're not allowed to make too many, of course . . .

OK, Pete Rose Jr. in the Cincinnati lineup on Monday was a publicity ploy. When you take into account that "Petey" spent most of the season in Double-A -- and demoted himself from Triple-A when he wasn't hitting -- there are probably lots of other players who deserve a September cup of coffee in The Show before he does.

But it somehow did my heart good to see Rose Jr. achieve his lifelong dream with his father, the Major League all-time hit leader, looking on. With so many other spawns of Big Red Machine cogs making it to the majors (including the above-mentioned Griffey), it had to be rough on both Roses not to be part of the fun for such a long time.

Speaking of Pete Rose, the father, it's time for him to be in the Hall of Fame. He has paid his penance. If we're judging membership by character, there are some fellas in there now who don't belong. Ty Cobb comes quickly to mind. He was one of the most hated men who ever played baseball, a racist who assaulted anyone who crossed him and some who didn't.

Of course, if Pete Rose gains entrance to the Hall, so should Joe Jackson. He was one of the men involved in the the Chicago Black Sox scandal, but he was also one of the three or four best players of his era.

Baseball needs to decide if the Hall of Fame is for Boy Scouts only or not, and make the proper adjustments. I say let Pete and Joe in . . .

THIS question came up the other day: Who should win the National League Cy Young Award, Greg Maddux or Denny Neagle? Maddux has slightly better numbers to this point, but I think Neagle may win in a situation similar to when Karl Malone was voted the NBA's Most Valuable Player earlier this year.

There was controversy over Malone getting the award, because many thought Michael Jordan deserved it, but the voters were bored with Jordan winning every year.

Same thing could happen with Neagle and Maddux. Interesting note: If Neagle does get the nod, the Braves will have a rotation of four Cy Young Award winners . . .

I hate to see classy players like Steve Young and Jerry Rice get hurt, but I love to see the 49ers lose. Why? Because I'm sick of the way San Francisco buys big name players who hold out, whether they need that player or not. Latest example is Kevin Greene.

What did they need Greene for? What they really needed was another offensive lineman to block for Young.

It's irritating the way the 49ers violate the spirit of the salary cap with huge signing bonuses and deferred payment schedules. The NFL needs to bag the salary cap and its loopholes and come up with a total compensation cap package before the competitive balance of the league is totally destroyed.

Dave Reardon is a magazine editor and freelance
writer who has covered Hawaii sports since 1977.
He can be reached via the Star-Bulletin or
by email at dreardon@hmsa.com.




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