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Starkey: My teams could beat your Hall of Famers

About Joe Starkey
Picture Joe Starkey 412-320-7848
Freelance Columnist
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Joe is a freelance sports columnist for the Tribune-Review.

By Joe Starkey

Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 11:20 p.m.

It should be so bloody obvious, this Hall of Fame business. Skip the sanctimony and pick the great ones. Why is that so hard? Look what they've done to our shrines:

Football: Marv Levy's in, but Jimmy Johnson is out?

Baseball: Phil Rizzuto's in, but Barry Bonds is out?

Hockey: Dick Duff is in, but Alexander Mogilny's out?

Basketball: Phil Knight is in, but Spencer Haywood's out? Who did Phil Knight play for?

Rock 'n Roll: Lovin' Spoonful's in, but Journey is out?

How in the name of Neal Schon is Journey not in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame?

Luckily, rage provides excellent fuel for the imagination. It led me to this: How cool would it be to compose teams of outsiders — guys who couldn't get into their sport's Hall of Fame without a ticket — and pit them against the best on the inside?

Banned versus Bronzed: One game, winner-take-all, just like “The Longest Yard.”

The only rule for election to my All-Snub teams was that the Hall of Fame had to reject the individual twice.

After that, I went looking for talent, obviously, but also attitude. I needed men who would stare down Babe Ruth, Jim Brown or Michael Jordan without blinking. I wanted guys who, even if they didn't have a Hall-of-Fame resume, would love to knock the sanctimony out of someone.

Picture them, if you can, in their primes …

BASEBALL

This team might be better than any the actual Hall could put together.

Manager

Billy Martin: Not built for long haul. But one game? Oh yeah.

Batting order

1. Shoeless Joe Jackson (DH): Only Hornsby and Cobb had higher career batting averages. Joe hit .356.

2. Pete Rose (2B): Good bet for two hits. He had 4,256 of them, you know.

3. Barry Bonds (LF): Creamed 762 pitches.

4. Mark McGwire (1B): One home run per 10.61 at-bats was the best ratio ever, although, as he likes to say, “I'm not here to talk about the past.”

5. Dave Parker (RF): He's breaking out the goalie mask for this one.

6. Dale Murphy (CF): Multiple MVP winner. Sportswriters enamored with his integrity.

7. Alan Trammell (SS): Better hitter than Ozzie Smith; better fielder than Cal Ripken.

8. Graig Nettles (3B): Brilliant defender with more home runs (390) than nine of the 11 third basemen in HOF.

9. Thurman Munson (C): Gives you offense, defense, rip-your-spleen-out leadership and a fabulous mustache.

Starting pitcher

Roger Clemens: Think he and Munson might brush back some people?

Middle relief

Luis Tiant (best wind-up ever) and Tommy John (worth the risk, even though he's coming off Tommy John surgery).

Closer

Dwight Gooden: 'Cause I felt like it.

PRO FOOTBALL

I give this group a shot to beat any team of Hall of Famers — and a better shot to beat them up:

Coach

Jimmy Johnson: His teams outscored the Bills, 82-30, in consecutive Super Bowls, but the other coach went to Canton. Does any clear-thinking human being believe Marv Levy is a better coach than Jimmy Johnson?

Quarterback

Kenny “The Snake” Stabler : Retired as most accurate passer of all-time.

Running backs

Jerome Bettis, Chuck Foreman: Ultimate big back, ideal third-down back.

Tight end

Keith Jackson: Whoa Nellie, this guy could play (49 TDs).

Guards

Jerry Kramer (led iconic Packers sweep), Will Shields (12-time Pro Bowler).

Tackles

Joe Jacoby, Tony Boselli: Still remember pre-injury Boselli tossing Bruce Smith around in playoff game.

Center

Mick Tinglehoff: Arguably best center of his era, played forever (1962-78).

Receivers

Tim Brown (100 TDs), Cliff Branch (Snake's buddy).

Defensive tackles

Steve McMichael, Big Daddy Lipscomb: Big Daddy's sober today, and he's in the mood to play. Good luck.

Defensive ends

L.C. Greenwood, Claude Humphrey: This feels like stealing.

Outside linebackers

Kevin Greene, Pat Swilling : A mere 267.5 sacks between them.

Middle linebacker

Tommy Nobis: Classic case of bad team killing personal resume. He doesn't have that problem now.

Cornerbacks

Lester Hayes, Aeneas Williams: Go ask “The Fun Bunch” how much fun it is to play against Lester Hayes.

Safeties

Steve Atwater, Jack Tatum : We're playing ‘70s rules, kids. Cross the middle at your own risk.

BASKETBALL

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame comes closest to getting it right. It includes abbreviated careers (Bill Walton, Drazen Petrovic), female and foreign players, controversial figures (Connie Hawkins), deranged maniacs (Dennis Rodman) and defensive specialists. That doesn't leave many leftovers, but you best believe this team, under fiery coach Dick Motta, will compete:

Point guard

Kevin Johnson: In his prime, nobody could guard him. Sixth all-time in assists per game, higher than Kidd or Nash.

Shooting guard

Mitch Richmond: Higher scoring average (21.0) of any eligible player not in HOF.

Enforcers

Maurice Lucas, Marvin “Bad News” Barnes

Post scorer

Spencer Haywood: Good for 25 points, 12 rebounds in first four NBA seasons.

Center

Bill Laimbeer. One, he's infuriating. Two, he can play. Had 10,000 points and rebounds, plus lethal J.

Bench

Michael Cooper (defense), Michael Ray Richardson (sheer brilliance), John Starks (no fear of Jordan), Steve Kerr (greatest 3-point shooter ever), Robert Horry (Mr. Clutch).

Two Players I Forgot About (just like the HOF) and Must Add Immediately: Sidney Moncrief, Buck Williams. Moncrief, quite simply, was an all-time great. Degenerative knees ruined his career. Williams will rebound with anyone.

HOCKEY

Oh, I can't wait for this game. Forget baseball. This is the one where I really like my chances. Pat Burns, former Cup winner and beat cop, runs my bench. The great Vladimir Konstantinov is my captain. Eric Lindros is a second-line center (think of him at, say, 23). Plus these …

Shutdown center

Guy Carbonneau

Shutdown D-pair

Konstantinov, J.C. Tremblay

Power play

Kent Nilsson (9th all-time ppg), Tim Kerr (better goals-per-game than Phil Esposito, Rocket Richard), John LeClair (rare net-front presence), Sergei Makarov (legendary puck-handler), Phil Housley (supreme offensive D-man).

Hitter

Darius Kasparaitis

Speed Merchant

Theo Fleury

Snipers

Alexander Mogilny, Rick Martin, Peter Bondra

Loan sharks

Dale Hunter, Claude Lemieux

Goalie

Tom Barrasso: Two-time Cup winner, superlative puck-handler, world-class jerk.

Hot-headed American forwards who will compete to death and beyond: Kevin Stevens, Jeremy Roenick.

Hot-headed Canadian forward who will compete to death and beyond: Rick Tocchet

By the way, Stevie Ray Vaughan isn't in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. It should be so bloody obvious.

Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at jraystarkey@gmail.com.

 

 

 
 


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