HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
January 15, 2006

Good things happen in threes, too

By Matt Kane

I’m getting old, and I am now starting to realize it.

I was reminded of this Jan. 3 when the Detroit Red Wings officially retired the No. 19 jersey worn by captain Steve Yzerman for 22 legendary seasons.

Another player I grew up watching has retired. First it was my idol Kent Hrbek in 1994, then Michael Jordan in 2003 (for good) and now Yzerman.

I was never a huge fan of Yzerman — he played for the New York Yankees of hockey — but I always respected him for the way he played the game and for the way he conducted himself.

Even when his jersey was raised to the Joe Louis Arena rafters, Yzerman deflected the credit.

“I feel like my image as a great leader is greatly overblown because I played with some of the greatest hockey players,” said Yzerman to the sellout crowd. “I stand here humbly saying ‘Thank you.’ Any personal success I had was because of the great players I played with.”

This past week a sign of my age popped up again. It was the announcement that Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn got elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Again, two players I grew up collecting baseball cards of no longer playing.

It is an absolute shame Ripken and Gwynn’s big day had to be marred by questions about Mark McGwire. The men who elected Ripken and Gwynn were the same writers giving the McGwire situation ink.

I’m not sure if it is merely a coincidence that Ripken and Gwynn’s elections into the hall of fame came last Tuesday, just six days after Yzerman’s jersey was retired.

Think about who these three players were.

They were blue collar players, who didn’t leave their original teams for bigger paychecks in New York City. They committed themselves to the fans of their cities, and they honored that commitment.

It is often said bad things happen in threes, but, in that six day period, it became evident good things can also happen in threes.

Getting back to the McGwire discussion, it is kind of ironic in that, before he was linked to the steroid scandal in baseball, McGwire was thought of in the same light as Ripken and Gwynn.

McGwire was the strong, silent type, who, in Babe Ruth-like fashion, loved the kids who hung around the ballpark.

He was “Big Mac,” and, like the sandwich he was named after, the entire nation loved McGwire.

That’s far from the case today, and the Baseball Writers Association of America proved that by not voting him into the hall of fame.

The question is whether McGwire should be in the hall of fame.

My only answer is if Pete Rose is not in the hall of fame, no ballplayer who used performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in.

Rose bet on baseball, something that had absolutely no influence on him stroking 4,256 hits during his playing days.

If it is proven McGwire did use steroids or another illegal substance, there is no way he should be allowed in the hall of fame.

McGwire’s omission from the hall of fame, I’m sure, has raised a few eyebrows around the baseball community.

What happens when a seven-time MVP, 700-plus home run hitter’s named finally finds its way onto a ballot?

Good luck, Barry. You’ll need it.

There is another good reason to keep the anabolically-inflated players out of the hall. So there is more room for the real ballplayers, like Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn.

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