It's when Jackson is plunging into touchy issues that some of the Reggie of old emerges; the only difference is that the star no longer has as big a stage. Over a plate of seafood at an oceanside restaurant in Monterey, he casually mentions that he plans to bring up the issue of undeserving members of the Hall of Fame at the next members-only dinner in Cooperstown. He believes that the Baseball Writers Association of America, whose members vote for the Hall, have adopted too low a standard. "I didn't see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer," he says. "I didn't see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn't see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn't see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I'm not so sure he's a Hall of Famer." What about Bert Blyleven? "No. No, no, no, no," Jackson says. "Blyleven wasn't even the dominant pitcher of his era -- it was Jack Morris."I agree with everything he said except I don't think Andy Pettitte is any different than A-Rod or any other cheater. In my opinion if you did PED's you don't belong in the HOF. I'm not saying you can't root for these guys--I do--but when it comes to the HOF, that's where I would draw the line.
He isn't silent on the subject of steroids in baseball either. Jackson makes no secret of his displeasure that since his retirement in 1987, he has been passed on the home run list by seven players, five of whom, Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs. "I don't think the fans really count them, and I agree," he says. "I believe that Hank Aaron is the home run king, not Barry Bonds, as great a player as Bonds was." Jackson was a supporter of Bonds (who is a distant cousin) as recently as 2007, when he said, "They tried to get this guy more than anybody ... and they've got nothing on him." But he says now that the volume of evidence against Bonds is so great that he has changed his mind.
There is little need to ask whether Jackson thinks any of the PED-linked players should be inducted into the Hall. "If any of those guys get in, no Hall of Famer will attend," he says. There is only one player in that category for whom he might make an exception. "The question is going to be a guy like Andy Pettitte, who admitted that he got involved for a while, but who is so universally respected in the game. I think he'll get in, but there will be a lot of [members] who won't go." Would Reggie? Jackson takes a deep breath. "He's an awfully good friend," he says. "I've known Andy since he was 20. I'll leave it there."
Friday, July 6, 2012
From Phil Taylor: