Big Mac has a clear path to the Hall, but what about Jose

On Aug. 22, 1986, Mark McGwire made his major league debut in an
Oakland Athletics lineup that included another 22-year-old
slugger, Jose Canseco. The nickname would come later, but the
Bash Brothers had started pounding away.

Fifteen years later McGwire has retired as one of the game's
mythic figures. In 2007 Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn and Rickey
Henderson (if he doesn't play again) will join him as Cooperstown
enshrines one of the greatest groups of first-ballot Hall of
Famers. The question is, Will Canseco make this class an
astounding fivesome?

In his prime Canseco displayed a Mantle-like combination of
power, speed and defense. That prime was abbreviated, mostly
because of injuries and Canseco's lack of seriousness. The first
player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season,
Canseco quickly devolved into a circus act whose gaffes have
included blowing out his elbow throwing knuckleballs, allowing a
fly ball to bonk him on the head and bounce over the fence for a
home run, and seeing how fast his sports car could zoom on jet
fuel. Think Max Patkin with muscles.

However, if you forget the offensive behavior and look at the
offensive numbers, Canseco's stats bear a fraternal resemblance
to McGwire's. Big Mac had only seven more RBIs (1,414 to 1,407),
eight more total bases (3,639 to 3,631) and 25 more extra-base
hits (841 to 816) than Canseco, who holds slim edges over McGwire
in games (1,887 to 1,874), runs (1,186 to 1,167), hits (1,877 to
1,626) and batting average (.266 to .263).

So could Canseco crash Cooperstown? Hold your horsepower. The gap
between McGwire and Canseco is much greater than those stats make
it seem. McGwire has big advantages in home runs (583 to 462),
on-base percentage (.394 to .353) and slugging percentage (.588
to .515). He also had more quality seasons, finishing in the top
10 in MVP voting five times (Canseco: twice), winning four home
run titles (Canseco: two) and earning 12 All-Star nods (Canseco:
six). Only three times did Canseco drive in at least 100 runs and
bat higher than .260. He settled in as a DH when he was only 29
years old.

Canseco is adamant about getting the 38 home runs he needs to
reach 500, so retirement talk may be premature. Still, employment
won't come easy for a 37-year-old DH who whiffed every 3.4 at
bats in 2001, who was arrested last week on charges stemming from
a nightclub brawl and who has coursed through eight of the 14
American League franchises over the past eight years. If
Canseco's career is indeed over, his legacy may turn out to be
more Dave Kingman than Mark McGwire: Kingman is currently the
eligible player with the most home runs (442) who's not in the
Hall of Fame. --Tom Verducci

Five Greatest Hall of Fame Classes

1936 Inaugural entry roster reads like a Who's Who of baseball's
formative days: Cobb, Ruth, Wagner, Mathewson, Johnson

1937 Also-rans from 1936 all put up now unfathomable numbers:
Nap Lajoie (.422 average in 1901), Tris Speaker (448 career
outfield assists), Cy Young (511 wins)

1939 Already strong class of Eddie Collins, Wee Willie Keeler
and George Sisler added Lou Gehrig in special induction in

1972 Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra
and Early Wynn were joined by Negro leagues legends Josh Gibson
and Buck Leonard

1982 Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson combined have more homers
(1,341) than any other class


If anyone should be saying, "I want respect, and I want people to
think I've got talent," it's Britney Spears, not an athlete who
had just cemented his position at his sport's apex. Still, there
was Jeff Gordon on Sunday, having wrapped up his fourth Winston
Cup title, trying to convince folks that he really is a good

Gordon, who clinched the championship with a sixth-place finish
in the NAPA 500, won his first three titles, in 1995, '97 and
'98, for Hendrick Motorsports with the estimable Ray Evernham as
his crew chief. Gordon's detractors--and he has plenty--attributed
his early success to his owner and his crew. The critics seemed
to have been proved right after Evernham left Gordon following
the '99 season; Gordon languished for much of 2000, finishing
ninth overall. This season, though, he got back on track with six

Gordon has suffered in the eyes of stock car racing's die-hard
fans because of his combination of wholesomeness and instant
success. Those things may appeal to sponsors and casual
followers, but they're a turnoff to NASCAR enthusiasts, who go
for the rougher-hewn characters with attitude. Dale Earnhardt was
known as the Intimidator; the boyish Gordon, who looks as though
he has neither the inclination nor the biceps to start trouble,
is known as the Kid.

Not loving Gordon is one thing. Not respecting him is another,
more ridiculous thing. The Kid turned 30 in August, capping one
of the most remarkable decades the sport has seen. He won 55
races over that span, more than any other driver, and he did so
at a time of life when drivers are supposed to be learning, not
winning. Six men besides Gordon have won at least three Winston
Cup titles, and of that sextet's 26 titles, 24 came after the
drivers had turned 30. (Of that group, only Earnhardt and Richard
Petty won championships before reaching 30.)

So as Gordon enters what figures to be the prime of his career,
he's already halfway to the eight titles he'll need to break the
record held by Earnhardt and Petty. Surpassing those icons might
not be a popular feat, but one thing is clear: Gordon has the
talent to pull it off. --Mark Bechtel

Toy story

Dolphins receiver Oronde Gadsden may be fast on the field, but
it's when he's on the road cruising on his BMW C1 Executive
motorcycle that he thinks he's a superhero. "You just feel that
you're going to save the day somewhere," says Gadsden, who likes
to complete the fantasy by donning a pair of Oakley Overthetop
sunglasses. "When you stop at a light and get looks from
everybody--and you're not a girl--it's a pretty awesome feeling."
Some of the Executive's features:

European styling
Gadsden first saw the Executive in May during a visit to
Germany. "The cops were driving it over there, and I wanted one,
so I ordered one from Munich," he says. "BMW doesn't sell them
here, so it was difficult to get it through customs." Indeed,
the bike itself cost a moderate $7,000, but getting it to the
U.S. added another $5,000. "They had to build a special box for
it," says Gadsden.

Unique assets
The most distinctive feature of the Executive is its canopy,
which comes with a windshield (and wipers). In fact in many
respects the Executive is more like a small car: It has a seat
belt, which must be fastened before the ignition will start, and
a CD player. Gadsden replaced the BMW emblems with the logo of
his Original Gear clothing company.

Commuter heaven
Top speed on the Executive is 80 mph; Gadsden says that he has
taken it up to 70. The bike gets about 60 miles to the gallon,
which is why Gadsden likes to ride the cycle to practice; it
saves him money on gas. Of course Gadsden admits enjoying the
covetous looks the Executive elicits from teammates--not that he
lets any of them ride it. "If anybody's going to wreck the
bike," says Gadsden, "I'm going to wreck it."


There are only two occasions when it's acceptable for a grown man
to cry: while listening to Lou Gehrig's farewell speech and while
watching Brian's Song, the 1971 tearjerker about Bears halfback
Gale Sayers and his doomed teammate Brian Piccolo. On Sunday, ABC
airs a remake of Song, starring Sean Maher as Piccolo and Mekhi
Phifer as Sayers (near right). We asked World Toughman
heavyweight champ Hardbody Harrison, 35, for his thoughts on the

The remake is much more touching than the original because you
see more of Piccolo's life while he's suffering from cancer.
Piccolo had a lot of love for his wife and kids--the original
didn't show that. It made you think he was just another
football-playing jock. You also see the friendship between
Piccolo and Sayers develop, really bridging the color gap. Sayers
initially came off as arrogant, but he was just shy and didn't
know how to express himself. As for Piccolo, they finally gave
him a personality in this movie. Now he's someone you can relate

As far as crying goes, it's definitely a tearjerker, but no, I
didn't cry. The men who'll cry at this movie will be men who
haven't been through it. They'll say, "Man, this guy is catching
it hard. This disease is spreading, and he's got a family. He's
making money but not enough. Can this happen to me?" Me, I've
been in both of these guys' shoes. Like Sayers, I'm a minority
and I've had to take less money because of my color. Like
Piccolo, I've been second-string. I've also gone through tough
times--I've had two brothers stabbed. Those things took away all
my tears.

Lost Classics
The Miller Lite Spots

If a commercial's success can be measured by the number of
underage dorks who quote it feverishly, then few have done better
than the original ads for Miller Lite. Indeed, like many who
weren't able to touch harder stuff in the late '70s, my grade
school friends and I engaged in our own heated battles about
whether one should drink milk because it "tastes great!" or
because it was "less filling!"

This mind-expanding debate began in 1977, the year Miller hit on
the idea of getting tough guys like Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn
and NBA referee Mendy Rudolph to argue over the girly product,
light beer. The instantly popular campaign soon became a de facto
pension plan for a stable of retired sports figures. A typical
spot: on-again-off-again Yankees manager Billy Martin squares off
against Yanks owner George Steinbrenner on the taste/waist issue.
More memorable were the occasional alumni ads that rounded up the
campaign's stars, including Bubba Smith (above left), Dick Butkus
(above right), Larry Csonka and Bob ("I must be in the front
row!") Uecker.

It wasn't uncommon in the early '80s to attend a sports event and
get involved in a reenactment of the ads. If one section of the
stadium shouted "tastes great!" another had to muster a louder
"less filling!" As much as I liked the spots, I discovered
something about truth in advertising once I was able to legally
sample the beer in '91--the same year the ads disappeared. I found
that Miller Lite tasted only so-so and didn't stop me from
developing a beer gut. --John Sellers


By the Queens County (N.Y.) District Attorney, the extradition
from Pennsylvania of Jerome Brandl, 34, on charges including
criminal impersonation and grand larceny. The D.A. says that
after the Sept. 11 attacks, Brandl came to New York City posing
as a Milwaukee firefighter and scammed room and board, as well
as tickets to the Sept. 21 Mets-Braves game. Brandl was arrested
after attending the Oct. 29 Steelers-Titans game in Pittsburgh
at which real rescue workers were honored.

Air travel across the U.S. last Friday after Michael Lasseter of
Gainesville, Ga.--on his way to Oxford, Miss., for the
Georgia-Ole Miss football game--ran down an up escalator at
Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport in a rush to make his flight.
Police shut down the airport for three hours as they searched
for Lasseter, 32, who was charged with disorderly conduct.

Launched, the official website of the newly re-formed
Continental Basketball Association. The CBA lost the rights to
its old domain,, after the league declared
bankruptcy last February. The old address is now a porn site
offering "Highest Quality Adult Material from Amsterdam!"

Shaquille O'Neal, an undisclosed amount by the Lakers for
missing practice without permission on Nov. 14. Shaq attributed
his absence to parental duties following the birth of his
daughter Amirah Sana'a O'Neal. Said the proud father, "I
figured they would give me some male maternity leave."

Brian Dennehy, to play Bob Knight in ESPN's adaptation of John
Feinstein's A Season on the Brink. Among Dennehy's previous
roles are an Air Force general in Fail Safe and an Army general
in Day One.

the Beat

Warriors guard Gilbert Arenas is used to turning heads when he
cruises down the street blaring rap music out of the six 12-inch
Rockford Fosgate speakers and five 1,000-watt amps installed in
his Cadillac Escalade. But now someone other than fellow
motorists is upset about Arenas's tinnitus-inducing setup. Tucson
auto customizer Ed Berry, who installed the sound system as well
as other special features in the SUV, says Arenas has yet to pay
for the work. "Basically, he stole all of it," says Berry, who
called SI after reading the Nov. 5 SCORECARD story on Arenas's
tricked-out ride. Berry says that in addition to the sound
system, he put in four TVs and a security system and tinted the
windows, at a cost of $31,938.86. After billing Arenas (right) in
May, Berry says he followed up in October with Arenas's agent,
Jeff Hillford, who told Berry that Arenas had anticipated being a
first-round draft pick and that when Golden State selected him in
the second round, he didn't get as much money as he'd expected (a
reported $850,000 over two seasons). However, when contacted by
SI, Rodney Baker, a spokesman for Arenas, says Berry hasn't been
paid because of "numerous questions regarding [Berry's] shoddy
workmanship." Baker says the wiring and speakers had to be worked
on after the installation. Berry was unreachable for comment on
the claim....

Who needs stock-market advice when you've got Phil Mickelson
around? Last year he and a group of friends made a $20,000
preseason bet at a Las Vegas casino on the Ravens to win the
Super Bowl, at 22-to-1 odds. That investment paid off a tidy
$440,000. Before the 2001 baseball season Mickelson and pals
plunked down $4,000 on the Diamondbacks to win the World Series.
At 15 to 1, that wager cashed in at $60,000. We're now urgently
trying to find out who Mickelson likes to win the NBA
Finals--only for journalistic purposes, of course.


Go Figure

Number formed by the jerseys of Bulls rookies Eddy Curry and
Tyson Chandler as they pose side by side on the cover of the team
media guide.

Female Irish soccer fans who attended their country's World Cup
playoff against Iran in Tehran, the first women permitted in an
Iranian stadium to watch soccer since the country's 1979 Islamic

Complete games thrown by this year's AL Cy Young winner, Roger
Clemens, the first starter to win the award without once going
the distance.

Score by which England defeated Romania in rugby, the biggest
margin ever in an international match.

Price of an official Florida 2012 baseball cap at the office of
Tampa's Olympic-bid organization last Friday before it shut its
doors for good.

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse

The parent company of ShopRite supermarkets has agreed to pay
$100,000 for the naming rights to a Brooklawn, N.J., elementary
school gym.

"There was Gordon, still trying to convince folks he's a good
driver." PAGE 32

They Said It
Former NFL All-Pro, after his seven-year-old son, Deion, was
flagged for doing a touchdown dance in a youth football game:
"Why you gotta throw a flag? He's doing what Daddy taught him to

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
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