* There are eight Blue Jays on the ballot for the Franchise Four, the Mt Rushmore in the organization's 39-year history _ Robbie Alomar, Jose Bautista, George Bell, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado, Tony Fernandez, Roy Halladay and Dave Stieb. Who will you vote for? ....
By Bob Elliott
NEW YORK _ Once during post-season play in the 1980s we sat beside a man who wrote for the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
We asked if his paper covered the Super Bowl and the NBA final too?
“Oh no,” he said as if he was talking to a illiterate loon. “We only cover baseball.”
And why is that?
“Because it’s the talking game.”
There will be plenty of talking and lots of arguing over this brilliant idea by MLB.com. The poll which began Wednesday asks ball fans to select the four greatest living players. They will be honored at the all-star game in July at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Willie Mays and Tom Seaver are on the on-line ballot. This may be a way to get Pete Rose onto the field, but nevertheless it’s a good idea.
Fans can also select the Face of the Franchise ... the four greatest living players for each team from eight players.
This is perfect fodder for talk radio and newspaper columnists.
The Blue Jays ballot ...
2B Roberto Alomar Hall of Fame: Yes.
Honors: His No. 12 is only number retired by Jays, 10-time Gold Glove winner, Jays’ Level of Excellence.
Jays numbers: Hit .307 with 55 homers, 342 RBIs, .855 OPS and 206 steals in five seasons.
Why you should vote for him: Only one plaque in Cooperstown with a Jays cap on it -- his, known on sandlots coast to coast through the Blue Jays Academy.
Why you shouldn’t: Ah, he once struck out 291 times in 3,105 plate appearances as a Jay.
RF Jose Bautista Hall of Fame: Not eligible.
Honors: Five-time all-star, three-time Silver Slugger, two-time Hank Aaron award winner.
Jays numbers: Hit .266 with 203 homers, 518 RBIs, .921 OPS in eight seasons heading into Thursday night.
Why you should vote for him: Two-time major-league home run champ ... 54 in 2010, 43 in 2011.
Why you shouldn’t: Resume incomplete.
LF George Bell Hall of Fame: 1.2% of votes.
Honors: MVP award winner in 1987, Level of Excellence.
Jays numbers: Hit .286 with 202 homers and 740 RBIs with an .840 OPS in nine seasons.
Why you should vote for him: Of all the greats the Montreal Expos (who occupy seven spots on the Washington Nationals ballot) and the Jays have produced, he’s the only one to win an MVP.
Why you shouldn’t: Told fans to kiss his purple butt.
LF Joe Carter Hall of Fame: 3.8% of the votes.
Honors: Five-time all star, two-time Silver Slugger, Level of Excellence.
Jays numbers: Hit .257 with 203 homers, 736 RBIs, .781 OPS in seven years.
Why you should vote for him: Walk-off homer off Mitch Williams resulted in Jays 1993 World Series.
Hall of Fame: 3.8% of the vote.
Honors: Hank Aaron award, two-time all-star, three-time Silver Slugger, Level of Excellence.
Jays numbers: Batted .282 with 336 homers, 1,058 RBIs and a .949 OPS in 12 seasons.
Why you should vote for him: Four homers in one game is a good starting point
Why you shouldn’t: Never made post season play.
SS Tony Fernandez Hall of Fame: 0.7% of the vote.
Honors: Five-time all-star, four-time Gold Glove winner, Level of Excellence.
Jays numbers: Hit .297 with 291 doubles, 60 homers, 613 RBIs, .765 OPS and 172 steals in 12 seasons.
Why you should vote for him: Franchise leader in hits (1,583).
RHP Roy Halladay Hall of Fame: Not eligible.
Honors: Cy Young winner in 2003, finished top five in voting four other years, eight-time all-star, signed one-day contract to retire as a Jay.
Jays numbers: 148-76 (.661 winning percentage), 3.47 ERA, 49 complete games, 15 shutouts, 313 games, 287 starts in 12 seasons.
Why you should vote for him: Dominant pitcher of his era.
Why you shouldn’t: Never reached post season.
RHP Dave Stieb Hall of Fame: 1.4% of votes.
Honors: Seven-time all-star, Level of Excellence.
Jays numbers: 175-134 (.566), 3.42 ERA, 103 complete game, 30 shutouts, 439 starts, 408 games in 15 seasons.
Why you should vote for him: Won 1985 ERA title (2.48), franchise leader in innings pitched.
Why you shouldn’t: Triple to Jim Sundberg in 1985 ALCS?
Not making the cut for the Jays ballot are the likes of John Olerud, only Jay to win a batting title, World Series MVPs Pat Borders and Molitor, 1986 home run champ Jesse Barfield, reliable Jimmy Key and 1996 Cy Young award winner Pat Hentgen to mention a few.
C Gary Carter, RF Andre Dawson, RF Vladimir Guerrero, RHP Dennis Martinez, LF Tim Raines, RHP Steve Rogers and OF Rusty Staub are the seven Expos on the ballot, along with Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman.
For the all-time four greatest living players we’ll take for Mays, Aaron, Martinez and Bench.
And for the four greatest Jays we’ll vote for Alomar, Delgado, Halladay and Bautista.
Ladies and gentlemen start talking ... begin some good old-fashioned baseball arguments.
It's not an easy choice.