"Always look on the bright side of life ... "
Monty Python's The Life of Brian
What, you thought we'd start this edition of Baseball's Hall of Names with lyrics from "Brian's Song" -- well, um, it's an instrumental, so that ain't happenin'. And frankly -- wait, wrong name there -- the name "Brian" has not been attached to a long list of big leaguers in general, much less a whole host of baseball greats (Jordan and Giles are probably "Best in Show" for this appellation).
But let's see what we can come up with as, yes, we will give this team the name you'd expect; it's time to meet ...
** indicates Hall of Famer (none yet)
* indicates All-Star
C Brian McCann* (2006 All-Star with ATL)
1B Brian Daubach (93 homers through 2005)
2B Brian Roberts* (.314 in 2005)
SS Brian Doyle (1978 WS MVP; .161 in 4 years; mostly 2B)
3B Brian Harper (.295 over 16 years, mostly C/OF)
LF Brian Jordan* (.283, 181 homers through 2005)
CF Brian McRae (.261 in 10 years with five teams)
RF Brian S. Giles* (.299, 246 homers through 2005)
DH Brian Downing* (.267, 275 homers in 20 years)
C Brian Schneider (.256 through 2005)
IF Brian Dallimore (.260, 2004-05 SFG, now with MIL)
IF Brian J. Giles (.228, 1981-86, '90)
OF Brian L. Hunter (.264 in 10 years)
1B/OF/DH Brian R. Hunter (.234 in nine years)
OF/C Brian Banks (.246/13/64, 1996-2003)
LHSP Brian J. Anderson (82-83 through 2005)
RHSP Brian Lawrence (49-61 through 2005)
LHSP Brian Bohanon (54-60, 1990-2001)
RHSP Brian Moehler (56-68 through 2005)
5SP-RH Brian Meadows (44-56 through 2005)
CL-LH Brian Fuentes* (31 saves in 2005)
RHRP Brian Boehringer (26-32, 3 saves through 2005)
LHRP Brian Barnes (14-22, 3 saves, 1990-94)
RHRP Brian Fisher (36-34, 23 saves, 1985-92)
RHRP Brian Holton (20-19, 3 saves, 1985-90)
Verses from Brian's Songs ... The left side of the infield is a bit of a question mark as Doyle slides over to short from his natural position -- the natural position of all Doyles, apparently --at 2B, while the hot corner has no really viable candidates and is turned over to catcher/outfielder/utilityguy Brian Harper, who could at least handle the stick with aplomb and did play 13 games at 3B in his 16-year career ...
Both Brian Hunters make the bench, as does "the other" Brian Giles, but "the other" Brian Anderson does not, while other Brians you might have heard of -- Asselstine, Dayett, Dorsett, Buchanan, Lesher and Johnson, for instance -- also stay home in lieu of an invitation to take a roster spot ... Though Johnson (.248, 49 homers, 1994-2001) would normally be a fine backup catcher, with McCann backed up by Schneider, the Brian Backstops are more than respectable, and the roster also holds Banks, Downing and Harper, all of whom at least semi-regularly donned the tools of ignorance in the big leagues as well ...
The starting rotation isn't exactly packed with All-Stars, as not a single member of the front five even has a career won/loss record topping .500 ... But who would fill in? Brian Kingman (23-45, 1979-83) is best known as the only MLB hurler to lose 20 games in a single season from 1980 until Mike Maroth "reached" that level in 2003 ... Righties include Brian Holman, who was 37-45, Bryan Rekar at 25-49, Brian Rose just 15-23 and Brian Powell was 7-18, while lefty Brian Givens was 6-10 with the 1995-96 Brewers, so no real upgrades appear available ...
The bullpen is pretty good, though, headed by lefty closer Brian Fuentes, a 2005 All-Star with 31 saves, who already has more than two dozen saves again in 2006 ... The righty reliever Fisher had 14 saves as a 1985 rookie right-handed complement to lefty closer Dave Righetti with NYY, then was part of the Drabek/Rhoden deal that was one of many bad Bronx swaps of that era ... Speaking of NYY, RHRP Brian Bruney had a dozen saves with the 2005 D-Backs before landing in classic pinstripes this season; however, Bruney -- along with righties Bowles, Drahman and Bevil and lefties like Shouse and Tallet, doesn't make this squad ...
In an alternate universe ...
You can make a pretty decent team out of guys who didn't quite qualify for Brian's Song, meaning those having "Brian" as a given middle name, or "Bryan" as a first (or middle, for that matter) given name, or in one case, "Bryan" as a last/family name. Consider:
C Billy Bryan
1B Dale Bryan Murphy*
2B William Jennings Bryan Herman**
SS Michael Brian Young*
3B Ronald Bryan Coomer*
LF Patrick Brian Burrell
CF Earle Bryan Combs**
RF Jeffrey Bryan Hammonds*
UTIL Scott Brian Fletcher
RHSP David Brian Cone*
RHSP Erik Brian Hanson*
RHSP Bryan "Moose" Haas
RHRP-CL Bryan Harvey*
RHRP Gregory Brian Minton*
LHRP Dennis Bryan Cook
Alter-notes ... Harvey outpaced Minton in career saves, 177-150, and was an All-Star twice, while the latter was named to just one Mid-season Classic squad ... Moving Murphy to 1B allows Burrell into the lineup; it might seem more logical to move Burrell to 1B, since that's where he began as a rookie in 2000, but few remember that Murph made a year-plus (1978-79) stop to be the ATL 1B on his way from C to CF ... Murphy ended up playing 209 career games there, nearly four times Burrell's current total of 58 ...
Billy Herman is one of three major leaguers to bear the full name "William Jennings Bryan" in honor of the famed orator and multiple-times failed US presidential candidate, but the only one to really amount to much -- and he made the Hall of Fame, to boot ... Combs in CF is the only Hall of Famer in this particular Hall of Names exercise in its entirety ... A rotation fronted by Cone, Hanson and Haas would've been something to be reckoned with a few years ago; now if we could only find a lefty to balance things out ... Still, in a short series, this lineup might give the Song boys fits ...
So who's missing?