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As Spring Training draws to a close and the brilliant specter of another Opening Day looms, it's time to present the 10th of what will be 12 "all-month" teams for your discussion and mocker ... er, analysis.
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In a recent special Hall of Names essay called "The Tenth Man," Mike Green pointed out that an alternative approach could have linked Hall of Fame shortstop George Wright with young Mets 3B David Wright, and that this in itself might prove rich fodder for an additional Hall of Names compiilation.

Maybe so. Let's find out.

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So here we go again ... Mike Green has another Hall Watch, this one examining the candidacy of Bernie Williams, and so it's time for another Hall of Names sidebar. But as we found with the Barry Bonds HoN sidebar, sometimes we have to be creative to fill out a full team.

After all, according to BBRef, there have only been 18 Bernies in big league history -- and that's if you count Carlos Bernier -- and three more with "Bernard" (and one Benard) as a last name. And the Bernie patrolling CF for the Yankees right now is the only one of those 22 guys who has ever been an All-Star, and pretty much the only one who ever got remotely close.

So we need to get creative.

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This story originally appeared on Batter's Box on March 17, 2003 -- two years ago today. That makes this our first Batter's Box Flashback ... or, I guess "FlashBox."

Get Your Irish Up (to the Plate)

It's an unorthodox take on an all-Irish Hall of Names team ... but no, sorry, Shawn Green didn't make the cut.

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So, while Mike Green's current Hall Watch muses on Jim Edmonds' Cooperstown chances, reflect for a moment that he's not even the starting CF on the All-James Hall of Names team. Of course, it took a very "Cool" customer to keep that from happening.
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As Mike Green works through another Hall Watch preview -- this one tabbing Barry Bonds as a guy who, like it or not, "will (appropriately) walk into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot" -- it's time for another Hall of Names sidebar.

But what to do with Barry?

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So as Mike Green ("Eggs and Ham") examines a Sosa candidacy for what seems inevitable enshrinement in the halls of Cooperstown, here we run a simple sidebar, Sam I am.

Will this team be more than So-so?
Is Juan Samuel a last-name no-no?
Will you all even give a damn?
For this Hall of Names is new ... All-Sam.

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Let's be clear as we head into this sidebar for the current Mike Green Hall Watch analysis of the enigmatic Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox slugger is the greatest player in the history of the game to bear the surname "Ramirez," and it simply isn't close. Sure, there's a remote possibility that one day Horacio will be Greg Maddux or Aramis will turn into Ron Santo, but in truth, only 14 men named Ramirez have made it to the bigs so far, so there really isn't a "Hall of Names" team to be formed.

And thanks for playing, Manny Lee and Manny Alexander, but despite the stellar keystone combo you would present, there's also no viable All-Manny team out there. So let's go a different direction.

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I remember it clearly. It was back in 1997, and I was sitting at my desk in an upstate New York brownstone apartment, reading what was then called "ESPN Sportszone" through my high-powered 56K modem Internet connection, when I stumbled across an essay by Keith Olbermann, then still an integral part of "Sportscenter," called "The Ninth Man."

Olbermann was always a good on-air personality, but this essay cemented what I always suspected -- he was an even better writer. I used several of Olbermann's old essays in the freshman writing classes I was teaching at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the time to demonstrate one point or another, but never this particular one because I didn't believe the standard 18-year-old engineering major would "get" the power of "The Ninth Man."

To truly appreciate this essay, you have to be a baseball fan -- that's "fan" in the linguistic sense, as in "just short for fanatic" -- and you must have a feel for the history of the game and the power of baseball relationships across time. The readers of Batter's Box will understand "The Ninth Man" -- and after all these years, may also understand why, in retrospect, I now believe Olbermann didn't even take the concept far enough. But we'll do so here.

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Here we go, with our standard "Hall of Names" companion piece to Mike Green's current Hall Watch profile, this one of Frank "Bat-Man" Thomas' sidekick, Robin Ventura.

It seems remarkable, but only four men in the history of the game have been named "Robin" -- and if Ventura ever enters the Hall of Fame (unlikely, but obviously at least worth discussing, or we wouldn't be here) that means three of the four Robins will be enshrined in Cooperstown. Ventura would join Robin Roberts and Robin Yount in The Hall, leaving former Cubs/A's/Rockies/Reds outfielder Robin Jennings wondering just what the hell happened.

But no, even with two current Hall of Famers, there's no "Rockin' Robin" team to be built. So do we go with the 21 guys with the initials "RV" for an "All-Big-Rig" team? Uh, no. How about guys like Ventura who share a name with a famous highway? Unlikely at best. But wait ... read through that Mike Green Hall Watch piece again. See the comparison of Ventura to Ron Cey? An idea takes flight ...

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Here we go, with Box 3.0's very first edition of Baseball's Hall of Names, tied once again to the excellent "Hall Watch" story by Mike Green looking at one of our All-Larry team stalwarts, Larry "Chipper" Jones (also a member, as you might expect of our earlier All-Jones team).

Wow, this one was surprisingly easy to fill out ...
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While Mike Green leads an entirely different sort of Great Scott Debate in his current Hall Watch thread, it's time to take a look at what is becoming a standard sidebar to these everGreen features ... a Hall of Names roster.

The interesting conundrum in this case (hence "debate") is that of the 124 players in major league history who bore the name "Scott," a full 25 of them had that appellation as their surname (family name) rather than their given or first name, including a few key All-Stars. So which will be better? The last name "Great Scotts" or the first name, um, "Scott Land Yards"?

Let's see.
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Today, we're taking a slightly different approach to building a new lineup for Baseball's Hall of Names ... it's the All-Top-40-Hits Team, and everyone is invited to contribute ideas, especially if they can squeeze in a reference to a favorite popular song.

We're looking for ballplayers whose first names appear in the titles (not just the lyrics) of popular songs of the rock era, roughly since the end of World War II. You must provide the title of the song, the artist who performed it and the player you are invoking. For instance, I might submit: "Mickey" by Toni Basil, CF Mickey Mantle (or if we need a catcher, Mickey Cochrane).

There are a few rules ...
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Yes, it's time for the All-Julio Hall of Names team, inspired by Mike Green's typically oustanding Hall Watch item on Julio Franco -- and perhaps forecasted by the All-July team several months ago.

Did you know that Julio Franco is the only Julio in the history of MLB to make an All-Star team? Actually, the odd thing about entering "Julio" as a search term in the always-fabulous site ...

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Thanks to Dilbert empathizer Jonny German, who clearly knows my prediliction for Personal Anagrams and Anagramatics, along with the ubiquitous "Baseball's Hall of Names" teams -- we have a mind-bending ...

Quirky Puzzle of the Day: What's the smallest collection of players you can name whose first and last names cover all the letters of the alphabet? (Full names and nicknames are fine.)

Example: For instance, Douglas Mientkiewicz and Xavier Nady are a nice start, leaving you hunting for a combination that covers b-f-g-p-q. So there's our first answer: Minky, Nady, Biff Pocoroba and Guillermo Quiroz. Thats four. Can anyone beat that? Bonus points to anyone who can at least tie the total of four while using Ed Ott as one of them.

And of course, keep those Make Your Own Roundup links and comments coming!

- King George of the Bronx doesn't want Derek and Alex to be friends any more. Write your own punchline.

- The Mets signed relievers Scott Stewart and Eric Junge and infielder Jed Hansen -- but really, Dave Stewart pitching, Carl Jung psychoanlyzing and Hansen singing "MMMets Bop" probably wouldn't do it for these guys.

- I'm ashamed to admit I got this nugget from the latest Jayson Stark I'm So Clever I Can Call Myself Useless column, but it's kinda cool given the variety of Ranges, Twins and Expos fans around here; see if you can answer before hitting the link: Who's the only player in history who has played for all three franchises to pass through Washington? (HINT: "Hello ... Jerry.")