Saturday, June 2, 2012

My colleague Tom Hunt and I came up with an interesting baseball exercise on the way to the first no-hitter in Mets history last night. The task: field a team of the best players whom you saw play in their prime (or thereabouts) at least once. When boyish sentiment went up against cold statistics, I generally went with the former, and the players I had seen the most in my life.

First Base: Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants (Keith Hernandez was a close second.)
Second Base: Joe Morgan, Reds and Giants (Ryne Sandberg as well, but I only saw him once.)
Shortstop: Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals (I should go with Jeter, but I always loved the movie The Wizard of Oz, and back flips.)
Third Base: George Brett, Kansas City Royals (My heart says Matt Williams...)
Catcher: Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds
Left Field: Rickey Henderson, Modesto and Oakland A's and nearly every professional baseball team in North America (Sorry, Barry Bonds, I work for the church...I would choose Joe Rudi before you. I would also pick Kevin Mitchell before you, and he was insane.)
Center Field: Ken Griffey, Jr., Mariners and Reds
Right Field: Andre Dawson, Expos and Cubs

Pitchers: Vida Blue, A's and Giants
Ron Guidry, New York Yankees
Bob Welch, Dodgers and A's
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
Catfish Hunter, A's and Yankees

(If I had to choose the best lefty of the era, I would choose Steve Carlton, but I can't recall seeing him pitch live.)

Relievers: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Dennis Eckersley, Red Sox, Cubs, A's

Postscript, for the fun of it:
Manager: Billy Martin, Twins, Tigers, Rangers, Yankees, Yankees, A's, Yankees
Radio Commentator: Hank Greenwald, San Francisco Giants
Third Base Coach: Wendell Kim, San Francisco Giants
Mascot: Mr Met
Sportswriters: Roger Angell and Roger Kahn
Best Food: Garlic Fries, San Francisco Giants

That's it. Let's play two!

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