November 24, 2004
The Generation Gap
Does anybody talk about the "generation gap" anymore? Thirty, 35 years ago, it was a major topic. In fact, it was so much a part of our society that American International Pictures--never a studio to miss out on a trend, whether it be the menace of oversized ants or the hassles of being in a biker gang--actually did a movie called "Wild in the Streets" in which everyone over 30 was put in an internment camp while the young people ran things. This is a little different than the world envisaged in "Logan's Run" in which they just outright liquidated anyone over 30. Either way, it's a good method for keeping The Man in his place.
Thinking about that generational divisiveness got me to pondering: what if the elder big-league ballplayers met the youngsters in a best-of-seven series? Who would win? Let's define the elders as anyone who played at 36 or over during the 2004 season. The younger team will be comprised of anyone 24 or below. (Any player who spent the season as a 25- to 35-year old is not eligible for either team.)
I've selected the teams based on VORP. I was pretty strict in this regard. For instance, J.D. Closser made the Young Team as a backup catcher over John Buck on the basis of 5.3 to 4.8. I would have rather given the nod to Buck based on playing time, but then it gets all messy in a lot of other places and I thought it best to keep it black and white. There are a couple of notable names missing here because they had injury problems last season. The most obvious one is Mark Prior. You might also be wondering where Johan Santana is. Unfortunately for the young team, he was too old by a year.
As for pitchers, I didn't discriminate in terms of handedness. Obviously, if you were building a team for a series like this, you'd want to mix and match. Also, these aren't 25-man rosters, but 22. The union will shoot me for that, but I'm expecting a fully dressed turkey from the owners. The squads:
Youngsters Oldsters C: Joe Mauer: 14.2 c: Benito Santiago, 7.1 1b: Albert Pujols, 103.5 1b: Jeff Bagwell, 41.6 2b: Omar Infante, 26.9 2b: Jeff Kent, 55.2 3b: Hank Blalock, 40.2 3b: Vinny Castilla, 31.7 ss: Khalil Greene, 37.6 ss: Omar Vizquel, 33.3 lf: Adam Dunn, 64.8 lf: Barry Bonds, 142.0 cf: Corey Patterson, 27.9 cf: Steve Finley, 38.0 rf: Miguel Cabrera, 54.4 rf: Larry Walker, 37.8 1b-dh: Mark Teixeira, 52.6 1b-dh: Frank Thomas, 34.2 inf: David Wright, 21.2 inf: Barry Larkin, 26.5 of: Carl Crawford, 35.8 of: Moises Alou, 51.5 of: Rocco Baldelli, 26.8 of: Craig Biggio, 33.1 c: J.D. Closser, 5.3 c: John Flaherty, 4.1 sp: Carlos Zambrano, 61.3 sp: Curt Schilling, 72.9 sp: Jake Peavy, 57.5 sp: Randy Johnson, 69.3 sp: Oliver Perez, 54.5 sp: Roger Clemens, 61.3 sp: Rich Harden, 41.3 sp: Al Leiter, 46.2 rp: Francisco Rodriguez, 37.6 rp: Tom Gordon, 39.6 rp: Ryan Madson, 25.8 rp: Rheal Cormier, 19.3 rp: Frank Francisco, 16.8 rp: Giovanni Carrara, 19.0 rp: Duaner Sanchez, 16.7 rp: Kent Mercker, 18.6 cl: Chad Cordero, 24.4 cl: John Smoltz, 26.7I went into this thinking the elder squad was going to be extremely dominant. Just starting with the premise that they had Clemens, Johnson, Schilling and Bonds, it would seem as though they would push the Youngsters aside with relative ease. It's true that the Oldsters have an edge in starting pitching, but the teams' benches and bullpens are pretty evenly matched. The presence of Bonds is fairly well-compensated by having Albert Pujols on hand (hold all comments about his alleged age, please). With that, the starting lineups are not especially disparate.
Who would win? Would somebody like to run a simulation to find out? I'd be interested to see the results, if only because it's getting on to Thanksgiving, a holiday so completely removed from baseball that I'm wondering how it was invented in the same country. One thing I can guarantee: if such a series ever were played, you would need an abacus to count the number of times the announcers used the word "experience".
Something I wanted to do but didn't have the time between conception and deadline was to do the same thing for different eras. I am guessing that, in some years, one might be hard-pressed to come up with an Oldster team of any kind of substance. I say this because we are living through the high watermark of the aging veteran. Since the exploits of Bonds, Johnson and Clemens are above and beyond anything we've seen from men their age in the past, it is easy to make an assumption of that nature.
My guess would be Oldsters in six. You know...because of the experience thing.
Last time out, I wondered aloud about two things having to do with extreme subbing: what player had appeared in the most games as a substitute in a single season, and what the record was for the most games played in a season without getting a single starting assignment. I got some good responses, the most complete of which came from reader Nghia Nguyen.
Based on his research, I have compiled the following list, saving the highest for last so as to build the drama we all so desperately crave in our everyday lives:
100: Greg Gross, 1987 Phillies
(Reader David Edelman also correctly identified Squires as the man. Squires, by the way, is the only man in baseball history whose name starts with the letters "Sq".)
Ah, what Greg Luzinski wrought. Actually, two of Gross' three 100-plus seasons came after the Luzinski era. These are the approximate number of times The Bull was taken out for a defensive replacement during his last five years in Philadelphia:
I had speculated that the A's designated runner, Herb Washington, was the answer to the second question, but this is not so. Nghia's candidate for the answer is an interesting player of whom, I must confess, I had never heard of prior to this. His name is Ross Moschitto. As a 20-year old rookie with the 1965 Yankees, he appeared in 96 games either as a pinch-runner, defensive replacement or pinch-hitter. He started a total of zero games while caddying for Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Hector Lopez.
Moschitto spent the entire year on the roster, too, but didn't make the team in '66. He came back to the team in 1967 for 14 games, none of which he started. What this means is that--barring more research to the contrary--he not only holds the single-season record for most games played without starting, but the career record as well, having 110 to Washington's 105 (although Herb also appeared in five postseason games).