There's not much to be gained by ranking across generations.
I have a confession. I suppose it’s not a very juicy confession. But all the same, I feel like I need to confess that I love All-Time teams. Or, at least, I used to love them. I used to make them when I was bored in school in the backs of my notebooks. All-Time Twins. All-Time Yankees. All-Time Guys Named Mike. And I was a sucker for other people’s All-Time teams too. Babe Ruth made a team of what he thought were the greatest players in baseball history back in the 1930s and named Hal Chase and Ray Schalk to it. Walter Johnson, and Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb published their dream teams too. Cobb put Buck Weaver at third base, while The Big Train honored both Chase and Johnny Kling. One of my first baseball books I owned as a kid was an old library book from 1963 that listed Pie Traynor as the greatest 3B in history. I’d read any of that stuff.
Which is why I was excited to hear about Graham Womack’s All-Time Dream Project, which asked fans to vote on the greatest players in baseball history and got heavy-hitting writers like Craig Calcaterra, Josh Wilker, and Dan Szymborski to write about them. Graham’s project, which is also raising money to run journalism workshops for kids, is great. And I don’t want to take anything away from it. But in the afterglow, Craig wrote about how the results illustrated that we may be overvaluing the past, saying “We get locked into older things first, and it’s that much harder for us to appreciate more recent greatness…. I think [voters] pick Rogers Hornsby over Joe Morgan because their father said he was the best and because the pictures of him are in black and white and, boy, if that ain’t history, I don’t know what is.”
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Picking your poison doesn't necessarily make you a star, today or yesterday.
One of the best lines on performance-enhancing drugs-perhaps it is more accurate in this case to say "performance-altering drugs"-can be found in The Disney Films, by Leonard Maltin. It refers to Disney's 1940 picture Fantasia:
With both League Championship Series at 3-1, what are the chances, and how often has it happened?
With both the Dodgers and Red Sox facing 3-1 deficits in their respective League Championship Series, the inevitable question being asked by advertisers and network executives desperate for a marquee World Series matchup-not to mention any fan who's decided they'd like to hear Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, and a chorus of moralizing pundits tell us even more about the Manny Ramirez saga-is, "Can they come back?" The answer is, probably not, as just 11 teams have come from down 3-1 to win a seven-game post-season series. Still, the legendary comebacks and heartbreaking collapses in those 11 series have stocked baseball lore with a memorable cast of heroes and villains, including Mickey Lolich, Willie Stargell, Don Denkinger, Donnie Moore, Steve Bartman, and Dave Roberts.
Lou Piniella's decision to move Alfonso Soriano back to leadoff echoes a similar, far more damaging story from the 1920s.
It is probably obvious by now-after years of watching managers who are light on X's and O's expertise like Joe Torre and Dusty Baker get employed and re-employed-that running a baseball team is at least as much about managing personalities as it is about calling for bunts and deciding who gets to pinch-hit when. Asked the secret of his success, Casey Stengel famously remarked that managing was about keeping the five guys who hate you away from the five guys who are undecided. Sparky Anderson once said that managing is not, "running, hitting, stealing. Managing is getting your players to put out 100 percent year after year." Even Billy Martin, who was not exactly Mr. Accommodating, once said, "I could manage Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hirohito. That doesn't mean I'd like them, but I'd manage them." Why would you want to? Because it's a manager's job to get the most of his talent, even if they are megalomaniacs who wake up each morning thinking about how it would be such fun to crush Poland. Maybe they can platoon against lefties.
The list of remaining free agents looks a lot less appetizing than it did a week ago.
It was bad enough that this was already a weak free-agent class. Now, almost all of the fun has already been taken out of any potential free-market maneuvering this winter. Alex Rodriguez went back to the Yankees once he realized that super agent Scott Boras misread the market for once, recognizing that there was no $350-million pot of gold at the end of any rainbow. Granted, $275 million is a pretty nice consolation prize.