I’m a little ashamed to admit this now, but I used to hate Rickey Henderson. I grew up following the Giants and the Mariners, and Rickey beat the hell out of the Mariners on his way to making the Giants look stupid. And growing up in a rival city, you hear all the bad and not much of the good: Rickey’s arrogant, but not that he’s got a sense of humor.
Rickey changed baseball, too. Not for the better, unless you enjoy the motions of throwing back to first 20 times to make sure Edgar Martinez doesn’t steal second late to ignite a come-from-behind rally in an 8-1 game the M’s are losing.
We haven’t seen much base-stealing lately, for reasons that manage to hurt the understanding of how great both players were. Ruth’s marks don’t seem so impressive when even the bat boy hits 10 out a year. And power has eclipsed speed. While some (Luis Castillo,Juan Pierre) have gotten into the 60s, it’s largely forgotten that there were players like Henderson and Vince Coleman who reeled off a series of years where they swiped over 100 bases a year.