Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All-Star Games

It was on this day in 1999 that the best all-star game of them all was played. OK. Maybe I’m a bit biased, but it was a pretty darn good game. The rosters were full of actual stars, which is always good. And, not just stars. That game had some truly elite talent. Now that it’s been more than ten years, we’re able to really evaluate just how good the players ended up being.

On the American League side, Pedro Martinez was the starting pitcher. What he did in this game was legendary, striking out five of the first six guys he faced. He’ll be on his way to the Hall-of-Fame. Probably on the first try. Catching him was Ivan Rodriguez. I-Rod might be the best combination of offense and defense the catching position has seen since Johnny Bench. Whispers of PED use would be the only thing stopping him from first ballot Hall-of-Fame election. On first is Jim Thome. With a bat in his hands, he’s about as good as it gets. He’s been slowly climbing his way up the all-time home run leaders list. He has a good shot at a spot in the Hall. Roberto Alomar was at second base. Most people consider it an outrage that he wasn’t elected to the Hall-of-Fame in his first ballot. He appears a shoe-in for election next year. Cal Ripken was the third baseman that year. Maybe you heard about him when he went to the Hall of Fame on his first try. Nomar Garciaparra was the starting shortstop. His career fell apart. But, his numbers as a shortstop are still pretty elevated. The outfield included Manny Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. Manny might be the best right-handed hitter ever, and on his way to the Hall. Junior was named to the all-century team later that year, and will waltz into the Hall-of-Fame. Could he be unanimous? Kenny Lofton rounded out the outfield. At DH was Rafael Palmiero. He was a borderline HOFer before the PDH era caught up with him. So, to recap. Ten starting positions. Six locks for the hall of Fame, if they’re not already in. Two more on the cusp. That’s amazing. How about this year?

It’s a little early to say, since much of the starting line-up is from the new comers. David Price is a toss-up at this point. Joe Mauer certainly looks like he’s well on his way. Miguel Cabrera will probably be borderline. Robinson Cano is at least the third best second baseman in the AL at the moment, let alone all time. Evan Longoria certainly has the potential for greatness. Derek Jeter will be in the Hall, whether he deserves it or not. Ichiro Suzuki might just make the Hall. All he does is hit singles, but people seem to like that. Carl Crawford is at least a borderline guy at the moment. Josh Hamilton is too old to get the kind of career numbers he’ll need to be great. David Ortiz won’t have the stats to get past the DH position. So, it tonight’s game, let’s say there are four or five guys who look like HOFers. Not bad, but not up to the ’99 standards. What a game that was.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the passing of George Steinbrenner. If I was a Yankee fan (shudder the thought) I can’t imagine not loving an owner who would throw money at the team all day and night in order to win. As a Red Sox fan, I can’t imagine a better villain on the other side.

He’ll be missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What people are reading this week