Saturday, September 27, 2014

Really Good, but not THAT Good

Baseball is a game dominated by vital ghosts; it's a fraternity, like no other we have of the active and the no longer so, the living and the dead. ~Richard Gilman

Much has been written and said about Derek Jeter this year. He seems to be a pretty good guy, and he's had a long and pretty successful career. For those of you who don't follow sports in any way, shape, or form, Mr. Jeter, who has played baseball for the New York Yankees for a long time, is retiring this year. He most likely will make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame, an assessment which I can agree with. But, I cannot agree with this little poll taken by ESPN.
Now, as I intimated, I think Mr. Jeter has been a pretty good player during his career, but I'm sorry: There's no way I can put him into being among the top 25 players of all time. I'm presuming that the people who made up the 73% who thought he is among that elite group fall into one of the following categories:

- Yankees fans
- People under 30 who don't know baseball has been played for over 100 years
- People who would nominate Jeter for the Nobel Prize, sainthood, and immediate assumption into Heaven.

Not to belabor the point, I spent a few minutes thinking about the great players who would be ahead of Mr. Jeter in terms of being one of the 25 greatest baseball players of all time. The list that follows is pretty much the order in which they occurred to me, not an actual ranking. I had no trouble thinking of 25 players greater than Derek Jeter. In fact, I decided to stop at 30 because I didn't want to totally belabor the point. I also avoided people from the steroid era for the most part, and I did include Pete Rose. While he is forever ineligible to enter the HOF, his career numbers are still worthy of being on this informal list.

1. Ty Cobb
2. Babe Ruth
3. Walter Johnson
4. Jackie Robinson
5. Lou Gehrig
6. Warren Spahn
7. Mickey Mantle
8. Rogers Hornsby
9. Tris Speaker
10. Pete Rose
11. Mike Schmidt
12. Johnny Bench
13. Joe Morgan
14. Carl Yastrzemski
15. Ted Williams
16. Ernie Banks
17. Eddie Murray
18. Brooks Robinson
19. Al Kaline
20. Luis Aparicio
21. Ozzie Smith
22. Lou Brock
23. Cy Young
24. Al Simmons
25. Frank Baker
26. Roberto Clemente
27. Larry Doby
28. Duke Snider
29. Hank Aaron
30. Cal Ripken

None of this is intended to put down Derek Jeter, his career, and his accomplishments. It's just to point out that playing in New York for a long time with an above-average career does not put you in the same class as the likes of Cobb, Ruth, Aaron, et. al.
And, I doubt Mr. Jeter is particularly bothered about it, being that he seems to be a sensible person in most respects. Which is more than I can say for the 73% of respondents to the survey.

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