Friday, July 20, 2007

Amber Theoharis' Version of "Who's More Now?"

A look at the latest Amber Theoharis article:

Who Will Fill Heroes' Roles After Ripken?

...For baseball fans, however, heroes never die. Think how many of us have fathers or friends who are nearing their 60s and 70s, yet would still be awe-struck if they had a chance to meet Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris or Mickey Mantle.

I think they would be awe-struck (as would I) as all of those fine ballplayers are dead. Regardless of age, if a decaying DiMaggio crawled out of the crypt and tried to shake my hand, I think anybody would be a little "awe-struck". If fact, "awe-struck" would be an understatement. I would call it all encompassing terror.

For my generation, how many of us feel giddy at the thought of meeting Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson and the biggest of them all, Cal Ripken Jr.?

Many of us would although I get the impression that most baseball fans thought Henderson was a pompous, self-aggrandizing jerk but point taken.

Next weekend, Cooperstown is expected to be flooded with one of the largest crowds ever for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction. There is one reason and one reason alone for that: Baltimore's biggest modern-day hero, Ripken, is the headliner.

Longtime Padre Tony Gwynn will also be enshrined in this year's class. Even though he is a huge name in baseball and is beloved by fans in San Diego and beyond, Gwynn simply doesn't have the same legendary status as Ripken. Then again, who does?

He doesn't have the same legendary status? They are both first-ballot hall of famers. Hall of Fame election is based on people's (writer's) opinions, so in the voter's eyes, Gwynn does have the same legendary status as Ripken.

Let's also not forget that Gwynn was a much more productive hitter than Ripken (yes, even when you consider Cal's superior power numbers). A much better hitter by a good margin actually. Although Ripken played tougher defensive positions, Gwynn was no slouch with the glove either (5 Gold Gloves).

Legendary status: Gwynn's got it.

That raises the question: Are baseball heroes becoming extinct with each passing generation? Just look at the list of heroes mentioned earlier for Generation X. With the exception of Ripken, none were anywhere as big as the Baby Boomers' icons; DiMaggio, Mantle and Maris.

DiMaggio was worshipped by Baby Boomers? A Baby Boomer is defined as having been born from 1944-1954. So at best, a Baby Boomer was about 6 while DiMaggio limped through his final season with the Yankees. My father, die-hard Yankee fan and solidly a Baby Boomer was not even 3 during the 1951 season. Needless to say, he never saw DiMaggio play.

So, out with DiMaggio and bring in Willie Mays. And Maris? Not even one of the true greats of his generation, let alone of all-time. Maris is out and Ted Williams will take his place.

Poor research Amber. OK, now we have three Boomer heroes.

Now, why don't Nolan Ryan and Rickey Henderson and seemingly no one else who played from the late seventies to the early nineties qualify as bonafide baseball heroes? Let's see:

Nolan Ryan - 8 no-hitters, strikeout king, HOF and nationwide acclaim

Ricky Henderson - Arguably the greatest offensive force of the '80's, SB king, 3,00 hits

Reggie Jackson - star slugger from the late '70's to mid-'80's, HOF, had his own candy bar

Aw hell, I don't have time to justify why Eddie Murray, George Brett, Wade Boggs, Robin Yount, Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Gary Carter, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor and others are true baseball heroes. They were all enormous stars during Ripken's era, are or will be in the HOF and were beloved.

Ugh, I can't continue...

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