Baseball Dream Team

There has been a “food” slant to most of my posts, with lots more food to come in the near future (how am I going to get down to 185 lbs??). I’m branching out and taking on some other topics…don’t want to be branded as “just” a food blogger.

I came up with item #107, 164, and 166 out of love for the game of baseball. It has far and away been the biggest influence on my athletic and sports life. It was the first organized sport that I played, the first team I was ever a part of (I still have my T-ball jersey), and the one that tears me up the most while watching. For years I have had to watch the Giants come up short in their pursuit of the World Series trophy. Don’t even get me started about the 2002 Series with that stupid rally monkey.

This, a glove, pair of jeans and I was in the game for the Louisiana Pacific T-ballers!

Anyway, getting back on track here. #107 is to own the rookie cards of my dream team. The funniest thing that I have noticed about this project is the things that I didn’t foresee. I thought that this would be an easier project and something that I could pass on to my son. What I failed to account for was that I would have to define my dream team. I have been racking my brain on this ever since spring training started and baseball was back! I wasn’t getting anywhere. For every position on the field I can name a handful of players that qualify for my team.

So I came up with some rules.

#1) The players have to have played while I have been watching the game. (First remember the 1986 Series.)

#2) This is my team. So I can choose the players for whatever reason I want. Emotional, statistical, some memory, Dani, anything.

#3) No DH. I think that all batters really should have to play the field. Just hitting isn’t playing the game. I’m not going to support it.

#4)Listen to people’s comments and suggestions. The final team will be set on May 8, 2010. (So if you think that I am completely off-base, forgetting someone, or just need to get something off your chest…leave your comment).

So without any further ado…(in formal baseball scoring position)

#1 – Starting Pitcher –

Randy Johnson- One of the most dominant pitchers ever, shoe in for my generation, ended his storied career with Giants

Nolan Ryan- Another most dominant ever, pitched a little scary, most no-hitters ever

Curt Schilling- Has some of the most memorable performances ever (Bloody Sock!!), Went to the Series everywhere he went (almost)

Tim Lincecum- I was at his MLB debut, most dominant Giants pitcher I have ever seen, back to back Cy Youngs, still early but has the league on its ear

#2- Catcher

Benito Santiago – Just a bad ass! Even when he was a kid with the Padre’s he made you take notice. Threw out guys from his knees. NLCS MVP, My wife’s all time favorite player

Jason Varitek – Clutch performer, Captain of the curse busting 2004 Red Sox (taking control of a team that could have been filled with ego problems), stood up to A-Rod, Hard working blue-collar ball player (bet he has a second job like in the old timers stories)

#3 – First Base, Now this is going to be a hard decision. Lots of great player and more that define for me true baseball. Too many memories of all these guys to recall at once.

Will Clark – “The Thrill” was Giants baseball when I was first falling for the game. He was the best player in the game. First at bat taking Nolan Ryan yard…that alone would be enough to make the cut.

J.T. Snow – Resided at first for my Giants. Saved Dusty’s kid in the Series. Nothing could get by this guy…he was defense. Always seemed to come up with that needed hit when he was at bat.

Frank Thomas – My favorite player for years. “The Big Hurt” was incredible. He looked dangerous, even when smiling. I believe he would have broken HR record in ’94 in not for strike. Productive for every team he played with. First ballot Hall of Famer!

Mark McGwire – Incredible ballplayer. Should be in HOF. One of the best pure hitters I ever got to see play. Brought baseball back from the dead. Everyone remembers where they were when he broke the record (I was sitting with a bunch of guys on a crowded living room in Chico).

Albert Pujols – Best player in the game today, probably going to be considered for best all time. Scares me every time he bats against the Giants. (Must be what everyone else felt when Barry was playing.) Player I would most like to see in black and orange.

#4 – Second Base

Robby Thompson- Starter for my childhood team. Spell my son’s name the same as his. One of the toughest players to play the game (Beaned in the face against Rockies and came back with the mask.) All-star and under-rated!!

Roberto Alomar – One of the greatest to play the position. Played hard and emotionally. Too bad he spit in the face of the umpire, still should be in HOF, but not someone I would like my son to act like.

Ryne Sandberg- Ryno! Hated this guy in ’89, but grew to respect him as I watched more and more ball. He was the heart and soul of the Cubbies in the late ’80s and early 90’s.

#5 – Third Base

Matt Williams- Came into baseball the same time I started watching. Another career victim of the ’94 strike, just wasn’t the same player afterwards. First player to break my heart when he was traded to another team, still don’t care that it was one of the best trades in Giants history, he was one of our guys.

Mike Schmidt- Just have to respect this guy. Don’t know what it was but he was the elder statesman of baseball in my youth. Amazing player, HOF, 12 All Stars and 3 MVPs.

George Brett – Played hard and demanded the same from his teammates. Pine Tar Incident…enough to make the list. Who hasn’t wanted to let it all out like that. One of the early exciting players in my memory, he just seemed to make things happen.

Robin Ventura – Good hard playing kid. Who charges Nolan Ryan?? And then gets whooped. That is one of the biggest memories of a brawl I have. Otherwise a player you always wanted to have on your team.

#6 – Shortstop

Jose Uribe – Go ahead and say it and see if you don’t smile.

Cal Ripken Jr.- Most consecutive games. Played with his family. Was a All-Star for his entire career. Played the game the way it was supposed to be played (for a long time).

Ozzie Smith – Doing flips out to his position, thats excited to get to work. Was amazing in the field.

Omar Vizquel- Simply a magician at the position. Made watching the game lots more fun.

Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra- Three of the best to play the position all at the same time. It’s a shame that two play for the same team and Nomar fell off after injury. It would have been incredible to see them fight for best at the position. Would take any of the three in their prime, no questions asked.

Julio Franco – Best batting stance ever!

#7 – Left Field

Barry Bonds – Best player ever! No one has struck as much fear into opposing teams in the history of the game. Game changer every time he came up to bat. Most of my baseball memories revolve around him blasting one out of the park. Simply the best!

Rickey Henderson – Incredibly fast and unprecedented base stealer. Thought way too much of himself.

#8 – Center Field – This position was the one that caused me to choose players that I had watched play. Can you imagine trying to choose from Willie Mays, Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle.

Ken Griffey Jr. – Was one of the first to blow me away. He changed the game for everyone. Early career was phenomenal. Was happy to see him go play for his hometown, always wanted his career to match that in Seattle. Lots of memories of amazing plays and always came through for his team.

Kirby Puckett – Career was cut way too short. Another player that you want walking to the plate in a clutch situation. One of the first players I admired that played for a team other than the Giants.

Kenny Lofton – Can’t believe that he bounced around the league so much. Seemed to make it to the Series most of his career. Was a firecracker for Giants in 2002.

#9 – Right Field

Tony Gwynn- The Godfather of hitting. Always won the batting title.

Vladimir Guerrero – Why oh why didn’t the Giants pick this guys up all those years ago. All he did was hit and hit and hit. One of the more colorful players to watch also. Played full steam ahead most of the time.

Ichiro Suzuki- Amazing little player. Can’t get a strike by his bat. Started a revolution in bringing Japan into MLB.

Gary Sheffield- Was a rookie sensation for the Brewers in the first baseball game I ever attended. Another player that bounced around too much for the talent that he had. Was a threat every time he was playing.

Candy Maldonado – Another name you can’t say without smiling.

Relief Pitching –

Dennis Eckersley – The Closer! The one that really brought home why this position exists for me. “Eck” shut everyone down for the A’s.

Tug McGraw – I don’t really remember McGraw pitching, but he made such an impression on my Uncle that he nicknamed his son Tug. That merits being mentioned in my book.

Dave Righetti – “Rags” not only is one of the most influential coaches today, but was a lights out player. I had his signature glove with me out on the little league field.

*Honorable Mention*

“Crash” Davis – Fictional player from Bull Durham. Taught me more about baseball than any other movie. Made long bus rides, hard work for little pay, and baseball appear the ideal lifestyle.

So there is the list of nominees so far. Let me know if anyone is missing or you have a differing opinion. Can’t wait to field my team of cards to pass on to Robby. Come back to see the final roster…

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