Who Wore it Best? 9-0

Photo: Dr. Odd

What a long, strange journey it’s been. We started all the way at 99, and have now arrived at our final edition of “Who Wore It Best?” Single digits can be tough, but we’re up for the challenge.

9 – Gordie Howe

Photo: Pinterest

I mean, “Mr. Hockey” has to make the list, right? Howe’s career spanned nearly 40 years, in which he won four Stanley Cups, six Hart Trophies, and appeared in the All-Star game 23 times.

Honorable Mentions: Ted Williams, Drew Brees, Bobby Hull, Mike Modano

8 – Kobe Bryant

Photo: Newsday

Maybe the closest we’ll ever get to MJ. We all know Kobe ended his career rocking 24, but he was great enough to take the eight cake. He spent his entire 20 year career with the Lakers, in which he won five NBA Championships, the 2008 MVP, and made 11 All-NBA First Teams.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Morgan, Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken Jr., Yogi Berra, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Alexander Ovechkin

7 – John Elway

The greatest player who was a doppelgänger of their team mascot. But that’s not the only reason Elway makes our list. He held the “couldn’t win the big one” tag his entire career, until he shut everyone up and won back-to-back Super Bowls his last two seasons in the NFL. Even if he wouldn’t have won the two Lombardis, Elway racked up an MVP, nine Pro Bowl selections, and passing title in 1993.

Honorable Mentions: Mickey Mantle, Phil Esposito

6 – Bill Russell

Photo: Photos.com

The man who ran out of fingers for all of his championship rings. Russell won five MVPs, was a four time rebounding champion, and a member of the NBA’s 25th, 35th, and 50th Anniversary Teams.

Honorable Mention: Stan Musial

5 – Albert Pujols

Photo: LA Times

We’ve shown our appreciation for The Machine on this blog before. Pujols’ first 11 years in St. Louis were enough to get the guy in the Hall of Fame. His time with the Angels and Dodgers, while not as great, hasn’t done anything to diminish that. His approximate career numbers have him as a .300 hitter, closing in on 700 home runs, and well over 3,000 hits.

Honorable Mentions: Joe DiMaggio, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Kevin Garnett, Donovan McNabb

4 – Lou Gherig

Next to Babe Ruth, Lou Gherig was the best player on the Yankees during their incredible run in the 20’s and 30’s. Gherig was a part of six World Series championships, was a two time MVP, and won the Triple Crown in 1934.

Honorable Mentions: Brett Favre, Adam Vinatieri, Bobby Orr

3 – Babe Ruth

Keeping it young and fresh with back to back 1920’s Yankees. This one’s a no doubter though; Shohei Ohtaini before Shohei Ohtani. At the plate, The Great Bambino hit 714 home runs, slugged .690, and ended his career with an 1.164 OPS. On the mound, The Colossus of Clout went 94-46, with a 2.28 ERA, and threw 107 complete games.

Honorable Mention: Allen Iverson

2 – Derek Jeter

Christ, enough with the Yankees already. Jeets is an easy choice in a not extremely tough field. The recent Hall of Fame inductee wrapped up an illustrious career with a very succinct five World Series rings, Gold Gloves, and Silver Slugger Awards, as well as 14 All-Star appearances.

Honorable Mention: David Akers, Brian Leetch

1 – Ozzie Smith

Photo: MLB

The best defensive shortstop of all time, and possibly best overall defender ever. Smith won 13 Gold Gloves in 19 seasons. Along the way, he was a part of the 1982 World Series Championship Cardinal team, made 15 All-Star games, and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Honorable Mention: Warren Moon

0 – Russell Westbrook

A nice, easy choice to get us to the finish line; not a whole lot of competition at the zero spot. The 2017 MVP is a nine time All-Star, two time All-NBA First Teamer, and is essentially a walking triple double.

Honorable Mention: N/A

We made it, friends. All the way from 99 down to 0. We laughed, we cried, and made some friends along the way. This was a fun project to complete and remember some names that haven’t been brought up in a while. Hopefully this was as interesting to read as it was to write. Who knows what our next series will be…stay tuned.

Sunday State of Mind: May 10th-May 16th

Photo: IUCN

A great week of sports is coming to an end. We reminisce in this week’s SSM.

The Aaron Rodgers saga continues to drag
Waiting for someone to waive the white flag
The Packers keep adding new quarterbacks
This is one high stakes game of QB blackjack

A short unemployment for Albert Pujols
He signed with the Dodgers, shut down the trolls
Will he be a great role player the defending champs want?
A huge pool of talent, the Dodgers can flaunt

The Basketball Hall added branches to their tree
Highlighted by Kobe, Tim Duncan, and KG
The 2021 members have also been named
Another stellar group joining the Naismith Hall of Fame

An Albert Pujols Appreciation Blog

Shocking, though not terribly surprising news dropped on Thursday. The Los Angeles Angels announced that they would be releasing Albert Pujols. Pujols had been with the team since 2012, signing an at the time 10 year, $240 million mega deal.

Pujols, a missed nomination for the funniest names in sports, continued a completely understandable late career downtrend this season. Through 24 games in 2021, he is hitting .198 with a .622 OPS. For reference, his first year in LA he hit .285 and .859, respectively.

However, we are not here to kick Pujols while he’s down. Father Time is undefeated (unless you’re Tom Brady), so the declining numbers we’ve seen from Pujols is nothing short of expected.

We’re here to celebrate what may be the end of one of the most spectacular baseball players in the modern era. Hand up; I’m a Cubs fan. I think enough time has passed that myself and fellow North Siders can appreciate Pujols for what he was, an absolute tank who refused to not rip your heart out at any given moment.

Let’s just break this down. In his 11 years in St. Louis, Pujols hit 445 home runs, knocked in 1,329 RBI, maintained an 1.037 OPS, and was an unearthly 86.6 WAR. I’m not a math guy, but we’re looking at averages of about 40 HRs, 121 RBI, and 7.9 WAR. That’s an average year. Just bananas numbers.

Now, the numbers did dip once he left The Cardinals for the West Coast. Even so, the numbers are still pretty impressive for a guy entering the back half of his career. During his 10 seasons with The Halos, Pujols racked up 222 HRs, 783 RBI, a .758 OPS, and a 12.8 WAR. I won’t bore you with averages here, but you can see the production was still there.

A sure fire Hall of Famer, and seemingly a pretty good guy off the field. Albert Pujols deserves the appreciation from any baseball fan lucky enough to watch him in the past 21 years. If this is it, here’s to an incredible career.