Hope springs eternal. It’s finally here, folks; it’s baseball season. Summer is around the corner, and we’ll all soon be sitting in the sun at our favorite ballparks inhaling hot dogs and ice cold beer.
Everyone is doing prediction content, we know that. But our official 2022 prognostications will be coming via the reminiscing route.
Who doesn’t love a good baseball name from from the 90’s or early aughts? So that’s how we’re giving our picks, via our favorite throwback name from each team.
Toronto Blue Jays – Gregg Zaun, C
Boston Red Sox – Trot Nixon, RF
Tampa Bay Rays – Miguel Cairo, 2B
New York Yankees – Scott Brosius, 3B
Baltimore Orioles – Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B
Chicago White Sox – José Valentín, 3B
Minnesota Twins – Matt Lawton, CF
Cleveland Guardians – Carlos Baerga, 2B
Detroit Tigers – José Macías, 3B
Kansas City Royals – Mark Grudzielanek, 2B
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Scott Spiezio, 1B
Houston Astros – Julio Lugo, SS
Seattle Mariners – Mike Cameron, CF
Texas Rangers – Royce Clayton, SS
Oakland A’s – Matt Stairs, DH
Philadelphia Phillies – Mickey Morandini, 2B
Atlanta Braves – Ryan Klesko, RF
New York Mets – Benny Agbayani, LF
Miami Marlins – Hee-Seop Choi, 1B
Washington Nationals – José Vidro, 2B
St. Louis Cardinals – Fernando Vina, 2B
Milwaukee Brewers – Jeromy Burnitz, RF
Chicago Cubs – Ron Coomer, 3B
Cincinnati Reds – Pokey Reese, 2B
Pittsburgh Pirates – Tony Womack, SS
Colorado Rockies – Dante Bichette, RF
San Francisco Giants – Benito Santiago, C
Los Angeles Dodgers – César Izturis, SS
San Diego Padres – Mark Kotsay, CF
Arizona Diamondbacks – Lyle Overbay, 1B
God, that was amazing…I think I need a cigarette. So many great names, so much boring baseball to have on in the background until October. Let’s go.
The finish line is in sight on our recurring series “Who Wore It Best.” In our penultimate edition, we’re getting into the teens.
19 – Johnny Unitas
Starting off young, fresh, and hip. While 19 turns out to be an incredibly strongly represented number, Unitas is widely known as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. Four championships, three MVPs, and a member of all three of the 50th, 75th and 100th NFL Anniversary Teams gives Johnny U the nod.
Honorable Mentions: Tony Gwynn, Willis Reed, Steve Yzerman, Jonathan Toews
18 – Peyton Manning
Back to back Colts quarterbacks to get us started here. A member of the most recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee class, Manning put up some unreal numbers en route to two Super Bowl wins. Manning’s trophy case is busting at the seams with five MVPs, the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award, and number retirement plaques for his number 18 in both Indianapolis and Denver.
Honorable Mention: Denis Savard
17 – Todd Helton
Todd Helton played baseball and football at University of Tennessee, and was a teammate of Peyton Manning’s. However, Helton makes our list for his accomplishments on the diamond. Helton retired in 2013 with a career average of .316, 369 home runs, and 2,519 hits. Along the way, he won three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and a batting title in 2000.
Honorable Mention: Philip Rivers
16 – Joe Montana
Much like Unitas, Montana is a firm part of the “best quarterback of all-time” conversation. Montana lead the 49ers to four Super Bowl rings, while being the MVP in three of those four wins. One of the more accurate quarterbacks of his time, he lead the NFL in completion percentage five separate seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Whitey Ford, Brett Hull
15 – Bart Starr
If we’re including Johnny Unitas, it’s only fair to involve Bart Starr. The quarterback who lead the Packers to victories in Super Bowls I and II, while winning MVP in both games, finished his career with five championships, a regular season MVP award, and four Pro Bowls.
Honorable Mentions: Carlos Beltran, Jim Edmonds
14 – Pete Rose
Taking a bit of gamble including Rose on our list, but here we are. The all-time hit king (4,256) does have a stellar on-field resumé. Seventeen All-Star games, three World Series rings, the 1973 NL MVP, and two Gold Gloves.
Honorable Mentions: Ernie Banks, Oscar Robertson, Dan Fouts
13 – Wilt Chamberlain
Of course the only man to score 100 points in an NBA game is making our list. Wilt the Stilt averaged a silly 30.9 points per game and 22.9 rebounds per game over his 15 year career. He also won two rings, four MVPs, was a seven time scoring champion, as well as an 11 time rebound champion.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Rodriguez, Dan Marino
12 – Tom Brady
The greatest quarterback of all time at the most important position in sports. TB12’s resumé is too long to outline here; but it’s headlined by his seven Super Bowl rings. On top of that, Brady has lead the league at one point in his career in passing touchdowns, yards, and rating.
Honorable Mentions: John Stockton, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Jim Kelly, Joe Namath, Bob Griese, Aaron Rodgers, Jarome Iginla
11 – Mark Messier
Being the center piece of a dynasty goes a long way in lists like these. Messier was the unquestioned leader & captain in Edmonton, where he lead the Oilers to five Stanley Cups. He also became the only player to captain two separate teams to Stanley Cup victories when he lead the Rangers to the cup in 1994.
Honorable Mentions: Barry Larkin, Larry Fitzgerald
10 – Fran Tarkenton
Fran Tarkenton walked to Steve Young, Michael Vick, and the like could run. Not only did Tarkenton sling it for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns, he also ran for 3,674 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career. Another fun fact: his only MVP season came in 1975, his 15th year in the NFL.
Honorable Mentions: Walt Frazier, Guy Lafleur
Heavy quarterback representation here. Any other noise was a faint whisper from baseball. Abysmal showing by hockey and basketball. We’ll bid farewell to our ongoing series in the next edition of “Who Wore It Best.”
We’ve arrived at an incredibly important edition of “Who Wore It Best.” In our latest, we’re digging into the roaring 20’s. Let’s find out together who made the cut in this extremely paramount, career-defining list.
29 – Eric Dickerson
His athletic excellence barely surpassed that of the rec specs. Dickerson put together the greatest single season rushing the football in 1984, going for an NFL record 2,105 yards. He wasn’t just a one season wonder, however. Before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, Dickerson was a five time first team All-Pro, four time rushing leader, has his number 29 retired by the LA Rams, and is in the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor.
Honorable Mentions: Adrian Beltre, Ken Dryden, Marc-André Fleury
28 – Marshall Faulk
Back to back running backs who played for the Rams and Colts. Much like Dickerson, Faulk both has his number retired by the Rams as well as being a member of the Colts Ring of Honor. Unlike Dickerson, Faulk has a Super Bowl ring. He also tacked on a MVP, three offensive player of the year awards, as well as three first team All-Pro selections.
Honorable Mentions: Bert Blyleven, Curtis Martin, Darrell Green
27 – Vladimir Guerrero Sr.
Vlad the Impaler was a 2018 Hall of Fame inductee. He earned his spot in Cooperstown after winning the 2004 MVP, hitting 449 career home runs while maintaining a .318 career batting average, and winning an incredible eight Silver Slugger awards.
Honorable Mentions: Eddie George, Scott Rolen
26 – Rod Woodson
Rod Woodson was one of the best ball hawks to ever do it; picking off 71 balls in his 17 NFL seasons. He was also a vital member of one of the greatest defenses of all time, the Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens. All of this (and more) cumulated in an induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Honorable Mention: Wade Boggs
25 – Barry Bonds
Even before he went to the Giants and things…changed; Barry Bonds was one of the greatest players in baseball. In his seven seasons in Pittsburgh before moving to San Francisco, Bonds was a three time NL MVP, won five Gold Gloves, and five Silver Slugger awards.
Honorable Mention: Fred Biletnikoff
24 – Willie Mays
Absolute stacked number here, but Mays takes the cake. The stats are gawdy; 660 home runs, 1,903 RBI, and 338 stolen bases. Along the way Mays made 24 All-Star games, won twelve Gold Gloves, two NL MVPs, and a World Series in 1954.
Honorable Mentions: Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Ramirez, Rick Barry, Champ Bailey, Chris Chelios
Emmitt Smith did it all in his 15 NFL seasons. The league’s all time leading rusher (18,355 yards) won three Super Bowls, the 1993 NFL MVP, was a four time first team All-Pro, and lead the NFL in touchdowns three separate seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Clayton Kershaw, Elgin Baylor, Roger Clemens
21 – Deion Sanders
The swagiest swag that ever swagged. Deion was, and still is, one of the most raw athletes we’ve ever seen. He wasn’t too bad on the field either. Prime’s got two Super Bowl rings, six first team All-Pro selections, and is a member of both the 90’s All-Decade and NFL 100th Anniversary Teams. Oh, and he also played in the MLB for nine seasons. He was a .263 career hitter, with 39 home runs, 168 RBI, and 186 stolen bases. Absolute baller.
Honorable Mentions: Roberto Clemente, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, LaDainian Tomlinson, Stan Mikita, Peter Forsberg
20 – Barry Sanders
The twitchiest running back we’ve ever seen, just absolutely stupid stuff. A combo Heisman winner and NFL MVP, the four time first team All-Pro ran for over 15,000 yards and almost 100 touchdowns. Pretty good for a guy who retired early.
Honorable Mentions: Frank Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Gary Payton, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins
The numbers get lower, and the lists get better. How about 24 and 21 just absolutely cleaning house? All four major sports represented on each. This was a great edition of “Who Wore It Best,” and we can only assume the names will get hotter the next time around.
We’re sadly on the downhill turn of “Who Wore It Best.” In this edition, we get into the 30’s.
39 – Dominik Hašek
Hot start for hockey! Hašek was one of the greatest goaltenders to ever do it. His career spanned four decades (1980-2011), and included two Stanley Cups, two Hart Memorial trophies, and six Vezina trophies.
Honorable Mention: Larry Csonka
38 – Pavol Demitra
Demitra seemed to be on track to becoming one of the best Czech players in the game. He recorded 768 points in 847 games before sadly passing in a plane accident in 2011.
Honorable Mention: N/A
37 – Patrice Bergeron
Bergeron has been a steady force for the Bruins since 2003. A part of the 2011 Stanley Cup winning team, Bergeron also made All-Star games in 2015 and 2016.
Honorable Mention: N/A
36 – Jerome Bettis
“The Bus” comes rumblin’, stumblin’, bumblin’ onto our list at 36. Bettis won a Super Bowl (in his home town of Detroit), was a two time first team All-Pro, and made six Pro Bowls.
Honorable Mention: Gaylord Perry
35 – Kevin Durant
An easy choice for what ended up being a stacked slot. Durant is potentially (based on how much you love/hate Lebron) currently the best basketball player on the planet. In a career with plenty of years left, Durant has already put together an incredible resume. The Slim Reaper has two NBA titles (Finals MVP in both), a regular season MVP, six first team All-NBA selections, and 11 All-Star appearances.
Honorable Mentions: Phil Niekro, Frank Thomas, Aeneas Williams, Tony Esposito
34 – Shaquille O’Neal
Another loaded number of selections here, but the most dominant big man of all time takes the cake. The Big Diesel’s career accolades are almost too much to list: four NBA championships, three NBA Finals MVPs, fifteen All-Star games, and eight first team All-NBA selections.
For as much good as Kareem has done off the court, he was as great on it. Six rings, a matching number of MVPs, 10 first team All-NBA selections, five first team All-Defensive teams, and lead the NBA in blocks in four separate seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Eddie Murray, Scottie Pippen, Zdeno Chára, Henrik Sedin, Dustin Byfuglien
32 – Magic Johnson
We all know how good Magic was as a player. For as good as he was on the court, he may have found his true life’s calling as a hottakeartist.
Honorable Mentions: Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Marcus Allen, Jim Brown
31 – Greg Maddux
Maddux is the second of the 90’s Braves big three to make the list, with Tom Glavine making the cut at 47. Mad Dog ended his 22 year career with 355 wins, 18 Gold Gloves, and four Cy Youngs.
Honorable Mention: Reggie Miller
30 – Terrell Davis
Probably going to be our shortest career to make the list. Davis only played in the NFL from 1995-2001, but was good enough to make the Hall of Fame in 2017. In seven seasons, he racked up two Super Bowls, an MVP, and three first team All-Pro selections.
Honorable Mentions: Tim Raines, Martin Brodeur
The 30’s were by far our most expansive edition yet. Huge names and the honorable mention lists were incredible, specifically 32-35. One can only assume the list is going to keep improving into the 20’s.
Here we are again, friends. We have reached the end of another week, and we’re here to review in the latest Sunday State of Mind.
Of all the good stories this year, and there are aplenty My favorite of them all may be Trey Mancini Fought and beat cancer last year, but missed the entire season I’ll be watching the Derby this year, and he’s the only reason
Even more destroying of baseballs, the big guy Kyle Schwarber When he steps into the box, pitcher’s crouch in horror Thirteen home runs in fifteen games, guy is on a tear When he’s in the zone like this, it’s almost just unfair
Another no hitter was thrown this week, Dodgers looking like scrubs After starting Zach Davies and throwing three relievers, got no hit by the Cubs It’s the seventh no-no in 2021, tying a major league mark You never know what you’ll see day to day, at the old ballpark
Can’t forget the NBA, Conference Finals in full swing Bucks and Hawks are tied 1-1, Suns are doing their thing The Clippers are missing their guy Kawhi, sidelined by a knee If he doesn’t get back soon, eliminated they will be
We do have one Finals match set, in the NHL Montreal and Tampa Bay, let the excitement swell Will Lord Stanley reside up north? Will Tampa Bay repeat? Looking forward either way for how the season will complete
The dog days are over, the dog days are done, and “Who Wore it Best” has returned. In this edition, we’re checking out the GOATs of the 50’s.
59 – London Fletcher
One of the most underrated players in NFL history. Fletcher racked up 2,031 tackles, four Pro Bowls, and a Super Bowl ring in 16 seasons. He also never missed a game, which is incredible considering the beating an NFL linebacker takes season in and season out.
Honorable Mentions: Luke Kuechly, Carlos Carrasco, Jack Ham
58 – Jack Lambert
This man was MEAN. One of the stalwarts in the Steel Curtain Defense of the 70’s, Lambert racked up pretty much any award that was available. Six time first team All-Pro, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Papelbon
57 – Johan Santana
Johan Santana had some nasty stuff. Over his 12 year career, he won 139 games while maintaining a career 3.20 ERA, was a two-time Cy Young winner, and tacked on a Gold Glove in 2007. “No-han” threw an unbelievable 134-pitch no hitter in 2012.
Honorable Mention: Rickey Jackson
56 – Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor was an absolute DAWG. We’ve gushed over LT in previous blogs, but he’s that good that we’re going to do it again. Two Super Bowls, an MVP, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and eight first team All-Pros are just a fraction of what Taylor accomplished over his incredible career.
Honorable Mention: Mark Buehrle
55 – Dikembe Mutombo
Dikembe Mutombo was way more than his infamous finger wag; he was a defensive stud. Mutombo lead the NBA in blocks three times and rebounds twice. He made eight All-Star games, won Defensive Player of the Year four times, and has his number retired by two different franchises in the Nuggets and Hawks.
Honorable Mentions: Junior Seau, Orel Hershiser
54 – Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher was the epitome of a Chicago Bears middle linebacker. He played his entire 13-year career in Chicago; tallying 1,361 tackles, two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, and four first team All-Pros. The eight time Pro Bowler was also named to the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team. Honorable Mentions: Goose Gossage, Horace Grant, Randy White, Zach Thomas
53 – Artis Gilmore
Artis Gilmore was a stud in both the ABA and NBA. If you combine his career between both leagues, he was the Rookie of the Year, an MVP, made 11 All-Star games, and scored a shade under 25,000 points.
Honorable Mentions: Bobby Abreu, Mick Tingelhoff
52 – Ray Lewis
Say what you will about the overzealous speeches, or don’t say anything about the off field issues, but Ray Lewis could flat out ball. Two Super Bowls (including MVP in one), two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, and a seven time first team All-Pro.
Honorable Mentions: CC Sabathia, Patrick Willis, Clay Matthews
51 – Randy Johnson
The Big Unit! Easily one of the most dominant pitchers we’ve seen. Johnson ended his 22-year career with a 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 303 wins, a perfect game, one no hitter, five Cy Young trophies, and was the MVP of one of the biggest World Series upsets when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in 2001.
Honorable Mention: Dick Butkus
50 – David Robinson
The very rare story of a service academy athlete becoming one of the best to do it in professional sports. Robinson reached the rank of lieutenant during his three years of service in the Navy, a great achievement. He wasn’t a bad basketball player either; in three separate seasons he lead the NBA in points, rebounds, and blocks. The Admiral also won Rookie of the Year, MVP, and two championships.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Singletary, Corey Crawford
A lot of solid athletes in the 50’s; strong showing by football and baseball. A severe lack of hockey here; will they recover in the 40’s? We’ll have to wait and see…
Guess who’s back? Our “Who Wore It Best” series, that’s who. We last checked in on who wore numbers 79-70 best, now we dive into the 60’s.
69 – Jared Allen
Not a huge field of choices here, but a nice selection. Jared Allen played for the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears, and Panthers during an above-average 11 year NFL career. He made First Team All-Pro four times, lead the NFL twice in sacks, and made five Pro Bowls.
Honorable Mention: N/A
68 – Jaromir Jagr
The flow is enough to be included on our list. That head lettuce is a thing of beauty. Jagr wasn’t half bad in his 24 seasons in professional hockey either: most career game winning goals (135), five Art Ross trophies, and two Stanley Cups.
Honorable Mention: Will Shields
67 – Francisco Córdova
Remember this guy? Cordova gets the nod for pitching nine innings in a what ended up being a 10 inning no hitter for the Pirates against the Astros on June 12, 1997.
Honorable Mention: N/A
66 – Mario Lemieux
Surprisingly strong category here at 66. Lemieux takes it home as one of the best hockey players to ever do it. In fact, Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky are the only two players who occupy the list of top ten seasons for points and assists in a season. Pretty impressive company to keep.
Honorable Mentions: Ray Nitschke, Yasiel Puig
65 – James Paxton
Paxton may very well end up being the youngest athlete to make our list. However, “Big Maple” has earned his spot at 65 for recording a no-hitter for the Mariners in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Erik Karlsson
64 – Randall McDaniel
McDaniel was a stalwart offensive guard for 13 seasons, mostly with the Vikings. McDaniel started 220 of his career 222 games, made 12 Pro Bowls, and is a member of NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Honorable Mention: N/A
63 – Gene Upshaw
Another hard nosed, badass, old school NFL lineman. Upshaw played 14 years for the Raiders, scooping up three First Team All-Pro selections, five Second Team All-Pro selections, and two Super Bowl rings.
Honorable Mention: Brad Marchand
62 – Jim Langer
Jim Langer was the center for the only undefeated team in NFL history, the 1972 Dolphins. Langer won two Super Bowls and was a three time First Team All-Pro.
Honorable Mention: N/A
61 – Liván Hernández
Who else loved this absolute unit growing up? His career numbers aren’t stellar, but anyone who can hang around the majors for 17 seasons is impressive. Hernandez is a two time All-Star who won a ring as well as World Series MVP honors with the Marlins in 1997.
Honorable Mention: Rick Nash
60 – Dallas Keuchel
Not a lot of meat on the 60 bone, but a fine choice here. Keuchel has established himself as one of the steadiest pitchers in baseball since entering the bigs with the Astros in 2012. He has won four Gold Gloves, the 2015 Cy Young, and a World Series ring in 2017.
Honorable Mention: N/A
Another edition of “Who Wore It Best,” done and dusted. Nice representative spread in the the 60’s for football, hockey, and baseball. Total choke job from basketball here; maybe we’ll see some stronger effort in the 50’s?
You made it. You’re back. Every year, Spring rolls around and you reappear in our lives just when we’re all at our wit’s end with Winter.
Your debut is upon us, and league-wide hope is at a premium. Spring Training has wrapped, and all thirty teams have traveled back home to start the long, arduous road to a pennant. The weather is starting to turn; summer is creeping around the corner, and with it, thoughts of cold beer and hot dogs dance in our heads.
Opening Day is a time and feeling unlike any other. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night thinking your alarm’s about to go off, to find you’ve only been asleep for an hour. It’s like taking out your contacts after a long day, or hitting every green light when you’re running late. It’s hard to exactly describe it, but have you ever found a $20 bill in your pants that you forgot about? That’s what it feels like having you back.
From Wrigley to Fenway, Yankee Stadium to Petco Park, let the hum of fastballs and pop of catcher’s mitts fill the air for the next seven months. Let the home runs fly out of Coors Field, pop ups die in the acres of foul territory at RingCentral Coliseum, and Bernie Brewer take all of the home run slides his heart desires.
Who cares if the pace of play is a little slow? Who doesn’t want to to piss in a urinal trough, pay $12 for a mini helmet full of ice cream that melts in five minutes, or step in dropped neon yellow nacho cheese while awkwardly scootching past eight of your fellow attendees all while squeezing into undersized seats in 98 degree weather?
We definitely don’t get embarrassed when our favorite players get injured in hilarious ways while playing a noncontact sport. We don’t care that you make a bunch of old men squeeze into baseball uniforms, or that your Hall of Fame voting is incredibly flawed, or that your fields of play aren’t equal in size like every other legitimate professional sport. No reason to complain about the fact that the DH rule isn’t universal, unwritten rules are dumb, and that hitting at this point is either home runs or strikeouts.
Baseball, we could not be happier that you are back.