So I’ve been working on this thing for a good while. I’ve been gathering your opinions through various polls, reading a bunch of different things, working any number of spreadsheets and questioning my friends. And finally, it’s ready.
Really dramatic music.
No, more dramatic than that.
The 100 Greatest Baseball Players Who Ever Lived.
(Echo. Echo. Echo.)
Yeah, just what we needed — another one of THESE stupid lists. Well, I never said I was adding anything useful here. I’ve read that every Bible analyst at some point wants to take a shot at figuring out The Book of Job, and every movie critic must at some point write their analysis of Citizen Kane, and every comedy writer has to break down the Woody Allen books. Well, at some point, every baseball writer should put together a Top 100.
There were three basic rules I went by.
1. Every player is eligible. So, pre-1900 players, Negro Leagues players, legendary talents who never made it to the Majors, Japanese players, everybody is eligible.
2. I rank the players entirely on their play on the field (and whatever other subtle and helpful baseball qualities I could glean out of their careers). We can argue about the various ways players have cheated through the years, and I’m not condoning that cheating. While I tend to be quite a bit less bothered than many by steroid use before testing began, I”m probably more troubled than many by Shoeless Joe Jackson’s role in the throwing of the 1919 World Series. In both cases, I try to keep all of that out of the rankings.
3. I rank the players using my own judgments — it wouldn’t be fun any other way. So, I judge for myself how much Ted Williams and Bob Feller and others lost because of World War II. I judge for myself how the short brilliance of Sandy Koufax’s career compares with the long and steady excellence of Warren Spahn or the mysteries of Satchel Paige’s often hidden brilliance might compare with Randy Johnson who was on display every time out. It’s fun. It’s guaranteed that you will not agree all the time or most of the time or perhaps even some of the time.
One other cool thing about the Top 100 — there are numerous players on this year’s Hall of Fame Ballot on the list. So in many ways, this was a good exercise leading into the Hall of Fame voting.
Well, as Marty DeBergi says, enough of my yapping. The 100 greatest baseball players ever coming at you all month long. Let’s start the arguments with No. 100.