An All-Time, All-Star Fantasy Baseball Team
Every year players try and build their greatest fantasy baseball teams, mixing and matching players at will. However, taking a cue from Josh Suchon at “We Are Out of Ink” what would happen if you built your favorite baseball team?
Not the all-time players or the best at every position, but your favorite players. Guys you admired, guys you got to know, guys you emulated as a kid with a Whiffle Ball bat.
Growing up as a Dodgers fan I always liked how Scioscia seemed to be the glue of the team, the guy you could count on to show up every day and play. A gamer. Covering him almost every day for four years I got to see how bright of a baseball mind he has and how respected he is throughout the game. We had a lot of great conversations breaking down the game and he helped me see the game from almost every angle — player, manager, general manager, etc.
There are only three reasons McGriff is on this list.
1) The way he ended his swing with the bat in one hand, tilted above his head.
2) His nickname: Crime Dog.
2) He was featured in the Tom Emansky instructional video ads.
When I was five years old or so my mom signed me up for the True Blue Fan Club, which was the Dodgers’ kids fan club. They sent us a packet of Dodgers junk and included in it was a faux Steve Sax signed picture. The pic, in black and white, was of Sax leading off first base, his arms dangling between his legs, ready to take off for second base.
I pinned that picture on my wall and looked at it every day and Sax soon became the Dodger I watched the most. It helped that he hit leadoff and was always in the lineup, so I got to see a lot of him. I loved watching Sax because he was the guy you’d want on your team — gritty, played the game hard, and seemed to have fun.
When I got to Pony League ball and started taking leads off first, I remember leaning forward and having my arms dangle just so, having studied that picture for years.
The greatest Gaucho of them all. Not only is Young the best player to come from my alma mater, UC Santa Barbara, but he turned himself into an All-Star, one of the Rangers’ all-time players, a Gold Glover, a Silver Slugger, and the MLB Man of the Year.
Through numerous charities and return visits to UCSB, Young is truly one of the best guys in the game, a class act and stand-up individual. A true Gaucho.
I don’t know why I like Boggs so much.
Maybe I like that his name is just a unique baseball name. Or that he could roll out of bed and hit .300. Or that he ate chicken before every game. Or that he looked kind of like my dad.
All I know is that I liked watching Boggs play, even if my lasting memories of him are when he was at his most embarrassing.
Perhaps the most-admired athlete of anyone in the 28-40 year old age demographic. He was must-see baseball before Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig. The size, power, speed, arm, athleticism … Bo could do it all. And Nike made sure you knew it.
Bo Jackson’s biography was one of the first “grown-up” books I ever read. And, one of my favorite All-Star Game memories was when Bo hit that monstrous home run to lead off the first inning in Anaheim in 1989.
One of the best guys in all of baseball. He was always in a good mood and loved life. He was the rare treat of an athlete who actually seemed to enjoy talking to the media and was one of the few who would treat reporters with respect if they deserved it.
Hunter’s first year with the Angels was my last as a beat writer, so unfortunately I didn’t get the full T-Nutts (his nickname) experience. However, we had a long sit-down over lunch in spring training and it was one of the better stories I wrote. He also helped me gain some notoriety in Boston by just being honest. Prior to a series in Boston I was talking to him about the atmosphere at Fenway Park and he talked about racial slurs he heard there.
Blowing it up further, the Boston Herald ran parts of my story with quotes from David Ortiz basically shrugging about it all and confirming the racist atmosphere. During batting practice people were hollering at Hunter and his comments and he didn’t care. He didn’t fight what he said, or say he was misquoted. If anything our relationship got better because I wrote that story.
He might have signed one of the worst contracts in Angels history and he might have been pretty surly to most because of the HGH situation.
Yet, me and Matthews connected. Maybe it was because I was in my mid-twenties when I was covering him everyday and didn’t give a shit about tip-toeing around his feelings. Or that I could chat with him and not have to be taking notes on everything he said.
All I know is that I liked talking to Matthews. It was great when he, Hunter and Shields were all together. I could fill up a notebook — or not — every day and have a ton of great information.
Matthews gave me his Batphone number when I left the beat and we’ve stayed (loosely) in touch since, which is saying something considering it’s been five years since we last saw each other in person.
During the Dodgers’ magical run in 1988 I was drawn to Hershiser. Who wasn’t? He was insane that year.
After the team won it all, I wanted to be Hershiser for Halloween. Not a baseball player. Not a Dodger. Orel Hershiser.
My mom made me a Hershiser jersey and then I wore it almost everywhere after Halloween. I wore it so much that my Little League manager special ordered me a “55″ jersey the following year. I think I was the only kid in Little League with a number higher than 15 and you’re damn right I rocked that yellow Pirates 55 jersey all summer long.
My first full-time job out of college was working at the Vallejo Times-Herald and one of Vallejo’s crown jewels was Sabathia. He was just getting a foothold into The Show and I talked my way into covering his starts when the Indians came to Oakland.
Not knowing all the rules of covering ball, I approached him before one of his starts and just said hello and we chatted for a minute or two. Normally starting pitchers give any outsider the Heisman before a game, but Sabathia was approachable and extremely cool. After getting to know him a little, that winter I had an idea for a column and visited his house and played video games against him. He played as himself and I tried to beat him.
It was one of the paper’s best stories, the managing editor told me.
Later that year I got a package at the paper and it was a signed picture of me playing CC at his house on the front page of the Sports section. It read: “Matt, come over anytime to play and get your ass kicked.”
I guess he didn’t like it that I beat him when he was pitching as himself.
No player that I covered told me more information that I couldn’t report than Shields. And this wasn’t “unnamed source” stuff. This was just pure inside info for my knowledge but he always made sure to say “Don’t write this.”
While it sucked in the sense that I always knew more than I could report (a reporter’s nightmare) it showed that Shields inherently trusted me, which is a reporter’s dream.
For whatever reason I seemed to run into Shields a lot outside the ballpark. We shared a few beers over the years, I hung out with his friends and he almost seemed to vouch for me inside the clubhouse. I missed shooting the breeze with Shields on a daily basis. Rarely was it about baseball, too, which made it all the better.
So, that’s my team. What’s yours?