Ernie banks… aka Mr. Cub… recently passed away and the crew give their thought on his place in baseball history as well as other baseball topics…
1) The Miami Marlins have signed Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year deal that’s worth about $2 million. He’s approaching the magic number of 3,000 hits for his MLB career, presently at 2,844.
Obviously, with the Marlins outfield, as presently constituted, Ichiro is a 4th wheel, and, in all likelihood will not play in nearly enough games to have a realistic chance to reach the coveted 3,000 hits mark in 2015. Realistically, he will need at least 2 seasons to reach the mark… In your opinion, can Ichiro play long enough to reach 3000 hits, and, if, he does, will it be diminished any by the fact he had to play a backup role to just make the mark?
Ichiro has currently 14 seasons of MLB time. The years spent in Japan were basically a waste for him. I do think, that given the opportunity to get ABs, that he can still reach the 3K mark. I also feel that IF he does it is not diminished in anyway. IN FACT, if anything, I think it only goes to glorify his stats even more given the fact he never got to MLB until he was 27 years old.
Earl: I’d love to see Ichiro make it to 3,000 hits. Would be great to see him reach that milestone but two more seasons? I don’t know. He’s only 156 hits shy but he’s probably nothing more than a glorified pinch hitter with this team.
I want Ichiro to get to 3,000 but it’s just so unlikely and that’s sad.
Joe: Assume he gets to 3000 hits in the next 2 years, he will still have done it in fewer years than other member of the 3000 hit club.
For someone who has had many seasons with 200 plus hits, and making his National League debut, I will predict that he will accomplish the feat, and, I would not be surprised if he does it next season. I don’t think it diminishes it at all. If anything, it adds to the difficulty of reaching the mark as he may not even be an everyday player.
2) “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks, a member of the Hall of Fame, two-time MVP, and the Cubs’ first black player, died last Friday (1/23)… some of the MLBRT crew remember him, and may have even seen him, as an active player, and, some of the crew know him from what they have read or seen on film…
Be that as it may… How do you see Bank’s career in relationship to the history of the game… what is his legacy as a baseball player, and, as a person?
Archie: We all know and recognize Jackie Robinson and his ground breaking steps taken to break the color barrier that led and made room for others to follow. But, in 1953, when Ernie as a Black American began his professional career, things were still not equal with his white counterparts. There was still much hate and racism in those days and Jackie even paid Ernie a visit during his first game and passed along his philosophy of making a difference without making noise. His teammate Billy Williams once told him that only fish that open their mouth get caught on a hook. So, Ernie said, “I kept my mouth shut but tried to make a difference. My whole life, I’ve just wanted to make people better.”
To that effect I believe he did. I honestly believe that with his great play on the field and his great attitude and upbeat “Mr. Sunshine” attitude off the field that Ernie helped create the path that was forged for all players of all races for years to come. I for one credit him as one of the great pioneers of the game.
Earl: I’m probably the youngest of the crew (well it might be a battle between me and Steve) but I admittedly am a bit too young at 33 to know about Ernie Banks the player. I know who he is, and I know he’s Mr. Cub and his passing definitely got an “aw damn” reaction from me, but, I don’t know if I can really comprehend his legacy. I mean the man will go down in history as Mr. Cub and to be the face of one of the most storied franchises in sports should let you know how great he was, but, I don’t know if I personally felt a connection.
Joe: I remember Ernie Banks as one the premier, if not the, Chicago Cub of his era. Always had good HR numbers and seemed to be in the news with regularity as a good athlete and a good person. Maybe… and this is pretty amazing to me since I’m from the NY metro area… Banks… aka Mr. Cub or Mr. Sunshine… was almost as popular as Mickey and Willie when baseball players’ names came up in conversation. I don’t ever remember reading about anything negative about Banks… ever.
In addition, he was the Cubs’ first black player. Maybe the so-called color line had been already been broken by Jackie Robinson, but, he was still a pioneer in that aspect of the game. He helped to further the role of black players in the game, and, as such, his importance in proving black men belonged in MLB is right up there with Jackie’s importance.
To illustrate what he and other black players were up against in those days… I recently read about how when the Cubs team went down to play the then Houston Colt 45s, he, and other black players, were told although they had rooms in the team’s hotel where they stayed, the black players were not allowed in the lobby or dining rooms.
So, it wasn’t all hunky dory for him back in those days and I think he deserves his due not only as one of baseball’s greats, who is deservedly in the Hall, but as a pioneer who helped pave the way for black players in the game. And, he was a hell of a spokesman for the Cubs, Chicago and MLB… So, let’s play two in his memory. And, they have to be day games and back to back!
Steve: I had a chance to meet Ernie Banks a few years ago. He was nothing short of a class act all the way. Banks really set the standard of play, as he is probably the most durable baseball player with the exception of Cal Ripken Jr. When I met Ernie Banks, he never once mentioned his accomplishments, but instead, thanked us fans for all of our support. He is a very humble man, and, will be missed by all of baseball.
I just wish that he could have seen the Cubs win a World Series before he passed.
RIP Ernie Banks!
3) The present streak of 14 consecutive years without a repeat World Series champion is now tied with the 1979-92 mark for longest in Major League history. Can the San Francisco Giants put an end to that streak, or, will there be a new record set in 2015 for no repeat World Series champs?
And, there is a reason for that. When other teams decide to make major offseason moves and/or you as the Champion you lose major pieces to your roster it makes it most difficult to repeat.
And, while I am a big time Tim Hudson fan, let’s not forget; he does turn 39 this season. He along with 37 year old Ryan Vogelsong, 34 year old Jake Peavey, and, 30 year old Matt Cain makes for a very advanced age rotation. Tim Lincecum has struggled to return to the rotation and there was nothing to show at the end of last season to suggest he will return to the regular rotation this season as well.
And, it is just not their starting rotation. Last season they had the oldest roster of any team. Baseball like many professional sports favors the young in body.
Earl: The Giants won the World Series? Kidding. I’m kidding. Can they end that streak? Well they lost Sandoval, and to date they haven’t really done much to replace that absence so I’m going with no they won’t repeat.
The streak will continue.
Joe: Nothing is impossible, but, in my opinion… (1) the Giants are weaker going into 2105 then they were in 2014, and, (2) I’m not overly impressed with their pitching staff as presently comprised. I think overall there are other teams that just better than them right now… LA, St. Louis and Washington immediately jump to mind… that they would need to beat assuming they make the playoffs.
So… the streak continues and there will be a new record for no repeat World Series champion after the 2015 season is in the books.
Steve: No, I don’t even think the Giants will make the post season next year. I still think the Dodgers will be the team to beat in the NL West. And, I don’t think anyone will beat Washington next year in a 5 or 7 game series, not with that roster.
Besides that, it is an even year, and the Giants don’t win in even years.
4) The Los Angeles Dodgers won 94 games last season and then were eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs. In the offseason the team made a slew of changes, from the front office through the makeup of player personnel. Is the team now better or worse as they head into the 2015 season? And, can they make the playoffs, and, if so, get beyond the 1st round in 2015?
Archie: The Dodgers along with the Giants were getting long in the tooth. They really did not address that fact. They moved Kemp; then, turned around and hired Rollins. They let Dee Gordon get away last summer and got Darwin Barney. Hanley Ramirez was, and is, probably still one of the best hitting shortstops in the game. The Dodgers lost on the difference between Han Ram and Rollins.
The Dodgers do have a pretty good core of a starting rotation returning this season in Greinke, Kershaw and Ryu. It is not a given that newly acquired Brett Anderson will be much better than the 6.04 ERA he posted with his last stent with the Athletics. He did okay at relief with Colorado last season but the sample size there is way too small to consider him as a starter for the Dodgers; at least IMO. The same is true with Brandon McCarthy. I see him as a serviceable only type of starter with a history of limited innings throughout an entire season. So, they will need help with starting pitching before the season is over to make it back to postseason.
Earl: The Dodgers needed to change it up some but as long as Kershaw is dominant, and Greinke is a solid number two, then yeah I think the Dodgers are a playoff team. That franchise will do all it can to retool and compete. I’m not sold on Don Mattingly as a manager though, but despite my reservations, I think they get back to the postseason. Can they advance past that? Depends on the matchups but yeah why not?
Joe: I think the Dodgers lost too much, and didn’t replace enough, offense. I firmly believe pitching and defense wins more game than offense does but I am not convinced the players that the Dodgers got to replace those they lost will be enough to help them be strong enough to go to the World Series over either St. Louis or Washington.
Steve: Will they make the playoffs? Yes, they will make the playoffs, and, likely win the division. However, will they get out of the first round? Really depends on if they have to play Washington or St Louis.
The Dodgers lost some and gained some this off season, but they still have a very solid pitching staff. I think overall, they are about the same as they were last season.
5) In your opinion, how does newly elected Hall of Famer Randy Johnson rank among the all-time greatest pitchers in the history of MLB?
Archie: When we talk “All-Time” Greatest, the eras come in to play so much it is almost like comparing “apples to oranges”. That being said, his stats are comparable to some of the greatest all time and Randy did dominate.
I would have to place him somewhere between 6 and 10 of the top ten all time. I don’t think he cracks the top 5, but. I don’t think he drops out of the top ten as well.
Earl: The Big Unit! Look I’m an 80’s kid who came of age in the 90’s. I’m also a product of the video game generation, so I’m going to rank the Big Unit pretty highly. Will I put him at #1? Nah, I won’t do that but I’ll easily put him in the top 10 overall and likely put him in top five.
Overall, Johnson won 5 Cy Young Awards, including 4 in a row, while racking up 303 wins and 4,875 strikeouts, the most of anyone other than Nolan Ryan. He had a lifetime 3.29 ERA; 1.17 WHIP; .646 winning percentage; 6 300-strikeout seasons; led MLB in strikeouts 8 times; 8 times finished in the top 2 for the Cy Young; 2 no-hitters, 1 perfect game and the Pitching Triple Crown in 2002. He was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series. He also made 10 All-Star teams.
In addition to these numbers just listed… I’m not always the biggest one for a lot of the newfangled stats but just perusing his statistics on various websites (Sporting News, Baseball-Reference.com, etc…) I find that Johnson is 28th in all-time WAR, 9th among pitchers, and 7th in the modern era by Sporting News’ 10-year WAR leaderboard tracker. He led MLB pitchers in WAR for each 10-year period from 1993-2002 through 1995-2004, then again from 1998-2007 through 2000-09. His rate of 10.61 strikeouts per nine innings is the best in major league history, and, he led his league in that category nine times. JAWS has him ninth among starting pitchers. He led his league in ERA+ six times and FIP five times.
So… just by all those stats above he’s gotta be top 10 easily. Top 5 debatable. But, that’s the glory about baseball… we get to argue this stuff for all eternity. Just another part of the game.
Steve: How can you not put him in the top 5? He was by far the most dominant and the most intimidating pitcher in his era. While there were other very good pitchers during his career, I could not name one pitcher that put fear in the minds of batters that Randy Johnson did.
4 straight Cy Young awards, a no hitter, a World Series championship? He has done it all in baseball, and rightfully deserves to be where he is today… a Hall of Famer.
Tiny URL for this post: