The other day I was listening to the radio and heard the sports guys talking about Kobe Bryant surpassing Magic Johnson as the greatest Laker of all time. This got me to thinking about who the greatest players are from each team. Then it got me thinking about something else. When you think of a sports team, what is the first thing that pops into your head?
That is what this list is, so please do not comment that Player X is the greatest for that team or that I am forgetting some other moment, blah blah blah. If you want to list your own, do so in the comments.
Today, we shall do the National League of baseball…
This is my favorite team. So obviously plenty of things stick out for me. When I think about the Pirates though, there is one player that will always stand out: Andy Van Slyke. He was my favorite player as a kid. I had all of his cards, I even had every magazine I could find with interviews with him.
Pure hatred. When I think of them, I see Sid Bream sliding home. I remember being upset about the Pirates losing and my dad telling me not to worry that we would get ’em next year. Ugh. How wrong those words were…
Mike Schmidt. That dude had a great mustache. A close second for me is Lenny Dykstra. My cousin always argued that he was better than Van Slyke.
New York Mets
My friend James. I never know what is worse, the Pirates ridiculous long losing streak or being a fan of a team that comes close, but never actually wins. I will always associate the Mets with watching Carlos Beltran strike out against the Cardinals and also seeing James’ face as it happened. Dude was heartbroken.
Ryne Sandberg. Not only was he a great second baseman, but his son had probably one of the funniest interviews during an All Star game. The kid is there to watch his dad and they ask him the usual questions, then the interviewer notices the kid has a gold necklace with a number 23 on it. He asks “oh, do you wear that for your dad?” The kid responds “no, my favorite player is Michael Jordan.”
St. Louis Cardinals
Bob Gibson. One of the most dominant and downright nasty pitchers of all time. Hell, MLB had to change the rules after his 1968 season. Actually, that always reminds me of how MLB will fiddle with rules in order to help attendance. They raised the mound in the early 1960s which led to pitcher dominance, then had to shrink the strike zone to help hitters out. Read about the rule changes sometime, it is quite funny.
The look on Brad Lidge’s face when Albert Pujols decided to hit a ball that is somewhere in space right now.
The 1990 World Series when the mighty Oakland A’s got swept by the Reds. I remember this series because I thought the A’s would easily win it. This taught me a valuable lesson: anything can happen in baseball.
San Francisco Giants
Speaking of World Series’…I will always remember what I told my dad when he asked me who I thought would win game three. I said something like “no one, the game is going to be cancelled due to an earthquake.” Yep, I predicted that one…and no that does not make me at all special.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Jackie Robinson. I do not think I need to really explain this one.
San Diego Padres
The first game I ever went to was at Three Rivers Stadium against the Padres. I was five years old. My entire family went as a large group and if I remember correctly, we were there for the entire series. We used to do that a few different times during my youth. Anyways, my mom and aunts went to the Padres dugout and bugged the players until they tossed them some balls (haha that is funny sounding). I had a ball from the Padres, which I lost a few years later because I was an idiot and used it during a pickup game of baseball. Exactly like The Sandlot!
Dante Bichette. Mainly because of that awesome name, but also because he is embodiment of someone who benefited from playing in Denver.
Winning the 1997 World Series was pretty impressive, but winning a second one in 2003 was craziness. Especially since they did it against the mighty Yankees and their endless payroll. Also, the first time they did it by building a team with cash, this time they did it with their young players acquired during the previous firesale.
Luis Gonzalez single during game seven of the 2001 World Series. As I have stated many times before, I stopped watching baseball in 1994 because of the strike. The McGwire/Sosa home run chase brought me back a little bit, then the Subway Series brought me mostly back. ’01 was pretty much the first year that I really got back into baseball. This was a fantastic series to watch.
Adam Dunn crushing a ball against the Pirates. Yep, I went to see the Pirates/Nationals the night after Stephen Strasburg made his debut. Whatever, I saw his debut in Altoona.
Screw them. I try to block them out.
Stay tuned for the American League.