Paper 'n Ink -- Mt. Rushmore Baseball
Monday, March 31, 2014 8:12 AM
The world returns to some normalcy this coming week. In fact, Sunday, March 30 is the first day of the 2014 Baseball Season. The first game will pit the Los Angeles Dodgers versus the San Diego Padres. Closer to home and heart, the Texas Rangers will begin their season Monday when they play host to Philadelphia to play an opening series against the Phillies.
News coming out of spring training hasn't been good for a Rangers fan. It seems that many "starters" have been sidelined due to injury. A torn muscle will sideline starting second baseman Jurickson Profar. He is anticipated to miss the first 12 weeks of the season. Another blow to a team being rebuilt was the news that starting catcher Geovany Soto suffers from an injured knee and after surgery is also expected to be out for at least 12 weeks.
These starters now on the disabled list join other Rangers who have suffered injury. Derek Holland, the left handed starting pitcher, fell over his dog in January and hurt his knee. He is currently on the 60 day DL with his return being many weeks away.
Injury is part of the game and the Rangers have players ready to step in and play hard. The pros are also always ready to trade around and try to bolster their lineups the best way possible.
At any rate, I am ready to enjoy the Rangers play this season. After a long and rough winter, the sound of the ball striking a bat means Spring has really sprung, at least for me.
Looking forward to a new season finds me reading many baseball articles. And as with any other sport we fans find attractive, some speculation is always of interest.
This past week I read a baseball writer's musings about who this sports fans would place on a Mount Rushmore of Baseball Greats. Of course the reference is to the famous series of past United States Presidents immortalized on the side of a massive cliff face in South Dakota. The huge busts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt famously dominate Mount Rushmore.
So, who would baseball fans see placed on such a site of past or even current players? Most all baseball lists begin with Babe Ruth. He continues to be the dominate historic figure in the sport. Others to be included are numerous, as many great players have come, and gone, or are now plying their abilities toward making baseball a great game.
Lou Gehrig, another famous New York Yankee, comes easily to mind for people with even a small understanding of the history of the game. Another easily recalled old timer with the credentials would be Ty Cobb, he played for the Detroit Tigers and was considered the game's most intense competitor. Cobb also was not a nice man and many would disqualify him for his personal proclivities.
So, if these three are "set in stone" then who would be the fourth? There are so many names of men who excelled at so many levels in the game. Joe Dimagio, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Fred Lynn, all position players who could also hit for power and average. Then comes the great pitchers who include names like Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Dizzy Dean, Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, Nolan Ryan... and the list could go on as fans have long had their favorites.
Another name which draws a lot of comment is the former Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson. His nomination could be made for a couple of good reasons. First, he was a great ball player. Second, Robinson broke the color barrier in the game, becoming the first black payer to make it to the bigs.
Other names I did not include in the above nominees are Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriquez and a lot of others who have been implicated in activities which hurt the game as much as they have added to it.
Of course several hundred players are active and many of them are either worthy of consideration, or one day in the future will be, among the greats of the game.
Lots of names jump to mind. I am sure of only one thing in this speculation and that would be that I have omitted someone's absolute favorite. Thousands have crossed the foul lines and taken their positions now for well over a century. Many of their names and deeds are lost in the dust and haze of long past decades.
Still, the exercise of simply trying to populate the make-believe space on the side of a mountain is a lot of fun.