Well, here it is. One day until the end of the world, according to the Mayans. Never mind that the Mayans actually didn’t predict that 12-21-2012 was the end of the world, or that the Mayan culture didn’t see history as a straight line but rather as a series of cycles, or that they found another Mayan calendar that extends past 2012, or that the Mayans didn’t see the collapse of their own empire coming… a bunch of crazies on the internet say the world ends tomorrow, so who am I to argue?
Humanity had a good run. We mastered fire, created the wheel, spoken and written language, and invented pre-sliced bread. And remember that time we landed a man on the moon? Or when we drove smallpox into functional extinction? And we created the Internet, allowing us to watch video of a Corgi getting cleaned using a vacuum cleaner! Good times. Good times. Heck, it’s a shame that those stupid Mayans didn’t give us time to fix that whole Global Warming thing sometime before it turned us into a wetter version of Tatooine, because that probably would have ended up there on the list of accomplishments.
But, hey, the end of the world gives me the perfect excuse to finally say who I think are the greatest ballplayers of all time. After all, if history ends tomorrow, I can say with certainty that this list will never have to change again!
So here we go (after the jump- because the Mayans would have wanted it that way):
The Five Best Position Players of All Time:
5. Barry Bonds (Statistically and talent-wise probably in the top three, but given his alleged aid from the miracles of modern pharmaceuticals, he’s number five.)
4. Ted Williams (Had it not been for WWII and the Korean War, he may well have been higher on this list.)
3. Willie Mays (The 5-tool player by which all other 5-tool players are judged.)
2. Josh Gibson (How many HRs did he hit? How many of those came against elite competition? We will never know, and that may be an even bigger tragedy than even the Mayans could have predicted.)
1. Babe Ruth (The greatest hitter of all time, a guy who was actually pretty fast for a big guy, and, oh yeah, also one of the greatest pitchers of his time, who likely would have ended up a HoFer even had he just stuck to pitching.)
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Ty Cobb, Frank Robinson, Honus Wagner, Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr., Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Tris Speaker, Sadaharu Oh, Martin Dihigo, Mike Trout (heh)
The Five Best Pitchers of All Time:
5. Lefty Grove (Fittingly the lone lefty in this group. Had he started his MLB career at an earlier age, he would have been higher.)
4. Greg Maddux (A control pitcher who was consistently splendid during an age where hitting ruled over all and most of the attention was given to power pitchers, Maddux is, somehow, perhaps the most underrated pitcher of my lifetime.)
3. Satchel Paige (Like Gibson, a man who’s true records and talents may never be fully known, and who may well deserve to be in a better spot on this list.)
2. Cy Young (An invincible arm and the owner of a record that will never be broken.)
1. Walter Johnson (Only the fact that Johnson spent his entire career in one league and on one [usually very bad] team kept the Cy Young Award from being named after him.)
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Bob Feller, Roger Clemens, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Old Hoss Radbourn, Bob Gibson, Mordecai Brown, Mariano Rivera, Justin Verlander (heh)
Five Best Managers of All Time:
5. Earl Weaver (One of the first managers to use statistics, making him a forerunner to many of today’s managers.)
4. Tony LaRussa (Three World Series titles, six pennants and an infinite amount of pitching changes.)
3. Connie Mack (While more of a case of quantity over quality, you don’t manage for 50+ years without doing plenty of stuff right- even if you do own the team by the end.)
2. Joe McCarthy (In portions of 24 seasons with the Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox, he never had a losing season. Ever.)
1. John McGraw (“There has been only one manager–and his name is McGraw.” – Connie Mack)
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Casey Stengel (his less-than stellar performance when not managing the Yankees just kicks him out of the top five), Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Sparky Anderson, Leo Durocher, Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda, Miller Huggins, Gene Mauch, Davey Johnson, Buck Showalter (heh)
So there you go.