Hot Stove fatigue should be hitting you guys about now—it has certainly hit me—and instead of rehashing the latest non-news for today's notes I thought it was high time for something frivolous.
It starts like this: Everyone who has read me long enough for me to run out of material and start over from the beginning probably knows that my favorite player ever is Ray Lankford, the Cardinal of the Nineties and the focus of all of St. Louis's strikeout angst starting the moment Ron Gant was traded. I liked him because other people hated him, in spite of his numbers, and my desire to defend his value to the team led me directly to OPS and Baseball Prospectus and blogging. But even I won't try to make a Ray Lankford Hall of Fame case. He's a classic Hall of Very Good member, so prototypical that Beyond the Box Score has given him his own wing.
I love these players. Don't get me wrong, I love Hall of Famers, too, but I've always tried to appreciate the players who quietly add a lot to the team—whose value is most often realized after they've left, and a bunch of replacement-level types cycle through their position. So with that in mind I wondered: who would make the Ray Lankford team on the Cardinals?
This is a completely unscientific exercise, but it still needs some rules, and they are, listed as arbitrarily as they were constructed, as follows:
- The players can't be in the Hall of Fame. Obviously.
- There can't be a well-regarded Hall of Fame case for the player. The Ken Boyer Exception.
- No MVP Awards. Winning an MVP makes you a superstar, and being a superstar means you'll never get booed for striking out in the fourth inning of a game in the middle of May. The Keith Hernandez Exception.
In 1934 a reporter from up east was sent down to St. Louis to interview Dizzy Dean, who was fast approaching thirty victories. His train's delayed, and he doesn't get to his hotel until late at night—he misses the interview completely.So the next morning he heads down to the ballpark in the suit he came in on, looking the worse for wear, and stumbles up to Diz's locker. "Mr. Dean," he says to the man in front of it, "I wonder if I could have a few words."Ripper Collins, pulling a sandwich from a brown bag with DEAN written on it in black marker, turns around. He takes a big bite. "Look, Mac," he says, "If you'll vouch that you saw Dizzy Dean eat this sandwich you can have as many words from him as you want."
- Terry Moore, CF
- Ray Lankford, LF
- Ripper Collins, 1B
- Austin McHenry, Tragic RF
- Whitey Kurowski, Less Tragic But Still A Little Tragic 3B
- Edgar Renteria, Not at all Tragic SS
- Tim McCarver, C
- Tom Herr, 2B