Though I’m too lazy to check, I’m fairly certain that I am still the most junior writer here at NotGraphs. I do not need to check to know that I am taking this God-damn site by storm. My meteoric rise is certainly something of note, however it has created a certain level of pressure around me to perform in this inaugural NotGraphantasy Draft. Would I choke under the pressure or would I step up and prove to have a better understanding of the NotGraphs aesthetic than the rest of these jamokes?
That was a rhetorical question. Because I crushed it. I pushed this draft to the ground and humped it into submission. My haunches are dripping with success. Behold:
(note: I picked 6th in this snake draft of 10 teams)
1. Bo Jackson, OF
Fellow NotGraphs writer and killer of childhood dreams Mike Bates laid out his feelings on why Bo Jackson maybe wasn’t as important as we think he was. True, Jackson’s aesthetics seem to outperform his actual numbers. However, where Jackson’s rates and statistics are prime fodder for the mother site, Jackson is the quintessential NotGraphs player. He needed only a mustache to cause our readers to sully their keyboards even more than he already does. Based on cursory observations, I suspect the bulk of the NotGraphs readership falls into an age group where Bo Jackson would have been present when they were kids. And to a kid, Jackson was more than a superstar. He was a superhero. We didn’t care about his strikeouts or OBP. We saw a man that without the aid of radioactive spiders or alien parents, could do things that no man should be able to do. He was the Flash and the Incredible Hulk rolled into one. If the Internet were around in back then, Chuck Norris memes would have been about Bo Jackson. He helped — nay, made — us love baseball. And if not for men like him, we would not be here today.
I mean, holy Hell.
2. Bugs Bunny, P
How many fictional characters have a pitch named after them? That’s the old pepper, kid!
3. Yoenis Cespedes, OF
Everything that Jackson was to us then, Cespedes is to us now. Also:
4. Rube Waddell, P
Per the SABR BioProject: “He entered this world on Friday the 13th and exited on April Fools Day. In the 37 intervening years, Rube Waddell struck out more batters, frustrated more managers and attracted more fans than any pitcher of his era.” It’s almost a certainty that Waddell had some sort of personality disorder or cognitive disability, but those things were rarely diagnosed in his day. We laugh at Alex Rodriguez for those photos where he’s kissing the mirror, but Waddell played himself on stage. When a teammate got hit in the head with a pitch, Rube picked him up and carried him out of the stadium and onto a carriage to go to the hospital. But Waddell was not just a spigot for stories. The dude could shove it. He lead the league in strikeouts for six straight years, and had a career 75 ERA- and a career 72 FIP-. His perfect combo of antics and ability make him a shoe in.
5. Jose Altuve, 2B.
He’s tiny, he’s got swagger. He’s a dynamic player and an Internet darling. This guy’s got NotGraphs written all over him.
6. Mike Schmidt, 3B
Monster bat. Slick glove. A mustache that could get you pregnant.
7. Thurman Munson, C
Though our thirst for flare and the bizarre are insatiable, it is sometimes hard to ignore the grind-it-out players. The guys who look like they are actually working for a living. No position on the field exemplifies that more than the catcher. And no catcher personified grit more than Thurman Munson. We tend to joke about those who desire the scrappy players — those who “go after it.” And while it might seem silly to aggrandize a player for only this quality — and overlook his ineptitude in the field — it’s hard not to admire a player like Munson, who looked like he spent his off days smelting iron. He looked like the neighborhood butcher, but just happened to be the captain of two World Series teams. Perhaps the most beloved Yankee since Gehrig, Munson’s legacy was cemented with his untimely death. If there is a heaven, Munson is there arm wrestling Killer Kowalski. Winner gets the pile of smokes.
8. Pete Rose, 1B
I could write 3,000 words on Pete Rose, but I feel as if I don’t need to. Not to this crowd. We all love Pete Rose. Or we should.
If you care to hear more, I nominated him as the MVP of My Heart for my podcast, Stealing Home.
9. Joe Tinker, SS
Joe Tinker played for the Cubs in a time when indoor plumbing wasn’t something that everybody had. When you play baseball in an era where people still used outhouses regularly, you may not be remembered as much now-a-days. There are no GIFs or YouTube reels of Tinker. But his involvement in one of the most famous infields was chronicled in one of the few ways it could have been back then — poem.
Baseball’s Sad Lexicon
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
“Tinker and Evers and Chance.”
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
-Franklin Pearce Adams
Bonus points for making me look up “gonfalon.”
10. Oscar Gamble, OF
After all my blustering, I don’t want to say that I picked Gamble strictly for his hair. But I did. Without shame.
11. Jim Abbott
I don’t have kids, but if I did, anytime they whined about not being able to do something or wanted to give up because it was too hard, I’d remind them that Jim Abbott pitched in the bigs with one fucking hand. No-hitter aside, Abbott’s mere presence in Major League box scores is a testament to American stick-to-itveness.
12. Connie Mack, Owner
First, his full name was Cornelius McGillicuddy. I mean, come on.
Though Mack is remembered more as a manager, most likely, he was also the (at least part) owner of most of the teams he managed. He was a shrewd baseball man. He had to be, as unlike many owners, the A’s were his only source of income. He invented the buy-low, sell-high technique. He was in baseball for almost 60 years total. When he learned that MLB took his failing team away, his doctor said he almost died on the spot. Connie Mack was the original Baseball Man.
13. Earl Weaver, Manager
Earl Weaver is on this list because fuck you, that’s why. The grandfather of Sabermetrics, Weaver was that rare blend of smarts, sass, and semi-coherence that baseball nerds love. The stories are so plentiful, it’s hard to pick a favorite. So I’m just going to leave you with this (courtesy Dayn Perry):
14. The Polo Grounds, Stadium
It’s the inspiration for Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the reason we have The Catch. If the Polo Ground’s centerfield weren’t upwards of 460 feet away from the plate, Vic Wertz’s ball would have been a home run. Instead, we have possibly the most storied defensive play in baseball. Not bad for a football stadium.
If you’re still reading this, congratulations are in order. Not as big as the congratulations that I deserve for putting this amazing roster together, but still. If you feel like you should send me money based solely on how well I did, I thank you but implore you to donate that to charity or something. I’m super-rich and other people need it more than I.
In summation, nice try everyone else, but I win. I shall now proceed to drop the mic, as they say.
|14||The Polo Grounds||Ballpark|
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