Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ten Top Ten Lists by Abby and Jesse Mendelson

Who doesn't love a baseball Top Ten List? Here are a few of ours, all in alphabetical order, born of endless hours in the car, driving to every major league ballpark – twice.

Top Ten Nicknames
What would the Grand Old Game be without colorful monikers?
Dennis “Old Can” Boyd
Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean/Paul Dee "Daffy" Dean
Adam "Big Donkey" Dunn
Mark "The Bird" Fydrich
Rich “El Guapo” Garces
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson
Walter "Big Train" Johnson
Charles Edwin "Tug" McGraw
Frank "The Big Hurt" Thomas
Paul "Big Poison" Waner/Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner
Honorable Mention: Burt “Be Home By Eleven” Blyleven

Top Ten Tubs of Lard Who Should Be Embarrassed to Wear a Baseball Uniform
Seriously, these guys have the crust to call themselves professional athletes?
Big Fat Bartolo Colon (h/t Matthew Berry)
Prince Fielder
Willie Horton
John Kruk
Mickey Lolich
Dave Parker (when his weight ballooned to 260+)
Boog Powell
George Herman Ruth (in his later years)
David Wells
Hack Wilson
Honorable Mention: Philip Seymour Hoffman as the reed-thin Art Howe in Moneyball

Top Ten Players You'd Want to Take the Field in the Ninth Inning of the Seventh Game of the World Series
The ultimate winners to win the ultimate game
Johnny Bench, C
Lou Gehrig, 1B
Rogers Hornsby, 2B
Brooks Robinson, 3B
Honus Wagner, SS
Jackie Robinson, LF
Joe DiMaggio, CF
Roberto Clemente, RF
Sandy Koufax, SP
Mariano Rivera, RP
Pinch Hitter: Joe Morgan

Top Ten Players Who Should Be Bounced from the Hall of Fame
These happy recipients of cronyism, sub standards, and should be given their walking papers
Orlando Cepeda
Bobby Doerr (being old friends with Teddy Ballgame will open doors)
Johnny Evers (being part of a famous poem will open doors)
Billy Herman
Monte Irvin
Tony Lazzeri (being old friends with Babe Ruth will open doors)
Rabbit Maranville
Jim Rice (being old friends with Jerry Lewis will open doors)
Phil Rizzuto (being old friends with Yogi Berra will open doors)
Ron Santo (being old friends with Ernie Banks will open doors)
Honorable Mention: Tony Perez (if only because it is the single biggest division between Abby and Jesse. The former keeps him in; the latter chucks him out.)

Top Ten People Who Should Be Elected to the Hall of Fame
These unhappy victims of hypocrisy, shortsightedness and double standards should be enshrined immediately
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Gus Greenlee
Joe Jackson
Mark McGwire
Buck O'Neill
Rafael Palmeiro
Tim Raines
Pete Rose
Sammy Sosa
Honorable Mention: Jeff Bagwell

Top Ten Wasted Talents
There's nothing sadder than thinking about what might have been. Here are some glorious ballplayers who, for one reason or another, tripped, stumbled, and fell on their putative way to Cooperstown
Billy Beane
Cesar Cedeno
J.D. Drew
Dwight Gooden
Jeff King
Ben McDonald
Dave Parker
Darryl Strawberry
Brien Taylor
Garry Templeton
Honorable Mention: Matt Bush

Top Ten Elbow Benders
Unfortunately, baseball has known far more than its fair share of gents with too generous a taste for the gargle
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Wade Boggs
Big Ed Delahanty
Ryne Duren
Ellis Kinder
Sam McDowell
Mickey Mantle
Billy Martin
Babe Ruth
David Wells
Honorable Mention: Dock Ellis, because we don’t have an LSD category

Top Ten Cokeheads
And the Swingin' Seventies' drug of choice, too
Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd
Dwight Gooden
Keith Hernandez
Steve Howe
Amos Otis
Dave Parker
Tim Raines
Rod Scurry
Darryl Strawberry
Willie Wilson
Honorable Mention: Dale Berra

Top Ten Truly Bad Baseball Acting Performances
We know that Robert Redford (The Natural) and Kevin Costner (Bull Durham and For Love of the Game) really were athletes, so they come off…OK. But while playing ballplayers is irresistible, it is also terribly difficult. Pretending to be an athlete means really walking the walk, which only real athletes can do. Of a huge list, some truly egregious performances:
William Bendix (Babe Ruth, The Babe Ruth Story)
Gary Cooper (Lou Gehrig, The Pride of the Yankees)
John Goodman (Babe Ruth, The Babe)
Tommy Lee Jones (Ty Cobb, Cobb)
Ray Liotta (Shoeless Joe Jackson, Field of Dreams)
Michael Moriarty (Henry Wiggins)/Robert DeNiro (Bruce
Pearson, Bang the Drum
Anthony Perkins (Jimmy Piersall, Fear Strikes Out)
Ronald Reagan (Grover Cleveland Alexander, The
Winning Team)
Tim Robbins (Nuke LaLoosh, Bull Durham)
David Strathairn (Eddie Cicotte, Eight Men Out)
Honorable Mention: Tab Hunter (Shoeless Joe Hardy, Damn Yankees!). Yes, we know it was supposed to be a comedy, but puh-lease!

Top Ten Acrobats
Chicks may dig the long ball, but we relish—and remember—those who made the impossible plays look
easy, and part of their regular repertoire
Johnny Bench
Roberto Clemente (just ask Merv Rettenmund)
Keith Hernandez
Andruw Jones
Jose “Chico” Lind
Bill Mazeroski
Andrew McCutchen
Rey Ordonez
Brooks Robinson
Ozzie Smith
Honorable Mention: Willie Howard Mays, who made every routine play seem as if it were the hardest grab in baseball history

All of this, of course, is up for debate. Enjoy!

Abby Mendelson is a writer and educator in Pittsburgh whose books include histories of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh neighborhoods and houses of worship, among others.

Jesse Mendelson, his son, is a healthcare consultant in Washington, D.C., skilled baseball historian like his dad, and highly successful fantasy player.

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