Friday, August 28, 2009
I Stand By My Vote: Ryne Sandberg Is The Best Second Baseman Ever!
The other day, I was cleaning out my closet and I found my copy of the book, "All-Century Team", with my official ballot still inside. As we may remember, the "All-Century Team" balloting was put together by MLB in 1999, for us the fans to select the best players of the 20th century. The winners were then announced during the 1999 World Series.
My main reason for voting was to cast my vote for Pete Rose, with the hope that he gets elected, which would force Major League Baseball to make an exemption to his lifetime ban and allow him to participate in the ceremonies. Mission accomplished! Rose was selected as an outfielder and as we all may remember, he almost "brought down the house" when his name was called. That was a great moment.
I also voted for Chicago Cubs second baseman, Ryne Sandberg. But what upset me about the ballot was that Sandberg (a.) wasn't even a candidate. I had to put him in as a write-in. I remember being shocked when I couldn't find his name.
I had no problems with the eventual winners, Jackie Robinson and Rogers Hornsby. I mean, who can argue with those two greats. But Sandberg should have at least been on the ballot.
To this day, I still consider him the greatest second baseman ever. Sandberg had some incredible statistics, along with 10 consecutive All-Star appearances and 9 consecutive Gold Gloves.
Sandberg, the 1984 NL MVP, was a low-key man who played the game with respect . He had power, speed and was an exceptional fielder. His .989 career fielding percentage is a Major League record for second baseman. He is one of only three second basemen to hit 40 home runs in a season (along with Rogers Hornsby and Davey Johnson).
When he retired he held a then-record 277 home runs by a second baseman and had a then-record 123 straight games without an error.
His accomplishments go on and on. Sandberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005, five years after the "All Century Team" balloting. I suspect that not being in the Hall of Fame at the time of the balloting contributed to his exclusion. But that's no excuse, since it was a foregone conclusion, he would eventually get enshrined.
Anyone who knows baseball, knows Sandberg's name should, at least, had been on the ballot for consideration.
Having said that, here's my "All-Century Team" ballot:
Stats courtesy of Wikipedia
Photos courtesy of thecubdom.com