Okay. I decided I wanted to get more systematic about these Rabbit Maranville All-Stars of mine. Last nite, I decided to come up with some criteria. So I came up with a list of questions. Bill James had his Keltner List. This is my Jay Johnstone List. Eight questions:
1. Would you go out of your way to see this player?
This is, for me, the Ichiro question. When asked to pick a game to attend at Yankee Stadium III this summer, I chose a Seattle game. I’ve been to a Red Sox – Yankee tilt there before and Seattle’s probably going to be a good team this year, but I mainly did it to see Suzuki. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen him live.
2. Did he do anything that made him stand out from his peers?
This could be a player with a unique skill set. Ichiro stands out in this era because it’s like he’s from 100 years ago. His polar opposite would be Gavvy Cravath, a deadballer who hit like he’s from the future. Guys who combine power with speed (or defense) may fit here. Ditto badballhitters in this day of take and rake. For pitchers, this question would be answered yes for those with unique pitches (knucklers, cutters) or unique, colorful deliveries.
3. Did he have any on-field antics?
This is one thing that made Mark Fidrych one of the first guys I thought of. Al Hrabosky also comes to mind. This question also makes me think that Earl Weaver should skipper this team. Bobby Cox may have more ejections, but Earl was an entertaining arguer.
4. Was he in the national spotlight?
How did the player do in the postseason or All-Star games? Did he do anything exciting on a national Game of the Week back when you could only get one out of market game a week? Did he have an international following like Fernandomania?
5. Was he a good player? Was his career more meteoric than steady?
I prefer the guys with more meteoric careers for this team. This is a point that is not in a Dewey Evans’s favor.
6. Did he have any historical impact?
One of the lower criteria here, but it helps. Could be for being a pioneer like Ichiro being the first major position player from Asia. Heck, it could be something wacky like Kelly Gruber being the only baseballist to win the Superstars competition. If you want to go waaay back in time, King Kelly would get points for this for all the rule changes due to his gaming the system.
7. Did he demonstrate vigorously what Americans, quoting French poorly, call je ne sais quoi?
I lifted this one from Carson Cistulli, but I said something similar before.
8. Is he the best choice for his position?
Certain positions seem to generate better candidates for this team, but I can’t have five third basemen and no catchers. Too many passed balls.
There you go. Eight questions. I wrote most of them in the past tense, but they can all apply to the present.