Here's their list:
- Babe Ruth
- Lou Gehrig
- Joe DiMaggio
- Derek Jeter
- Yogi Berra
- Mickey Mantle
- Reggie Jackson
- Alex Rodriguez
- Joe Gordon
- Tommy Henrich
The categories included postseason batting, fielding range, on-base plus slugging percentage and wins above replacement player. We also included the player's impact on team attendance and his effect on the value of the franchise. To give a more rounded portrait, we scored each candidate by their relevance in popular culture, upstandingness and earning power in the collectibles market. The totals were compiled by giving each player a score (1 to 10) in each of 11 categories and tabulating the results.Collectibles? Is this the ranking of great players or bobbleheads?
As for their top 10 list, 1 and 2, of course, are obvious choices. But the WSJ put DiMaggio at No. 3 instead of No. 2 because of a rather bizarre reason. The WSJ writes:
In the end, DiMaggio fell to third in our rankings, behind Lou Gehrig, for another reason: likability. At the Yankees' Old-Timers' Day celebrations, the famously petty DiMaggio insisted on being introduced last, according to long-time team PR man Marty Appel.The WSJ can't even get that tidbit straight. The egotistical part wasn't DiMaggio being introduced last. After all, Yogi Berra gets that treatment today. No, what was over the top about it was that Joe insisted on being introduced as the "greatest living ballplayer."
At any rate, I wouldn't have DiMaggio even that high on my own list. He would be fourth, below Mantle. Nothing to do with likability, but with longevity. And if Derek Jeter gets 3,000 hits, I would put Jeter above Joltin' Joe.
But on the WSJ's list, Jeter gets ranked above both Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. The WSJ downplays Mantle, saying that "despite his many accomplishments, Mantle also benefitted from dumb luck."
Yeah, right. It was really lucky when the rookie Mantle got his spikes caught in a Yankee Stadium drainpipe cover in the 1951 World Series, and tore up the ligaments in his knee. And how he never played in another game without physical pain in his career, and injuries kept him from being even greater. Oh, and the fact that all the men in his family, including his father, died young (he and his father were side-by-side in hospital beds when Mantle first hurt his knee) helped drive him to drink.
But the WSJ thinks Mantle was lucky because he "joined the Yankees in 1951, the same year major-league games were first broadcast in color and nationally" and "became the face of a loaded team that reached 12 World Series in 14 years." Never mind that most Americans didn't even have TVs in 1951, and color TV didn't become mainstream until at least 15 years later. And that Mantle was the No. 1 reason those Yankees were "a loaded team" in the first place.
Also, where the heck is Don Mattingly on this list? By the WSJ's own criteria on likability, value to the franchise, and importance in pop culture, Donnie Baseball should be in the top 10. He was only the most popular Yankee player of an entire generation, after all.
Reggie Jackson and Alex Rodriguez are No. 7 and 8. The WSJ says "both of whom made the list largely on the strength of their offensive statistics -- in the regular season and the playoffs." Hmmm, has the paper already forgotten how much grief A-Rod got for his postseason numbers until 2009?
Besides, these are two of my all-time favorite Yankees, but even I wouldn't put Reggie in the top 10 - he was only on the team for five seasons, after all. And A-Rod should end up in the top 10, but I still wouldn't put him at No. 8 at this point, given that he's only been with the team since 2004.
Joe Gordon is No. 9 for "defense." But is he an all-time top 10 Yankee? I don't think so. Tommy Heinrich makes No. 10 because "the team's winning percentage during his career was the highest for any player." Huh? Was he single-handedly responsible for that? Please. Mantle gets downgraded because he was part of a "loaded team," while Heinrich makes the top 10 for being part of a loaded team? How does that make any sense?
I guess the WSJ is trying to make an impact on the New York sports scene, but between this article and the way that they twisted around statistics to make sure that A-Rod would have the longest home run trot numbers, color me unimpressed with their new sports stuff.
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