Monday, March 22, 2010

Time to "Lineup" for MSG's new baseball series

Who's better - Jorge Posada or Mike Piazza? Where does Carlos Beltran rank among New York center fielders? And where does Alex Rodriguez rank among New York third baseman?

Those are some of the sports questions you can expect to see on "Lineup," MSG's new series looking at New York's "All-Time Best Baseball Players." The series starts Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. First topic - NY's best-ever catcher. (I'm thinking Yogi Berra has that one sewn up, but it ain't over 'til it's over!) And there's even a way for viewers to get in on the action and win prizes - more on that in a sec.

"The Lineup" will look at Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Giants greats. A blue-ribbon panel, hosted by Fran Healy, will discuss the possible nominees, whittle them down to a five-man list for each category, and then vote on the all-time great for whatever position is being voted on that night.

Anyhow, about the prizes. MSG is sponsoring a game to go along with the contest. But get your votes in now, before the show starts tomorrow, in order to be eligible. Here's more info on that, courtesy of MSG:
With an interactive fantasy game launched in conjunction with the on-air program and hosted on, viewers can see how they stack up against The Lineup's experts. Fans will try to predict the five players who will be nominated each week and ultimately who will be selected as the starter in the final “Lineup.” Participants will receive points for each correct pick and will be eligible for weekly prizes such as signed memorabilia from baseball greats like Don Mattingly, Joe Torre, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. At the end of the series, the participant with the most points will win a Grand Prize. The site will also feature chats for fans to interact and debate each position, quizzes about the nominated players, photo and video galleries, and player statistics for fans to comb through before making their picks.
I voted for Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Bill Dickey, Mike Piazza *, and Jorge Posada as my top five New York catchers. (And yes, that is an asterisk!) What are your choices?

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Michael said...

I look forward to seeing this tonight. However, I think it depends on how you measure "best" all-time. As far as the position itself, Mike Piazza is the greatest offensive player at that position ever, period. However, when all other factors are added (and with due respect to Mr. Berra, a first-class human being), I think that Thurman Munson is the best catcher New York has ever seen. Had he not been taken prematurely, he would have been given the credit due him like Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk have received.

Uncle Mike said...

Well, let's be clear about some things. First of all, Thurman Munson was nearing the end of his career anyway. He was playing more at first base and DHing than behind the plate. With Chris Chambliss traded after that season (to get a catcher, Rick Cerone), Thurman might have been moved to first permanently, at least until 1983, when he would have read the writing on the wall, named Don Mattingly. He would likely then have retired, at 36. So to call him the greatest New York catcher, while nice, simply isn't the cas.

As for Mike Piazza being the greatest-hitting catcher ever, that's baloney. He was the Alex Rodriguez of catchers -- until 2009, that is, when he became the Barry Bonds of catchers. A loser whose hitting was mostly wasted, and now we know the truth about how he got to be such a "great" hitter.

I already went through my lineup choices on my blog, but here's the top 5 New York catchers: Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Roy Campanella, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada. Winning comes first, then the question becomes, "How well did he play the position?" Because that's the most important thing for the catcher. Finally, how does he hit? Maybe if the 1980s Mets had won more than that one title (which they nearly threw away in both postseason series), I'd have put Gary Carter up there.

But this isn't L.A., where the important thing is to look good; or Philly, where the important thing is to look like you're trying to win; or even Boston, where the important thing is to beat New York. We have a higher standard, and it's the Yankee catchers who have, uh, met it.

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