Tagged: Adrian Beltre

MLB Favorites – My Lifetime

In a recent email thread with my two closest baseball guru friends, we sent missives back-and-forth noting our favorite baseball players in recent memory. More specifically, in our lifetimes – for this project, that spans the 80’s, 90’s, oughts and 10’s. I’m curious to see your favorites – here are MY players. Not the best, just my dogs by position:

Catcher: Mike Piazza. Never seen a catcher hit like that. Period. I hate to admit it, but Buster Posey COULD be on this list except for his extremely dry personality. Excellent player though. Ironically used to love Jason Kendall until he became the literal singles-est hitting player in baseball. Charles Johnson was a ton of fun but his zero bat grated on me when he was a Dodger. Great arm though. Also Benito Santiago was fun, both with the arm and late career at-bat.
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First Base: Don Mattingly. Gamer. Mustache that wasn’t wack. Awesome baseball cards. Looked great in a uniform. Sweet swing. Manager of my favorite team. Sold. Frank Thomas was just dope. Great, intimidating hitter. I liked Jeff Bagwell at the time, but less and less historically. Go figure. Fred McGriff was lean, dope follow-through, unassuming and just awesome. How do you not love watching Mark McGwire hit dingers, especially that 500+ blast off Randy of all people. Jesus. Mo VaughnCecil Fielder. Prince Fielder is on here too because he shows up every day, loves the game and hits boomers.
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Second Base: Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Jeff Kent.
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Third Base: there are sooooooo many ‘pretty good’ guys at this position; Wade Boggs, Matt Williams, Travis Fryman, Ken Caminiti, obviously Chipper Jones is a hall of famer, Jeff Cirillo nobody really excited here. Even UCLA-alum Troy Glaus was a masher but eh. Adrian Beltre is probably the only one that makes a list of ‘favorites.’
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Shortstop: you’d think this position would be fun. A-Rod pretty much ruined that. And Tejada. And even Nomar. But Derek Jeter is amazing and carries it himself; Barry Larkin is on here for his play but not his persona. Cal Ripken obviously belongs BUT he was fairly boring, sorry Cal. Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel were fun, but I’m not a defense-first kind of guy, especially in the era in which we grew up. Rafael Furcal was a LOAD of fun for me, so he’s probably #2 behind Jeter, and Hanley Ramirez is fast approaching. Another 30 bombs – and a title? – this year and he leapfrogs Derek.
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Outfield: Kirby Puckett in center, Barry Bonds in left, Rickey Henderson in right is my dream outfield. Probably my top three favorite players of my lifetime (?) as well. It’s really hard to leave Ken Griffey Jr. out of my starting lineup but otherwise I’d use Rickey as DH and bat him leadoff, move Kirby over to his late-career RF and we’d have the best/most exciting team I could dream of. Otherwise, Tony Gwynn is on the club. Bo JacksonManny Ramirez was SO exciting and dominant for a period that he’s my big bat. Vladimir Guerrero is on the team, really fun to watch in all facets. Ichiro Suzuki was so poetic/artistic at the bat (and arm!!!!), he’s in. Tim Raines makes the club for sure as well. Darryl Strawberry pre-coke, Eric Davis without a doubt (30/80 club!!!!) I also believe Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are good enough to warrant what may fairly be labeled ‘premature’ inclusion here.
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Starting Pitchers: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux are guys I’d pay to watch pitch from now through eternity. In fact, I don’t think you can beat my club with those guys throwing every three days in my three man rotation (!!!!). Seriously though I have to include Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, Fernando, Hershiser, Kevin Brown, David Cone (who I like more post-retirement), David Wells (!!!), Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and pre-coke Doc Gooden. I really enjoy watching Adam Wainwright pitch but he kills the Dodgers so I’ll wait to include him formally, and though it might be premature, Jose Fernandez has some of the best ‘stuff’ I’ve seen since my three aces that I’m going to throw him in there.
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Closers: This list starts with Dennis Eckersley, continues to Eric Gagne and closes out appropriately with Mo Rivera.
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And of course, announcing any and all games would be the incomparable Vin Scully.
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Lima Time, R.I.P.

As a lifetime Dodger supporter, 2004 stands out as one of the most unique years in YKI’s fandom. The double play combination of Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora was the slickest fielding duo in the league; the precocious Jayson Werth was an unproven commodity (and former catcher) splitting time in the outfield with Jason Grabowski, and chants of “Hee-Sop Choi” would fill the Chavez Ravine nights, when the Korean was filling in for Shawn Green at first base. Adrian Beltre was challenging for the MVP, and Steve Finleyonce the bane of Dodger fans’ existence – was the reason the scrappy, gritty, Jim Tracy-led Dodgers won the National League West.

With a pitching rotation of Kaz Ishii, Jeff Weaver, Odalis Perez, Hideo Nomo and Jose Lima, the Dodgers pieced together a marvelous string of 3-2 and 2-1 victories on their way to the crown.

Flash forward to October 9th, a breezy night at Dodger Stadium. YKI was in attendance with wife-to-be, designstILes, desperately seeking the first playoff win in the proud organization’s history since the Miracle of ’88. Jose Lima, castoff of four organizations (including the independent league Newark Bears) was the starting pitcher, fluttering curveballs & sinkers on par with his beautiful merengue/salsa singing – dancing, diving, hipping & hopping every direction. Lima’s smile & positivity earned him the moniker “Lima Time,” and my father – The Count – was among the ardent supporters of the oft-maligned pitcher, who had been an All-Star (and 21-game winner) previously, but had bounced around from team-to-team, as his 88-mph fastball wasn’t exactly the dominating force necessary to be a no-brainer as a big-league starter.
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That said, Lima’s effervescence – and 13 wins – were huge contributing factors to that amazing season, and his quotes & veteran leadership (especially with the Latin players) were perhaps the reason that the Dodgers competed. On a daily basis, it seemed that the team was relying on ethereal factors to pull out victories, and Lima Time was one of the major reasons – his energy provided a boost within the clubhouse.

Flash back to that night, against the Cardinals – Lima, seemingly outmanned against the Cards’ Matt Morris, took the hill and dominated in the Elysian Air. My wife and I cheered every groundout, flyball and strikeout, nevermind the five hits allowed against the soon-to-be Pennant winning St. Louis Cardinals. In tossing a shutout, Lima provided the Dodgers their first postseason win in a generation and Los Angeles was simply Laker-esque with Lima Time Fever.

The Lima Era was truly great time to be a Dodger fan, and in the aftermath – even upon his unceremonious release – he has continued to hold a special place in the heart of the organization, as well as my family.
The tragic death of the 37-year old is a shock to Dodger fans and the baseball community as a whole, and he will be remembered fondly for both his performance and positive antics; reminding fans that this truly was a game, but a game in which the righty loved to compete.
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Today, this week & this season, hit the dance floor with your best moves, smile & laugh, and keep the strikes coming – Jose Lima would want it that way. In Chavez Ravine, it’s forever Lima Time.

An Ode to Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, 1985 – present

As fans of the Dodgers wallow in the misery that is the McCourt Divorce proceedings – accompanied by a 2-4 start on the road versus the woebegone Pirates and payroll-challenged Marlins – there is respite in the looming despair: Opening Day, 2010.  With an abundance of talent and numerous question marks about the state of the Organization, YKI flashes back to the years of yore, with photographic memories of my childhood and the Dodgers.

Opening Day is a time of hope and positivity toward the future and nostalgic leanings to the past, and here I present some of the images that in these times of $15 parking, $70 Loge seats & $12 beers, still make it so difficult to be objective about the Organization that produced so many good memories in my household.
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