Back in 1999, I was fortunate enough to be at the final All-Star game of the last Century at Fenway Park in Boston. During the festivities, The Major Leagues unveiled their " Team of the Century".
The promotion involved a special panel of experts assembling a list of their top 100 players of all-time. The next step was to have the fans vote on the top 25 from that list. Then another expert panel added another five players considered to be legends of the game.
The top vote getters at each position, were designated the starters, and included Johnny Bench behind the plate, Lou Gehrig at first Jackie Robinson at second, Mike Schmidt at third, Cal Ripken Jr. at short along with Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Ted Williams in the outfield. The top right hand pitcher was Nolan Ryan who had the most votes overall and the number one lefty was Sandy Koufax. No relievers specifically closers or designated hitters were named.
We're just 12 years into this century, but it got me wondering who the front runners might be for the next edition of this team for the following 100 years.
Let's give it a go.
The catcher could well be the Giants Buster Posey who's helped San Francisco to win two of the last three World Series. Pudge Rodriguez, Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada would at least have to merit some consideration.
First base would have to belong to Albert Pujols. However Joey Votto and Prince Fielder are still early enough in their careers to build up some impressive numbers before they're all said and done.
The Yankees Robinson Cano would appear to have the edge at second base. Roberto Alomar is one of those players who gets shortchanged a bit by having a career that bridged two decades. His best years came in the 90's, but he did play in the 2000's which should count for something when putting together a team for this century. Boston's Dustin Pedroia is another possibility.
At shortstop, Derek Jeter of the Yankees get the nod hands down. There are other quality shortstops, but none can approach what Jeter has done in personal performance and World Series victories.
Third Base is one of the deepest positions in terms of greatness. Alex Rodriguez would appear to lead the way unless you want to disqualify him for admitting to dabbling with steroids while he was with Texas. If you do, then you can't go wrong with Evan Longoria, David Wright, Adrian Beltre and another player who's career bridged two decades, Jeff Kent.
If you choose a DH, you'd have to go with David Ortiz fo the Red Sox.
You'd get plenty of arguments about the outfielders, if you include PED's in the equation. The top three, if you put all that aside in two of these three, would be Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki.
It's hard to pin down the top pitchers since 2000. From the right side, Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander would appear to head the list, though Halladay has had the longer career so far and thus more impressive numbers. From the left you have the likes of Randy Johnson, Johan Santana and C.C Sabathia.
The closer, no question about it is the Yankees Mariano Rivera.
Interesting to note, in what was strictly a fan vote, both Mark McGwire and Pete Rose made the original "Team of the Century", though McGwire has been noted in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, while Rose continues to be banned for life.
Unless there are some incredible medical advances, none of us will be around when the next "Team of the Century" is announced. It will be interesting to see how the game has changed by then and how many of these players mentioned will actually make the grade.