Happy Hour

If anyone out there on the net would like a reminder as to why the South is where its at, let me inform you Yankee fat f*cks on the concept of cleaning up after yourselves. Now, I’m sure the fine people of Vermont, New Hampshire, Yawkey Way (wink wink) and Maine are an exception to this rule, but for the rest of you butt-humping hamburgers up north, there is a thing called a “trash bin”, which you may have learned about during your 12th grade spelling bee. When the dead fly-to-ketchup pack ratio is at a staggering 32:19 at the local Ice Cream Parlor, maybe it’s time to invest in some mops. Kudos to the Amish for leaving piles of horseshit on the side of the road for the cyclists to run through. Righteous…

Here’s a few more points that I feel must be made known to all non-north persons in attendance here tonight:
* Good luck finding a vanilla or chocolate milkshake in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
* If you find yourself in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, be sure and mention the names “Intercourse”, “Virginville”, and “Blue Ball” with a straight face, or else that stabbing sensation in your ass is Ezekiel’s pitchfork.
* Inside Pulse Sports and Happy Hour would like to take this opportunity to remind you, the readers, regardless of geographic positioning at this time to refrain from driving through Pennsylvania for any reason. Those that do proceed at their own risk.
* The only grass you’ll find in most northern cities is being sold at the corner of 121st and Westin. The exception appears to be indigenous weeds along the sidewalks in Hartford.
* West Virginia seems to have gotten a bad rap. Going up I-81 out of Virginia, the hillbilly sightings were virtually non-existent. There were even shopping malls here and there! Perish the thought!
* Make sure to get explicit directions when traveling through major Northern cities, or Washington, D.C. for that matter. Memo to the North: It’s okay to name your streets different names. I’ve seen it done before! It is possible!
* If only for the sake of clarity, they’re not “NASCAR” cars, they’re stock cars. NASCAR stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

There was no particular reason for that little diatribe, and I don’t mean to imply that all people that reside north of the South are slobs. Just the filthy Yankee loving pricks that seem to inhabit every sinkhole from Wilmington northwards.

Happy Hour at Inside Pulse Sports!

If you have a problem with recycling this picture, you’re a Yankee.

I have no real desire to add to the World Cup discussion, for several reasons. First of all, I completely forgot to tune into the Germany/Italy semifinal until the 117th minute or so, whereby Italy promptly turned Lehmann into a pastry. I had feared the Italians leading up to the semifinal, and with Tosten Frings getting the heave-ho by the FIFA Nazis the day before, it was pretty much Italy’s game to win. Then Zidane decided to play Mortal Kombat in the Final, and France bows out after a PK session. Talk about your shit ending, no? Well, unless you’re a fan of the Azzurri or are a noted French hater. Second of all, I was busy trying not to rear end some poor sap on North Carolina Avenue in Washington, D.C. Going to a Nationals game (also featuring San Diego no less) is a sobering experience, especially when you get lost trying to find the wrong Capitol Street at 11:30 PM. I can’t say that I recommend taking a trip to visit the decrepit RFK Stadium either, although I’ll refrain from the Kennedy joke in good taste.

The All-Star Game was kind of a treat to watch for American League fans, especially since you had the feeling that no matter how many American White Sox the National League pitchers struck out, a good old fashioned triple was in the cards. Sure enough, Michael Young makes Trevor Hoffman look like Gagne (cough cough), and Mo slams the door on the feeble National Leaguers to close things out. To say that losing a 2-1 lead with two outs and two strikes on a Texas Ranger is embarrassing is an understatement. Let’s just hope you can actually find time to win a game in this year’s World Series, since you wont have the Yankees there to choke it away to you.

Is there anything else in the sports world out there to talk about? Not really, which got me thinking about doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time now. It’s time for a specialty column, and today’s topic: a REAL All Star Team. Oh, yeah, you dig?

Now, here are a few of the ground rules. First of all, to keep with the motif that the American and National Leagues use as of 2006, this team will carry twelve pitchers – nine starters and three closers. The designated hitter will be used on this team, and can be played by any player from 1900 – 1999, with no exceptions. There will be three “teams” under the All Star Umbrella: a first team made up of the starters, and two subsequent “reserve” teams that are like substitutes. The first team is not necessarily filled with the greatest players at every position, but are filled with players that serve a distinct purpose. Now then, as is the case with most older players, not every all star played one position during his career. Pete Rose, for instance, was elected as an All-Star at five different positions. So, for the sake of continuity, certain infielders may be shifted around for the sake of getting in additional players. The outfield is much more prone to this occurrence, which is why not every outfielder on this team is playing in his actual, real life position. However, in the interest of fair play, an attempt will be made to match players with their real life positions, the DH role be damned. With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at our All Stars, shall we?

20th Century All-Star Team

The 20th Century All Stars, also known generally as the greatest players in the history of the game, demonstrate all the basic tools of the game – speed, power, defense, hitting ability, and intelligence. Like their 21st Century counterparts, the 20th Century All Star Team is made up of eight starting fielders, a designated hitter, nine starting pitchers and three relief pitchers. The team also has two reserve squads, each containing an additional player at each fielding position and a designated hitter.

Notable 1st Team Selections – Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth
Notable 2nd Team Selections – Harmon Killebrew, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson
Notable 3rd Team Selections – Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Carl Yazstremski, Carlton Fisk, Ernie Banks
Managers: Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, Casey Stengel

Johnny Bench, among the most respected catchers in the history of baseball, will fit this All-Star Team well. A veteran of fourteen All-Star Games in his illustrious career, Bench bows to no one as far as ability and prowess goes. In any form of the game, a good pitcher can become a great pitcher with a great catcher behind the plate. As good as Bench is, mind you, it would be hard to see any of the 20th Century All Star Team’s pitchers get better than they already are. The twelve-pitcher staff is highlighted by a mix of dominant southpaws and lethal right-handers that are as feared and respected today as they were when they played the game. The games most prolific winners are including in this team’s rotation, including Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, and Lefty Grove. Southpaw Sandy Koufax, for a time, was the most dominant pitcher that the game had ever saw. Nolan Ryan, the strikeout king, pitched more no-hitters than any man in history. Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver, and Steve Carlton are equally proficient at making great hitters look foolish.

The 20th Century All Stars boast an infield that is both stout, offensively impressive and defensively gifted. Lou Gehrig highlights the star power of the infield, and for good reason – Gehrig is the original “Iron Man”, playing 2,130 consecutive games before finally resting his ailing body. A career .340 hitter, Gehrig is one of the key figures in the Yankee Dynasties of the 1930s. Across the diamond at third base sits Brooks Robinson, one of the greatest defensive infielders of all time. Renowned for his defensive skills which earned him sixteen consecutive gold gloves from 1960-1975, Robinson was nicknamed “the Human Vacuum Cleaner” for a reason. Up the middle, Rogers Hornsby at second base and Honus Wagner at short provide additional offense and defense in the lineup.

The 20th Century All Star Team was fairly easy to select up until the outfield came under consideration. It’s not easy to select from a group that consists of Mantle, Ruth, Williams, Jackson, Mays, Aaron, DiMaggio, Cobb, and others. It goes without saying that the outfielders in the starting lineup may not be the best outfielders of the group, but for the lineup I am putting together, I think they serve my needs the best.

Ted Williams is a no brainer. One of the premier left fielders of all time, Ted Williams put up marvelous numbers despite losing years of playing time while serving in two different wars. The legendary .406 batting average, considered an unobtainable feat in today’s game, serves as a testament to his skill. Williams, despite not having the highest single season batting average of all time, may still be the greatest hitter that ever lived. In center field, we have a man that is best known for a defensive play at the Polo Grounds, despite having the fourth highest amount of Home Runs in Major League history. Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid”, is one of the greatest pure baseball players the game has ever seen. With a staggering two league MVPs, two World Series MVPs, 660 home runs and twelve gold gloves, Mays sets the standard for all outfielders that came after him. It’s hard to imagine a player improving an outfield with Williams and Mays already in it. Joe DiMaggio, one of the game’s most famous sons, can do just that. Noted for his 56-game hitting streak (an unparalleled feat in the history of baseball), “Joltin’ Joe” is among a pantheon of Yankees greats that also contain the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, and Berra. One of the premier hitters of his era, DiMaggio is an equal amongst Williams and Mays.

Relief Pitchers
It’s unfair to judge the superstar closers of today with their counterparts from the past, namely because the roles of a relief pitcher have changed over the last thirty plus years. In the years past, closers were expected not to get the final outs of the ball game, but to pitch as many as three innings to finish off a game. It’s a major reason why these three names in particular were chosen. Rollie Fingers, known for his handlebar moustache (and the avatar of choice for Matthew Michaels no less) was a big time player for the Oakland Athletics during their dynasty in the 1970s. When placed alongside legendary teammates Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue, the pitching staff of the Oakland A’s could be considered one of the greatest of all time. Joining him is Goose Gossage, one of the greatest closers to ever play the game. In terms of Yankee-lore, only Mariano Rivera ranks higher than Gossage in terms of all-time great closers for the Yanks. And then you have Dennis Eckersley, the hall of fame starter/closer that notched 390 career saves, fourth all time (which is amazing, considering the fact that he also won nearly 200 games in his career as well).

Designated Hitter
It’s kind of hard to take a ballplayer worthy of inclusion on the All Star Team of the 20th Century when the designated hitter rule didn’t exist through all of it. Yet if you absolutely have to use a designated hitter, I guess I’ll have to fall back on Babe Ruth, since it’s my last option and all. *Sigh*…

Good God, it’s Babe f*cking Ruth! I actually had him in right field on my 2nd Team before I decided to include the DH into the fold. When that happened, I still kept Ruth on the 2nd Team and had originally planned on using Harmon Killebrew for the first team. Of course, with Ruth as one of my outfielders, I had to either sacrifice Stan Musial to bring in Reggie Jackson, or I had to make some wholesale changes to my roster. So, in the interest of my juggernaut in mind, I sent Edgar Martinez into the honorable mentions pile and moved Ruth into the 1st Team as my DH, dropping Killebrew into the DH role on my 2nd Team, then adding Reggie Jackson to my third team as a right fielder. This allowed me to bump Hank Aaron up to right field on the 2nd Team, keep Stan Musial as a DH on my 3rd Team, and promote Rickey Henderson to center field on my 3rd Team. Oh, and did I mention that it’s Babe f*cking Ruth!?

20th Century All Star 1st Team
Featuring: Johnny Bench, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Brooks Robinson, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, and Babe Ruth.

C – Johnny Bench
1B – Lou Gehrig
2B – Rogers Hornsby
3B – Brooks Robinson
SS – Honus Wagner
LF – Ted Williams
CF – Willie Mays
RF – Joe DiMaggio
DH – Babe Ruth

20th Century All Star 2nd Team
Featuring: Yogi Berra, Jimmie Foxx, Jackie Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Harmon Killebrew

C – Yogi Berra
1B – Jimmie Foxx
2B – Jackie Robinson
3B – Mike Schmidt
SS – Ozzie Smith
LF – Mickey Mantle
CF – Ty Cobb
RF – Hank Aaron
DH – Harmon Killebrew

20th Century All Star 3rd Team
Featuring: Carlton Fisk, Ernie Banks, Pete Rose, George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr., Carl Yastrzemski, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, and Stan Musial

C – Carlton Fisk
1B – Ernie Banks
2B – Pete Rose
3B – George Brett
SS – Cal Ripken Jr.
LF – Carl Yastrzemski
CF – Rickey Henderson
RF – Reggie Jackson
DH – Stan Musial

Any team with “the Babe”, the “Splendid Splinter”, the “Say Hey Kid”, the “Yankee Clipper”, the “Human Vacuum Cleaner”, the “Iron Horse”, the “Flying Dutchman”, “Rajah”, and the Captain of the “Big Red Machine” (take that, Nickname Gurus!) can do no wrong. And that’s just the first team! Can you imagine mixing any of the twenty seven position players/designated hitters around to make your own dream team? There’s still scores of players that didn’t even make the team, like “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Bobby Doerr, Tris Speaker, Lou Brock, and Roberto Clemente. That alone warrants one word: damn!

This still leaves one very important question: which team – the 20th Century All Stars or the 2006 MLB All Stars – would win in a classic showdown of the immortals, both past and present? Makes you shudder when you think about it. Until next week, when we reveal the all 2006 MLB All Star Lineup, I bid you adieu.