The editors of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and I had the same idea to honor Stan Musial on the occasion of his 90th birthday. I beat ’em to the punch a bit only because SCD is weekly; our Musial feature appeared a couple of weeks ago (Nov. 19 issue), while their’s showed up as a nifty eight-page supplement to the newspaper precisely on Stan’s 90th birthday (Nov. 21).
Famed sportswriter Bernie Miklasz came up with 90 reasons to love The Man, which included a boatload of cool facts mixed in with dozens of quotes from just about anybody in a prominent position to weigh in on the topic.
The nifty supplement also featured an informative timeline piece that chronologically recounted every year of his career, and then just to top it off, they came up with a feature on the Top 10 Living Players.
Stan, of course, is on the list, but the editors ran into a bit of a consistency problem with the inclusion of Barry Bonds and the exclusion of Roger Clemens. In a suspiciously tortured disclaimer atop the page, the writer asks rhetorically if, “Does (steroid linkage) discolor their numbers, undermine their careers, diminish their greatness?” This after noting that steroids stain the best hitter and pitcher of the last 20 years.
Thus does Tom Seaver get the nod over Clemens despite a gap of 40 wins, four Cy Young Awards and about 10,000 strikeouts. As a Mets fan my allegiance lies with the former; as a realist baseball historian, overlooking seven Cy Young Awards would seem to be a gymnastic feat of epic proportions.
I won’t even quibble about Yogi seemingly edging out Johnny Bench at catcher, especially since the list wasn’t by position – seven outfielders, two pitchers and an infielder. And poor beleaguered Pete Rose doesn’t make the cut despite being the all-time Hit King.
And there’s a certain irony to a list connected with honoring Stan Musial even hinting at controversy, since that was the one thing that The Man didn’t seem to do well. Or maybe at all.