The Off-Season: An Origin Story
The Off-Season: An Origin Story
by Tim Kabel
December 20, 2021
Before I get to my main topic, I wanted to revisit a piece I wrote last week. I wrote about the prospects of the Mets hiring Buck Showalter as their manager. Well, lo and behold, they did it. On Saturday, Buck Showalter was hired to manage the Mets. My friend Brian is a devout Mets fan. I forgive this flaw because I am just that magnanimous. As I have written repeatedly, I wanted the Yankees to jettison Aaron Boone and hire Buck Showalter. That didn’t happen and most likely, Buck Showalter will never manage the Yankees again. It is highly probable that this Mets job will be his last. I offered my congratulations to Brian, and I extend them to all Mets’ fans. I wish Buck Showalter nothing but success. As I stated earlier, I want him to win as much as possible, as long as it does not come at the expense of the Yankees. In other words, when the Mets play the Yankees, obviously I still want the Yankees to win. Therefore, unless the Yankees are playing the Mets in the World Series, I would have no problem with Buck Showalter and the Mets winning the World Series. I realize this would expose Yankees fans to a torrent of abuse and ridicule at the hands of Mets’ fans. So be it. It wouldn’t last long, and we could endure it. It would be like another holiday gathering during which you endure the umpteenth telling of Uncle Waldo’s great adventure as a supply clerk in the Korean War. Anyway, as I congratulate Brian and his fellow Mets’ fanatics, I am thinking about something else Brian suggested to me.
Brian proposed that I write an article comparing Thurman Munson’s and Paul O’Neill’s Yankees careers. It is an intriguing idea and perhaps I will do it someday but, I think that my bias toward Munson may affect the quality of any such article. I do admire O’Neill greatly, and he was one of my favorite players during his era. In fact, he and Munson have many similarities. They were both clutch hitters, leaders, and would give everything they had on the field. As I thought about their similarities, I realized there was another one. They both came from Ohio. I don’t know if I actually know anyone who hails from Ohio. I might and probably just don’t realize it. Putting those two concepts together, I started to ponder.
I wondered just how many Major League ballplayers came from Ohio. I started to do some research and was shocked to discover that well over 1,000 men who were born in Ohio played in the Major Leagues. Once I recovered from my initial surprise, my mind really started to roll. I wondered if I could create a team entirely composed of players who were born in Ohio. You may ask why I started to think about this. Well, the lockout is in full swing, I’m a bit odd, and that’s just how my mind works. Generally, I try to stay out of my mind’s way and not ask too many questions. As I looked over the list a bit more closely, I realized I could create a pretty darn good team inclusive of only Ohioans.
Let’s start with catcher and work our way around the diamond. After that, I will compile a pitching staff.
I would select Thurman Munson as the starting catcher. John Roseboro from the Dodgers would be the backup. Buck Ewing, who played in the late 1800s and is in the Hall of Fame, was a catcher, first baseman, and right fielder. He could provide much help to the team in a utility role.
For first base I would select George Sisler, who had a lifetime batting average of.340 and is in the Hall of Fame.
The second baseman would be Pete Rose, the all-time Major League Baseball hits leader, who would be in the Hall of Fame had it not been for his transgressions with gambling that placed him on the ineligible list.
At shortstop, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin would be the clear choice. This team is starting to look pretty good.
Mike Schmidt, the Hall of Famer and former Phillies’ star, would be the only choice at third base.
The outfield would be comprised of Al Oliver, Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan, who played in the early 1900s and was a center fielder and catcher, and of course Paul O’Neill.
Frank Howard would be the designated hitter.
Chris Chambliss, Daryl Boston, Mike Easler, and Bill Doran would comprise the bench players.
That starting lineup would be extremely imposing and would put up tremendous numbers. Now let’s turn to the pitching staff.
This would be the starting rotation:
The bullpen would consist of Dick Drago, Dave Burba, Sad Sam Jones, Joe Niekro, Tim Belcher, Joe Nuxhall, and Rollie Fingers.
The manager of the team would be Walter Alston, and on the coaching staff would be Don Zimmer and Miller Huggins. Branch Rickey would be the general manager.
I would like to see another left hander or two on the pitching staff. Perhaps Branch Rickey could work out a trade with Maryland or Wisconsin or some other state.
The point of this exercise is that especially now, during this holiday season when we are gathering as much as we can with the concerns of COVID, it is interesting to think about where people come from. When I think of Roger Clemens, I don’t think of Ohio. However, that’s where he hails from. It is fascinating to think that a team comprised of Hall of Famers or near Hall of Famers could be constructed just from players born in the state of Ohio. I wonder what other states could produce. I also wonder if there were magical realm where this team could exist and play, how many World Series they would win. I also wonder how many Cy Young awards Cy Young would win. Perhaps another day during the lockout, I will take a similar look at Maryland, New York, or another state.