Now that baseball and I are back in one another's good graces, I would like to offer what I hope is a reasonable criticism of the game.
Earlier today, I heard Dan Patrick and Tim Kurkjian engaged in a discussion on E.S.P.N. Radio. The topic of their conversation was major league baseball's "hometown heroes" list, which purports to set forth the five greatest players in the history of each franchise, based not just upon performance on the field but also (and admirably) upon leadership and character.
I'm not sure what Bud Selig means by those terms, but, here in Bulldog Nation, we know on-field performance, leadership, and character when we see them.
When Patrick and Kurkjian got to the list of Atlanta Braves---which consists of Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz, and Warren Spahn---the commentators' criticisms centered around the absence of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux from the list.
I couldn't believe it.
As Patrick and Kurkjian arrived at each team in succession, I tried to call up the name of at least one player who simply had to be on the list. In most cases, it was pretty easy and I was right with regularity.
When they came to the Braves, two names immediately leapt to mind . . . two players whose omission was inconceivable. One was Hank Aaron, who made the list.
The other was this guy . . .
. . . who did not.
Aaron gets no argument from anyone, nor should he. Niekro and Spahn are on solid footing, as well. That takes care of three of the five spots.
Arguments certainly can be made in favor of Jones and Smoltz, whose names were included. Patrick and Kurkjian offered valid points in defense of Glavine and Maddux, as well.
Nevertheless, if your stated mission is to list the greatest players in franchise history . . . if you're counting character and leadership among the criteria . . . if you're trying to come up with the "hometown heroes" who meant the most to their teams, their cities, and their fans . . . how is Dale Murphy not the second Brave whose name is written down after Aaron's?
I was surprised by his omission from the official list and stunned at his absence from Patrick's and Kurkjian's discussion of it.
Surely, if Keith had been there, he'd have backed me up on this one.
Seriously, let me know what you think, as I am simply baffled and I would appreciate hearing other fans' takes upon the subject.