Friday, May 20, 2011
Don't Judge Justin Verlander Based on His Ring Finger
After deciding to see what the yahoos at Yahoo have been up to (see what I did there?), I came across this piece on Verlander by D. Benjamin Satkowiak, who was nice and brave enough to respond here the last time I took him to task. The other day, he wrote a decent enough piece on Verlander, this time asking where JV ranks among the great Tiger pitchers. He brings up the names of Jack Morris, Mickey Lolich, Hal Newhouser, and Denny McClain. Fair enough.
Now Morris is the only of the four that I’ve obviously seen, myself being only 34 years old, but JV is better than Jack ever was. I have no doubt of that, despite my great respect for Jack Morris. But if you want to argue for Jack or any of the other three, I’m sure you could make a convincing argument that I would respect. You might even be able to convince me. Heck, I might be able to convince me if I wasn’t too tired/drunk to look up some stats right now. And to his credit, the author did give a nice, quick history on each of the four pitchers he brought up.
But then, he presented the ONE argument that makes me want to burn down a middle school in anger.
Undoubtedly, these men have all earned their place in Tigers history. What do they all have in common that Justin does not? The ring. As great as he is, until he collects the World Series championship, I don't see how he can be perched at the top of Mount Tiger with the likes of Morris, Newhouser, Lolich and McLain.
/urge to kill rising
You can NOT judge a baseball player’s greatness on whether he has a ring or not. It’s ridiculous that athletes in ANY team sport would have to face an argument like that. It is a TEAM sport, after all. There are just too many other guys that have to produce for a championship to be won.
In football, is Trent Dilfer better than Dan Marino because he has a Super Bowl ring while all Dan has is a career as a horrible broadcaster? Good gawd, no. Dilfer had an awesome defense behind him, a solid running game, and just managed the clock without screwing up too much. Marino was amazing, one of the three best QB’s ever, but was surrounded by a bunch of clowns for much of his career. It doesn’t make him any worse of a quarterback to be without a ring.
Are BJ Armstrong and Horace Grant a better point guard/power forward combo than John Stockton and Karl Malone because they won multiple rings while the Jazz guys didn’t? Fuck and no, they aren’t. The Bulls had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on their team. Stockton and Malone had a group of stiffs. The same goes for Charles Barkley. They just didn’t play on the best teams. They were all great NBA superstars, but played on worse overall teams.
But this is baseball, you might say. Fair enough. Is mediocre ex-shortstop Luis Sojo better than Ernie Banks because he has FIVE World Series rings compared to Ernie’s zero? No. Anyone that makes that argument should be shot in the crotch with a crossbow. Sojo was just lucky to hang around on those Yankee teams during their run. The all-time great Banks had horrid luck with his Chicago teams.
And the same goes for Justin Verlander. Don’t knock him down a peg because he’s surrounded by an inept offense that can’t hit with runners in scoring position. Seriously, when Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly, Brandon Inge, Generic White Outfielder #6, or whatever other punchless jackoff that DD has assembled on the team can’t bring in a runner from third base with less than two outs and the team goes on to lose the game, is that JV’s fault? No. When Benoit, AlAl, Perry, or whoever that day’s flaming gas can may be relieve him and piss away the ballgame, does that make Verlander less of a pitcher? No.
If in 2006, the pitching staff remembers how to field a ground ball and everyone other than Sean Casey remembers how to hit, does that, all of the sudden, make Justin Verlander a better pitcher? Say it with me and Captain Hook…
Sorry. I can't get enough of James T. Hook.
Whether Justin Verlander is the best, second best, or twentieth best Tiger pitcher of all time is up for debate. It’s not a debate that I care to take part in right now. It’s way too soon in JV’s career, in my opinion. But I’m not going to fault anyone for having that debate. That’s how good he is that at the age of 28 that we can already be having this discussion about him. He’s the most exciting pitcher I’ve ever seen in a Tiger uniform.
So pretty please, with sugar and a hand job on top, put the championship ring nonsense to rest. Judge the man on who he is. Not on who his teammates have been.