Friday, July 11, 2008
The more I read the Kansas City Star's Joe Posnanski, the more I think he's the written version of Marty Brennaman - i.e., insanely loyal local fan base, well-known nationally but not on the level he deserves.
I've only been reading Posnanski for about a year now, and it's not been on a regular basis; it's usually when Rob Neyer links to him (which is often).
Neyer linked to Posnanski again this morning and I took the bait. The topic: Dave Concepcion's case for the Hall of Fame, and how it favorably compares to Omar Vizquel's eventual case. (Note: Posnaski is working on a book about the Big Red Machine.)
Two important things before moving forward:
1. I don't care about the Big Red Machine. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it went down in my fair city, but it happened before my parents decided a fifth child was a good idea--I was negative five-years-old when Fisk hit the home run--therefore it's nothing but a bunch of old war stories. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh - I enjoy some of those old war stories, particularly the ones told by Brennaman or Pete Rose. But again, I didn't experience it...so I'm either jealous or bored. Perhaps both. Whatever it is, I don't really care. Which means that every time I hear Marty Brennaman clamoring for Dave Concepcion to make the Hall of Fame, I'm indifferent. I'd like to see him make it (the Cincinnati thing), but I didn't see him play. I have no opinion.
2. I love Barry Larkin more than you loved your first car and first girlfriend combined. Multiplied by infinity.
Within Posnanski's post--which is probably riveting (or whatever) for those who remain obsessed with the Big Red Machine--he brings up Larkin's name quite a bit. He even considers Larkin to be a "slam dunk, first ballot guy," which is something I think about far too often. I can't tell you how upset I get at the thought of Larkin never making the Hall of Fame, much less on the first ballot.
But anyway, Larkin...why is he forgotten? Why am I the only person in Cincinnati who remains outraged by the way the organization handled his retirement? The guy might be a Hall of Famer...he's unquestionably the best shortstop in Reds history...he's a Cincinnati kid, born and raised...and it's not like he played in the 1890's - he was patrolling the area between second and third as recently as 2004! So why does it go unnoticed when the great Barry Larkin comes to town as a member of the Washington Nationals' organization? (And no, it doesn't count when George Grande mentions Larkin's return in the same breath as Jim Bowden and Wily Mo Pena). Shouldn't we be celebrating the guy? It's not like Reds fans have had much to cheer for in the last fifteen years.
Facts: Bill James ranks Larkin as the sixth best shortstop, and the ninth most complete player of all time. Read that again. SIXTH! NINTH! IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL! Are you smarter than Bill James?
(Note: Not only are Posnanski and James firmly in Larkin's corner, but Jayson Stark wrote at length about Larkin in The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History, so maybe I worry too much about Larkin's legacy. But anyway...)
Barry Larkin was a fixture with the Reds for almost two decades, and fans don't remember him the way supporters of a small-to-mid market franchise should. Why? Is it because he removed his captain C for a brief moment after Lenny Harris was traded in '98? That can't be the reason, can it? I'll assume it's not race-related, although a fundamentally perfect player like Larkin is the wet dream of the I Heart Ryan Freel Fan Club.
I need answers, dammit!
Venting session is over.
One last thing: Back in winter, just as I was returning from Vegas, and right about the time the Mitchell Report was released, Craig and I podcasted a little about both. One of our recordings never made it to "air." Because of everything you just read, I decided to put it on the podcast archive page - and now you can listen to it! It's less than two minutes long and it's appropriately titled barry larkin might cure cancer. It was about Craig Biggio, and how I hoped his name was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. The reason: Because I am a psycho who somehow compares Biggio and Larkin, even though they played different positions. I always considered Biggio overrated but still pretty great, just not as brilliant as Larkin.
As stated earlier, I love Barry Larkin more than you loved your first car and first girlfriend combined.
-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)
Posted by Twin Killing dot Com at 8:26 AM