We were discussing this in the office last night. ESPN is celebrating 20 years of covering Major League Baseball, and the network is asking fans to vote for their all-time team of the last 20 seasons.
OK, I'll bite. I went ahead and filled out the form, and not surprisingly, I have my fair share of disagreements with the pulse of "Sports Nation."
Let's break it down position by position, shall we?
JB's vote: Mike Piazza
ESPN says: Ivan Rodriguez
Comment: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a defensive position. But Piazza is the best hitting catcher of all time. I'll take his 427 career home runs behind the plate.
JB's vote: Frank Thomas
ESPN says: Albert Pujols
Comment: Pujols is the best player in baseball right now, so everyone automatically votes for him. He's in the public consciousness at this moment, while most have forgotten how good Thomas was for most of the 1990s. If Pujols does what he's doing right now for a couple more years, he'll surpass Thomas in my eyes.
JB's vote: Roberto Alomar
ESPN says: Roberto Alomar
Comment: We have agreement, although Alomar is only 0.7 percent ahead of Ryne Sandberg in the national voting. I think Alomar's defense was much better than Sandberg's, and Alomar was a money hitter in his prime.
JB's vote: Omar Vizquel (pictured)
ESPN says: Cal Ripken, Jr.
Comment: Vizquel is only getting 3.2 percent of the vote, so this is one where I really disagree with the rest of the world. Ripken is a great ambassador for baseball and all, and his consecutive games record will never be broken. But Vizquel is the best defensive player I've ever seen at any position, and he was a little terrorist at the plate. I HATED it when the Sox faced him when he was with Cleveland. No doubt, if I had to win one game to save my life, I'd want Vizquel in the middle of my infield.
JB's vote: Wade Boggs
ESPN says: Alex Rodriguez
Comment: C'mon now! A-Rod's best years were at shortstop. Wade Boggs had over 3,000 hits. Honorable mention to Chipper Jones, who has had an underrated career.
JB's vote: Rickey Henderson
ESPN says: Barry Bonds
Comment: I'll take the greatest leadoff man of all-time, the greatest basestealer of all-time as well, over the home run king. No one could beat you more ways than Henderson. He was the total package of power, speed and plate discipline. Great clutch hitter, too.
JB's vote: Ken Griffey Jr.
ESPN says: Ken Griffey Jr.
Comment: No-brainer. Junior in his prime was the best baseball player I've seen in my lifetime.
JB's vote: Tony Gwynn
ESPN says: Tony Gwynn
Comment: We're talking about Tony Gwynn Sr., not the kid currently playing for the Padres. Gwynn Sr. had a lifetime .338 batting average. Another easy choice.
JB's vote: Paul Molitor
ESPN says: David Ortiz
Comment: Ah, bloody hell. Here we go with the Boston bias. Ortiz? Pffffttttt. That guy wasn't even the best hitter on his team. What has he ever done without Manny Ramirez hitting behind him? Molitor is another guy that people have forgotten about. The guy was a hit machine.
JB's vote: Randy Johnson
ESPN says: Randy Johnson
Comment: All those strikeouts, the perfect game, 300 wins, incredible performance in the 2001 World Series. The Big Unit is a pretty surly dude, and there's no arguing with his accomplishments.
JB's vote: Greg Maddux
ESPN says: Nolan Ryan
Comment: Give the Ryan Express props for longevity, but Maddux won the Cy Young four years in a row. He was the master of his craft.
JB's vote: Dennis Eckersley
ESPN says: Mariano Rivera
Comment: Rivera has a great postseason resume, but I always felt like the White Sox had ZERO chance when they faced Eckersley back in the day. I once saw him retire the Sox in order on four pitches in the ninth. He walked somebody about once every two years, and it was usually intentional. Eckersley is another guy that most people taking this poll have probably forgotten about.
JB's vote: Mike Scioscia
ESPN says: Joe Torre
Comment: Another unpopular selection on my part, but I've considered Scioscia the best manager in the American League for many years. His teams are always fundamentally sound. They always pitch and play defense. Scioscia-managed teams are generally just a pain in the ass to play against. That's the best compliment I can give a manager.
All right, I'm done. I generally don't like ESPN polls, but this one provoked some thought and some discussion. So much so that I wrote a crummy blog about it!