Top 80’s MLB star

With Opening Day of the greatest sport in the history of sports less than a month away, it only seemed fitting to debate something about Americas past time. America’s past time? Some would say that would be better suited in explaining our countries penchant for putting its own in debt or engaging in International combat. What America most certainly is not doing is participating in an intense 9 on 9, firing rock solid weapons at each other. Or is it? No, no see unlike the former, we leave the latter to professionals. We here at LND, like to fancy ourselves as half hearted Americans. Men who care more about the New York Yankees than the original yankees (i.e. your fellow man). Men who would rather do long toss, than toss long grenades. Men who just might do a crowhop mid-stroll. Not that we don’t salute those engaged in combat, we just aren’t the types to do it ourselves.
When thinking of a new season of baseball, I always like to think about past greats. Seeing Prince Albert demand everything but a stake in Anheuser Busch in order to resign with the Cards showed me what amazing things All Star professionals can request. I mean, Pujols is arguably the greatest player of the past decade. He has set countless records with the numbers he’s put up these first years of his career and has become the standard of the modern great baseball player. Hopefully he never gets linked to the juice, because if so, the only hitters making it in to the Hall from my era are gonna be Biggio, Chipper, and Jete, and those mentioned below. Sad. 
In the 90’s it was Junior Griffey. From 1990-99 one would be hard-pressed to find any single player that could match his power, speed, defense, and all around baseball charm. I literally wanted to not only play like Griffey, but BE him. Hell, I wore his cleats playing baseball simply because he did. As a baseball nut, I had Griffey’s before I had Jordan’s. Name another soul on this planet in my generation that could say the same. Tough titty, cause you won’t find one.
What I could not determine though was who exactly was the best player from the 80’s? Who was the single player who constantly inflicted fear in opposing teams before even stepping in the batter’s box? Who had that combination of everything and still outdid themselves seemingly every game. I have just the candidates, but first, I’d like to eliminate those who lacked a key intangible, or just played too much in another decade. No need to try to squeeze someone in there who didn’t dominate the entire decade.
Here are those that didn’t make the cut and why:
Jose Canseco– for obvious reasons.
Andre Dawson/Ryne Sandberg– They eliminated each other by splitting votes. Sorry guys. Blame WGN for showing Cubs games.
Ozzie Smith- Baseball’s version of “The Wiz” could only defend and steal an occassional base. As fas as power goes, I think Kirk Douglas has a better chance getting hired as an auctioneer before Ozzie would have ever belted 20 homers in a season. (He had 28 in his career, total)
Wade Boggs- He had a chance based solely on his Chuck Norris like beard that he fashioned into a wearable mainstay. That was  of course until he latched onto the dynasty, lost the beard, sold his Red Socked soul to the devil, and subsequently rode off on his high horse, literally, after the Yanks ’96 title. Boggs+horse+Yankees= GTFOOH (Get the fuck out of here!)
Robin Yount- Sure he switched from one demanding position (SS) to another (CF) and got a gold glove at both. But just because you look like the prototypical 1980’s baseball player, complete with a mean ‘stache, that doesn’t make you the best. That, and I swear every time he came to bat I thought I was gonna hear Scarlet Begonias. Good song. Great player. In both cases though, not the reasons people cheered. (Touch of Grey will never be defeated and it has the best music video of all time!)
George Brett- Unfortunately, Pine. Tar.
Tony Gwynn/Cal Ripken- Played too much in the 90’s
Nolan Ryan- played too much in every decade
Kirby Puckett- He’s the G.O.A.T., but he played in the 90’s as well and because of him, killing El Presidente Martinez is the last item on my bucket list. Why? Because he took my hero out and it killed me. I’m not saying I was sitting in my room with Adam’s Song playing in the background, but I was pretty upset.  
So with the elimination of these greats, I ask you: Who was the best MLB player of the 1980’s?
Mike Schmidt
I had a tough time including him and not picking Robin Yount. I mean, they were basically the same player. Enormous power, excellent defense, and a ‘stache that rivaled Magnum’s. He got the upper hand though because he delivered a title to Philly. Something Yount could not do in Milwaukee. Plus I needed to shout out a Philly guy for my buddy Nate.
(and before some novelist cries that he played the entire decade of the ’70’s as well, to them I say, so what? My rules.) 
80’s credentials- Led MLB in homers (313), 6 Gold Gloves, 3 MVP’s, 8 x AllStar, 6 Silver Sluggers, 1980 World Series Title, solid mustache
Dale Murphy
Question. Who was the first NL Outfielder to win back to back MVP’s? I could give you a million guesses and you would have never come up with Dale Murphy. For this reason, and the fact that seeing him live at Fulton County at the age of 9 was my first MLB live experience, guaranteed his entry. (Although Ron Gant was the true star of that game, hitting two homers so far I think I found the balls at home in Alabama.)
80’s credentials- Back to Back MVP’s, 5 Gold Gloves, 7 x AllStar, 4 Silver Sluggers, and……… I saw him play.
Ricky Henderson
 Who was and still is the greatest leadoff hitter of all time? Yes, Ricky. He was faster than anyone before him and talked more trash than anyone since. He was the original collar popper. Nothing made a young Dunn happier than seeing him tee off, do that little hop while popping his collar, and seeing the opposing pitcher snarl in disbelief. Ricky defined so many things in the sport that he very well could still dominate today. And if you ask him, he should be. He is the alltime leader in like a dozen categories, but this neon filled decade was his true coming out party. Just ask a Jays fan about the ’89 ALCS. Oh you can’t because we don’t live in Canada. But I’m sure you catch my drift.
80’s credentials- 130 steals in 1982 (still a record that will never be broken and was more than 10 teams had total that year), .400 OB%, 8 x AllStar, 2 Silver Sluggers (he batted leadoff!), 1 Gold Glove, 1 World Series Title, uncouthed swagger and a mean curl to boot
So there you have it. You can choose to agree or disagree, but in the end, we are satisfied, because you are debating. Can’t you just smell the fresh-cut grass and damp leather. Ahh, baseball season is here.

5 Responses

  1. Good to start talking to baseball again. Unless I misread what you wrote, or just defensive on Sir Albert the Great, what did he do wrong? The Cards cheap management knew he wanted a deal done by the start of spring training. If their is one player who can make a demand like that in MLB, it’s him. And the Cards can afford 30mil/yr for 5. 300 over 10 is too much. Really, 30 mil for a guy at 40 & 41?
    Could throw a good arguement about the Wizard of Oz replacing Dale Murphy in the voting block, Best defensive SS ever. Won every gold glove at SS in the 80’s, All Star every year to. Horrible at batting, but he did get better every year, including 300 a few times. His defense helped the Cards go to 3 World Series, won one, and COUGH, COUGH, should of been 2 if not for the worst first base call ever. Sorry I am the only one saying that Mr Oakland A, a team getting screwed out of a championship is worse than a perfect game. If anyone’s team was in my situation in 1985, you’d be with me. And voted for Rickey. Baseball in the 80’s was DIFFERENT. If you didn’t have a guy like Ricky, or Vince Coleman, Rock Raines, it was tough to compete. Walk Rickey, and might as well let him stroll to 3rd. On the other hand, the small ball decade that would have made Ty ‘hi em where they ain’t’ Cobb proud, his 500 hr’s might have been the toughest 500 hr’s in that (used) to be exclusive crowd. Could keep going on, but there is probably a word limit on this. BTW…. decided this last week. If Pujols goes to the Yankees, I will become a Yankees fan. Don’t know what I’ll do wit hmy beloved Redbirds. Might kill myself first j/k!

    • 30 mil over 5 years I think is def okay for him. I was saying just that. When you are the most dominating player for a decade you can demand that type of salary. I think the problem there though is he’s getting very “Jeter” in his demands. Paying a 41yo slugger even 20 million would be ridiculous. Players, not on the cream, fade after 35. Someone should tell Jeter that. The Yanks will learn that the hard way. Yankee fans would be more upset with no production from that position later on much more than the backlash of not paying him now. You have to play to win and the Yanks aren’t. The Cards are. Don’t switch Marbles! He’ll resign, trust me.

  2. Being from Augusta, GA and a longtime Braves fan, I had to vote for Murphy. I must say thought, the rest on your list are all very deserving.

  3. No way you should leave George Brett. He may not have the ‘stache of Schmidt or Yount, and yeah there’s the pine tar incident, but no ’80s MLB star has ever so painstakingly detailed their experiences shitting their pants. You must watch this video:

  4. I think Dale Murphy could quite possibly go down as the most underrated star of his time, just edging out Biggio.

    And Jay, that was hilarious! I NEVER knew that took place. I celebrate everyday we’re friends.

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