Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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July 4, 2013

Baseball Debate: Aligning Stars of the Past 50 Seasons

Staff writers break last half-century into three eras

ASHLAND — Baseball and the Fourth of July go together like a piping hot bratwurst and an ice cold beer. Or, perhaps you prefer peanuts and Cracker Jack with a souvenir cup of fresh-squeezed lemonade.

As our 50 states celebrate their collective freedom as a country, three of the biggest baseball fanatics on The Independent’s staff take a look back at the sport’s last 50 seasons. Each handpicked his All-Star team from the particular era in which he grew up.

The teams consist of a starting lineup, including a designated hitter, a five-man starting rotation and a closer.

Also, as you’ll notice, we decided that we should avoid duplicates.

Editor Mark Maynard turned 7 in 1964, night editor Adam VanKirk was just 3 in 1980, and I, sports editor Aaron Snyder, was 10 years old when my favorite player, Barry Larkin, became the first shortstop in history to have a 30-30 season (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases) in 1996. I felt the need to mention Larkin now because I reluctantly left him off the ’96-present day team.

Before the fireworks shower over the night sky sparking ooh’s and aah’s, take a few minutes to peruse our lists of diamond favorites who provided a few ooh’s and aah’s themselves throughout their careers.

Discuss! Debate!

The Snyder Era (1996-now)

The two most challenging obstacles for me were the fact that I grew up in the “Steroids Era” and that the time frame presented some very close position battles.

I can’t promise that my players never touched performance-enhancing drugs, but I did manage to stay away from names like McGwire, Sosa, Palmiero and even A-Rod.

As for Barry Bonds, well, he didn’t need any extra help cracking into this lineup (I’m not saying he didn’t accept it, though).

Derek Jeter narrowly beat out Larkin at short. Miguel Cabrera, even though only about halfway through his career, edged Chipper Jones at the hot corner. Edgar Martinez earned the DH spot over Jim Thome. Ivan Rodriguez got the nod over Mike Piazza behind the plate, mainly for his defense.

I’ll put my lineup against any arm in major league history.

My worst hitter, in terms of batting average, accumulated 3,060 hits in his career (Craig Biggio).

My starting pitching does drop off slightly after No. 3, but Roy Halladay has thrown a pair of no-hitters and 300-game winner Tom Glavine was probably the best lefty in the game in his prime.

When it’s all said and done, I think you’ll be chalking up yet another save for Mr. Mariano Rivera.

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