No sport lends itself to debate quite like baseball. Longevity is the key. Baseball debates are bound to happen when you’ve had so many players and teams playing in so many different eras. That’s part of the fun of the game.
Top Baseball Debates
The following three areas provide the launching pad for most baseball debates. Oh, and there’s a fourth one, too, that involves fashion. It just goes to show there’s not one area of the game baseball fans won’t debate.
This is the No. 1 debate among fans. It’s possible to be in a conversation with someone who will tell you the 1994 Montreal Expos, who were on a roll when the players’ strike shut down the season, would have been the greatest team of all time. That’s how “out there” the debates can get.
Obviously, the most frequent answer is the 1927 New York Yankees. Most of the other teams that might be considered as rivals for the best team of all time are other versions of the Yankees.
Some make an argument for the 1998 Yankees. That club had pitchers David Cone, Andy Pettitte, David Wells and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. To close out games, they had perhaps the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. The team’s hitting lineup featured Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Chuck Knoblauch, Jorge Posada and Chili Davis.
The 1939 Yankees club, led by Joe DiMaggio, also is mentioned near the top. According to one statistical evaluation, they are the best team ever.
Teams not named “Yankees” that also frequently get included in the debate are the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, 1907 Chicago Cubs and 1929 Philadelphia Athletics.
This one is hard to decide. Statistics are part of the story. Coming through in high leverage situations is another factor. Consistency and championships also are considered. But if there’s a list from which the debate starts, it must include Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Honus Wagner, and Jimmie Foxx. Good luck sorting out that list of greatness.
Cy Young is hard not to put at the top of the list. However, he pitched in an era (1890-1911) known as the Deadball Era. Two other undeniable greats, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, perhaps also benefited from weaker hitting lineups during the early 1900s.
Moving into the mid-20th century, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax not only dominated during the regular season but were stellar in the postseason. Modern era pitchers also deserve mention in this baseball debate. Many faced lineups with fearsome hitters up and down the order, not to mention a much livelier ball (and, in many years, perhaps much more “juiced” players). They include Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, and Clayton Kershaw.
This may seem like a joke, but it’s not. Some of the most heated baseball debates often veer into how a team presents itself on the field. Imagine New York suddenly announcing they will change the Yankees uniforms. Now, imagine the furor from fans that would erupt. That gives you some idea about the passion toward this topic.
Through the years, it typically goes like this: People heap praise on classic looks like the Yankees black pinstripes and pour derision on the flamboyant look of teams such as the Miami Marlins. It’s hard to argue against the classic look of the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals. But you’ll always get those who love those Marlins uniforms, the 1970s “orange rainbow” Houston Astros look or that 1970s Chicago White Sox look for which there really is no name.
That’s baseball for you. Everyone’s got an opinion.