FanDuel - WFBC

December 16, 2009

AP Names Tiger Woods Athlete of the Decade: Associated Press voters have chosen Tiger Woods as athlete of the decade, a decision that would have met with no controversy at all one month ago. Woods won 12 majors and 52 other golf tournaments during the past 10 years. He finished ahead of cyclist Lance Armstrong, tennis player Roger Federer, swimmer Michael Phelps, NFL quarterback Tom Brady and sprinter Usain Bolt. Who is your athlete of the decade?

posted by rcade to general at 11:22 AM - 78 comments

For me, it's Roger Federer. He has reached the Grand Slam semis 22 tournaments in a row. Over 5 years. He's also appeared in 17 of the last 18 finals. That is no room for error.

posted by jmd82 at 11:30 AM on December 16

Is there a baseball player with more claim to this title than Mariano Rivera? The Yankees went to four World Series, winning two, and Rivera was a crucial part of all of them. He's also been baseball's dominant closer for the decade.

posted by rcade at 11:49 AM on December 16

I don't see anything wrong with Tiger being named Athlete of the Decade. Sure there are other candidates that were deserving of the award but how can anyone argue what Tiger has accomplished on the golf course?

Question: Although it touches on this subject in the FPP I'll ask it anyway. If the Tiger scandal never took place, would anyone have a problem with Tiger being named Athlete of the Decade?

posted by BornIcon at 12:06 PM on December 16

He finished ahead of cyclist Lance Armstrong, tennis player Roger Federer, swimmer Michael Phelps, NFL quarterback Tom Brady and sprinter Usain Bolt

Why is Tom Brady even in that list? It just seems out of place...sort of like that Sesame Street "one of these things, is not like the others...one of these things, does not belong". Brady might not have been the best NFL QB in the past decade, much less the best football player, much less the best ATHLETE across all sports.

Not that he's not good, by any means...but just seems out of place when you talk about Tiger, Federer, Armstrong, Phelps...those guys had no peers in their sports, bar none.

posted by bdaddy at 12:16 PM on December 16

Is there a baseball player with more claim to this title than Mariano Rivera?

Honestly, I'm not trolling here, but yes: Barry Bonds.

posted by smithnyiu at 12:22 PM on December 16

Is there a baseball player with more claim to this title than Mariano Rivera?

No doubt Rivera is the greatest closer of all time, but his ERA could be 0.00 and I don't think I could vote for him simply because of his job (1 inning, at most 2... 2 out of 3 games, and my belief that the job of closer is overrated).

He was a crucial part, no doubt. But when you're talking Tiger, Federer, Phelps, you're talking, for the most part, athletes that aren't a small part. They are the whole thing.

posted by justgary at 12:28 PM on December 16

My personal "academic and impartial as I can be" vote would go to Federer, although I have no problem with a vote for Tiger.

The athlete that when I'm old and senile and need to be spoonfed I'll remember as being the largest influence on my personal fan life for this decade - Dirk.

posted by Ufez Jones at 12:39 PM on December 16

Sorry, but I just cannot endorse a golfer as the epitome of what an "athlete" looks like. Peers or no peers as far as what he's been able to accomplish on the golf course, golf is a leisure pursuit compared to the Tour de France, or the 100m dash, the Olympic swimming pool, or ...

What Usain Bolt did on the track exceeded the expectations of what would have happened in a decade ... we should call him the greatest athlete of the half century!

posted by Spitztengle at 12:46 PM on December 16

But when you're talking Tiger, Federer, Phelps, you're talking, for the most part, athletes that aren't a small part. They are the whole thing.

Are you implying that the Athlete of the Decade has to play an individual sport?

posted by bender at 01:00 PM on December 16

Why is Tom Brady even in that list?

I'm guessing it's the three Super Bowls in four appearances in the decade and leading the first 16-0 regular season. But it could be the goat cuddling too.

posted by yerfatma at 01:04 PM on December 16

I think he's implying that the AotD should be utterly dominating. Armstrong winning every single Tour de France, Federer being like unbeatable swiss clock-work, Tiger casting a huge shadow over the entire field every time he teed up, Phelps being faster than anyone in the world at every event he competed in, etc. And yes, they did it as solo performers.

By comparison, Brady- and I am a Patriots fan- didn't win 8 Superbowls... he won 3, and very much as part of a huge team effort and a brilliant coach. Had he won that Superbowl with the Giants, he becomes more significant- and probably inarguably the best QB of the decade. But still not in the same class as Lance, Tiger, or Federer.

Oh yeah, and I'd say Barry Bonds for baseball Athlete of the Decade, even having been forceably retired for the last 3 years. Maybe Pujols for similar reasons.

posted by hincandenza at 01:07 PM on December 16

For me, it's Roger Federer. He has reached the Grand Slam semis 22 tournaments in a row. Over 5 years. He's also appeared in 17 of the last 18 finals.

That's amazing, isn't it?

I have two criteria: 1. Consistency (performing at the highest levels over an extended period of time) 2. Wow factor (making me jump out of my easy chair and spill my beer in amazement over what I just saw)

Federer pegs the meter on both of these. Woods does, too, I guess, but maybe because I know tennis much better than I know golf, I put Fed higher. Like David Foster Wallace, when I watch him play, I keep saying to myself, "I didn't know that was possible."

However, considering wow factor only, my "single best athletic performance of the decade" belongs to Bolt. I remember shouting to my wife, "Getinhere!Getinhere!Getinhere!"

posted by Uncle Toby at 01:13 PM on December 16

But still not in the same class as Lance, Tiger, or Federer.

Well, those are largely (outside of Lance, sorta) solo sports. A single player, no matter how dominant, cannot win a team sport by themselves. It's easier to gain individual accolades if you're the only one competing.

That said, Federer seems like a better choice.

posted by dfleming at 01:38 PM on December 16

Question: Although it touches on this subject in the FPP I'll ask it anyway. If the Tiger scandal never took place, would anyone have a problem with Tiger being named Athlete of the Decade?

I really don't think his current situation would really have any bearing on it. After all, it is athlete, not man of the decade.

(There were comments made about Reggie White and his remarks about homosexuals, and Lawrence Taylor's admitted cocaine use when they were inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is one of those cases where athletic accomplishments have to be separated from the man himself.)

And while Tom Brady is a good QB, he wouldn't have even made the list if he played for, say, the Cleveland Browns or the Detroit Lions. He is an outstanding player on a team.

posted by steelergirl at 01:38 PM on December 16

Honestly, I'm not trolling here, but yes: Barry Bonds.

I'd have trouble choosing Bonds for that honor because he didn't win a single World Series ring over the decade.

posted by rcade at 01:46 PM on December 16

Are you implying that the Athlete of the Decade has to play an individual sport?

No. I'm implying that the best a closer can do is thrown a zero in the ninth and sometimes the eight. And that isn't someone I could vote for. I don't put that on par with Brady playing quarterback every game.

posted by justgary at 01:47 PM on December 16

While that's true, who in baseball would be more deserving to be considered athlete of the decade than Rivera? I can't think of anyone who better combines season-by-season achievement with postseason success over that period.

posted by rcade at 01:58 PM on December 16

The arguments presented above make it very hard for a team player to win this award. Very few teams are ever as dominate over 10 years as an individual can be.

Given that Tiger and Federer are both great choices, with Armstrong third. I lean toward Tiger.

No way Bonds deserves this, one he didn't even finish out the decade, two, he never helped his team win. Rivera, is definitely the most dominate closer in baseball, and he did compete at a high level throughout the decade. Just hard to vote for him given the reduced role that a closer has.

posted by dviking at 02:17 PM on December 16

While that's true, who in baseball would be more deserving to be considered athlete of the decade than Rivera?

Well, as an example, Barry Bonds. How much more can you contribute than being the best player in the game, the best player of your generation, one of the top 5, at least, players in the history of the game.

Put bonds on the Yankees and he probably has a few rings. I'm not sure how you can hold his not playing for a better team against him.

(I'm ignoring how many years Bonds was dominant in this decade, just commenting on the idea that he can't win because his team didn't win.)

posted by justgary at 02:18 PM on December 16

Even though there's still another year left in the decade, I want to throw Ichiro's name out there. All he did was rattle off 9 straight 200 hit seasons...

posted by MeatSaber at 02:23 PM on December 16

Well, Jimmie Johnson has won an unprecedented four straight NASCAR championships.

"NASCAR isn't a sport"

"Drivers aren't athletes"

&c

posted by mr_crash_davis at 02:33 PM on December 16

The first name I thought of, before I saw the rest of the finalists, was Brady. At worst, he would certainly be the NFL's representative as the best QB of the decade (unless Peyton goes 16-0 and wins the Super Bowl). And I wouldn't argue if he was named athlete of the decade.

I'm not sure how you can hold his not playing for a better team against him.

I think that the Athlete of the decade needs to be able to carry his team to at least one championship.*

*not having half the sporting world think you're a total scumbag would probably help as well.

posted by cjets at 02:43 PM on December 16

he wouldn't have even made the list if he played for, say, the Cleveland Browns or the Detroit Lions.

And if my mother had wheels, she might have been bicycle of the decade. Wait, let me rephrase that. If Tiger Woods had decided water polo was the sport for him he wouldn't have made the list either.

posted by yerfatma at 02:52 PM on December 16

While that's true, who in baseball would be more deserving to be considered athlete of the decade than Rivera?

Albert Pujols. No player has dominated several categories the way he has over a ten year period. He's got the number one average and slugging percentage of any active player and hit 366 homeruns. 8 all-star games, 3 MVP awards and a gold glove. As much success as Rivera has had in the postseason, at no time did Pujols have a comparable lineup to set him up the way Rivera has had.

posted by dfleming at 02:56 PM on December 16

*not having half the sporting world think you're a total scumbag would probably help as well.

IMO, I believe the only reason you said that is because of the way that the media has portrayed Bonds throughtout the years. Even though Bonds was never like Peyton Manning in front of the camera, what he did on the field is all I ever needed to see in order to know that something great was happening right before my eyes with his every at-bat.

posted by BornIcon at 03:00 PM on December 16

I think that the Athlete of the decade needs to be able to carry his team to at least one championship.

Which just shows how ridiculous the award is. Phelps, Federer, Woods can win on their own, independent of anyone else. Bonds has no such control. You're basically giving Rivera points for happening to play for the Yankees, because he doesn't have any rings, no matter how dominant he is, if he plays with the royals.

posted by justgary at 03:12 PM on December 16

I also have a problem using the word golfer and athlete in the same sentance. Also I think from an "athletic" standpoint, the best athlete of the decade would seem to me have to go to either Lance Armstrong, Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps as all three have shown dominance in athletic endeavors. As opposed to Woods and Federer who are no doubt the most skilled and dominant players in their games but athletically should not be included in the same category as the others. Just saying....

posted by Atheist at 03:22 PM on December 16

I'm in the (slow) process of compiling a MLB "Decade in Review" column for SportsFilter. I've finished a crap load of top 5 lists (they'll be posted in Google Docs spreadsheet format) and just finished the full list of everyone that got a vote for AL MVP from 2000-2009. I still have to do the NL and some combined lists, but at a glance the top 5 players for the past decade would probably be:

1. Albert Pujols
2. Barry Bonds
3. Alex Rodriguez (only player to get an MVP vote every season of the decade)
4. Mariano Rivera/Roy Halladay/Andy Pettitte (I need more pitching data to determine)
5. Ichiro Suzuki (just a hunch)

I reserve the right to change my mind by the time I finish all of my analysis.

posted by grum@work at 03:35 PM on December 16

You're basically giving Rivera points for happening to play for the Yankees, because he doesn't have any rings, no matter how dominant he is, if he plays with the royals.

JG, you're confusing me with someone else. I never thought Rivera should get it either. My pick, from the team sports category, was Brady.

Which just shows how ridiculous the award is.

No argument here. But as long as I am an honorary spofi judge (like the rest of you), I will apply my own criteria.

posted by cjets at 05:02 PM on December 16

Good list - my only question would be Pettite over Santana.

I think it the honour should be Federer or Woods. Either seems justifiable to me.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:03 PM on December 16

lists like these are always a bit suspect...too many variables, and how do you really compare the best baseball player to the best swimmer/golfer/tennis player?

I can almost see the argument about golfers not being true athletes, but I think tennis players prove their athletic abilities. Federer works harder during one set than Rivera does during one of his outings.

posted by dviking at 05:03 PM on December 16

Good list - my only question would be Pettite over Santana.

Yeah, he's in the mix too. He started late (wasn't a full-time starter until July 2003), and his time is split between AL and NL (making it a bit more difficult to compile and evaluate). It's things like that which make coming to a consensus very difficult.

posted by grum@work at 05:15 PM on December 16

As opposed to Woods and Federer who are no doubt the most skilled and dominant players in their games but athletically should not be included in the same category as the others. Just saying....

Given that Federer's matches can go for about 3 hours (and, for a couple of his epic matches, as long as 5 hours), and that he's running 90% of the time, I can't even fathom how you could say that Federer isn't "athletically" in the same category as the team sports participants.

posted by grum@work at 05:18 PM on December 16

I can't even fathom how you could say that Federer isn't "athletically" in the same category as the team sports participants.

Couldn't agree more. Federer is a phenomenal athlete and would be a great choice as well.

posted by cjets at 05:35 PM on December 16

I'm guessing it's the three Super Bowls in four appearances in the decade and leading the first 16-0 regular season.

52 other people didn't contribute to that?

At worst, he would certainly be the NFL's representative as the best QB of the decade (unless Peyton goes 16-0 and wins the Super Bowl)

At worst? And certainly? Pretty concrete terms. I see discussions all the time about "who would you take" (I think ESPN just ran one a few weeks back) and the results are always around 50%...so it doesn't seem so universal to me, at least.

My point wasn't to poo-poo Brady's achievements...simply to say that if you ask golf fans who is the best golfer, or cycling fan who is the best cyclist..... You get an almost universal answer. In those instances I would agree with your concrete terms. But ask football fans and you'll get some sort of split (you obviously split on a certain side due to 16-0 and championship rings but that doesn't mean everyone does).

posted by bdaddy at 05:44 PM on December 16

I might rescind my statement about Woods not qualifying as an athlete. An etymology of the word athlete [via Merriam-Webster] suggests that he would most definitely qualify. Golf, in my opinion, does not qualify as overly "athletic" contest, but contest nonetheless.

I'd still take a whole host of others before him though.

To continue with my cop-outs, I'd also say that picking any ONE athlete of any year/decade/century is never going to come without some contestation of its own. In the end, even "honourable mention" for this category should be enough for any of the individuals even remotely considered.

  • Main Entry: athlete Pronunciation: ˈath-ˌlēt, ˈa-thə-ˌlēt Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Latin athleta, from Greek athlētēs, from athlein to contend for a prize, from athlon prize, contest Date: 15th century : a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

    posted by Spitztengle at 06:59 PM on December 16

  • I might rescind my statement about Woods not qualifying as an athlete.

    No more athlete/not-an-athlete, please. It's the brother of sport/not-a-sport, and that whole family is bad news.

    posted by rcade at 07:49 PM on December 16

    52 other people didn't contribute to that?

    That's true of any NFL player anyone could name.

    At worst? And certainly? Pretty concrete terms.

    I can live with that. By the way, in case it's not clear from my user name, I'm not a Patriot fan. Pretty much exactly the opposite. But he's the only guy I can think of that led his team on two game winning drives in two separate Super Bowls in this decade.

    I think he's Jordanesque in his will to win and his ability to perform in the clutch. And I wish he would stop shredding my team.

    posted by cjets at 09:29 PM on December 16

    Armstrong spent 30% of the decade in retirement, but in the other 7 years he won 6 Tours and was third in the other one.

    Phelps spent 30% of the decade going through puberty. In four world championships he won 21 golds and 4 silvers. In two Olympic games, he won 14 golds and 2 bronzes. Over the course of the decade he broke 37 world records (four better than the previous career record held by Spitz). He was voted world swimmer of the year six times (or every year bar one since he turned 18).

    Federer became the most dominant player of the open era. He hasn't failed to reach at least the semi finals of a major since the French in 2004. In 24 grand slams from the start of the 2004 season, he failed to reach the final only four times, and of the ten matches he lost in total, nine of them were lost to the eventual champion.

    Woods won 12 majors in the decade, was runner-up 6 times and finished in the top ten 65% of the time in the 38 majors he played. He won the money list seven times, was second twice and 4th the other time. He won player of the year 8 times in the decade. In the 520 weeks of the decade, Woods was world number one for all but 32 of them.

    Usain Bolt broke "unbreakable" records and won handfuls of gold medals, but as he was a relative unknown for 70% of the decade, I don't think he should be in contention.

    Brady plays american football.

    Armstrong, Federer, Woods and Phelps all dominated their fields like no one before them, so it comes down to a question of which field is hardest to dominate. For my money, that's swimming - and therefore Phelps - all day long. You can protect your weaknesses in the other three sports, but there's no tactical hiding place in a swimming pool. I think you could argue that he's not only the greatest swimmer or the greatest Olympian, but possibly the greatest athlete of all time, let alone the last decade.

    Big statement. May still be drunk this morning.

    posted by JJ at 06:17 AM on December 17

    I think it's really sad that the article made no mention of even one woman being nominated. Nobody's surprised, but some of us are disappointed that "athlete" still apparently means only "male athlete", just as the ESPN website has "College basketball" and (well-buried) "women's basketball".

    posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:34 AM on December 17

    I think you could argue that he's not only the greatest swimmer or the greatest Olympian, but possibly the greatest athlete of all time, let alone the last decade.

    You're a little drunk still.

    Until an athlete dominates multiple sports like this guy, I don't think he can be considered the greatest athlete of all time.

    Pentathlon gold medal
    Decathlon gold medal
    Professional (and collegiate) football player
    Professional baseball player
    Professional basketball player

    posted by grum@work at 08:38 AM on December 17

    I think it's really sad that the article made no mention of even one woman being nominated.

    You are absolutely right, lbb. Annika Sorenstam immediately comes to mind. 10 major wins in the decade. In 2003 she was only the sixth player in LPGA history to complete the LPGA Career Grand Slam. And in 2001, became the only female golfer to shoot a 59 in competition. Sad indeed.

    posted by smithnyiu at 08:52 AM on December 17

    I think it's really sad that the article made no mention of even one woman being nominated.

    I agree with you LBB and in all honesty, I didn't even think about it until you pointed it out which is pretty sad. Smith was right with Sorenstam but a case can also be made for Lisa Leslie.

    Lisa Leslie was the 2001 Sportswoman of the Year an award given by the Women's Sports Foundation. In 2003, she became the first WNBA player to score over 3,000 total career points and was a major reason for the Sparks winning their second straight world championship that season. Two seasons later, she became the first player to reach the 4,000-career point milestone. Leslie was also the WNBA's MVP in 2001, 2004 and 2006 and the Defensive player of the year in 2004 and 2008 and was a WNBA All-Star in 1999-2003, 2005, 2006, 2009.

    posted by BornIcon at 09:14 AM on December 17

    Haley Wickenheiser:

    2 Olympic gold medals (ice hockey)
    7 Nations Cup gold medals
    3 World Championship gold medals

    plus, she participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics on the Canadian women's softball team.

    There is also a very good chance that she'll be the first female player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame within 2 years.

    posted by grum@work at 09:51 AM on December 17

    Unfortunately, I think all those women are invisible to the AP. That's the part that makes me sad.

    posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:07 PM on December 17

    Agreed, as the decade was still one in which sports remained segregated by sexual category, we should declare a Female Athlete and Male Athlete of the Decade. Well done to put this on the table, LBB!

    posted by Spitztengle at 12:11 PM on December 17

    Can anyone find the winners and more interestingly, votes for the last 4 or 5 decades? I have found references to Arnold Palmer as the 60s winner and Gretzky in the 80s. I would very confidently assume Jordan in the 90s and with a far less degree of certainty offer Ali in the 70s.

    The voting for this year broke down: Woods - 56, Armstrong - 33, Federer - 25, Phelps - 13, Brady - 6, Bolt -4, Manning - 1, Shaq - 1, Mannny Pacquaio - 1, Jimmie Johnson - 1, Pujols - 1.

    posted by dales15 at 12:42 PM on December 17

    I'd hope that the 90s included Mark Allen, who won 5 of 6 Ironman titles in the early part of the decade, while at the same time Miguel Indurain was winning the Tour de France 5 times as well.

    posted by Spitztengle at 03:39 PM on December 17

    On the women's side, Paula Newby-Fraser won Ironman like 8 times over the late-80s-early-mid-90s.

    posted by Spitztengle at 03:41 PM on December 17

    Interestingly enough, Tiger has also been named AVN's athlete of the decade.

    posted by irunfromclones at 03:45 PM on December 17

    No argument here. But as long as I am an honorary spofi judge (like the rest of you), I will apply my own criteria.

    Sure, you can use hair color as a criteria. I don't care.

    But for the title to mean anything (as much as it's possible) I hope the actual voters use/used criteria that is actually defensible.

    posted by justgary at 03:56 PM on December 17

    Sure, you can use hair color as a criteria.

    Then Keith Hernandez and Walt 'Clyde' Frazier are my athletes of the decade.

    posted by yerfatma at 04:45 PM on December 17

    Mia Hamm also had a helluva decade.

    These lists inevitably suck in some way.

    posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:18 PM on December 17

    But for the title to mean anything (as much as it's possible) I hope the actual voters use/used criteria that is actually defensible.

    As I had mentioned earlier in the post, the criteria in this case is that for a team player to win Athlete of the Decade, he must lead his team to at least one championship within the decade.

    Given that the goal of every team is to win their championship, it's not only defensible, it should be a prerequisite.

    posted by cjets at 08:17 PM on December 17

    Given that the goal of every team is to win their championship, it's not only defensible, it should be a prerequisite.

    1. This gives a much greater advantage to individual athletes. If you're the best swimmer, or runner, or tennis player, you only have to depend on yourself. If you're the best, you will win.

    2. An athlete in team sports can only do so much. If Brady is the best quarterback in the league, it won't make a difference if he's with the Raiders. Ted Williams is the greatest Red Sox player that ever lived. It would laughable to give it to Ortiz because he led them to a championship.

    This is the same kind of ridiculous thinking that in the past would have kept the Cy Young away from Greinke because his team was pathetic. Exactly how much more could have have done?

    Even if it is defensible, you should try defending it. Because you haven't so far.

    (unless you believe player of the decade should include the benefit of being lucky / chance.)

    posted by justgary at 08:51 PM on December 17

    1. This gives a much greater advantage to individual athletes. If you're the best swimmer, or runner, or tennis player, you only have to depend on yourself. If you're the best, you will win.

    Weren't you the one who said it was a ridiculous award? This is a good reason why. It's gonna favor athletes in individual sports whether or not a championship for a team sport is a prerequisite.

    Even if it is defensible, you should try defending it. Because you haven't so far.

    Wasn't that the part where I said that the ultimate goal in team sports is to win its championship. If you can't lead your team to a championship, I don't think you deserve to be athlete of the decade. Is it possible? Maybe. But to be better than every athlete in every sport over a ten year period without winning one championship? I just don't see it.

    And it's got NOTHING to do with who the best Red Sox player or who should the Cy Young. Particularly the Cy Young.

    This is the same kind of ridiculous thinking that in the past would have kept the Cy Young away from Greinke because his team was pathetic. Exactly how much more could have have done?

    Ridiculous thinking? It's a pleasure talking to you too.

    posted by cjets at 11:35 PM on December 17

    Even if it is defensible, you should try defending it. Because you haven't so far.

    Not to butt into someone else's battle here, but the individual athletes mentioned are only in contention due to winning consistently throughout the decade...why would it be any different for a team player?

    As to the Cy Young award, not only does the pitcher's team's success come into play, but since it's an award voted on by the baseball writers who knows what's going to play into it. Hard for a small market player to get the exposure needed...but perhaps that's another thread.

    posted by dviking at 01:07 AM on December 18

    Kelly Slater or Layne Beachley?

    Let's say a pro athlete's career is around 12 to 15 years, from their early twenties until mid thirties. Kelly Slater was World Champion, and hence the best on the planet in a competitive field, NINE times. However, I do concede that 5 of those titles happened before this 'decade', as we have it defined.

    So that leaves Layne Beachley - World Champion SEVEN times, the first in 1998, then in this decade: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

    posted by owlhouse at 03:39 AM on December 18

    As to the Cy Young award, not only does the pitcher's team's success come into play, but since it's an award voted on by the baseball writers who knows what's going to play into it. Hard for a small market player to get the exposure needed...but perhaps that's another thread.

    Zack Greinke won it this year on a terrible team in perhaps the least covered market in baseball.

    posted by dfleming at 07:34 AM on December 18

    really?

    the point was that it's harder for a guy like Greinke to win the award...just like it's harder for a guy like Mauer to win MVP. I didn't say impossible

    posted by dviking at 09:48 AM on December 18

    So that leaves Layne Beachley - World Champion SEVEN times, the first in 1998, then in this decade: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

    1999 isn't considered part of this "decade".
    Where decade is defined as the same first 3 digits in the calendar year.

    /pedantic

    posted by grum@work at 12:38 PM on December 18

    If you can't lead your team to a championship, I don't think you deserve to be athlete of the decade.

    Then you better be on a good team, right? Because Tom Brady isn't leading the Raiders to a championship. A-Rod finally gets his ring when he's traded to the Yankees and they spend half a billion on free agents to help him.

    You can not lead a bad team to a championship. So you're penalizing a player for who drafted him, or where he's traded, or who signs him. So, as I said, if you want to include criteria out of the players control then by all means include championships. All I can conclude is that we're talking about two completely different awards. I'm thinking Athlete of the decade = best athlete of the decade. You're saying it equals most successful athlete of the decade. Those aren't necessarily the same thing.

    Ridiculous thinking?

    Yes, for the actual voters to add team accomplishments as a criteria for awards for personal achievement is, the high majority of the time, ridiculous and results in bad selections.

    It's a pleasure talking to you too.

    Same here!

    Not to butt into someone else's battle here, but the individual athletes mentioned are only in contention due to winning consistently throughout the decade...why would it be any different for a team player?

    Because the individual athlete has his success completely in his own hands. Team players do not have that luxury. Bonds can hit 4 home runs in a game, be the best player on the field, and still lose because his team lost. If you're the best swimmer on that day, you win.

    Maybe that's why most of the possible selections are individual athletes. Their domination shows success much easier and consistently than an athlete that is part of a team.

    It seems like a fundamental difference tying a players success to his team as opposed to not in my opinion.

    posted by justgary at 01:54 PM on December 18

    Then you better be on a good team, right? Because Tom Brady isn't leading the Raiders to a championship.

    Wrong. The Patriots were 5-11 the year before Brady stepped in for Bledsoe and led them to the super bowl. So they were hardly a good team.

    And who's to say Brady could not have led the Raiders to multiple Super Bowl wins. If Brady was the Raiders QB in 2001, maybe they win the Super Bowl that year and build on their success.

    The Indianapolis Colts were 3-13 the year before Peyton Manning joined and 3-13 his first season. Since then, they've averaged 11 wins a season. So they were not a good team either before Peyton joined.

    You're saying it equals most successful athlete of the decade.

    No. I believe that great players make their team better. Brady did it. Manning did it. So did Michael Jordan for that matter.

    Same here!

    I think this is a fun and ultimately unprovable topic. Great bar room argument. But with your snark, fightiness and obnoxious comments directed at me, you've sucked the fun right out of it for me.

    I had the same problem with another member of the Pantheon recently so if you guys want me gone, just say so. I'll happily deactivate my account or feel free to ban me.

    posted by cjets at 02:44 PM on December 18

    Because Tom Brady isn't leading the Raiders to a championship.

    Bad example. Brady was leading Patriots when the Raiders reached the Super Bowl in 2002, and he was the quarterback a year earlier when the Patriots kept the Raiders out of the bowl. Put him on the Raiders during those two years, and it's easily possible they win one or two rings.

    People have blocked out the recent years in which the Raiders were good.

    posted by rcade at 02:45 PM on December 18

    I had the same problem with another member of the Pantheon recently so if you guys want me gone, just say so.

    Sorry. I don't think you can get away from us that easily. I know we exchanged some unpleasantries during another argument of this kind, but I hope you didn't take anything I said too personally. And I've forgiven what you said about my mother, who in point of fact is a slovenly trollop.

    posted by rcade at 02:52 PM on December 18

    Sorry. I don't think you can get away from us that easily.

    Heh. I can't quit you, rcade.

    posted by cjets at 03:03 PM on December 18

    Wrong. The Patriots were 5-11 the year before Brady stepped in for Bledsoe and led them to the super bowl. So they were hardly a good team.

    Okay, we're going in circles so I'll just end here. If you want to believe that Brady was the only difference between a 5-11 team and a super bowl champion we'll agree to disagree.

    We're also discussing degrees here. Jordan, being one of 5 can certainly influence his team more than a baseball player could. Brady, being a quarterback and involved in every offensive play, has much more influence than a player like bonds. And a single athlete running a sprint has everything in his own hands.

    Bottom line is a team player must rely on other players to win championships. If Brady leads his offense to 40 points he has to rely on the receivers to catch the ball and the runners to not fumble the ball. He has to hope his defense doesn't give up 41 points.

    No matter how much influence a player has on his team, he doesn't do it on his own. Some of Bonds seasons were unbelievably good, and I can't fathom how you can fault him for not doing more. He's not in charge of pitching, and he can do nothing about it if it's bad. And, of course, pitching is HUGE in being a winning baseball team.

    I believe that great players make their team better.

    And yes, of course Bonds made his teams better. Again, that a player can will any team, no matter how bad, to victory is a romantic notion that simply isn't true. A-Rod was always a great player. The fact that Sabathia pitched lights out in the WS doesn't make him a greater player.

    Bad example.

    Should have been more clear. Was only referring to the Raiders of this year as an example. A better one, put any one player on the Royals for the last decade and they don't win a thing, no matter how he plays.

    But with your snark, fightiness and obnoxious comments directed at me, you've sucked the fun right out of it for me.

    The only thing I said that I feel was borderline was using the word ridiculous. But I was referring to the idea, which was clear, not to you. Debate the idea, not the person is the mantra I try to practice.

    Quoting my saying 'same here!' when it was in response to your sarcasm is a little ironic, don't ya think?

    Regardless, you're taking this much more seriously and personal than I am. I don't know what else to tell you.

    posted by justgary at 03:46 PM on December 18

    If you want to believe that Brady was the only difference between a 5-11 team and a super bowl champion we'll agree to disagree.

    Yeah. I take the general point, but the 2000 and 2001 Patriot teams were nothing like each other. To say (2000 + Brady - (37/38 x Bledsoe*)) = 2001 Patriots is to ignore the mass changes Belichick made from the Pete Carroll/ Bobby Grier Pats.

    * Drew played the second half of the 2001 AFC Championship and did well, further proof 2001 != 2000 for the Patriots.

    posted by yerfatma at 04:08 PM on December 18

    Because the individual athlete has his success completely in his own hands. Team players do not have that luxury. Bonds can hit 4 home runs in a game, be the best player on the field, and still lose because his team lost. If you're the best swimmer on that day, you win.

    Keeping in mind, of course, that many of the medals Phelps won were as part of a relay team.

    Just to clarify my position on this: The fact that a team player has a hard time winning this award unless their team consistently wins, isn't fair, but it is reality. Most awards go to winners, not to the best competitor. The occassional Cy Young award going to a guy like Zack Greinke is the exception, not the rule.

    posted by dviking at 05:14 PM on December 18

    Keeping in mind, of course, that many of the medals Phelps won were as part of a relay team.

    Well, you're nitpicking. You're correct, but Phelps individual honors, including 5 individual gold medals at the Olympics, is why he's considered. And in a 4 man relay he still would have much more influence on the outcome than say, Bonds.

    But feel free to substitute Tiger or Federer's name for Phelps. My point is the same.

    Most awards go to winners, not to the best competitor.

    Agreed. Doesn't make it right.

    The occassional Cy Young award going to a guy like Zack Greinke is the exception, not the rule.

    I believe, at least in baseball, you're going to be wrong very soon. Things are changing, and I hope more sports writers will continue to question past criteria just as analysts are starting to realize batting average isn't as important as once thought.

    posted by justgary at 05:57 PM on December 18

    Because Tom Brady isn't leading the Raiders Lions to a championship.

    Fixed.

    posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 05:58 PM on December 18

    Thanks YYM! Better than any of my examples.

    posted by justgary at 06:15 PM on December 18

    I believe, at least in baseball, you're going to be wrong very soon. Things are changing, and I hope more sports writers will continue to question past criteria just as analysts are starting to realize batting average isn't as important as once thought.

    While that writer is arguing a different point, that being that the pitcher's number of victories should not be the main criteria on which the Cy Young is based, I do hope that the writers continue to recognize players on teams in smaller markets that didn't necessarily win the pennant.

    As to your other points, I think we really agree on the underlying issues, hard for a team player to control the outcome, but they still get passed over if their team doesn't win, so I'll leave it at that.

    posted by dviking at 08:25 PM on December 18

    While that writer is arguing a different point

    It's basically the same point I'm making in this thread. Greinke won the cy young despite only winning 16 games. In the past he would have lost. Even though he was the best pitcher in the league, and made the royals a better team, he can only do so much as one player.

    Mauer won the American League MVP because he was the leagues best player, despite his team being knocked out of the playoffs.

    I don't see the athlete of the decade as being different. That's not to say that team success can't play a role in a tight race, but if one player is clearly the best athlete I don't believe it makes any sense to penalize him unless he's also GM and putting the team together.

    posted by justgary at 01:49 AM on December 19

    The Cy Young award and Athlete of the Decade are very different awards.

    One is very focused on one position player, in one sport, for one year. We have a better chance to determine a pitcher's abilities/worth compared to his peers over one year, than we do when comparing a swimmer/golfer/tennis player to a NFL QB or a MLB outfielder/hitter over ten years.

    That Mauer and Greinke both won this past year gives me hope that the Baseball Writers Guild is waking up a bit

    posted by dviking at 10:57 AM on December 19

    One is very focused on one position player, in one sport, for one year. We have a better chance to determine a pitcher's abilities/worth compared to his peers over one year, than we do when comparing a swimmer/golfer/tennis player to a NFL QB or a MLB outfielder/hitter over ten years.

    Okay, I'm obviously having trouble getting my point across so I'll give it one more try and move on.

    1. I understand the difference between the awards. It doesn't matter.

    2. It's only the aspect of applying team accomplishments to individual achievement that I'm referring to.

    3. That doesn't change no matter how many sports are involved or how many years we're talking about.

    If you add team accomplishments to an individual award, for all the reasons I've listed, you're putting part of the award in the hands of others. Again, the sport, the length of the award, cy young, MVP, gold glove, basketball, football, it doesn't matter.

    It's like taking points away from Barry Sanders for best running back ever because he didn't win a Super Bowl. He played for the lions. Emmitt Smith played for the cowboys. If a voter picks Smith over Sanders because of Smith's super bowl wins, that award is a joke.

    So if a voter wants to include team accomplishment in awarding Athlete of the Decade that's fine, as long as the realize they've skewed the voting to players that play for the Yankees, or Lakers, and to individual athletes that don't depend on the 'team'*. That makes it a different award.

    *and I think that's shown quite clearly in the number of individual athletes mentioned as opposed to team players. If you're the best golfer, you'll show it with wins. You can be the best baseball, football, basketball player and have nothing to show for it. (Ted Williams, Barry Sanders, Barry Bonds, etc.). Roger Clemens is the best pitcher of his generation (PEDs aside) and if he doesn't get traded to the Yankees, a team already winning championships, he's never won a world series.

    posted by justgary at 12:37 PM on December 19

    Me thinks you're overreacting to what I've said.

    From my past posts in this thread: The fact that a team player has a hard time winning this award unless their team consistently wins, isn't fair, but it is reality.

    I think we really agree on the underlying issues, hard for a team player to control the outcome, but they still get passed over if their team doesn't win

    That being said, I do think the Cy Young and Athlete of the Decade are very different, and that a pitcher like Greinke stands a chance of winning the Cy Young even though his team sucks, whereas Barry Bonds didn't stand a chance in the Athlete of the Decade voting because he never won a title...oh, and the PED thing.

    posted by dviking at 02:10 PM on December 19

    I do think the Cy Young and Athlete of the Decade are very different

    Sorry, I missed this while out of town.

    The problem is you're telling me they're different, but not the way they're different. Are the qualifications different? Perception of the awards? I can't really comment without knowing how you think they're different.

    posted by justgary at 07:43 PM on December 22

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