May 12, 2005

Run, Rickey, Run!: Rickey Henderson should keep playing ball until his legs fall off, argues SportsFilter columnist wfrazerjr. "Even during the twilight of his career, when Rickey was posting batting averages of .233, .227, .223 in near-full seasons, he was still getting on base more than 36% of the time."

posted by rcade to baseball at 07:21 AM - 23 comments

I don't care how many times they show Willie Mays lost in the outfield in the last year he played. I support the right of any pro athlete to be a bitter-ender. When a sportswriter goes on a tear about how Michael Jordan should have quit with his sixth title or Emmitt Smith should have never played for the Cardinals, I always want to ask them a question: At what age will you quit covering sports because of diminishing skills? Most sportshacks I know write until they crumble to dust like a Nazi at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

posted by rcade at 07:25 AM on May 12

I remember the Jays getting Ricky for the playoffs in the "twilight" of his career... 12 years ago. Uh, someone forgot to tell him, apparently. Sure - go get 'em; I think this is what my gradnparents called 'gumption'. I would be shocked to see him in a ML uniform, though. Teams in similar situations to the ones you describe have been around for the past two years and his phone didn't ring. Though KC is super bad - but that also could suggest that they give that roster spot to a guy who might actually be playing for them in another two years.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:34 AM on May 12

What are the odds that anyone who wasn't good enough to make the Royals opening day roster will be in the league in two years?

posted by rcade at 07:50 AM on May 12

"Pay Rickey," is Rickey's column from the great, fake Baseball Tonite blog. I wanted to call this column “Pay Rickey,” because that’s what people need to do. Pay Rickey. If Tony Gwynn was making a comeback, people would pay Tony. People love Tony Gwynn. People hate Rickey. They say, “Tony Gwynn gave 110%.” Rickey gave 140%! They say, “Tony Gwynn was a five-tool player.” Rickey is a six-tool player! Here are some other players that Rickey Henderson is better than: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners: People say Ichiro is the next Rickey Henderson. Ichiro has 157 stolen bases. Rickey Henderson has 1406. Therefore, Rickey is exactly nine times as great as Ichiro. People say Rickey is egotistical. Rickey never wore a jersey that said “Rickey”! And Ichiro cheats. He starts running before he swings. Even though Rickey is a lefty, he's so confident in his baserunning abilities that he actually bats right-handed.

posted by crank at 08:05 AM on May 12

i was hoping he would come back to the newark bears this year, but i'm just happy he's playing somewhere. i read a comment somewhere saying that rickey will probably miss his own induction into the hall of fame because he has a game.

posted by goddam at 08:14 AM on May 12

I agree with those who say: "let Ricky play if he wants to." I dont like how he is becoming a "punch Line" for many talking heads. I just dont want anything to overshadow the fact that he was "greatest of all time" leadoff man. Which he, indeed, was!

posted by daddisamm at 08:35 AM on May 12

Crank: thanks for posting that. Funny, funny stuff.

posted by NoMich at 08:59 AM on May 12

I've always loved Rickey Henderson since the day he walked into the league. I remember being in Scottsdale, Arizona as a kid during one of his first years in the league (possibly his very first). He was a great, fun guy then, and he continues to be. Even at his advancing age he's a physical specimen. Young players can only hope to be in as fantastic shape as Rickey is now. And there's nothing minor leaguers appreciate or learn more from than a playing with, living with, and practicing with a guy like Henderson, who's been through more and probably forgotten more about being in "The Show" than many of them will ever experience, combined. He's had a great career and still, beyond everything else, loves the game. And, like Crank says, Ichiro is boring compared to Rickey. Ichiro can play, but let's see him lead off a few games with homers at the rate Henderson did during his career, then we'll compare.

posted by dyams at 09:40 AM on May 12

Who would win in a foot race between Ricky and Jerry Rice?

posted by mayerkyl at 09:40 AM on May 12

Okay, to be fair: Ichiro is the only player alive who even has it in him to do what Rickey has done. He just needs to do it for another 15 years, and he'll be right there.

posted by chicobangs at 11:30 AM on May 12

I heard someone say that Rickey Henderson is one of the few players that could be split in two (leadoff Rickey and base-stealing Rickey) and both would make the Hall of Fame. He's not playing for the money. He's not playing for the fans. He's not playing for the stats. He's not playing for the fame. He's playing for the fun of it. There aren't too many of those guys left in sports, so if he wants to keep playing, I'll keep cheering. Note: I think he'd be a MUCH better choice for the Yankees in LF than Tony Womack.

posted by grum@work at 11:51 AM on May 12

I agree any player should play as long as they are able. Except Pete Rose Jr. Go away, already.

posted by vito90 at 12:03 PM on May 12

Shouldn't he be forced to put any "retirement" gifts from his former teams into storage though? I mean, until he actually gives it up he shouldn't be able to enjoy the use of those items.

posted by YukonGold at 12:12 PM on May 12

Note: I think he'd be a MUCH better choice for the Yankees in LF than Tony Womack. that has been brought up many times over the past week amongst fans. although i can't really complain about womack's performance as of late. that being said, i wouldn't mind seeing rickey in pinstripes one more time. he would have to duke it out with tino if he wanted his old number back though.

posted by goddam at 01:38 PM on May 12

does this level of response to a column speak towards the wisdom of publicizing them as a thread? or is it the topic? or is it both? If he's got the tools then he should play as long as he wants. If he's sticking it out in leagues outside the MLB system (?) then it does display a love for the game. More credit to him.

posted by gspm at 02:02 PM on May 12

Well, that or an unwillingness to find another thing to do with his life. I know, you say tomahto, I say Rickey Hates Card Shows & Golf.

posted by chicobangs at 03:17 PM on May 12

I wanted to call this column “Pay Rickey,” because that’s what people need to do. Pay Rickey. If Tony Gwynn was making a comeback, people would pay Tony. People love Tony Gwynn. People hate Rickey. They say, “Tony Gwynn gave 110%.” Rickey gave 140%! They say, “Tony Gwynn was a five-tool player.” Rickey is a six-tool player! Just to pierce Rickey's logic here (and yes I know it's a fake quote), but no one in their right mind would pay Tony Gwynn to do anything that requires him to be ambulatory. Half the reason the Padres had Rickey on the team in the late nineties was to function as Tony's legs.

posted by LionIndex at 03:53 PM on May 12

I don't know how to read the level of response to this, as I wonder if the same amount of response would have come if I had just posted this as a news story. It's neat, though. I would like to continue seeing them in the sidebar. I kind of like knowing I have a place over there. It's also just gratifying to have rcade call me "SportFilter columnist wfrazerjr". It makes me sound all offcial and whatnot. I didn't add what Rickey did in the 30 games he played with the Dodgers in 2003. He only hit .208, but he still got on at .321 clip, which begs the question -- if he hit .200 for the Yankees but had an OBP of .310, would he be worth picking up? Depends. If you're talking about replacing Tony Womack (.292 BA, .336 OBP), then no. If you're talking about replacing Bernie Williams (.269 BA, .296 OBP) ... hmm.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:45 PM on May 12

Rickey probably has more baseball left in him than Bernie does. And as long as Rickey's strike zone is the size of a cigarette box, Rickey will be able to reach base.

posted by chicobangs at 05:14 PM on May 12

i think this should still appear in the sidebar. i thought the thread based announcement (and discussion, as it were) was a good supplement to a sidebar announcement.

posted by gspm at 07:03 PM on May 12

I loved the column, and totally agree with it. I would love to see Rickey in a MLB uniform sometime this season. Can you imagine the razzing some young pitcher would get if he walked and then allowed a steal to a guy damn near old enough to be his grandpa?

posted by dusted at 10:23 PM on May 12

Rickey's only 3 homeruns short of 300 for his major league career. Though I don't know if he could make it, it would be nice to see some out of it club add him to their roster in September to see if he could make it. The same with Andrés Galarraga, who is one short of 400, but retired again this year after coming back from two bouts with cancer. At least it might give something for the fans of last place clubs to be excited about as their teams just play out the season.

posted by graymatters at 02:54 PM on May 13

I should point out that while we praise Rickey Henderson for continuing to play, there is an even OLDER player that is still playing in the majors: Julio Franco. He's already had the greatest season by a 45 year old, and is on his way to having the greatest season by a 46 year old...unless Rickey makes it back and challenges him.

posted by grum@work at 11:04 AM on May 16

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