Mantle or Mays? A-Rod or Jeter? Biggio or Morgan? Clemens, Maddux, and Randy Johnson -- or Pedro, Palmer, and Carlton? These are questions baseball fans can spend endless hours debating. Former All-Star pitcher and National League Manager of the Year Larry Dierker has his own opinions, and he shares them in My Team, his fascinating discussion of the greatest players he has seen in his four decades in the major leagues.
Dierker selects twenty-five players for My Team and another twenty-five for the opposition, the Underdogs, or "Dogs." There are two players at each position, five starting pitchers, and four relievers. (When your starters are the likes of Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, and Juan Marichal, you don't worry about bullpen depth.) All are players that Dierker has played with or against or watched in his years as player, coach, manager, and commentator. Each athlete must have played at least ten years in the major leagues to qualify, and players are judged on their ten best seasons. Leadership skills and personality -- critical components of team chemistry -- are highly valued.
So how is it possible to select two teams composed of outstanding ballplayers from the past forty years and not have room for Sandy Koufax, Reggie Jackson, Carl Yastrzemski, or Cal Ripken Jr.? Dierker explains his choices, analyzing each position carefully, always putting the team ahead of the individual player. He provides statistics to back up his selections, and often relates personal anecdotes about the players. (From his first All-Star Game in 1969, Dierker offers a wonderful anecdote about Hank Aaron, by then an All-Star veteran.)
My Team may start more debates than it settles, but Dierker's insights, and his passion for the game, will enlighten and fascinate true baseball fans.