Monday, May 31, 2021

from a to z three ways

another a to z challenge! this one courtesy of the diamond king after the musical challenge put forth by the collector. for the latter, i just listed my favorite bands in the comments but figured i would do a post for this list.

i decided to limit my favorite players to those that i've been able to follow during my fandom otherwise the list would be largely populated by hall of famers. however, i'll also list players representing each letter that are favorites from the group of "oldtimers" that were retired before i started following baseball, as well as current, active favorites.

favorite a: roberto alomar. i'm not happy with this pick given alomar's recent ban from baseball, but if i am being honest, i was a big fan of his during the 1990's. i can't pretend that dave anderson or billy ashley or don aase were more deserving of my fandom.

favorite retired a: hank aaron. 
no contest, although i do think highly of rich/dick allen.

favorite current a: ronald acuna jr. i don't like to see him hit against the dodgers, but otherwise, he is fun to watch.

favorite b: don baylor. my first favorite non-dodger player, baylor gets the nod over dusty baker, george brett, johnny bench, wade boggs, and even more recent guys that i enjoyed following like jose bautista. i considered putting mookie betts here, and in a year or two, maybe he will overtake baylor.

favorite retired b: ernie banks. mr. cub was among the first hall of fame players for whom i actively pursued cards. his 1971 topps card was a favorite.

favorite current b: mookie betts. 
2020 world champion and a five tool talent.

favorite c: ron cey 
and rod carew. 
i am going to declare a tie here, and that says a lot about how i feel about rod carew.

favorite retired c: ty cobb 
over roberto clemente. another tough one. i was amazed (and still am) at ty cobb's stats, but i chose clemente as the subject of a fifth grade report in the early years of my baseball fandom. it's a toss-up.

favorite current c: miguel cabrera. i really hope he gets to 3,000 hits...

favorite d: andre dawson. the hawk! 'nuff said.

favorite retired d: al downing and don drysdale. al downing was the first former major leaguer i met who had been a dodger, and he was very nice to me. he asked me questions about little league and wished me luck. i was awestruck. and then there is big d who i can't discount as a favorite.

favorite current d: jacob degrom. he's been on my fantasy team the last few years and i expect 7 scoreless and 10+ strikeouts every time. too bad the mets don't score any runs for him.

favorite e: andre ethier over darrell evans. evans was sneaky good with some big career counting stats, but ethier played for the dodgers long enough for me to appreciate him more.

retired e: luke easter. the first 1951 topps card i owned was of easter, and it inspired me to learn more about his career. his big league tenure was hampered by injuries, but he was a great player. his first name was luscious! not lucius, but luscious! that's fantastic.

current e: eduardo escobar. former twin alert here. even though he plays for the dbacks, i like escobar thanks to his tenure with the twinkies. he was a good guy, and somewhere we have a photo with him and brian dozier.

favorite f: carlton fisk. i was confused when he changed his sox, but for a card collector he was a standout on cardboard as well as the field.

favorite retired f: jimmie foxx. little kids (like i was) dig the long ball, and foxx was the national league's answer to babe ruth. i was furiously a national league fan, and so celebrated foxx as the national league and right-handed single season home run record king when my yankee-fan neighbors would mention ruth or maris and 60/61 homers in a season.

favorite current f: freddie freeman. not much to choose from here, and freeman was a beast on my fantasy team a couple of years ago.

favorite g: steve garvey 
over vladimir guerrero and nomar garciaparra and shawn green. lots of my faves have "g" last names, but nobody is unseating the garv.

favorite retired g: lou gehrig. 
the iron horse is easily in my top 5 favorite players of all time.

favorite current g: vladimir guerrero jr. having a breakout season this year, and i am wondering if the guerrero father/son tandem will pass the bonds father and son in combined offensive categories. it will be fun to watch.

favorite h: rickey henderson over orel hershiser. 
rickey was always exciting to watch and, while i will always be thankful for 1988, rickey is the greatest of all-time.

favorite retired h: gil hodges. i think hodges should be in the hall of fame.

favorite current h: enrique hernandez. just a guy who has fun playing the game, and came up big in big moments for the dodgers.

favorite i: cesar izturis over whichever iorg brother got the game-winning hit in game 6 of the 1985 world series. there wasn't much to enjoy about the dodger teams in the early part of this century, but izturis at least won a gold glove.

favorite retired i: monte irvin. another career that was too short thanks to racism and small-minded men.

favorite current i: jonathan india. not a lot to choose from, but i really hope the angels can make a run and they will need players like india to do it.

favorite j: reggie jackson. this might seem counterintuitive, but even though reggie broke my heart in 1977, i was in awe.

favorite retired j: shoeless joe jackson. i suppose i've bought in to the idea that jackson didn't know what was going on in 1919 and that his performance shows he tried to win. 

favorite current j: kenley jansen. i have a lot of respect for jansen with what he has been through the last few seasons. he still wants the ball and has had some strong outings this season. still, time waits for no man.

favorite k: clayton kershaw over matt kemp. if kemp had been able to play his entire career with the dodgers, maybe this ranking is different.

favorite retired k: sandy koufax. 
a no-doubter.

favorite current k: clayton kershaw. 
the rare current favorite is also my all-time favorite. 

favorite l: dave lopes. 
it takes a true favorite to get me to make a t-shirt with this on it:

favorite retired l: jim lefebvre. my dad's favorite player from the post-koufax era dodgers.

favorite current l: francisco lindor. i am glad he's out of the al central for the twins' sake.

favorite m: joe mauer 
over eddie murray and paul molitor. i never got tired of watching mauer hit.

favorite retired m: willie mays. 
here's where my national league tendencies show in choosing mays over mantle.

favorite current m: adalberto mondesi. rooting for the son of a former favorite dodger of mine.

favorite n: hideo nomo. 
what a great time to have been living in southern california - 1995 and nomomania.

favorite retired n: joe nuxhall. nothing like learning about nuxhall as a 10-year old and realizing that you only have five years to break his record of being the youngest player in big league history.

favorite current n: omar narvaez. he was on my fantasy team a couple of years ago after i forgot to draft a catcher and he played well. i keep an eye on him as a result.

favorite o: al oliver. i enjoyed following his career which included a very short stint with the dodgers. definitely a hall of very good player at the least.

favorite retired o: mel ott. i saw his name a lot as a young fan thanks to the placards on the outfield fence at candlestick and so learned about his career early on.

favorite current o: shohei ohtani. it is hard not to be amazed by what ohtani is doing this year. i hope he stays healthy and plays for a long time.

favorite p: mike piazza 
over yasiel puig. puig's 2013 season is one i will never forget, but to have mike piazza on the scene after the worst season in dodger history restored hope for a lot of fans, including this one.

favorite retired p: satchel paige. i jangle when i walk sometimes.

favorite current p: joc pederson or albert pujols. 
i haven't followed joc as closely as i thought i would this year, and with pujols now on the dodgers, i think i am rooting harder for the machine.

favorite q: jamie quirk. because he was in the 1978 topps set.

favorite retired q: frank quilici. former twin player and manager is the reason i chose him here. met him once at a twins event, too.

favorite current q: cal quantrill. a canadian son of a former dodger.

favorite r: pete rose over bill russell. a tough one given my love for the infield, but rose was larger than life to me as a kid, and he signed my autograph book even though i annoyed him.

favorite retired r: jackie robinson. lots of choices here, but jackie makes me proud to be a baseball and a dodger fan.

favorite current r: hyun-jin ryu. wishing him all the success in the world in toronto dunedin buffalo.

favorite s: ryne sandberg over steve sax and reggie smith and tom seaver and ichiro and don sutton. again, lots to choose from here, and on another day i might choose sax over sandberg. it's that close.

favorite retired s: duke snider. 
i was thankful as a kid to have snider as a comeback to the other neighborhood kids (giant and yankee fans) touting mays and mantle.

favorite current s: corey seager. world series mvp!

favorite t: jim thome. amazed at how hard he hit the ball and thankful that he played for the twins where i could see him hit in person a few times.

favorite retired t: jeff torborg. caught a few no-hitters and was in the 1978 topps set with a manager card that showed him as a dodger. i don't consider it to be a dodger card, but it was cool nonetheless.

favorite current t: fernando tatis jr. so much fun to watch. he's also been on my fantasy team for the last 3 years and so what if he celebrates his home runs?

favorite u: chase utley. 
i didn't care much for him in 2008 and 2009, but i always respected his game.

favorite retired u: bob uecker. i read "catcher in the wry" at a young age and also watched "mr. belvedere", but i think i first knew uecker from miller lite commercials.

favorite current u: julio urias. not overly pleased with this one because of the domestic battery arrest, but he brought home the 2020 world series title and for that i am thankful.

favorite v: fernando valenzuela 
over robin ventura. just like 1995 and nomomania, it was a blast to be a dodger fan in 1981 and fernandomania.

favorite retired v: dazzy vance. with a name like dazzy, how could i not like this former dodger? he showed up in a book of dover reprints that i got in 1979 and i was sold.

favorite current v: joey votto. hoping that this canadian finishes strong with counting stats big enough for the hall of fame.

favorite w: dave winfield. i thought it was amazing that he went straight to the majors from college and was drafted in multiple sports. i was happy, however, that he turned in to "mr. may" in the 1981 world series.

favorite retired w: maury wills over ted williams. only because i am a dodger fan do i put wills over williams. knowing that wills held a record for stolen bases when my fandom began was huge.

favorite current w: jesse winker. he's on my fantasy team this year, so i am hoping his breakout season continues. when i went to a game in cincy a couple of years ago, i had no idea who he was. some kids near me were yelling at him while he was doing sprints before the game, and them yelling "winker" over and over had me thinking they were yelling "wanker" for some reason.


favorite y: steve yeager over yaz and yount. tough to beat the catcher from the team of my youth and the guy whose card is in my header.

favorite retired y: cy young. you learn about 511 career wins pretty early when you start reading about baseball history, and it's a number that stands out.

favorite current y: mike yastrzemski. i like family ties in baseball, even if this one plays for the wrong team in the nl west.

favorite z: could make a case for todd zeile or joe zdeb, whose name confounded me as a kid opening packs of 1978 topps, but this letter goes to richie zisk, for whom i was happy when his 1979 topps card came out with the all-star designation he missed in 1978.

favorite retired z: don zimmer. a former dodger, but the fact that he was still around the game when my fandom began cements his status here.

favorite current z: ryan zimmerman. not a lot to choose from, but it's nice to see that the nationals' first ever draft pick panned out nicely for them. i still miss the expos, though.

finally, i am following fuji's lead and adding my favorite bands a to z list here as well:

the alarm - wish i had seen them in concert. i still play their albums quite often, even the newer stuff that mike peters has released.

black rebel motorcycle club - love their sound and evolution over the years. i saw them live at first avenue a few years ago. stood behind the sound desk and never realized that the guy running the desk was michael been from another favorite band of mine, the call. i knew his son was in the band, but sadly didn't recognize him.

the cult - just a fun band to crank with the windows down back in the 80's. saw them live at first ave a few years ago as well, and ian astbury sounded great. somewhere i have a pick that billy duffy threw in to the crowd at the end of the show. the last mosh pit i was in, and likely ever will be in, was at that show.

the doors - started listening to them in 1987 or so and couldn't get enough for a couple of years. la woman is a fantastic album. still waiting to hear from mr. mojo risin'!

echo and the bunnymen - another band that i started listening to in the early 1980's and still listen to today. i saw them live in 2005, and even though it was just two original members remaining, ian mcculloch's voice is pretty much all they need. their newer albums hold up really well against the older stuff.

foo fighters - i was introduced to this band by a friend who was disappointed that they didn't sound more like nirvana. i only knew a couple of nirvana songs, and so was not predisposed to any expectation. i haven't bought their last couple of albums, but i still give them a listen fairly often. i saw them live in the mid-aughts with weezer and kaiser chiefs. great show and loud!

golden smog - this is a supergroup that is most often comprised of members of wilco, soul asylum, the jayhawks, and run westy run. i've seen them live three times - all good shows.

the hold steady - these guys are my current favorite active band. i've seen them and their lead singer
craig finn a handful of times and it's always a positive, high energy event. i was supposed to see them at first avenue in may of 2020 but we all know how that turned out. the show is rescheduled for this fall - cant' wait!

inxs - "listen like thieves" is one of my favorite albums. i stopped listening to them as often when their popularity peaked, but not because i wasn't a fan. i was just discovering other bands. such as...

the jesus and mary chain - their first album "psychocandy" was so different that i was confused as to why i liked it so much. then their second album "darklands" came out and i was hooked. easily one of my favorite top 5 albums, there is rarely a week that goes by that i don't listen to it. i was supposed to see these guys live back in 1988 (with iggy pop!), but the show was canceled.

keane - a couple of good albums in my collection. 

lloyd cole and the commotions - late 80's/early 90's stuff, sort of like robyn hitchcock maybe? this band was part of the soundtrack to my high school years.

midnight oil - thanks to richard blade and video one, we were introduced to midnight oil well before "diesel and dust" was released. i've seen them live twice - once in 1989 and then again just three or four years ago.

nada surf - the same friend who introduced me to foo fighters got me listening to nada surf. you might be familiar with "popular" from their debut album, but my favorite album of theirs is "let go".

oasis - sure, "wonderwall" and "champagne supernova" are great songs (assuming you like oasis) from "(what's the story) morning glory", but my favorite from that album is "don't look back in anger".

perfect - this is a band founded by tommy stinson. stinson was the bassist for the replacements, and perfect was his second post-replacements group. they were active in the late 90's just before stinson took a job with guns n' roses. it took a while for me to find their album which wasn't released until well after the band broke up.

queen - not a lot of choices here, but queen has a tremendous catalog that stands up forty years on.

the replacements - it's unfair that my favorite band starts with the same letter as another top-5 band of mine - r.e.m. oh well. i listen to the replacements just about every day, from their early, post-punk releases to their last, post-alternative album. so many good songs and clever lyrics. i saw them live twice - first in 1989 and last on their farewell tour in 2014. i've seen lead singer paul westerberg live many times since moving to minnesota. a real american treasure, this band.

simple minds/the smiths - it's a tie. maybe that's not fair to r.e.m. to declare this letter a tie and not the letter "r", but these two bands were a huge part of my high school and college days. early simple minds stuff is just as good as their more popular songs, and listening to the smiths let me feel down when i wanted to feel down without making me feel lost. i never saw either band live, but did catch morrissey in concert in 1991 or 1992. 

talking heads - i was once chastised by my friends by bringing a talking heads tape to the beach instead of something more appealing to the ladies like wham!. i didn't care.

u2 - my second favorite band of all-time, and the one i've seen live most often - seven times i believe. also one of two bands of which i have a card in my collection
(the other is a custom of the replacements). my favorite album of theirs is "october", and even though i avoided "pop" when it was released, these days i celebrate their entire catalog. "the joshua tree" had a huge impact on my friends and me when it was released - such a seminal event in the music part of my life.

violent femmes - i heard the dodger organist play "blister in the sun" during a game the other day. i would have never thought that song would make it in to the mainstream. i was supposed to see them live in the early 90's but the trip didn't pan out. i did get to see them finally in the early 2000's however.

wire train - this was a band that a friend's brother turned us on to (along with some other favorite bands of mine like translator and the grapes of wrath) in the mid 80's. they were from san francisco, and "in a chamber" became the soundtrack to our weekends. 

x - it was tough to be in southern california in the 80's and not hear a lot of x being played. i have a few songs of theirs on my ipod, and guitarist john doe has put out some solo stuff that i enjoy as well.

yaz - one of my cousins gave me "upstairs at eric's" and i was blown away by alison moyet's voice.

zuzu's petals - this is a band that i knew nothing about until i moved to minnesota even though i think they were dissolved by the time i got here. lead singer laurie lindeen married paul westerberg, which is how i learned about them. their drummer, linda pitmon, married the dream syndicate's steve wynn, and i saw them perform together at a benefit concert for soul asylum's bassist in 2004.

these were a couple of fun exercises! anyone have another a to z challenge?


  1. I really want to do an A-Z baseball list but I'm so paranoid I'm gonna leave an obvious name out. Never realized "O" had so many good baseball dudes - Al Oliver would be my pick as well, but Ohtani is already giving him a run for his money.

    1. my first draft missed jackie robinson, so yeah i get your trepidation!

  2. Great list, love the all time/retired/current idea to get a few extra awesome players in. Also love the Joe Mauer and Pete Rose picks. Nobody had picked either yet? What!?

    1. i had to expand the list to get some more favorites listed, but those are two of my all-time favorites regardless.

  3. I like your three way approach and seeing guys like Votto and Rose make your list. Gonna hit the sack in a few... but I've gotta search up at least five or six of the bands you listed on YT tomorrow.

    1. i would love to know which bands you looked up and what your thoughts were.