It’s easy to start an argument among fans of opposing teams.
Major League Baseball has discovered a way to make fans of the same team squabble.
Introducing the “Franchise Four,” an All-Star Game recognition of each club’s top four players. Fans vote on their team’s four favorites ever from a field of eight. The winners will be recognized, along with the four living winners in all of baseball, during All-Star festivities in Cincinnati.
Picking four is easy; it is eliminating four that is tough.
Reds fans, you may select Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson and Pete Rose among your all-time favorites. If you do, what about Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, Eric Davis and Barry Larkin? Every addition requires a subtraction, and that makes this especially challenging math for long-time fans.
Balloting began last week and ends May 8. Winners will be announced before the All-Star Game on July 14.
Players on the current ballot were picked by MLB official historian John Thorn and representatives from the Baseball Writers’ Association of American, the Elias Sports Bureau, MLB.com and the MLB Network.
Representative from the Negro League and Pioneers will be chosen as well.
As formidable as is the task before Reds fans, imagine the challenge for those wearing Yankee pinstripes. Reggie Jackson, Mr. October and perhaps the most feared clutch hitter in baseball when I was growing up, doesn’t even make the final eight.
It seems unfair until you consider the New Yorkers ahead of him — Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, Mariano Rivera and Babe Ruth.
Of course, the Yankee feast is also the Tampa Bay famine. The Rays, with a brief and less storied history, have a less illustrious lineup including Scott Kazmir, Melvin Upton, Jr. and Ben Zobrist.
The all-time roster, featuring the best eight best living (yet retired) players also will send fans to the record books for statistical support. Do you go for Hank Aaron or Johnny Bench? Barry Bonds or Ricky Henderson? Sandy Koufax or Pedro Martinez? Willie Mays or Tom Seaver? How do you pick only four?
Fans, the task is ahead of you. Go to mlb.com, where you can cast your vote for your favorite team.
Fan can vote for the four best MLB players for each team in voting leading over the next three weeks. The nominees for several Midwest teams:
Lou Brock;Ernie Banks;Johnny Bench;Luis Aparicio
Dizzy Dean;Three Finger Brown;Dave Concepcion;Luke Appling
Bob Gibson;Gabby Hartnett;Eric Davis;Harold Baines
Rogers Hornsby;Ferguson Jenkins;Barry Larkin;Eddie Collins
Stan Musial;Ryne Sandberg;Joe Morgan;Nellie Fox
Albert Pujols;Ron Santo;Tony Perez;Paul Konerko
Red Schoendienst;Sammy Sosa;Frank Robinson;Minnie Minoso
Ozzie Smith;Billy Williams;Pete Rose;Frank Thomas