Grand Cards: The Greatest of All Time?

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Greatest of All Time?

If I had known this earlier today, I would have structured a very different post to showcase my new Cobb cards: (Via The Daily Fungo's twitter.)
On this date in 1951, Ty Cobb testifies in front of Congress denying the reserve clause makes 'peons' out of baseball players.
Oh well...

When I was on vacation with my family a few weeks ago, I asked my dad during the Home Run Derby: "Do you think that Miguel Cabrera is the greatest hitter of your lifetime?" I expected a little bit of hesitation from a man who grew up idolizing Al Kaline--Mr. Tiger himself--and saw the majority of his Hall of Fame Career first-hand.

"I'd say without question. Cabrera is absolutely unbelievable."

However, I deliberately avoided asking whether Cabrera was the greatest Tigers hitter of All-Time. There's one guy who pre-dates us all, and by most statistical measures is not only the greatest Tigers hitter of all time, but arguably the greatest hitter of all time, period.

2010 Topps #GC13 Ty Cobb

In Topps Series 1, Target released a set of "red back mini" inserts that included Ty Cobb. I was insulted. Cobb's "result" on the card was a Fly Out. Lame. Ty Cobb does not make outs. This one is much better:
2010 Topps (WM Blue Back Inserts) #23 Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb has a career batting average of .366. He has nearly 2,000 RBIs despite hitting "only" 119 Home Runs (although he led the league in 1909 with nine, which is what you get for playing in parks that are 500 ft to center field etc.) Ty Cobb was great. Really great. He was elected into the Hall of Fame's first class with 222 out of a possible 226 votes. That's more votes than Babe Ruth (same class). I like to tell myself that, among people who actually saw the two play, Ty Cobb was considered to be a better player than Babe Ruth. I don't know if that's true. Still, for someone to get that high of a percentage--despite being a notoriously sour person, and a racist, and a generally deplorable human being--is incredible. Barry Bonds, a valedictorian of interpersonal relations by comparison, can only dream of the same level of support.

But, Cabrera. The average, and the power. The eye. His ability to do what he does with two strikes, so often. Ty Cobb he is not--there will never be another one--but could we, one day, talk about Miguel Cabrera (still a ripe 27 years old) as the greatest hitter of his era? Of our lifetime? More?

Both of those Cobb cards are recent additions to my 2010 Topps collection. In recent years Topps has gone overboard with Cobb, but as long as they can continue making different, nice cards--the gold refractor is beautiful and the Blue Back is a mini--I guess I'm OK with it.

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