January, 15, 2008
In the winter of 1999-2000, I spent a few weeks trying to come up with a "Team of the Aughts" -- you know, the best first baseman of the coming decade, the best second baseman, etc. I might as well get this out of the way: My choice for the best third baseman of the '00s was Fernando Tatis. I know. Seems crazy now. But look at what he did in 1999. As near as I can tell, my ESPN.com output from that long-ago century is gone forever. So I don't have to do this. But I will. Here were my choices, from pitcher to right field, one through nine: Pedro Martinez, Jason Kendall, Nick Johnson, Edgardo Alfonzo, Nomar Garciaparra, Tatis, Ben Grieve, Andruw Jones, Vladimir Guerrero. Oh, and at closer, I chose Billy Wagner instead of Mariano Rivera (and instead of Rivera in second place, I had Ugueth Urbina). This perhaps is the perfect time for a week of self-reflection (if not flagellation), wherein I try to understand just how I could have been so wrong about so many things. But life's short. Reading those old columns, I don't think I've improved much as a writer. I do think I'm a bit humbler than that guy. Maybe a little smarter, too. Either way, this time around, I'm going to make things easier and look five years ahead instead of 10. We'll start with the first basemen, just like last time, and should finish right around when pitchers and catchers report next month.