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Greatest O's note

It has come to my attention that the fan voting has been completed and that the Orioles will introduce their 50th anniversary team this coming Sunday before the game. From MLB.com:

Many of the greatest players in franchise history will be on hand Sunday at Camden Yards when the Orioles culminate their 50th anniversary season celebration with the announcement of the 50 All-Time Favorite Orioles, as voted on by fans and presented by SunTrust Bank, in pre-game ceremonies beginning at 1 p.m.

The Orioles will present the fans' favorite 50 players, as voted upon throughout the season on the team's official website, www.orioles.com. Fans had the opportunity to vote for up to 50 of the 729 players who took the field for the Orioles from 1954 through 2003 to choose the All-Time team, and more than half of the players selected will be at Camden Yards on Sunday when the Orioles play the Detroit Tigers.

Hmm. Funny that now they are calling this team the "50 All-Time Favorite Orioles" instead of the "50 Greatest O's of All-Time" (sic) as stated on the online ballot. Perhaps most fans will dismiss this as an inconsequential change in nomenclature, but there is a substantive difference between a team of all-time greats, which was supposedly the aim of the voters, and a team of all-time favorites, which is what we now appear to have. It is true that popularity often follows greatness, but not all popular players are great, and not all great players are popular.

Although I admit that I am taking this matter way too seriously, I consider the All-Time Greatest/Favorites switcheroo a betrayal of the fans' trust. It's like informing the citizenry after an election that no, your ballots did not elect the president, vice president, and congresspersons like you thought they would, but instead we've decided to use your selections and call them the king, queen, and court for this year's homecoming.

The administrators of the voting appear to be backtracking from the "Greatest" label by instead calling them "Favorites...as voted on by fans." Unfortunately, this distances the team members from all associations with greatness and relegates them to winners of a popularity contest.

I suspect that the change from All-Time Greatest to All-Time Favorites was prompted by the results of the voting. Since the criteria for selecting players were never explicitly stated—the ballot said to “help us to pick the top players of the past 50 years”—fans were free to interpret "top" and "greatest" in different ways, quite possibly leading to the election of some O's who were not all that great or even good as players. And the poorly designed ballot didn't help matters either, as I've described in some detail. (The statement, "Fans had the opportunity to vote for up to 50 of the 729 players..." is inaccurate. On the online ballot there were spots for a maximum of 27 votes.)

Of course, I'm eager to see the All-Time Whatevers team, in particular to deduce whether the ballot design led to the underrepresentation of pitchers and outfielders and the overrepresentation of designated hitters as I predicted. But the news of Sunday's announcement of the team also means that I will have to adjust my schedule of articles about the top O's of the last half-century.

In short, I'm going to finalize my top 50 list before the fan-elected team is revealed on Sunday. This will require me to publish the finalists and honorable mentions at the rest of the positions without fleshed-out descriptions of their playing careers, which I will add next week. By Friday, I plan to have a complete listing of the overall top 40 (composed of just the finalists), and on Saturday I will attempt to sift through the honorable mentions and select ten candidates to fill out the top 50.

Comments (2)

susan dobson:

I think billy ripken was the best 2 basemen.

roger campbell:

to list a few; cal ripken, brooks robinson,louie aparicio,jim palmer,bradey anderson, frank robinson,mark belanger,curt schilling,gus triandos,jim gentile,


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