Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Greatest Philadelphia Athlete Debate- Part 2

Read Part I of the debate here.

While it is arguable that Charles Barkley is the best player to don a 76ers uniform over the past thirty years, the player to call Philadelphia his home over that time is former Phillies thirdbaseman Michael Jack Schmidt. The reasons for this are as follows.

1. Schmidt is the best at his position ever.

Schmitty is widely considered the best thirdbaseman in the history of baseball. More than any other sport, baseball compares its athletes to those of other eras. None to play the hot corner before and none since has rivaled Schmidt’s combination of top-notch defense with career numbers at the plate that rival the all-time greats. Defensively, he won 10 gold gloves. Offensively, he hit 548 homeruns (currently 11th all time), drove in 1595 (currently 26th all time), and is 15th all time in walks. He led the National League 6 different years in homeruns. On top of that, he won 3 MVP awards and was named to the All-Century team in 1999 as the thirdbaseman.

2. He was fun to watch.

Like Barkley, he was fun to watch. Whether it be one of his game-changing homeruns or an all-in-one motion to field a bunt barehanded and gun down someone at first, Schmitty made the game interesting. If you were at a game when he came to bat, you know that the crowd’s electricity level instantly rose.

3. He knew how to have some fun.

While he wasn’t on the same level as Barkley, Schmidt knew how to have some fun every once in a while. Don’t you remember the wig incident?

4. He won a championship.

While an athlete shouldn’t necessarily be disqualified from this debate if he hasn’t won a championship (a good thing, too. That wouldn’t leave us with too many people from whom to choose), it is most definitely a plus to have done so. Schmidt was one of the driving forces behind the Phillies’ one and only World Series victory. In fact, Schmidt was the MVP of the 1980 World Series. Additionally, the Phillies won their division six times during Schmidt’s 18 year career. Can you think of another time in Phillies history when this has occurred? Neither can I. Thus, Schmidt was a leader on some of the best teams the franchise has ever had to offer.
All in all, the choice is clear. In the past 30 years, Mike Schmidt is the best Philadelphia athlete.