The Best of the Best?

Thursday, March 20 2003 @ 01:51 AM EST

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

All organizations have periods when it seems their top performers all fade away or retire at the same time. The Tigers of the early 1970's, the Reds of the early 1980's, the Diamondbacks of 2005.

This year, it seems to be [Interjection: yes, I know my recent separation from might seem impetus for this comment, but I was kicking around a version of this idea in e-mail more than a month ago ... ask any of the Lineup.]

While we are forced to endure the (admittedly entertaining) work of Peter Gammons, Fiction Writer; of Jayson Stark, Stand-up Comedian; of Tim Kurkjian, Boy Math Genius; and of Rob Neyer, still gifted but struggling through an extended slump of can-he-come-back-from-Mexico-like-Ruben-Sierra proportions, we are at least still delighted by the consistent excellence of Jim Caple. A single star on an aging, underperforming team, sort of the Willie Horton of those Tiger teams. The supporting role played by John Sickels, good at what he does but one-dimensional, makes him more of an Aurelio Rodriguez or Eddie Brinkman.

And now, perhaps a rising star. Have you read today's article by Alan Schwarz? Entitled "The best of the best ... by position," it's not Pulitzer material, it's not earth- shattering, it's not backed with inordinant statistical insight, it's not even terribly original.

It's like all of Schwarz's work for The Worldwide Leader. It's just good.