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So as we barrel forward into the 2010 season, the first decade of the 21st century, "the aughts" is now forever behind us. And I found myself musing on the drive home from work recently, was there a "Team of the Aughts" and if so, who was it?

I started wondering this because it occured to me that my first three full decades of baseball fandom all at least arguably had one team (for one season!) be the defining -- that's not necessarily the same as best -- team of that decade.

For instance, in the 1970's ...

... the team of the decade, with apologies to the Fightin' A's of the early part of the decade and to the George-luvs-Billy Yankee teams of the late part of the decade, the "team of the 1970s" was clearly the 1975 Cincinnati Reds (also apologies to the '76 Reds, who may have had more talent than their year's previous rendition, and who swept the Yankees in the World Series). The '75 Reds were The Big Red Machine, won 70 of their first 100 to pretty much wrap up the division by the start of August and overcame the legendary Fisk Game 6 homer to get sized for rings.

Then came the 1980s ... I won't spend too much time here so as to not aggravate any old memories. But the 1984 Detroit Tigers were a magical team -- they started 35-5, to pretty much wrap up the division by the middle of May and went on to ride their "Bless You Boys" rallying cry to a dominant World Series title over the Padres. The '84 Tigers weren't the most talented team of that decade, but they damn sure helped define it for the baseball world.

In the 1990s -- if you hate everything defined by pinstripes and trophies in the Bronx, you might want to skip over this paragraph about the 1998 New York Yankees. The '98 Bronx Bombers won 114 regular-season games, and when you add in their run through the then-still-kinda-new three-rung post-season, finished the year an astounding 125-50. And, oh by the way, swept the Padres in the World Series. (Boy, the Pads have had tough luck in drawing World Series opponents, huh?) 

Perhaps most amazing is that they accomplished this with a roster stuffed with guys -- pitchers and hitters -- who are solidly in the Hall of Really Good, but with only two clear-cut Hall of Famers on the roster -- Derek Jeter, who was in just his third full season that year; and Mariano Rivera, in just his second season closing in the Yankee bullpen. Hideki Irabu made 28 starts. Chad Curtis was the everyday left fielder. The team leaders in homers (Tino Martinez) and steals Chuck Knoblauch) had 28 and 31, respectively. This was not a team of legendary players -- but it will be seen as a legendary team, the team of the 1990s.

So, then ...

  • Team of the '70s: 1975 Cincinnati Reds;
  • Team of the '80s: 1984 Detroit Tigers;
  • Team of the '90s: 1998 New York Yankees;
  • Team of the Aughts: [Accepting Applications!]

So, Bauxites, what team name and season do you slot after that fourth bullet? Honestly, I don't even know who to suggest. There have been a number of interesting teams, a few we might call "great," but the elusive "great and interesting" combination eludes me -- am I missing an obvious candidate? (Yes, yes, the '04 Red Sox busted that billion-year-old "curse" -- do they get the nod just for that?)

In each of the other decades, I was able to quickly, and without looking anything up, compile a very short list of candidates that immediately focused on one, described above. The Aughts don't really do that ... are we too close? Is it the '04 Red Sox, really? Your suggestions are hereby invited, as well as your criticisms of or disagreements with my selections for the past three decades. For our older Bauxites who remember the '60s and '50s, what fills the bullets that'd go above those shown earlier? (My gut says the '55 Dodgers and the '69 Mets, but that's all before my baseball brain was in full fan mode.)

Fire away!

Team of the Aughts??? | 26 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
spudzer - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 09:53 AM EDT (#212562) #
First that comes to mind is the 2003 Marlins.
mathesond - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 10:40 AM EDT (#212563) #
Derek Jeter's rookie season was 1996, not 98. As for the aughts, I think the publicity generated by the '04 Sawx has to make them the favourite...although I could see a case being made for the '08 Rays, or even the "In Dusty we Trusty" Cubs of 2003. Unless the defining team actually has to have won the championship...
Mick Doherty - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#212564) #
Good catch, math, made the change. And I don't think "defining" necessarily means champ -- you can make a case for the "team of the teens" in the 20th century being the 1919 White Sox ...
Geoff - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#212568) #
I prefer the '89 A's and the '96 Yanks for their decades.

And this decade, I like the 2008 AL East champs, with the 2006 Twins a close second.

Dewey - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#212570) #
I like the 1951 New York Giants for the '50's team.   Willie Mays's first season, Leo Durocher, Sal Maglie, Dark, Stanky, Monte Irvin, et al.  And of course Bobby Thomson's miracle homer to get them into the Series.  Amazing stuff.
christaylor - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 05:27 PM EDT (#212571) #
I think the team of the decade has to have won the WS. I'd probably pick the 2007 Red Sox team over the 2004 version, despite curse breaking.

Perhaps the 2006 Cardinals -- one of the worst WS winners ever (?)

I am also partial to the 2002 Angels. Good team, good world series too...(even though I wanted to see Bonds win one).

If the World Series is not a pre-req, I think there's no question that the team of the decade is the 2001 Mariners. 116 win is an insanely great number of wins, however one wants to adjust for history/strength of schedule.
zaptom - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 05:52 PM EDT (#212573) #
It's got to be the '04 Red Sox. Their ALCS victory was some of the most compelling baseball I've ever seen.

Yes, I hate the Red Sox. Yes, they only had 98 wins. And yes, the sweep of the Cardinals in the world series was supremely anti-climatic. However, that team was defining in my opinion of baseball this past decade. Tradition and history give them an edge, for better or worse.
John Northey - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 09:54 PM EDT (#212576) #
In the 80's I'd have to say it was the 86 Mets - guys who were superstars at the time (Gooden, Strawberry) mixed with a fantastic playoff (vs Houston where they won in game 6 in extra innings, fearing what Mike Scott would do in a game 7; vs Boston in one of the most entertaining World Series I've seen).

For the Aughts I'd have to go with the 2004 Red Sox - breaking the curse in a fantastic fashion with the only 0-3 comeback in baseball against the Yankees. To me you have to win it all to be the team of the decade.
ComebyDeanChance - Saturday, March 20 2010 @ 11:21 PM EDT (#212577) #
It's got to be the '04 Red Sox. Their ALCS victory was some of the most compelling baseball I've ever seen.

i would have agreed with that view before the team's two offensive stars were exposed as PED users.
Spifficus - Sunday, March 21 2010 @ 12:01 AM EDT (#212578) #

i would have agreed with that view before the team's two offensive stars were exposed as PED users.

Isn't that just one more thing to help make it the quintessential team of the Aughts?

ComebyDeanChance - Sunday, March 21 2010 @ 11:01 AM EDT (#212580) #
Isn't that just one more thing to help make it the quintessential team of the Aughts?

Good point. I suggest that they have an asterisk accompanying.
Mike Green - Sunday, March 21 2010 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#212582) #
The story of the 70s was free agency, wild hair...I'd nominate the A's Moustache gang as the team, probably choosing the '72 version. 
Mick Doherty - Sunday, March 21 2010 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#212584) #

Interesting spin, Mike, especially since free agency didn't really take hold until a few years after the A's dynasty had trailed, if not crumbled ...

Here's a thought (and I am not sure) -- are the '75-'76 Reds the last dominamnt team of the modern era to win a World Series without a single impact free agent -- maybe a single free agent at all, I'd have to look that up -- on its roster?

The BRM dynasty really lasted, up and down, from 1970-79 (six division titles, four league pennants, two titles) and though they lost players to FA late in that run, there was no significant FA addition of any kind I can recall for the whole decade!

Maybe the '79 Pirates, but I'd also have to look that up, and they weren't quite at the same level as the BRM.

Matthew E - Sunday, March 21 2010 @ 08:34 PM EDT (#212585) #
I agree with John about the '86 Mets. They'd be my pick.

As for the team of the '00s, I nominate the '98 Yankees. Yes, that's what I meant to say.

ComebyDeanChance - Sunday, March 21 2010 @ 09:45 PM EDT (#212586) #
The '72 A's is a cruel call. It brings to mind this horror show involving my then favourite player.

Courtesy of b-ref:

"It was still 1-0 in the eighth when Joe Morgan drew a one-out walk off Fingers and went to third on Bobby Tolan's single. That brought up Bench, who was still looking for his first RBI of the Series.

On a 2-1 pitch, Tolan stole second as Bench took ball three. On the bench, Dick Williams was thinking.

"Suddenly I remembered something that Billy Southworth had done when he was managing," Williams said. "I turned to my pitching coach Bill Posedel and told him, "If this next pitch is a strike, I'm going to go out there to the mound and act like I'm giving Fingers hell because he shouldn't be giving Bench anything to hit with first base open.

"I'm going to wave my arms and act like I'm calling for an intentional ball four. But instead I'm going to tell them to throw the damn ball right down the middle of the plate for strike three. Bench will never know what hit him."

The pitch was a strike and Williams went to the mound to explain his plan. He then told Fingers, "Be sure you throw a breaking ball, because if it's a fastball and somebody figures out what we're doing, Bench can hit the shit out of it."

He also warned Tenace not to jump back behind the plate too quick. Morgan, standing at third base, warned Bench to be ready but it was too late. Fingers threw a slider on the outside corner and Bench took it for strike three.

Fingers called it the best slider he had ever thrown.

"Joe Morgan yelled at me from third base to be alive," Bench said. "But I'd never seen that play before. Fingers called it his best slider, did he ? Great. But why does he have to do it to me. There's sixty million people out there watching."
Mike Green - Monday, March 22 2010 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#212600) #
Nice story, CBDC. It illustrates nicely my point in another thread about Joe Morgan's keen attention to the small details of the game.. 
zeppelinkm - Monday, March 22 2010 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#212601) #
Well, with Joe, it's all about consistency...
smcs - Monday, March 22 2010 @ 07:05 PM EDT (#212602) #
Doesn't it have to be the 2002 A's? 
Thomas - Monday, March 22 2010 @ 07:36 PM EDT (#212604) #
Didn't somebody pull a similar trick this past decade? I think that someone did, but I can't remember specifics.
Spifficus - Monday, March 22 2010 @ 10:59 PM EDT (#212611) #
I have a vague recollection of Dennis Martinez doing the fake intentional walk to John Olerud with the bases loaded in Cleveland. If I remember right, Olerud took a curveball for strike three. He apparently didn't take the pitch because he was surprised, but because he thought it was a ball.
ComebyDeanChance - Tuesday, March 23 2010 @ 02:04 AM EDT (#212613) #
It illustrates nicely my point in another thread about Joe Morgan's keen attention to the small details of the game..

If you're as old as I am, you probably remember how often Sparky said Joe would be a manager after his playing career.

I also remember Bench turning the tables in a way. In a Saturday afternoon Game of the Week against the Dodgers, he was being walked intentionally with runners in scoring position and first open. About ball 3 he reached over and knocked it into right field to drive them in.
Mike Green - Tuesday, March 23 2010 @ 09:20 AM EDT (#212615) #
I have a memory of something like that (I didn't miss too many Games of the Week), but I didn't remember that it was Bench. 
James W - Tuesday, March 23 2010 @ 10:23 AM EDT (#212618) #
If John Olerud thought it was a ball, then it probably was.
dskmag - Tuesday, March 23 2010 @ 11:02 AM EDT (#212619) #
I'd like to suggest the '63 Dodgers for the Sixties. Koufax (25-5) and Drysdale (19-17) beat a power-house Yankees (in 4 games!) that included Mantle, Maris & Berra, and the pitching staff lead by Whitey Ford (24-7). No, I wasn't exactly old enough at the time to have experienced it, but yes, it was an almost legendary Dodgers team that took on and beat an almost legendary Yankees. In this case great pitching did beat great hitting. The Dodger offense was lead by Maury Wills and Tommy Davis, not quite as well remembered as Mantle and Maris.
CeeBee - Tuesday, March 23 2010 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#212633) #
61 Yankees were pretty good too. A couple of guys hit a few home runs as I recall.... kinda famous duel they had going for awhile. Of course not being a Yankee fan I'd rather choose the 67 Cards or the 68 Tigers though they won less games :)
Timbuck2 - Wednesday, March 24 2010 @ 12:15 AM EDT (#212642) #
'04 Boston Red Sox

They came back from an 0-3 to beat the Yankees and despite losing the third game 8-19, then go on to the World Series. Not to mention that stories of Shilling legendary bloody sock will be told for a long time.

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