The Era of the Darn Good

Where Have You Gone, All You Young Joe DiMaggios?

Don Sutton, who saw most of the previous generation of players from the pitcher's mound before retiring in 1988 and who has seen most of the new ones from the Atlanta Braves' broadcast booth, suggests that "with so many good Latin and now Oriental players, the talent level might well have grown so, even in the past few years, that it's harder for anyone to rise above the pack. We might not know the real greats for another 10 years or so."

Jim Bouton is a bit more pessimistic: "I'm afraid what we might be seeing in the last couple of years is the result of baseball's having stressed the home run too much 10 years ago. About the only complete ballplayers with sound fundamentals I'm seeing these days are coming out of Japan."

Perhaps greatness is in the eye of the beholder. In that case, try playing this game: Take the All-Star rosters from just about any season before this century and compare them with this year's team. See how many players from the 2003 squads you think could crack the lineups of the earlier squads.

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