Graig Nettles over A-Rod?: Finally, Some Heat on The Lineup


At last some heat during the latest installment of MSG’s The Lineup. In Episode 4, Sparky Lyle and Gary Carter — muddleheads both — went against the majority (Elias Bureau’s Steve Hirdt, Will Leitch, and host Fran Healy) by choosing Graig Nettles over Alex Rodriguez as New York’s all-time best 3rd baseman.

While their contrariness made for some variety, their reasoning was way out of left field: Nettles played far more games at third base than Alex Rodriguez. Would, they asked, A-Rod be regarded as great in another seven or eight seasons as Nettles was at the end of when his career? It’s a silly question since Rodriguez has already won two MVPs at third base with the Yankees in six seasons, two more than Nettles won in 22 years in the big leagues.

Clearly the two old farts have a grudge against A-Rod, or they would have used the same line of reasoning last week when choosing the New York’s all-time best second baseman, Jackie Robinson, who played 748 games at second base, over Willie Randolph (2,152 games at second). Yet Robinson was the unanimous choice. Nettles, it’s true, played 1,509 games for the Yankees at third base to Rodriguez’s 865 (through 2009). But all six of Rodriguez’s seasons in New York were better than Nettles’s six best seasons with the Yanks.

Will Leitch wiped the turf with the oldsters’ logic: “Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in baseball history. I don’t want somebody to see this show years from now and say ‘What? You didn’t pick A-Rod?!’ “

One undeniable pleasure of the show is seeing the careers of past players revived. Howard Johnson, for instance, who, from 1986-1991, looked like he was headed for the Hall of Fame. As Hirdt pointed out, Johnson was the first player before Barry Bonds to have three seasons with more than 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season. Injuries shot down what would likely have been a HOF career. Hojo, it was nice to see you again.