* My favorite baseball player of all-time is Bob Gibson, a right-handed pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, who was in his prime as I was in primary school. Gibson pitched for St. Louis in the 1960s and 1970s and he was a mean, fierce competitor who challenged hitters in a way we rarely see in today’s game. Gibson instilled fear into those who stepped in the batter’s box to face him.
* There’s a good chance your favorite baseball player of all-time is George Brett, former Kansas City Royals third baseman. He amassed 3,154 hits during his big-league career, played out mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, when he was in his prime.
* I bring up Gibson and Brett because ESPN today released its list of the 100 greatest players in baseball history and Gibson and Brett are on the list. At first glance, I wasn’t happy about where they were, though. Gibson is No. 32 on ESPN’s list; Brett is No. 30.
* Instinctively, I want to fight for Gibson. Because he’s my guy. He’s my all-time favorite athlete, not just baseball player. I met Gibson a few years back at an autograph show in Wichita and I was scared to death, like a little kid. Gibson still looked like he could take the mound and certainly looked like he could whip somebody. Turned out that he was cordial and accommodating and he spent 15 minutes answering my silly questions.
* I have not been in a similar situation with Brett. I have nothing against Brett. He was a great player, but I’m not a Royals fan.
* When I saw the rankings, I became mad. And hurt. I wanted to try and prop up an argument as to why Gibson should be ranked ahead of Brett. And I have ammunition. Gibson was 251-174 during his career. In 1968, he established an MLB record with a 1.12 ERA, a record that still stands and might stand forever. Can you even imagine a 1.12 ERA? In three World Series, Gibson was 7-2 in nine starts with a 1.89 ERA. He struck out a World Series-record 17 in a 1968 game against the Detroit Tigers. He is probably the greatest World Series pitcher ever.
* Gibson was a two-time Cy Young Award winner and won the National League MVP award in 1968. Of course. He had a 1.12 ERA.
* Brett was a .305 career hitter. He drove in 1,596 runs and scored 1,583. He was a doubles machine who also had 317 homers. He was a 13-time All-Star and won an MVP in 1980, when he threatened .400 before finally finishing with a .390 batting average. It needs to be pointed out, though, that Brett played in only 117 games that season.
* Brett played in 43 postseason games and batted .337. with 10 homers and an OPS of 1.023. That’s good. That’s really good. I expected to give Gibson a huge postseason edge and he still has a better postseason resume than Brett. But Brett was great in the games that counted most. He led Kansas City to two World Series and a championship in 1985 over . . . who was that the Royals beat again?
* So what we have with Gibson and Brett is an interesting debate. Of the thousands who have played major league baseball over the years, ESPN ranks them within two spots of one another. And, of course, it’s almost impossible to rank the greatest players in any sport from 1-100. But we love it as consumers and it was fun perusing the ESPN list. I’ll take Gibson, but I certainly understand your arguments if you’re a Brett fan.
* I’m really looking forward to the Sunday night debut of True Detective on HBO. It stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, so how can it miss?
* I lost count trying to keep track of the characters who were killed in the season debut of Justified. I’ve never watched a show that could make me laugh one second and make me cringe in startled fear the next. I love this show. If I was ranking my top 100 TV shows of all-time, Justified would definitely be in the Top 10.
* I hope our city leaders can convince taxpayers to put some big money into Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. It’s a hallmark facility badly in need of repair. Fixing it is the right thing to do. And it’s location is in an area that is such an important part of future development. L-D could have a huge impact on Wichita’s future.
* I still haven’t been to a high school basketball game this season. I went to a dozen or so last year.
* I’ll be headed to Springfield, Mo., tomorrow for Wichita State’s game against Missouri State. That means I won’t see the Kansas-Kansas State game in Lawrence, which is too bad. That’s a really interesting game.
* I think it sets up well for K-State. Not that I think the Wildcats will win, because I don’t. But I think this is a good barometer game for Kansas State to see where it stacks up as we get to mid-January. The Wildcats have been on a roll and are playing well. It’s important, I think, that they compete with Kansas today and not get blown out. Both teams are so young. Should be fascinating.
* Good to see Wichita North’s Conner Frankamp make a solid contribution in KU’s win at Oklahoma the other night. I think it’s just a matter of time before Frankamp becomes a very good college player. He has all the skills. Is he a step slow? I’m not sure I buy that theory. I think Frankamp has plenty of speed and quickness to play at this level. Strength might be another story, but he can do something about that.
* I’d love to have time Sunday to see a movie. My two top choices are Her, with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson, though Scarlett (yes, we’re on a first-name basis) never appears on screen; and Inside Llewyn Davis, about a struggling folk musician in early-1960s Greenwich Village. It’s directed by the Coen brothers and includes a T-Bone Burnett soundtrack. How could anyone not want to see that?
* Prediction: The Shockers take care of Missouri State on Saturday, 77-59. Look for a big day from Ron Baker.
* Have a great weekend everyone. Thanks for reading.