MLB.com is running a contest for the fans of every team to pick the top four players in franchise history, and one of those teams is the Giants! Man, are we lucky. Probably just squeaked in there. The eight players on the Giants ballot are Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Mel Ott, Christy Mathewson, and Buster Posey. The question is: Which four should you vote for?
If you answered "None of them, because this is a cheap marketing promotion and a waste of my time," well, congratulations. You win a toaster. Go pick it up at your nearest Circuit City.
If, however, you thought about it and had an internal debate and came up with three names for sure but weren't sure about the fourth one, then you are quite the Internet user, aren't you? Gosh, you have opinions on all sorts of things that sites can use to drive eyeballs to their advertisers without creating any content of their own. Good for you. Opinions are delightful.
So let's look at the ballot. We have eight players for four spots, but then, Willie Mays is unequivocally in, so really we have seven players for three spots. As much as I love Buster Posey – I AM NOT ABOVE BLACKMAILING YOUR ENEMIES BUSTER I DON'T EVEN HAVE TO KNOW WHY YOU HATE THEM THINK ABOUT IT – his career hasn't been long enough to warrant consideration with the others, so he's out. And with Posey gone, Orlando Cepeda, while a great player, is up against nothing but all-time greats. Sorry, Orlando. I hope I can still enjoy your cha-cha bowls.
So we are left with five players for three spots: Barry, McCovey, Marichal, Ott, and Mathewson. The only reason Barry isn't automatically in is steroids; that said, Barry Bonds was the greatest player I will ever see, and so he's in. Hopefully Bob Costas will forgive me someday.
And so we come to the great decision of the far past against the somewhat less far (but still pretty far) past. McCovey and Marichal were great players, and even those of us who never saw them in their primes have heard (accurate) stories about how great they were, either from Kruk & Kuip or from someone who watched them play. Mathewson and Ott were also great players, and while you might talk to someone who paid a whole nickel to watch Ott at the Polo Grounds, they are so far removed from our time, it's almost like they didn't exist. That makes it hard to pick them. But I'm picking them.
Juan Marichal was a great pitcher, but he wasn't the greatest pitcher of his era, and so it's hard to pick him over Mathewson, who has a strong argument as the greatest pitcher of all time. Ott and McCovey are closer to each other, but Mel Ott was a generation-defining player, while Willie was simply one of the best. That might be semantics, but I'm literally choosing between Mel Ott and Willie McCovey here, and it's stressful, so cut me some slack, okay?
To be honest, I wish I could vote for all of them. They all deserve it, of course, as do Carl Hubbell and Jeff Kent, Roger Connor and Buck Ewing. But we have to choose and debate and believe that anyone who disagrees with us is a bad person who deserves to be shunned. We're sports fans. We rank things. Here's one more.