Explicit Memories and Baseball WAR: Or, Why Rickey is My GOAT.

They say kids can start forming memories at around the two-year mark, but explicit memories don’t start forming until around seven. Explicit memories are the ones that require conscious recall. Implicit are mostly unconscious, emotional recollections, not what we as adults (adult-ish) think of when we talk about memories.

I find myself stumbling across this info while also reading a new biography by Howard Bryant on my childhood favorite baseball player, Rickey Henderson.

So, with that in mind, I headed over to Baseball-Reference to see who were the best players by WAR I have actual explicit memories of watching, or…players who played after 1985, the year I turned seven.

Sorted by WAR:

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Alex Rodriguez
  4. Rickey Henderson
  5. Tom Seaver
  6. Mike Schmidt
  7. Greg Maddux
  8. Randy Johnson
  9. Albert Pujols
  10. Phil Niekro
  11. Cal Ripken Jr.

Seaver and Niekro barely qualified, limping along his last couple of seasons before finishing up in 1987. The rest are definitely within the explicit memory bank, the guys I grew up watching. And with Bonds, Clemens and Arod all getting shut out of the Hall of Fame on behalf of moral idiocy by the BBWA, I can actually claim that my favorite childhood player is in fact the best Hall of Famer of my generation.

Even if he wasn’t, Rickey was going to be my favorite. Rickey was my guy long before anyone new what WAR was or how to value a skillset like his. Luckily, we got there eventually so we could put him in proper context. I was, surprisingly now, a speedy leadoff guy with a chip on my shoulder. I never could hit, but I could run, and nobody ran the way Rickey ran. Not Raines, not Coleman, not Wilson. All speedy guys, but none did it the way Rickey did. You know, Rickey Style. I had the sport flare sunglasses like him. I had the green Mizuno’s. I still have a green golf glove sitting in my Oakland A’s golf bag. Because Rickey was my guy.

By the way, I’m only half way through that biography and a review will come later, but let’s jut call it a hard recommend right now.

So, who are your top 10, the explicit years?


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