Derek Who, Manny What?: Jim Rice Should Be Thanked For Defending Past Players

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IAugust 25, 2009

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 26:  2009 inductees Rickey Henderson (L) and Jim Rice pose for a photograph with their plaques at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 26, 2009 in Cooperstown, New York. Henderson is the all-time leader in stolen bases (1,406) and runs (2,295), a ten time All-Star, was the 1990 American League most valuable player and won two World Series titles. Rice played his entire sixteen year career with the Boston Red Sox, was the 1978 American League most valuable player and was a eight time All-Star.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Jim Rice should be applauded for his comment. If you haven't read Daniel Abbas's article titled "Jim Rice is out of Line With Latest Comments", here is Rice's quote: "You see a Manny Ramirez, you see an A-Rod, you see [Derek] Jeter ...Guys that I played against and with, these guys you're talking about cannot compare"

For me there's no truer words that have been spoken about this generation of players. Manny Ramirez's antics have been well documented and the revelation of steroid, but when Jeter was mentioned that's when he gets bombarded for being out of line according to Abbas?

The reason is because Rice dared to mention the name Jeter. Jeter is the holy grail of players this decade, and if anyone makes a negative comment about Jeter, Rice's quote must be shot down immediately.

First of all, let's examine the most compelling part of the quote and that is, "Guys that I played against and with, these guys you're talking about cannot compare." Rice, in my opinion, is right.

I can name players that were teammates of Rice's and players that Rice was in competition with including the recently inducted Rickey Henderson.

There was Henderson as I mentioned, Carl Yastrzemski, Ferguson Jenkins, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan, Hank Aaron at the twilight of his career, Tom Seaver, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Joe Niekro, Phil Niekro, and that's just naming a few.

You could spend hours and hours researching players that were either teammates or opponents of Rice and they would be compared in favor of the players in this era.

Let's take an example of a comparable player from the era that Rice was in and with one in today's game. How about the leadoff spot?

The best in Rice's era was Rickey Henderson and the best right now that many consider is Ichiro Suzuki.

As for this comparison there's really not much of one. Henderson will always be the far superior player than Ichiro because Ichiro doesn't run as much as he should with his speed his career high is only 56 and that came in his rookie season. Henderson on the other hand had 11 seasons of more than 56 stolen bases.

Ichiro's career high in walks has been 68 that happened in 2002. Henderson had 21 seasons of over 68 walks.

As for on-base percentage Ichiro only has had one season with an on-base percentage of over .400, but Henderson had 15 seasons for his career with an on-base percentage of .400!

It just goes to show that just because a leadoff hitter like Ichiro consistently gets over 200 hits it doesn't mean that it automatically makes a player a great leadoff hitter.

Maybe the best example of this was once Henderson got on base he caused havoc on the basepaths. When Ichiro first came into the league it looked like Ichiro would cause havoc on the bases with his outstanding speed, but that has never happened and instead Ichiro is a one dimensional leadoff hitter.

Meaning he'll get on base, but he won't do anything to hurt a team. Where as once Henderson got on first base he could swipe second base as well as third base.