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Stryker: Introducing Mount Basemore (Oct. 4)

By Sam Stryker | Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On this day in 1927, Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum began work on Mount Rushmore, the most famous, well, anything in South Dakota. For those of you who didn’t pay attention in history class, the monument features four 60-foot-tall heads of the most important presidents in our nation’s history – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Why Borglum left off the distinguished Rutherford B. Hayes, America may never know.

Nothing says “America” quite like carving a giant face into the side of a mountain. And of course, baseball is America’s pastime. With the 2012 regular season ending last night, I propose we scrap all the postseason awards – MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and so on – and for practicality’s sake, just build a second Mount Rushmore for this year’s four best players. Let’s call it Mount Basemore. It will be the greatest thing to hit baseball since the All-Star Game determined World Series home-field advantage (just kidding on that one).

The first two “heads” on Mount Basemore are Triple Crown threat Miguel Cabrera and rookie phenom Mike Trout. You can argue the merits of both – Trout’s Wins Above Replacement is more than three wins above the next closest competitor in the American League, while the last time someone won the Triple Crown Sean Connery was James Bond. It’s like trying to choose between pizza and a cheeseburger. Each brings something different to the plate (pun intended) and you can’t go wrong either way. Both Trout and Cabrera have earned their rightful place on Mount Basemore. Think of them as this season’s version of Washington and Jefferson. Just as one values Washington for defeating the British and Jefferson for the Louisiana Purchase, we can appreciate Trout as the best rookie ever and Cabrera as the preeminent all-around threat in baseball.

The race for National League MVP may be a little less scintillating – the favorite, Giants catcher Buster Posey, can “only” boast one of the best second-half stretch runs of all-time – but when it comes to the Cy Young, things start to heat up a bit. The case could be made for many a hurler – Nationals ace Gio Gonzalez and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel come to mind – but Mount Basemore needs its equivalent of Abraham Lincoln. That’s where Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey comes in. Finishing with 20 wins and one of the top ERA’s in the National League, Dickey was an ace for the otherwise woeful Mets, one of the few bright spots in their season. Just as Lincoln was born in a log cabin, Dickey comes from humble origins. Before 2012, he could boast of just one other season of double-digit wins in his nine-year major league career. This year, it all came together for the knuckleballer without much support from the so-called Amazin’s. For that reason, R.A. Dickey has earned his spot on Mount Basemore.

The final spot to be filled is the Teddy Roosevelt position – someone who is a fearless leader and has a fiery passion for what they do. When Roosevelt was campaigning for the presidency in 1912, he was shot before delivering a speech in Milwaukee. Ever the Rough Rider, he refused to go to the hospital until he finished his speech. In the same spirit, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has displayed a religious zeal for the game in leading his plucky team to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years – in the treacherous AL East nonetheless. Despite the fact the O’s barely scored more runs than they allowed, they beat the odds and got the necessary wins. For his determination and wherewithal, Showalter earns the final spot on Mount Basemore.

Four faces, etched in imaginary granite. Each of these men has earned their spot in stone-cold eternity over the course of 162 games. Were there other worthy competitors? Absolutely. But just like Borglum couldn’t fit James Madison or Andrew Jackson onto his masterpiece, there is no room for Posey, Kershaw and so forth. So there you have it: Trout, Cabrera, Dickey and Showalter – the defining faces of baseball in 2012.

Contact Sam Stryker at sstryke1@nd.edu