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wtnelson = Big Chief

Welcome to the first edition of Wtnelson's Mailbag! There will likely only be one more edition in this group, as the group will merge with the group MAIL...THIS after New Year's in order to provide a more collaborative FanNation "mail service". Thanks for all your questions, and I hope you enjoy reading this!

1. Why is such a high proportion of "all-time greats" in MLB from 75-100 years ago, while in other major sports we more readily acknowledge the "newer" players from the past 25 years? - YODA

That is a little perplexing on the surface. The fact is, though, that baseball has been the same ever since the American League was born in 1901. Baseball is a more widely celebrated game in America than any other one. Modern football wasn't really born until 1970 when the AFL and NFL merged. The NHL wasn't really widely recognized in the US until the first expansion in 1967, and American players haven't really been involved until the past 25 years. NBA doesn't have much of a history until Wilt Chamberlain revolutionized the game. Baseball hasn't changed since it was created, and it isn't a game that you need to see to understand, which is a big reason why so many people were drawn to it when radio and newspaper were the only media outlets available. Other games are harder to understand without seeing them. Sammy Baugh was a great football player, but how many people really knew about him until this week?

2. What are your 3 favorite summer and winter Olympic events to watch? - Redwing19

I'm not a big fan of the Olympics, but I do follow with some interest, just hoping that the Americans can win every gold medal. I do prefer the winter games to the summer games, though. In the summer, I like to watch swimming, gymnastics, and baseball/softball. I'll have to change my preferences if baseball and softball aren't allowed back in. In the winter, hockey is king in my book. I also enjoy watching the figure skating, as the abilities of the competitors are just unbelievable to me. Speed skating is another one that I enjoy. Speed skating champion Apollo Anton Ono hails from my hometown of Ft. Collins, Colorado.

3. Who do you think is the greatest defensive player in Broncos history? - Mac Brody

The history of the Denver Broncos is rich with defensive players, although many people don't realize it, as John Elway is still the face of the franchise. However, the Orange Crush of the 70's and 80's was great. There have been some great safeties like Steve Atwater and Dennis Smith. You could look at a lineman like Paul Smith. Linebacker has been the best position, offensive or defensive, for the Broncos, though. There have been many great linebackers, whether it be Karl Mecklenburg, Al Wilson, Jim Ryan, Tom Jackson, or Bill Romanowski. The greatest of them all, though, was big #53, Randy Gradishar. The anchor of the Orange Crush, Gradishar made 7 Pro Bowls in 10 seasons, and he has been named as one of the top 25 linebackers of all-time by Riddell.

4. Where do you rank Steve Yzerman on your all-time list of NHL centers? - Mondo Jay

Yzerman is certainly in the top 10. With 692 goals and 1,063 assists, he ranks 6th on the NHL's all-time scoring list. Without Scotty Bowman, though, he may never have become the player that he was. Bowman shaped him into a Selke Trophy winner as the NHL's best defensive forward. It's tough to place a ranking on anyone, but the offense, defense, and leadership would probably put him in the top 5 in my book.

5. What do you think is the most important position in baseball? - Redwing19

Without a doubt, the most important position is catcher. Usually championships are determined by which team has the best pitching staff, but a pitcher is only as good as his catcher. The catcher is the one that calls the pitches, aligns the defense, and controls the running game. He has to be the most alert player on the field. A good catcher can make a decent pitcher good and a good pitcher great. There's a reason that most MLB managers were catchers in their playing days.

Thanks to everyone who sent me questions. Be sure to tune in next week for the 12-28-08 edition of the Mailbag. If I didn't get to your question here, it may be on the next edition. For now, enjoy the video of the week!


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