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Miguel Cabrera: Most dominant, or one of the most dominant?

Detroit News  columnist Bob Wojnowski made a pretty bold statement today by declaring Miguel Cabrera the most dominant athlete in Detroit sports history.

Thus far it doesn’t seem to have garnered much debate.

I can understand why; Baseball is more popular, closer to the hearts of Detroit sports fans, and the Tigers are the only franchise that is even close to challenging the Lions as the “headliner” in Detroit. The sport is easily quantified, and because even the most successful of baseball players still fail about 70-percent of the time at the plate, it’s considered by many to be the “hardest” sport.

I should probably mention Miguel Cabrera is putting up numbers I couldn’t pull off if I created myself  on Xbox and maxed out all of the attributes. No argument here that we’re running out of superlatives.Who could argue that? And Despite his bevy of bumps and bruises, Miggy only appears to be getting stronger at the plate. How?

Wojo writes:

“He’s the most dominant Detroit athlete of my lifetime (and probably yours). We can debate Barry Sanders, Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman and Isiah Thomas over beers, but what Cabrera is doing is virtually unprecedented.”

The first thought that came to my mind, was “Couldn’t this same column have been written about Justin Verlander and the two seasons prior to this one?”

If you don’t think so, why not?

Please understand that this is not an attempt to take anything away from Cabrera. I don’t even necessarily disagree with Wojo. My problem with his column is the ease in which he dismisses some of the other greats that have rolled through Detroit.It’s hard enough to compare athletes that play the same sport to one-another because of the differences in era, but this claim lays out the even more daunting task of comparing great players in different sports and different eras. How does Lidstrom being in the same class as Bobby Orr compare with Cabrera being in the same class as Babe Ruth?

And you thought the metric system and the BCS were hard!?

Two of them I can agree can be dismissed in the argument of “dominant.” I love Steve Yzerman as much as anybody, but as great as his statistical contributions were, there was always a Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux. Yzerman will always be known as a great hockey player, and an even better leader.

Isaiah Thomas sort of falls in a similar category as Yzerman. Not taking anything away from Thomas, It should always be remembered that Thomas’ Pistons were really the only (on-the-court) hurdle the Michael Jordan Bulls faced, and more importantly, back-to-back NBA champions.

It sucks being stuck in between the Magic/Bird and Jordan era, but that’s what Thomas was. The Bad Boy was an era in itself, but it just wasn’t prolonged enough to justify Thomas being dominant.

Fair enough?

That leaves us with Sanders and Lidstrom, by Wojo’s list. I am not saying the Ty Cobbs of the world don’t belong, but I don’t know anybody who was alive then, and they excluded other races from the game.

Much like Cabrera, off the field Sanders was quiet and unassuming, on the field everything he did was amazing. Sanders has the numbers, and the flash. His teams were never good enough to go anywhere, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t a dominant force.  He set Lions records, he set all-time NFL records (at the time), he was a rock star in Detroit in a time that most of the football that mattered went through Dallas. Think back to 1997 and try to tell me the “Barry Buzz” didn’t feel a lot like the “Miggy Buzz” does today. (Then again, I was only eight years-old.)

The criticism against Barry has always been those dreadful games in the playoffs, but that shouldn’t tarnish his body of work. Sanders has a lot of the same elements that make Cabrera such a draw. In my mind, Barry Sanders belongs in contention as most dominant.

You probably noticed I didn’t put Lidstrom in my “easy to dismiss” paragraph. That was no accident, but I will admit that his case is more difficult to prove. The Norris trophies and comparisons to Bobby Orr and Doug Harvey should be enough, but unless you’re well versed in your hockey history that doesn’t sound like it means as much as being compared to a Ruth or a Walter Payton.

If Miguel Cabrera was going to lose a battle to “little things” then Mike Trout has nothing on Nick Lidstrom. A column on everything he did right would take days, and a column on the things he did wrong would fit into a 140 character tweet. If hockey isn’t your sport, or you don’t understand what it is I am trying to convey, this piece by Pierre LeBrun sums it up perfectly. It might not be as easy to visualize as a triple crown or a NFL rushing record, but when Lidstrom was on the ice he was as dominant as anyone that’s dominated any sport.

It was quiet. It was inconspicuous. It was perfect.

I can’t stress enough how hard it is to truly compare dominance from one sport to the next. If you have different reasoning… or think I’m an idiot, I would love to hear it.

Either way, this argument is great news for the Tigers World Series chances.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


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