<
>

Fred McGriff: 45 Cheers

Did we mention he can kill a bear with his bare hands? Getty Images

In another sign that you're old and things may not really work out for you, Fred McGriff turns 45 today. Actually, this isn't bad, because any day that he's not playing baseball seems like an eternity to us, so the fact that he's only 45 is sort of awesome. Either way, we're of the mind that McGriff is the greatest player probably who ever lived. Give or take. Here, for his birthday, we present 45 cheers.

On his Baseball-Reference page, the career numbers Fred McGriff most closely compares to are Willie McCovey, Gary Sheffield and Willie Stargell. Why is this man not being talked about as a Hall of Famer? We'll get back to it.

Fred McGriff is the best celebrity endorser of all-time. As a part of Tom Emanski's defensive drills video, he gets re-run more than Seinfeld.

Fred McGriff's nickame is The Crime Dog. It might be one of the most understated yet awesome nicknames of the past thirty years in baseball.

"The Crime Dog" was bestowed by Chris Berman, and is, in our opinion, the best nickname the guy ever granted, and Berman spins a new nickname every week.

Fred McGriff, we are fairly positive, never juiced. He was and is a tall, lanky dude who had the body of a two-guard. Ths should be a separate salute, but he had, almost unequivocally, the best swing follow-through in baseball history. Like waving a wand above his head, inflicting his own particular brand of magic.

Did you know McGriff never hit more than 37 HRs in a single season? Bad, right? No!

You know why that's absurdly awesome? Because he hit 493 for his career!

How cool is to just be cool enough to walk away from the game a good month from 500 home runs? It's Fred McGriff cool, that's what it is.

Fred McGriff hit .303 for his career in the post-season, A-Rod, the current nominee for G.O.A.T., has hit .279. Basically, not only is Fred the vastly better player, but he's pretty clutch too! We don't see this is a significant leap.

Even though he had the friggin' best nickname in pro sports and probably the world, Fred always preferred "Fire Dog," which is also a stunningly cool nickname.

Know why? Yeah, because the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium press box went up in flames the day the Braves acquired him.

Fred was a Yankees prospect, but got out and never went back.

The Dog hit over 30 home runs in a season ten times, but never hit more than 40. Consistent? Heck yeah he was. You knew what you were getting when you added Fred McGriff to your lineup.

But never more than 40! Bad? Meh. Just more evidence that Freddy wasn't hanging out in stalls with Uncle Jose.

You know who else retired with 493 home runs? Just Lou Gehrig. We're not saying, we're just saying.

In 1993, McGriff finished 4th in the MVP voting when he hit .291 with 37 HRs and 101 RBI. Ahead of him were Barry Bonds, who's a pariah, Lenny Dykstra whose magazine just folded, and David Justice, who was clearly getting bumped up at the time because he was with Halle Berry. What are we saying? The Crime Dog was robbed!

McGriff was once traded with Tony Fernandez for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter, straight up. You're a baller if you're traded for Robby and Joe straight up.

The Braves won just a single World Series amidst their 14 consecutive trips. Who do you think was playing first base for that team?

The Criminal Pooch has 18 more career taters than Stan Musial and Willie Stargell.

Just a power hitter? Please. Fred has a .284 career average.

And the man sprayed it around, too. He has 2,490 hits.

Who foresaw the emergence of the Rays? Fred McGriff, that's who. When the team tried to trade him to the contending Cubs, McGriff was resistant, saying he wanted to be close to home in Tampa. He eventually went to the Cubs, where he hit .282 with 12 home runs down the stretch.

Tampa, Fred believed in you before you believed in yourself!

This might melt your face: According to his Wiki page, "In 2000, the production company Rocco's Jobbers produced a pilot for a television series based loosely on McGriff and the 'Crime Dog' nickname. The concept of the series revolved around a professional baseball player who moonlighted as a crime-fighting vigilante named 'The Crime Dog'."

Kenny Mayne coined another named for McGriff that's more than fitting: "Baseball Superstar."

On casting sheets for that pilot we referenced, it says of the series, "It's Major League meets Blade." Sick.

Fred McGriff won the Silver Slugger Award three times. Check out the list of multiple winners. It's more littered with Hall of Famers than Monument Park.

Did you know Fred McGriff is the only player since the Dead Ball era to lead both leagues in home runs? Are we saying he's the best player since the Dead Ball Era? We're thinking about it, honestly.

The Dog was involved in an epic backfire trade. The Yankees once dealt McGriff, along with Dave Collins and Mike Morgan to the Toronto Blue Jays for Dale Murray and Tom Dodd. Woops.

Fred McGriff hit the first home run at the Sky Dome, which was the first stadium with a retractable roof. In essence, Fred McGriff is responsible for the architectural explosion that took place after everybody saw the Sky Dome roof and went, "Awe, that's a really, really good idea!" They were at the stadium because Fred McGriff was dominating, and the Blue Jays needed a sweet new park.

Since Fred doesn't play there anymore, and the sky is no longer the limit, they changed the name to the Rogers Centre. Mark our words: Until they rename the joint "Crime Dog Park," Toronto will never win a title.

Fred McGriff swiped 72 bases, which don't seem like much, but he was busted only 38 times, which makes his ratio filthy in our eyes. Only 72, you ask? He's got 72 more than you, chump.

Culturally relevant? Uh, yeah! Dude is born today, the same day as Rob Schneider, Dermot Mulroney and Johnny Marr (guitarist for The Smiths and Modest Mouse).

Lend a helping hand? Dern right! Fred has 1,550 RBI's. Ahead and behind him on the all-time list are Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell, respectively.

Did we tell you the Crime Dog was once robbed? He was THE MVP in 1994, or woulda been, if they didn't cancel the season. Fred was batting .318 and already had 34 home runs when the strike ended play in August 1994. August!

Want to see Fred dominate in the Japan League? Cue VP mocking: "You betcha!" .

You're scared of Fred McGriff, and we can prove it. Dude led the NL in intentional walks in 1991 with 26. One more than Barry Bonds!

Nobody has ever better demonstrated how to throw out a first pitch like Fred McGriff. Nobody.

Fred collected 66 win shares as a Devil Ray, the team's all-time record. Yeah, he's probably the best Ray ever. We'll say it.

It was Fred McGriff who was called out by Eric Gregg in the 1997 NLCS when Livan Hernandez was on the mound, and turned the strike zone into something of a parody. A few years later, they came up with the technology to police umpires, and create a more consistent strike zone. Basically, it's McGriff that has made the game more consistent and enjoyable for millions upon millions of fans today. We don't see that as a leap.

When he got to the Braves in 1993, the team promptly went 51-19 and won the division, and not the puny divisions of today, but the big boy seven and eight team divisions of the good old days.

Did we mention The Dog was the All-Star MVP in 1994, the year he was destroying the whole friggin' league before everybody got scared of his power and cancelled the season? Not sure if we did.

McGriff, who is pretty much the nicest guy in the world, hosts a radio show in Tampa!

He's the cousin of Charles Johnson, the athletic catcher everybody thought would be incredible and sort of wasn't. How could you be incredible if you have to live in perpetual awe of a man in your own family? We couldn't. Though we wish Fred was a part of ours.

Mr. McGriff's middle name is Stanley, which we love. But he'll always be the Crime Dog to us. Did we mention it's the best nickname ever?