Have you ever thought about the moment you'll realize you've become a baseball curmudgeon? If you already self-identify on that spectrum you're exempt, I guess, but if you don't yet I submit for your proto-curmudgeonly approval trying to explain Scott Rolen to some kids on your lawn.
Scott Rolen hits a lot of those [Lou Whitaker] points. Rolen had one freaky-great season with the Cardinals and several outstanding ones for the Phillies, but he was never an MVP or particularly close. He made seven All-Star Games, but just one with the Phillies, oddly enough. He gets the big boost from his defense, and a lot of his best years were in the shadow of Albert Pujols. And he didn't burn out; he faded away. Neil Young and Def Leppard both warned against that.
He's the best defensive third baseman I ever saw, is how you'll lead off, and your sneering grandson will ask you with barely passive aggression why you never saw Adrian Beltre, whose defensive numbers were much better.
You will leave the room with the vaguest idea that your grandson thinks you're a racist.
That MV3, you'll say next. Your granddaughter has walked into the room, tapping on a remarkably advanced electronic communication device that you call The Idiot Box.
She knows all about the MV3—that is, she knows the stats, and that by the time they finally won a World Series they weren't actually all that great.
The arm, you'll say, finally, and the reflexes. You're alone now, because ElderCitz have been required since the collapse of the United Nations to submit their names for thrice-yearly Shirley Jackson lotteries, and the kids don't like to hear your cowardice, the way it bubbles up from your gut in gurgled moans.
Scott Rolen—he was a great player, but you had to be there. You had to watch the way he controlled his huge limbs in flight, the way his arm snapped forward like a machined part, the way he ran with his head down in a way that had to be totally unlike your dad's stupid Charlie Hustle memories sounded.
And you're an old person now. You're a curmudgeon. But as the townsfolk load the rocks into their slings, wet still with your classmates' blood, you realize it's not so bad to be a curmudgeon, so long as you're polite about it. Because somebody has to be there to remember who Scott Rolen was, and exactly how he did the things he did.