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Nearly 19,000 men have played baseball in the major leagues. Adidas Predators Jerseys . Ive decided that their careers all had one thing in common: Not one of them had a final season as spectacular as the grand finale currently being crafted by a man named David Americo Ortiz Arias.Willie Mays hit .211 the year he said goodbye. Hank Aaron batted .229. Harmon Killebrew hit .199. Goose Gossage had a 4.18 ERA. Robin Roberts went 5-8, 4.82. John Smoltz and Phil Niekro both had ERAs north of 6.00. And thats normal.So keep that in mind as you watch Big Papi heading for the finish line. He leads the whole sport in slugging. He leads the whole sport in doubles (tied with Daniel Murphy). He leads the whole sport in OPS. And hes 40 years old. Seriously?Which means its time to begin actively debating a question I dont ask lightly: Is this the greatest retirement season in baseball history -- or even sports history? It just might be.The answer is coming right up. But first -- while you, Sandy Koufax and John Elway think about that question -- I have another. Its a question Ive been asking players over the last couple of months. Its one every great athlete in history has had to contemplate. And I asked it because it helps wrap some perspective around Ortizs incredible season. It goes like this:If you had the choice, which script would you write for yourself? Would you like to play as long as you could? Or would you like to go out like David Ortiz -- waving adios when you were still one of the best players alive?I chuckle to myself every time I ask this question and players say, Both. Because in real life, that aint happening. They just dont know it yet.I also smile when players say they want to be like Big Papi and exit when theyre still great. Because they havent grasped the truth: Almost nobody ever winds up doing that, either.But there are some people in the game who get it. Like Josh Donaldson, for instance.Obviously, the whole movie script is to be able to go out on top, right? the Blue Jays third baseman said earlier this summer. I think thats the way wed all like to do it. But ... I think its probably one of the hardest things to do, because when youve been doing something as long as Big Papi has done it -- for him, Elway, Peyton [Manning], Tim Duncan -- the hardest thing to do is to let it go, because youve been so successful at it and its what youve done for so long.But Father Time is undefeated, Donaldson said with a laugh. And all of us, one day, are going to have to walk away.Uh, I hate to break it to him, but thats not exactly how it usually works, either. Not for most people. Almost no athletes in any sport reach the point where they get to decide when to walk away. The game decides for them.So as we contemplate the list of contenders for Greatest Final Season Ever, we need to remember that, OK? Hardly anyone on that list said, Goodnight, everybody, voluntarily. Either their body wouldnt let them, or there was, well, some other reason. Heres my all-time ranking of baseballs top five finales. Youll see what I mean:1. David Ortiz, 20162. Ted Williams, 19603. Sandy Koufax, 19664. Barry Bonds, 20075. Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1920Koufaxs throbbing elbow wouldnt let him pitch anymore, and medical science hadnt invented Sandy Koufax Surgery yet. Shoeless Joe got suspended for life in the Black Sox scandal. And you can decide for yourself what happened to Bonds, but for whatever reason, he went looking for a team that winter and couldnt find one.So only Williams, at age 41, realized his body had reached the point where it was more suited for the aches-and-pains business than the hit-.400 business and retired of his own volition. Too bad he and Big Papi never got to swap retirement stories. Would have made for an awesome 30 for 30.But how did we sift through those names (and others) and decide that David Ortiz deserved to be No. 1? Lets run through his credentials, which were gathered with the brilliant assistance of ESPN Stats & Infos Paul Hembekides and the Elias Sports Bureau:? No player in history has led the major leagues in slugging or OPS in his final season (min. 400 PA). With less than three weeks to go, Ortiz leads in both.? No player has ever led the entire sport in extra-base hits in his final season, either. Ortiz ranks first in that department, too (tied with Brian Dozier).? No one since 1920 has even hit 40 doubles in his final season. Ortiz is on pace to hit 50.? Only one player in history (Dave Kingman) has ever hit 30 home runs or more in his final season. Ortiz is on pace to hit 37. (Editors note: Kingman hit 35 homers in 1986, but did it in a season in which he contributed so little else that his slash line was an ugly .210/.255/.431/.686. Ortiz is at .316/.403/.624/1.0284.)? If Big Papi keeps mashing at his current rate and finishes with those 37 homers and 50 doubles, he would be the 12th player in history to reach both of those plateaus in a season. Hes 40. All of the other 11 did it before they even turned 30.? Add up all those extra-base hits and youll find a man who is on pace to finish with 88 of them. Since 1921, know what the current record is for a player in his final season? Would you believe 62, by Kirby Puckett?? And we havent even gotten into all the stuff Ortiz has done at age 40 that no 40-year-old had ever done. But lets just hit you with this: No one else in history had ever had a 30-homer, 100-RBI season at age 40 or older. Ortiz reached those milestones back on Aug. 24 -- with nearly six weeks to go in the season.So what we have here is a Thanks for the Memories season thats downright astonishing. Now how does it compare with the other four on our list? Thanks for asking. Here is why we rank it No. 1:TED WILLIAMS, 1960: The argument for Williams at No. 1 is that he owns the greatest OPS (1.096) in a final season of any player who ever lived, and he probably deserves bonus points for lofting that poetic Fenway home run in the last at-bat of his career. But the argument against him is that he only got to the plate 390 times. Ortiz is on pace to pile up twice as many extra-base hits as Teds 44.SANDY KOUFAX, 1966: Want to contend that Koufax ought to rank above both Ortiz and Williams? You might be right. He is the only pitcher in history to win a Cy Young in his final season. He led both leagues in ERA (1.73), strikeouts (317), wins (27) and innings (323). And his 10.3 wins above replacement blows away Ortiz (currently at 4.4). What makes this tricky is trying to compare a 40-year-old position player -- and one doing things no 40-year-old has ever done -- with a 30-year-old pitcher whose accomplishments were not unprecedented for a 30-year-old pitcher. Should we give Ortiz extra credit for making an impact on close to 150 games (as opposed to the 41 Koufax pitched)? Should we deduct points from Koufax for being forced to retire when he was still in his prime, when Ortiz piled on another decade worth of production? Im voting yes and yes. But if you think otherwise, I wont say youre wrong.BARRY BONDS, 2007: Its still kind of fascinating that Bonds basically got run out of baseball after a season in which he led the major leagues in OBP (.480) and walks (132), and he was still so feared he drew 43 intentional walks in just 126 games. Thats the greatest on-base percentage any player has ever had in his final season (min. 400 PA). And his 1.045 OPS ranks first among all final seasons if you lower the eligibility bar to the 477 plate appearances he got that year. But you would have to be the president of the I Love Walks Fan Club to argue that Bonds was more productive that season (at age 42) than Ortiz has been this year. Lets go back to the extra-base-hit competition. Bonds that year: 42 extra-base hits. Ortiz already this season: 79. So sorry, Barry. You had a great year. But not this great.JOE JACKSON, 1920: Boy, this man could hit. He led the American League in triples (20) in his final season. He fired out a cool .382/.444/.589/1.033 slash line. He ranks No. 1 among all position players in wins above replacement in a final season (7.6). But ... once again, Im forced to subtract points here -- in this case for why this turned into his final season at age 32. Suspended for life. He might have been innocent. He might not have been so innocent. But Im not Kevin Costner. So I dont have to go down that road.OTHER CONTENDERS: We had a great group. Roberto Clemente. Jackie Robinson. Kirby Puckett. Mariano Rivera. Mike Mussina. Just to spin through the highlights. Excellent candidates. Just couldnt crack the top five.OTHER SPORTS: There was the great Jim Brown in 1965. He led the NFL in rushing -- but then quit. At age 29. ... There was John Elway. The oldest Super Bowl MVP in history. Then he walked away at 38. ... There was Wilt Chamberlain. He led the league in rebounding and field-goal percentage and got his team to the NBA finals -- at age 36. ... There was Bill Russell. He is the only man ever to average more than 19 rebounds per game in his final season. And he did it for the NBA champs. But he retired after his age-34 season. ... Feel free to add the legendary names of your choice, from Tim Duncan to Patrick Roy to Peyton Manning. Well always accept nominations. Just dont think we can rank them above David Ortizs fond farewell. Our apologies to all those who think weve lost our minds.It isnt merely his numbers, though, that Ortiz has going for him. Its that he knew his time had come, at age 40. And then put up those numbers, without ever wavering on his decision to stroll off into legendhood.Wed all love to do what hes doing, to call it on your own terms, said Carlos Beltran, one of just five active players besides Ortiz who reached the big leagues in the late, great 1990s. But youve got to be realistic with yourself. Youve got to know your body and what you think you have inside. And he felt like what he had inside was one more year.This is Beltrans 18th full season in the major leagues. So as he mulls when to turn out the lights on his own career, he admires a man who had such a perfect feel for making the right decision at the right moment in time.At the end of the day, you want to leave the game in a way where you were still productive, Beltran said. Hes leaving the game on a super, super high note. And thats amazing. Cheap Predators Jerseys . The home side created most of the chances but struggled to break down Braunschweigs resilient defence, resulting in the Bundesligas 1,000th scoreless draw. Youth Predators Jerseys . But now that hes in the NHL, the Calgary Flames centre showed big improvement in that department by scoring the winner in the eighth round of a 5-4 shootout victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. . Jay Feely kicked a 41-yard field goal in overtime, and the Cardinals edged the Tennessee Titans 37-34 in overtime after blowing a 17-point lead late in the fourth quarter. NACOGDOCHES, Texas -- Sophomore TJ Holyfield made two free throws with 5 seconds left and had his first career double-double with a 21 points and 14 rebounds to help Stephen F. Austin beat Longwood 66-60 on Tuesday for coach Kyle Kellers first Lumberjack victory.It was tied at 57-all with 2 minutes left. But Longwood didnt score until Isaiah Walton hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left to pull to 64-60. Holyfield secured it at the line.Dallas Cameron added 12 points and Leon Gilmore III had eight points and eight rebounds for Stephen F. Austin (1-1). The Lumbberjacks won their 29th straight home game, which is tied for the third longest active streak in the nation with South Dakota State. Discount Predators Jerseys. Holyfield, who scored a career-high, had 14 points and nine rebounds in the first half as SFA held a 31-27 lead.Walton led Longwood (0-2) with 15 points and Darrion Allen had 12 points and seven rebounds. The Lancers are still looking for their first win under first-year coach Jayson Gee. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '