Baseball takes the concept of replacement very seriously, and always has. You can see it in the most basic rule: If a player is replaced by another during the game, he can't come back in.
That sets the tone, which keeps humming every season, on and off the field. The actual word "replacement'' has greater meaning in baseball than just about anywhere else. Twenty years ago, it was a very controversial term around major league training camps, which were populated by "replacement players'' during the players association's strike.
Now the phrase Wins Above Replacement (known better as WAR) is considered the gold standard among an array of new statistics called Sabermetrics. WAR is the figure that is meant to best summarize a player's value to his team by calculating how many more victories a team could expect with him rather than with a potential substitute.
All of it relates to the nature of a sport that has been regenerating over and over for nearly 150 years. No one person or thing lasts forever (with the possible exceptions of Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Vin Scully). Even legends and fixtures eventually move along.
As Joe DiMaggio said during the spring of 1951, his final season, "There's always some youngster coming up. They'll find somebody.''
The Yankees were lucky enough to find Mickey Mantle. In any case, life and baseball do go on, as they are doing this season after the retirements of Derek Jeter and commissioner Bud Selig -- two figures who have seemed irreplaceable for a long time.
Jeter was a throwback. Among his greatest contributions as heart and soul of the Yankees' latest reign were intangible, immeasurable by statistics even in an age that has a number for everything. For the record, his WAR last season was 0.2, far below the 7.9 of American League leader Mike Trout.
New Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius (1.1 WAR in 2014) and all of his successors will be judged in large part on an expanding field of analytics, which is itself a replacement for the traditional stats-and-eye-test method of scouting. Meanwhile, before too long, Jeter will be commemorated alongside DiMaggio, Mantle and other icons with a monument at Yankee Stadium.
The monument to Selig's tenure as commissioner is the era of labor peace that followed the tumultuous spring of 1995. Selig presided over the replacement camps until federal district court judge Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction that effectively replaced the replacements with the regular players. Sotomayor was named in 2009 to the U.S. Supreme Court -- replacing David Souter in an institution that, like baseball, values the rite of succession. In making her nomination public, President Barack Obama, a serious White Sox fan, said, "Some say Judge Sotomayor saved baseball.''
It will be up to Rob Manfred, Selig's successor, to keep guiding baseball, determining which customs and rulings to keep and which to replace. Pete Rose's ban, perhaps?
Not every step in baseball's evolution is positive or popular. You have to look long and hard to find someone who likes the fact that the average game time of 2 hours, 40 minutes in 1984 was replaced by the 3:08 average game last season. Is it really a good thing that artificial noise has taken the place of quiet in every available second during a ballgame? Baseball purists will bemoan the reality that it has been more than a generation since football supplanted baseball as the national pastime.
Some fans might actually be nostalgic about the nostalgia of last season and Jeter's farewell tour. But the truth is that replacements are what always bring advancement and excitement to the game.
Ted Williams bows out, Carl Yastrzemski comes along. Mets fans who long for the adrenaline rush that came with each of Dwight Gooden's starts now have Matt Harvey. Broadcasts on radio gave way to TV, and TV has been followed by digital technology that allows you to watch or hear just about any game no matter where you are.
The great sports columnist Red Smith finished his final column this way: "I told myself not to worry. Some day there would be another Joe DiMaggio.''
He knew there would never be anyone exactly like Joe D. The fun is in the anticipation of who might take the man's place in people's hearts. Thank goodness they always find somebody.
Baseball 101: The replacements
If any baseball person says, "No one can ever take your place,'' they are kidding themselves, or misleading the person to whom they are speaking. Someone always is there to fill in, carry on or drop the ball completely. Good or bad, worthy or not, in every case, there is a replacement.
This year, Derek Jeter and Bud Selig are among those who have given way to successors. So our 2015 edition of Baseball 101 is devoted to the topic of Replacements.
Baseball 101 is our annual seminar on the game, exploring it through a particular lens -- 101 different ways. It happens every spring, which is itself a welcome replacement for winter. With that in mind, class is in session. And there will be a new one next year.
1. Derek Jeter: Yankees shortstop Tony Fernandez was injured in the spring of 1995, so ready or not, Jeter was given the job to replace him by new manager Joe Torre -- who admitted he didn't know much about the kid.
2. Bud Selig: When he replaced baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, Selig was "acting commissioner'' from 1992 to 1998. From then, he held the title officially until his retirement in January.
3. Yankee Stadium: It replaced old Yankee Stadium, but the interior dimensions were almost an exact replica of the predecessor next door, and the exterior was built to look like the original Stadium.
4. Citi Field: It replaced Shea Stadium, but every effort was made to make the new place completely different.
6. OPS: The post-Moneyball era of sabermetrics has introduced a range of new statistics that have replaced the basic ones (i.e., batting average), with OPS one of the most highly valued. It is the total of a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage and is considered a strong overall measurement. Victor Martinez of the Tigers led the majors last season with a .974 OPS. The new array of stats has helped organizations evaluate players and build ballclubs in a different, more comprehensive way and has added a new level of interest and conversation. A possible downside, however, is that the focus on analytics might turn off the casual fans that baseball is trying to attract.
7. Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci: They replaced Tim McCarver, tacit acknowledgment that no one person could replace the Hall of Fame broadcaster who played in four decades.
8. AstroTurf: It was the wave of the future in the 1960s when it supplanted grass.
9. Grass: Except for non-retractable domes, natural grass has supplanted AstroTurf as the fixture of the 2000s.
10. George Selkirk: Hit .312 with 11 homers in 1935 after replacing Babe Ruth in rightfield (and also wore Ruth's No. 3).
11. Roger Maris: With 61 homers in 1961, Maris broke Ruth's single-season record (there never actually was an asterisk).
12. Hank Aaron: With his 715th homer in 1974, he broke another of Ruth's hallowed record -- for career homers.
13. Mark McGwire: With 70 homers in 1998, he replaced Maris in the record book, but it bears the taint of steroids.
14. Barry Bonds: Ditto for the career homer mark (he replaced Aaron in 2007).
15. Milwaukee Brewers: The expansion Pilots replaced the Braves in Milwaukee when they migrated from Seattle in 1970 and changed their nickname. Then in 1998, they made another move and joined the Atlanta Braves in the National League.
16. Baltimore Orioles: They replaced the St. Louis Browns, who replaced the original Milwaukee Brewers -- same franchise, established in Milwaukee in 1901.
17. New York Yankees: They replaced the Highlanders with the name change in 1913.
18. Bobblehead giveaways: They have replaced Bat Day giveaways, and although the dolls often don't look like the person they are supposed to represent, they are less dangerous than thousands of bats in the stands.
19. 'Enter Sandman': Mariano Rivera's entry anthem was much edgier than Sparky Lyle's "Pomp and Circumstance."
20. Tommy Lasorda: After 23 years as Dodgers manager (with 23 one-year contracts), Walt Alston seemed irreplaceable, but Lasorda was irrepressible in 21 seasons.
21. 'No. 1': It replaced "cheese," which followed "gas," "heater" and "fastball."
22. Astros: Originally the Houston Colt .45s, born in 1962, the name was changed three years later when the Astrodome opened as the first domed sports stadium.
23. Nationals: The nickname change from Expos was made when the franchise shifted from Montreal in 2005.
24. Tommy John surgery: It replaced many sore elbows and early retirements.
25. Doug DeCinces: Replaced Brooks Robinson at third base for the Orioles, part- time in 1976 and regularly in 1977.
26. Tony Batista: Replaced Cal Ripken at third base for the Orioles in 2002 and made the All-Star Game.
27. Seven-man bullpen: Bullpen expansion and the five-man rotation replaced standard four-man rotations.
28. Starting pitchers making the long pregame walk to the bullpen: That has replaced the ritual of having the starters warm up in front of the dugout and box seats.
29. Mickey Mantle: Took over for Joe DiMaggio in centerfield after playing rightfield alongside Joltin' Joe in 1951.
30. Wild-card races: They have replaced winner-take-all pennant races.
31. Jackie Robinson: His debut in 1947 replaced the decades-old color barrier, changing the game and American society forever.
32. Bats made of ash: There was a time when most bats were made of hickory.
33. World Series played exclusively at night: It used to be played exclusively during the day, but Game 6 of the 1987 Series -- which began at 4 p.m. -- was the last of its kind.
34. Paul Olden: He replaced Bob Sheppard as public address announcer at Yankee Stadium. The latter's voice still was heard after his death, through last season, introducing Derek Jeter's at-bats.
35. Color programs: They replaced the scorecard and pencil that used to cost a quarter.
36. Yankees spring training in Tampa: Replaced Yankees spring training in Fort Lauderdale.
37. Mets spring training in Port St. Lucie: Replaced Mets spring training in St. Petersburg. New York teams traded Florida coasts.
38. Camelback Ranch: The Dodgers' relocation to this complex in Glendale, Arizona -- leaving the iconic Dodgertown facility in Vero Beach, Florida -- symbolized the Cactus League's growing dominance over the Grapefruilt League.
39. David Robertson: Replaced Mariano Rivera -- for one year, anyway.
40. Lou Gehrig: He was a temporary fill-in for Wally Pipp. On June 2, 1925, Pipp had a headache, possibly the lingering result of an old hockey injury. Gehrig got to start at first base for the Yankees. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, it didn't become a permanent switch until the next month, when Pipp was beaned in batting practice and suffered a concussion.
41. Babe Dahlgren: After 2,130 consecutive games, a stricken Gehrig took himself out of the lineup on May 2, 1939. Dahlgren played first base and hit a home run and double in a 22-2 Yankees victory at Detroit.
42. Cal Ripken: He replaced Gehrig as baseball's all-time consecutive-games king with No. 2,131 on Sept. 6, 1995.
43. Tino Martinez: He had a rough start after replacing Don Mattingly, the most popular Yankee of his era, but wound up a fan favorite with four rings and a plaque in Monument Park.
44. Jason Giambi: The replacement for Martinez, Giambi hit 41 homers in each of his first two seasons with the Yankees, but his name ultimately surfaced in the Mitchell Report.
45. Long pants down to the shoes: They replaced colored stirrups.
46. Video replay challenges: They've replaced on-field arguments with umpires.
47. Quality starts: They've replaced complete games.
48. Frank Robinson: He replaced Ken Aspromonte as Indians manager. On Opening Day in Cleveland 40 years ago, Robinson became the first African-American manager in major league history. At age 39, Robby kept himself on the active roster and was the DH in the first game. Before a Municipal Stadium crowd of 56,715 that included Jackie Robinson's widow, Rachel, he homered in the first inning against the Yankees' Doc Medich.
49. Pat Zachry: The pitcher was assigned the locker of Mets legend Tom Seaver, for whom he was traded in 1977.
50. David Cone: Replaced Keith Hernandez as the wearer of No. 17 on the Mets. Cone did it as a tribute to the first baseman.
51. Ebbets Field Apartments: They replaced Ebbets Field, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said in February that he wants to restore and preserve the deteriorating complex, built in 1962 on the site of the Dodgers' former home.
52. Polo Grounds Towers: They replaced the Polo Grounds, and residents in recent years have demanded improvements at the housing development at Coogans Bluff built in 1968 -- 17 years after Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World and five years after the Mets moved out.
53. The slider: It has replaced the curveball as the most vexing breaking pitch.
54. The Ted (Turner Field): Atlanta's Olympic Stadium was converted to a ballpark, replacing The Launching Pad -- the homer-friendly Fulton County Stadium. It will be replaced by a new stadium outside the city in 2017.
55. Camden Yards: Baltimore's downtown retro ballpark set the tone for baseball architecture, signaling the end of the era of cookie-cutter stadiums.
56. Busch Stadium: It replaced Busch Stadium, but the Cardinals' homes in St. Louis are the same only in name and geography (the new one is next to the site of the old one).
57. Oakland A's: Replaced the Kansas City A's, who replaced the Philadelphia A's.
58. Minnesota Twins: Replaced the Washington Senators in 1961
59. Texas Rangers: Replaced the second version of the Washington Senators in 1972.
60. $8 beer: It has replaced the 50-cent beer. According to statista.com, the Marlins' price of $8 was the highest in the majors last season.
61. Jimmy Dykes: After 50 years as manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, Connie Mack stepped down in 1950 and, as owner of the club, hired a former star infielder as his replacement. Unlike Mack, Dykes did not wear a business suit during games.
62. Jimmy Dykes for Joe Gordon: ... and vice versa because they replaced each other on Aug. 3, 1960, when the Tigers (skippered by Dykes) and Indians (Gordon's club) traded managers.
63. Rocky Colavito and Harvey Kuenn: Also vice versa. Just before Opening Day of 1960, the Indians traded Colavito, the reigning American League homer champion, to the Tigers for Kuenn, the AL's batting champion in 1959.
64. Royce Clayton: In late 1995, the Cardinals traded to get Clayton from the Giants to replace Ozzie Smith, perhaps the greatest-fielding shortstop ever.
65. Pitchers walking in from the bullpen: They replaced the chauffeured rides to the mound. Remember the pinstriped Datsun at Yankee Stadium or the Shea vehicles on which the roof was an oversized cap of the team that was playing?
66. Richie Zisk: He replaced Roberto Clemente, but Zisk's .324 batting average in 1973 could not help the Pirates recover from the shock of losing their Hall of Fame rightfielder in a plane crash while he was on a humanitarian mission.
67. Jerry Narron: He replaced Thurman Munson, but not before the poignant image of the temporarily empty place behind the plate before the Yankees' first game after Munson's death in 1979.
68. Matt Harvey: Has replaced Dwight Gooden as the Mets pitcher who makes each of his starts a must-see event.
69. David Wright: Replaced the Mets' decades-old revolving door for third basemen.
70. Extra Innings package: It's replaced the Game of the Week. On cable or satellite TV and through computers, tablets or smartphones, just about every game can be seen anywhere. It is a far cry from the days when much of the country got only a single game every Saturday afternoon.
71. Leagues alternating the World Series home-field advantage: Home-field advantage has been determined by the winner of the All-Star Game since 2003.
72. Bruce Bochy: He has replaced Tony La Russa as the resident genius of October.
73. Strategic defensive positioning for many batters, based on statistical analysis: It has replaced "The McCovey Shift." It used to be that only a rare, distinguished player such as Hall of Famer Willie McCovey would cause defensive repositioning.
74. 'Big Papi': Replaced "Yaz," which replaced "Teddy Ballgame" as nicknames for Red Sox offensive cornerstones -- David Ortiz in the tradition of Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams.
75. Faith: It replaced baseball for Billy Sunday and Grant Desme, who left the game to be an evangelical preacher and a Catholic priest, respectively.
76. Bob Lemon, Dick Howser, Yogi Berra and Lou Piniella" They all replaced Billy Martin as Yankees manager.
77. Sunflower seeds: A more healthy replacement for chewing tobacco.
78. Giant video screen at Wrigley Field: Has replaced the open space behind the outfield seats -- part of a $375-million renovation.
79. Minute Maid Park: The Astrodome, baseball's original indoor stadium, called "The Eighth Wonder of the World'' when it opened 50 years ago, stands empty and dormant, having been replaced by a retractable-roof park in downtown Houston.
80. Nearly constant, orchestrated and high-volume noise: Someone thought it would be better than the quiet time between pitches.
81. Basketball: It replaced baseball for Dave DeBusschere and Danny Ainge. They were on the White Sox and Blue Jays before devoting all their time to NBA careers.
82. Catcher Cliff Dapper: He replaced broadcaster Ernie Harwell on the Atlanta Crackers' payroll. In 1948, when Red Barber was hospitalized, the Dodgers needed a broadcaster immediately. They asked the minor league team to release Harwell, but the Crackers insisted on getting a catcher in return from Brooklyn's affiliate in Montreal.
83. Vin Scully: When Harwell left the Dodgers' broadcast team for the Giants before the 1950 season, Brooklyn management hired the 22-year-old Scully, a Fordham graduate, to replace him. Scully was recommended by Barber, with whom he would work through 1953 and whom he would replace as the lead announcer. Harwell later joked that creating the opening for Scully was his greatest contribution to the business, but he was a Hall of Fame broadcaster in his own right. Scully still is calling Dodgers games 65 years later, having moved with the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. What's more, he works solo and still is considered by his peers to be the best announcer in baseball.
84. Michael Jordan: He replaced Charles Poe on the Birmingham Barons, and Poe was not pleased about being assigned to another year at Class A to make room for the megastar on the White Sox minor league club in 1994.