From Mark Herrmann at Newsday on April 3, 2015:
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.”
Originally published: April 6, 2015. Last Updated: April 6, 2015.