Willie Mays is undoubtedly the best living-legend baseball player. Depending on who's talking, he may be the best, period.
Willie Mays turned 80 on Friday. He is, without question, the greatest living baseball player right now. And, in fact, he might just be the greatest baseball player of all-time, depending on who you're talking to.
If you're talking to a Giants fan, there's really no reason to debate, because it's quite obvious that Mays has GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) status -- he's the man who roamed the fields at the Polo Grounds with legendary speed and a glove made of Teflon.
But that's the thing about Mays. For as fast as he was -- and he was lightning-fast, as his 338 career stolen bases show -- he was powerful as hell too, in case you didn't realize that from his 660 career home runs, still good for fourth all-time.
Taking a glance at his Baseball Reference page is, well, impossible. The scroll bar on the right side shrinks up to a quarter-inch when you land there, and then a stat-filled wonderland begins to unfold.
Mays is up there in home runs, up there in stolen bases, 21st all-time in OPS+, 20th all-time in walks, 10th all-time in RBI, third all-time in total bases, 11th all-time in hits, seventh all-time in runs scored, fourth all-time in WAR (wins above replacement), ninth all-time in Defensive WAR, he won 12 Gold Gloves, two MVPs (and should have won, like, five more at least) ... and I could go on forever.
The point there is that there's plenty of proof whether you're a seamhead or an old-school baseball fan that Mays is an all-time great, if not the greatest.
What endears him to Giants fans is the fact that he still hangs out at AT&T Park, talking to fans and players alike, and for all the bad things that went on with his godson, Barry Bonds, in the past few years, Mays' legacy remains squeaky-clean and so far past above -- either good or bad -- that Bonds did.
And life's pretty good for Mays these days, too, by the way.
"I had a good year because the kids had a good year," Mays told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle recently, in reference to the 2010 world-champion Giants. "Goes hand in hand."
The best tidbit from Shea's piece, though is that fact that Mays is a tech geek. No, seriously.
He owns "several cell phones" and explores "the world through is iPad," which is just phenomenal for an 80-year-old man, regardless of how amazing his life was before he began aging.
Even as he ages, though, the Giants aren't done celebrating his life: Friday night's series opener against the Rockies is "Willie Mays Day" at AT&T Park (and, in fact, today is "Willie Mays Day" across the city).
Video tributes to Mays will be shown throughout the game, many of his teammates will be in attendance, and fans are encouraged to show their love on Twitter by using the hashtags #WillieMaysDay and #SayHeyDay.
Who knows -- Mays might be reading.