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I have sinned against (gulp) ... Yaz

The origin of the term "compiler," as it relates to sports, is unclear. I heard it first during the old days of Mike and the Mad Dog. It was a way for them to diminish an athlete's statistical accomplishments, saying he (or she) "compiled" them over a period of years, thus mitigating their overall significance.

Ah, but sports arguments — any arguments, really — ought to acknowledge new information and changing circumstances. And recent developments have given me newfound appreciation for the "compilers" of the world — if "compiler" is even a term worth considering after all.

Know what one has to do to "compile?" Stay on the field. Play. Over a period of time. The significance of that shouldn't get lost. Even now when we are awash in esoteric numbers that are supposed to explain everything, is there a metric that measures showing up every day?

I ask this because the two biggest sports stars in New York right now — Aaron Judge and Saquon Barkley — can't stay on the field. Our jaws may be agape at Judge's 450-foot homers and Barkley's ability to leap tall tacklers in a single bound. But you kind of need photos for posterity because the next day, they're gone.

Seriously: Of what value are you to your team if you can't stay on the field?

This is not a character assassination, of course. Nobody wants to get hurt and miss time. But it underscores the ability of athletes who have avoided injury — or played through them — as perhaps the most underrated attribute of all.

Eli Manning never missed a game because of injury. (There was one game he missed when the nitwit coach benched him in favor of someone named Geno Smith.) Russell Wilson has never missed a game either. My guess is their bones have ached a time or two. But they showed up anyway.

This revelation has given me a newfound respect, too, for (bless me, Yankee fans for I am about to sin) ... Carl Yastrzemski. No, really. I've made it a pastime to poke fun at Yaz, if only to annoy Red Sox fans. But the guy played for 25 — 25! — years.

He played at least 145 games 15 times. From 1966-1970, Yaz played 160, 161, 157, 162 and 161 games. That guy could "compile" for me any day. Could you imagine Judge doing that? They'd have to put the entire Yankee front office on Xanax in fear the dreaded oblique pull is inevitable and the big guy needs a rest every other day. Where's Bernie Williams when you need him?

Then there's Cal Ripken. I've often thought he did the Orioles a disservice by breaking Lou Gehrig's record. In that time period, he failed to even hit .265 seven times. A day off here and there might have made him more productive. But then, maybe that's not the point. Because you could count on Ripken every day. "Compile" away, Cal.

Maybe my old school values are showing. I guess I'm less interested in the grandiose — DID YOU SEE HOW FAR HE HIT THAT HOME RUN?! — than the understated: Yup. He played again today. He's going to be there tomorrow, too. Reliable as morning coffee.

So we salute Jerry Rice (303 games played in the NFL), Brett Favre (302), Bruce Matthews (296) and Darrell Green (295). Robert Parish (1,611 games played in the NBA), Kareem (1,560) and Vince Carter (1,541). Pete Rose (3,6532) and Yaz (3,308). Gordie Howe (1,767) and Mark Messier (1,756).

Those are the numbers to me that count even more than any other accomplishment.

We all have our theories on why many players of today can't stay on the field. Maybe they're too muscular for their own good. Or maybe front offices baby them. At this point, I don't care much. All I know is there's a certain value to staying on the field. Maybe you get called a "compiler." Consider the source, I guess. But again, I ask: What value do you have to you team if you're always hurt?

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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