By Phil Stacey
---- — Yeah, they’re a great team ... but could they have beaten so-and-so?
Who among us hasn’t wondered that exact same thing about a particular squad, from a particular year, and how they’d fare against a particular foe from yesteryear?
One of the ways we measure greatness in athletics is to compare superior programs from one era to equally dominant clubs from another. Then we start to ask ourselves questions: is the level of play as strong as it once was? Do today’s players have advantages that those that came before them didn’t? Are modern day athletes better conditioned? Is the talent of today spread too thin?
They’re all great questions that, unfortunately, the laws of space and time will never allow us to see played out in real life.
But there’s always fantasy.
Or, in this case, Fantasy Matchups.
For our sixth annual Salem News Summer Series, we’ve decided to delve into the world of what if’s and come up with Fantasy Matchups, where we examine two teams from two different eras in the same sport and how they might fare if they ever had the chance to face one another.
We pitted natural rivals from different seasons on opposite sides of the ledger; state champions versus other state champions; and memorable teams that left lasting impressions against one another.
We’ve spread out our matchups to include 11 public and parochial schools covered by The Salem News, encompassing nine different sports. We’ve even included one mythical individual matchup and how they might fare against the other.
Our series begins today with a classic diamond matchup between two of the greatest pitchers in North Shore history: Jeff Juden and the 1989 Salem High Division 2 state titlists against Jeff Allison and the 2003 Peabody High Tanners, who reached the Division 1 North final. We’ll run the series each day for the next two weeks, culminating on Aug. 31.
Is there a true answer as to whether Team A would defeat Team B in a particular sport (or vice versa)? Maybe, maybe not.
You can log on to SalemNews.com, find each day’s story and vote in the on-line poll as to which team you think will win. You can also discuss each day’s matchup on Twitter, following @SalemNewsSports, or email us at BSports@salemnews.com.
Until then, sit back, enjoy — and let the arguments begin.