Come up with the years and Eras
Baseball has been around for well over 100 years now. We all know those 100 years have not all been the same kind of baseball. The game evolves over time and approaches change over time. So I'm curious to know, if you had to make a list of all the eras in baseball since it's beginnings (I'm guessing 1870s) how would you go about breaking up the time periods, and why? Describe the eras and break them up by the years. I can't do this because the only kind of eras I know of are deadball era and the modern era.
1871-1879: Softball Era
This period is characterized by an infantile game with rules constantly in flux as players and owners decide what makes for the best kind of play. Most of the period is dominated by the rule that a batter shall request a location wehre the pitcher must throw the ball (set his own strikezone) and the pitcher's job was to lob the ball to the plate and let his fielders try to stop the batter from reaching. Scores were grotesquely inflated although league-ERAs were not due to the large unmber of errors charged in each game. Players played without proper equipment on fields that were terrible and dangerous in front of crowds that rarely numbered out of the few hundreds.
1880-1891: Enterprise Era
This is a period characterized by the explosive realization that baseball could be a profit-making big business entertainment medium. Massive expansions, team movements, barnstorming, unbalanced schedules, players changing teams for the oppoortunity to sign advertising contracts, player-managers protecting their own career interests, rigging of games to create good "scripts" for the fans and changing of the rules to enhance the excitement of the game. The fanchises were in such flux during this period that whole complex labeling schemes are needed to keep track of who's who. The result of the capitalistic expansion of the game was an incrimental improvement in the quality of the equipment (though true quality was still decades away), a move toward keeping more detailed official records and competing for championships, and a very watered down talent pool resulting in lopsided W-L records.
1892-1900: Premodern Stagnation
When baseball didn't sell on a grand scale right out of the box, all expanded leagues folded and the game contracted to 12 highly stagnant franchises who had very limited scouting range and relied much more heavily on attracting players to come to them. Barnstorming was far less common and players tended to settle in one place for longer. A gradual decline in the quality of play from the death of the AA to the death of the contraction of 1900 was brought about by the lack of an organized search for new talent.
1901-1919: Deadball Era
While it is true that the lively ball was first introduced in 1911, it was depreciated two years later and the deadball period continued nearly uninterrupted until the 1920 banning of trick pitches and livening of the ball. Before this year, the heavy results in an aggressive contact oriented game where the craft of fielding is finally honed to the point where the error rate drops to acceptible levels and the BABIP (batting average on balls in play) PLUMMETS. Low scoring games domniated by a small handful of superstar players, trick pitches, gamesmanship and aggression rule the period.
1920-1941: Liveball Era
Teams graudally realized that without trick pitches and with a lively ball, the best way to score lots of runs was to take walks and try to hit for power. The increased scoring that resulted makes pitching and fielding analysis more difficult and creates a severe inflation in the presumed skill of the offensive players from this period. Both the AL and NL suffer from bouts of disparity between elite dynastic teams and the rest...the NL suffers from a near total lack of quality major league players.
1942-1946: WWII Depression
The quality of the game takes a serious hit as many of the best players go off to fight for the US in WWII. The Negro Leagues during this period may have been almost as competitive as the Major Leagues. The statistics books are littered with player players that have a curious spike in productivity during this era.
1947-1960: Gradual Integration
A return to more of a liveball playing atmosphere as great players from the Negro Leagues and from the pre-war era now populate roster of most of the teams. HRs have never been more common, though walks and strikeout rates remain very low. Fans complain about the imbalances in attendence between the elite teams and the rest. Player movement from team to team is exceedingly rare and the rumblings of expansion and westward migration of the game begin.
1961-1973: Fielding/Pitching Spike
Contrary to popular description, the 1960s/early 70s spike in defensive excellence was NOT caused by the re-introduction of a dead ball. The ball hadn't changed...there was just an enormous surge of fielding talent (go through the lists of the great fielders at each position and you'll see what I mean...this decade or so was LOADED with defensive wizardry) and great young pitchers hit their stride all at once, while the hitting talent weakened. Things like these do in fact go in cycles...in today's game, there's been a new surge of great young pitchers that are starting to curtail the explosive scoring of the late 90s. While expansion was taking place, the game was slightly weaker but overall it continues to strengthen through the period in terms of competitive equity and player depth as integration truly begins to fill clubhouses with the best African American talent.
1974-1992: The Golden Age of Balanced Baseball
After the introduction of the DH to the AL, the lowering of the mound, and an infusion of brilliant latino position players into the player pool, balance returned to the game in this period. Scoring normalized and there was unparalelled parity following the beginning of free agency. This period showcases every style of successful team play (pitching/defense, aggressive baserunning/smallball, power/patience...etc) and is enormously deep in terms of talent thanks to the baby boom and the continued globalization of baseball.
1993-Today: Overexpansion and Decay
The game was perfectly balanced for a very long time...and then in their endless search for profit, the major league owners elected to expand two more times, liven the ball further and look the other way when Steroids became a serious problem in every clubhosue. It's still a great game today, and the surge of new young pitching talent is beginning to level the playing field, but there can be no doubt that it has been watered down a little since the 80s. There is far less in the way of varied styles of play, out of control spending by a handful of teams, and a number of franchises that are utterly without hope of being competitive.
Can't really improve upon that. Don't really agree with the whole '20's comments...but nice job Matthew.
Wen I say the position players from the 20s were overrated, I don't mean ALL of those players were overrated...Ruth certainly wasn't...
But I do notice that a lot of players I wind up believing are overrated come from this period. Guys like Hack Wilson, George Sisler, Ross Youngs...
Other than that...you're happy with my little history?
Oh let's not kid ourselves. Ruth is only a big name because he was a Yankee
Ok, just curious. How do you feel about a guy like Goose Goslin who played in a graveyard and who couldn't find black ink in a sharpee factory (understandably).
Goose Goslin was a very good player...a little PCA report card on him:
By the GI Method he ranks 13th all time among left fielders...a prertty darned solid HOFer by most reasonable standards.
His career Offensive PCA-BA is .306 (Comparatively...Ruth's is .385 (LOL) but there's nothign wrong with being a perennial all-star.
His career defensive PCA-BA is .285 (a good solid fielder who was gold-glove calibar in his prime). The combination makes him among the top 15 to be career left fielders in the game's history.
I try not to focus on comparing players to their contemporary competition (which is why I avoid spending to omuch time looking at black and grey ink scores) it's not Goose's fault he had Ruth in his way...LOL
Pretty interesting. Only thing is I wouldn't call today Overexpansion and Decay, simply the Modern Era. Ahh but that's just a personal thing.
Originally Posted by SABR Matt
Well done Matt.
I would add 1892 to the previous era because the offense exploded due to the 60'6" rule taking effect. I do understand the drawing of the line where you drew it as well though.
I can't really make much of a dent in your reasoning anywhere else
So a 16 team league for around 20 years suffers from a lack of major league quality players yet it is the modern times labeled over expansion and decay? And the "Golden Age of Baseball" had more expansion to deal with then we do now and the minor league system was either dead or in a severe coma during that time and it wasn't resurrected until the supposed decay era of baseball.
I forgot to ask this earlier. What is meant by trick pitches in the deadball era?
And how exactly did MLB liven up the ball in the modern era?
The Golden Age of Baseball was made the way it was not by the development of home grown talent so much as by the massive importation of talent from elsewhere, Ubi. I doubt you'll find ANY expert who will disagree with me that 1974-1992 was the period during which baseball thrived and that the expansions from 1961-1977 were justified by the explosion of availablle talent but later expansions were not (1993 and 1998), resulting in a slight decay in the overall quality of play since 1993.
Our growth of minor league systems today does have the effect of producing enough talent to prevent a 4-team expansion from being severely detrimental to the quality of competition, but most people would agree that the quality of play has eased off a little since the 80s.
The ball was livened in 1994 though it was a subtle change and livened again in 1997....this was done by making the core of the baseball more tightly wound and slightly springier, which physicists estimate creates something like a 2-5% edge in the recoil speed of a ball after hitting a bat.
And what we mean we we talk about trick pitches is things like the spitball, the shaved ball (pitchers used to cut slits in the surface of the ball or rub it down with sand paper to make it break better), the stop-ball (stop your wind-up in the middle and then proceed forward after a brief delay, creating difficulties in a hitter timing his swing)...they used to do all kinds of crazy things to the baseball and the pitching motion to screw up a hitter's timing and prevent him from making clean contact. It was all outlawed in 1920.
Good job on all the era's. Of course some will agree with most of your post some may not, thats fine a matter of choice.
Originally Posted by SABR Matt
Just a note a factor that has just about disappeared after a big topic of discussion in the early to mid 1990s, now just about forgotten
Speaking of that funny little strike zone, lower than ever, hitters delight. No longer do the hitters have to be concerned with the high borderline pitch. Very seldom will they swing at it, they know almost any pitch inches above the belt will seldom be called a strike.
That high hard one, the one that some of the strongest hitters in the game had a problem getting around on, "getting on top" of the ball. Mantle, Killebrew and even big Frank Howard had problems with that pitch. It is no longer a part of the game, the umps have dropped the top of the strike zone a good 4 inches and maybe more.
What the umps are calling on the field and what is in the rule book are quite different. It's not just the ball or the smaller parks, that tiny strike zone is a part of the offensive explosion of the 1990s.
Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 06-27-2006 at 04:39 PM.
Good point about the strikezone. That should be added as another contributing factor in the difficulty of this period...it makes it hard for overhand curveballs to be called strikes too.
Originally Posted by SABR Matt
Oh I bet I could find a few. 70's wasn't the golden age for anybody. Maybe for the Orioles and Reds. The 80's was the beginning of the boom time for revenue and media but that golden glow hasn't dampened or decayed. Your golden age was the age of cocaine, speed, and the start of steroids. It had Pete Rose and the end of the commissioner. You had Al Campanis showing the world that baseball still had miles to go, and Marge Schott loving Hitler. You had strikes, lockouts, collusion, escalating salaries, and detachment from the fans as well. You had fights, brawls, drunkeness, and urban decay in and near the stadiums in the 70's. The start of cities being held hostage with stadium demands.
The 70's saw latin players entering the game but at the same time the leagues expanded by 6 teams and by 4 just a short time before that. These latin and black players were not pushing anyone out the door they were simply filling the new vacant spots. Nor does it mean that these latin players were raising the bar. Quality level probably stayed the same there was just more teams setting that bar now then before.
Note carefully Ubi...I did not say it was the golden age of baseball CULTURE...I said it was golden age of baseball COMPETITIVENESS.
So the golden age of competitiveness started with the same teams going to the playoffs year after year? Look at the 70's. Even if we want to pick 1974 as some seminal moment we have an ALCS that featured the same exact two teams 3 years in a row, and 4 years out of 5. Entering into 1974 you had the same two AL teams fighting each other year in year out as well. Over in the NL you had LA, Cincin, Pit, and Philly duking it out until practically the mid-80's. Yeah you had a brief flash of different teams playing and winning in the mid-80's but by the end of the 80's we start seeing the same teams again wining it all year in and year out. Oakland, Boston, Toronto, LA (never really went away), Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. Yes more teams are playing and winning but that is because there are more teams to begin with and more playoffs spots to go around. 30 years earlier we had two playoff spots and 8 teams on each side vying for 1 spot. In the 70's and 80's they double the playoff spots but they do not double the amount of teams vying for those spots. It used to be 1 out of 8 got to go to the playoffs now it was down to 1 out of 6.5 teams by the end of that "era". Even with it being easier we still see the same teams floating to the top year after year. In the end what happens is that about a 5 year period in the 80's ends up defining a 19 year period.