Still, the point remains. It was more of a batting bonanza in Babe's time than it is now.
Still, the point remains. It was more of a batting bonanza in Babe's time than it is now.
I agree, AF, it's far easier to hit home runs now than it was in Ruth's day. For quite a while, it's been a home run bonanza.
But, anyway, a point to be made here is that for all the talk of how ridiculously juiced up the game is today, something that is overlooked is that the time in which Ruth came up was a time when the game became far more juiced up than it ever has. People are constantly decrying the balls today and how the public has been fooled by a new era of offense, well, why can't the same be said about the 1920s as can be said about the era from about 1994 to the present? The 1920s and 1930s were actually the two highest run scoring decades in history-not the 1990s or the 2000s. There were more runs scored in Ruth's era than this modern era and overall batting totals were higher. Home runs were not, but overall run scoring was. And that was coming off the deadball era. If MLB really fooled the American public and that is something that should be frowned upon so much, why isn't the same attitude given to the change of the game that occured in the 1920s?
I also simply don't understand what the problem is with MLB making the game such a huge HR game. If you don't like the game, that's okay, you don't have to like a certain style of game, but I can't blame MLB in the least for what they have done. Increases in attendance throughout the history of the game have come hand in hand with increases in offense. Baseball is a business. Given that it was a very sound business decision on the part of MLB and the owners to make baseball a more offensive game. And they are right and they're making more money than ever because of it. Don't blame the owners for doing their job as owners and businessmen. Even if you don't like it, you should realize where they're coming from.
And for all these supposed rabbit balls and all this supposed crazy offense one fact remains-the supposedly "pure" game of the 1920s and 1930s was more of a hitting and run scoring "bonanza" than today's game. Where are the outcries of the integrity of the game being ruined then? I think the way baseball is played just changes from time to time-and that's a good thing that we are exposed to a different kind of game in different eras. I don't think it's bad in the least that the game is continually changing. Baseball is baseball and it's integirty isn't and won't be ruined. People today are enjoying baseball more than ever.
Last edited by 538280; 07-22-2007 at 07:59 PM.
With the subject of this thread being how many home runs Ruth would hit today, Chris, I have focused on the comparative factors related to home runs. There is no doubt it's far easier to hit home runs in recent years than it was in Ruth's day. I agree it's been a home run bonanza.
With concern to the owners, their conduct has not been above board. That's the issue. They have repeatedly deceived the public and deny having done so. That is fraud, not good business. And one of those frauds has involved the encouragement and facilitation of (often illegal) steroid abuse. Again, not something to praise as good business. And to top it off, they pretend to have not been aware of the problem. Good business, Chris?
You haven't seen me praise anybody from the '20s for such deceit and malfaesance. I have simply praised the greatest long ball hitter that ever lived, and pointed out how he would hit even more home runs in today's game and parks.
When has MLB denied the game being more HR oriented? What do you want them to do, come out and say "this is all fake. Every HR you see hit in this era is not the same as it is in other eras". If that's fraud to you then why don't you consider it fraud that they didn't say the same thing in the 20s/30s when the game saw an even bigger percentage increase in HRs (vs. deadball) and the game had ridiculous runs scored totals and BAs (the league BAs were over .300 a few times). If this era's home runs are a fraud then why aren't those things frauds too? Are league BAs being above .280 every year when usually they were around .250 fraud to you? It's just as much a large scale increase as HRs are today. Are when the previous 48 years of baseball produced a record of 29 HRs and then all of the sudden in twos decade that gets passed probably over 100 times, if this today is fraud that might not sound a little fishy to you if you were a fan in the 20s? If this era is fraud then I think that most eras in baseball history are frauds to you because every era saw big changes in the types of numbers put up. When in the 60s all of the sudden tons of pitchers were posting sub 2 ERAs, probably far more than in the past 4 decades, is that fraud?With concern to the owners, their conduct has not been above board. That's the issue. They have repeatedly deceived the public and deny having done so. That is fraud, not good business.
What evidence do you have that MLB has encouraged steroid abuse? They didn't do anything about it for a long time, which they should have I agree, but I've never heard at all that they encouraged it in any wayAnd one of those frauds has involved the encouragement and facilitation of (often illegal) steroid abuse.
Last edited by 538280; 07-22-2007 at 08:24 PM.
If you like, Chris, please list all the ways you believe the MLB deceived the public in the '20s and '30s, and I'll condemn each unsavory and fraudulent act. But try to keep it connected to the subject of this thread. For instance, in advance I condemn the NL's juicing of their balls to try to compete with Babe Ruth.
I really don't want to get ensnared in the steroid debate, but I will say that to me it's plain as day that the MLB has long been aware of steroid use by ballplayers, encouraged it by refusing to timely restrict it and by its owners rewarding its usage, by lying to Congress, and on and on. You don't have to believe that, but it's obvious to me.
Last edited by TRfromBR; 07-22-2007 at 08:38 PM.
I'm not saying anyone deceived the public in the 20s/30s, TR. I'm also saying that no one is deceiving the public today. The game changes over time. The 20s/30s saw far more radical changes in the way the game was played and went to more extremes in terms of offensive success (run scoring) than the game has today. All that I'm saying is, if you regard the high HR totals of today as a fraud, then you should regard the offense of that era as a fraud as well. As well as the pitching numbers of the 60s. IMO, none of those things were frauds. Just changes in the way the game is played that have happened frequently in the game's history.
Trick deliveries were banned, this took away one of the pitchers biggest weapons. They could not wet the ball, tobacco stain the ball, discolor it in any way making it more difficult for the batter to "pick up" the pitch.
Also very important balls were no longer left in the game for many innings. This practice came about around mid season 1920. Before than a ball could be left in the game for many innings, dirt stained, grass stained, scuffed up and having been hit several times. For some time spectators were obliged to return balls hit into the stands. Refusing meant being ejected from the park and in some cases some were even placed under arrest.
The death of Ray Chapman also played a part. It was believed that had the ball been clean and white he may have better seen the pitch.
Thats it all the reasons why the offense took of in the 1920s a different story in the early 1990s, fans wondering what took place, supposedly no major changes that we were aware of. The 1920s explosion was not questioned because we knew why it took place.
Except if you read the articles of the time the ball was not changed. The leagues stated publicly that the ball was not altered. Studies came out that stated the ball was not changed. So if indeed the ball was changed they either knew and lied or found out and covered it up.
For me though the funny thing is that we sit here and discount what players did today based on balls, bats, stadiums, healthcare, etc, etc. But look at what I just quoted. You don't think people were doing the same thing in 1921? You honestly think "traditionalist" baseball fans saw the changes that took place in the early 20's as needed and beneficial?
Basically no one point in baseball is the true moment, the real moment when everything was authentic. There is no one era in baseball where one can point at and base everything else on how it compares to that one moment. There is no golden moment, there is opinions and choices but no Holy Grail.
I think we were discussing home runs then and now and the conditions hit under.
For one thing parks were bigger then, more area for balls to drop in.
Strikeouts per at bat were lower, contact back in that time, lots of free swingers in todays game.
Some other numbers. I took the years 1920-36 and 1990 to 2006, both 17 year periods.
Double ratio close, triples far higher ratio putting runners 90 feet from home more often per at bat. Home runs, today hit at a far better ratio than the 1920s-1930s.
A whole different way of scoring in the 1920s-30s then in the last 17 seasons, 1990-2006. I think most would agree some favorable condition for base hits back in those day, more favorable conditions for the long ball today. I have not discounted the fact that on average players are bigger today, but the parks do play some part.
Last edited by Bill Burgess; 07-23-2007 at 06:39 AM.
I think the point made by Shoeless Joe and TR is that the changes the owners implemented in 1920 seem to have been done (at least in part) more transparently and in a less underhanded manner than what was done in the 1990's. The clean ball and the banning of certain pitches was done publicly in advance of the season. Both fans and players knew what the new playing conditions were beforehand. I believe it was the clean ball more than anything else which caused league averages to rise.
MLB also introduced a new livelier ball. They started using the new ball in the AL early in the 1920 season and the new ball was introduced into the NL at the very end of the 1920 season (the reason for the difference in timing is that the leagues had different equipment distributors even though the same company manufactured the ball used in each league). The question is whether the owners let the public and players know in advance that they were using a new livelier ball? I'm not sure, I'll have to do some research on that one. If they didn't let the public know what was happening then they would be just as guilty as the owners were in the 1990's.
The same goes for 1930. My understanding is that the owners were worred about the economic impact of the Stock Market crash of October 1929.. They introduced a livelier ball for use in 1930, and you know the results of that experiment. However, they deadened the ball used in the National League for the following season. In fact we recently discussed the deadening of the ball prior to the start of the 1931 season in the Hack Wilson thread (it caused the balls Hack hit in 1931 to be fly ball outs instead of home runs like they had been in 1930). If the owners decision to make the ball livelier for the 1930 season was done secretly without informing the public then I say they behavior is just as wrong as what the owners did in the 1990's, thought I would add the historical note that the economic situation in all of America in 1930 was dire and at least the owners had the excuse that there were unusual and exigent circumstances which compelled their precautionary action.
As far as Babe Ruth is concerned, he didn't need any of those changes. He was alread head and shoulders above the other hitters in the league, and he would have continued to dominate without any changes. I think an interesting question is how many home runs in one season do you think Ruth would have eventually hit with the dead ball (he had just hit 29 in a partial season). Would he have eventually set the record at around 40, 45, or 50?
I think your post brings up an interesting point or maybe we can call it a theory. Those parks compared to today's parks are cavernous, and being cavernous tend to dappen home runs on an individual basis. But what cavernous parks do not to necessarily is to dampen offense. Which we clearly see to be the case in the 1920's. Consider also if you will Coors Field pre-humidor. Coors Field is a home run park that is true, but as we all know it isn't because the walls are so close. No it is because of geography. Coors Field though is also a great place to hit doubles, triples, and singles. It is this great place to do all that because it is cavernous, it has (it might not anymore) the biggest outfield in the majors. To me the early 1920's AL looks a lot like playing in Coors Field. Lots of doubles, triples, singles, and homers. It appears the batters were not having trouble making contact with the ball as strikeouts dropped. In Coors it is because the ball doesn't break as much, perhaps in the 1920's it was because the pitchers initially couldn't get the ball to break as much because the cheat pitches were taken away.
Anyway to step away from the Coors field relationship and focus on the 1920's. I think what we see in the 1920's is the giant parks which in reality are great for offenses, I don't believe for a second that these big parks were great for pitchers. Yes long distances are bad for extreme flyball hitters but for everybody else they are great. Could it be that shrinking the distances accomplished two things? Could it be that shrinking the fences created more home runs but at the same time took away all that acreage that defenders had to patrol and hitters had for safe hits?
Yes Babe Ruth lost homers because of those distant fences but he also "lost" outs because of those giant pastures. That was something Jenkinson I believed never discussed. How many line drives or flyballs dropped in safely because the CF'er was positioned 440 feet away from the plate? We have ample stories of outfielders positioning themselves with their backs to the wall when Babe is up. Which if true just imagine those giant stadiums with all that outfield space and not an outfielder in site. The other day Aramis Ramirez came up and all the OF'ers had a foot on the warning track when he was up to bat. Which basically means the farthest OF'er was about 385 feet or so from the plate. Others what 350 feet? How much ground can an OF'er cover in 3 seconds? In 4 seconds? In 5 seconds. Now go back and picture an OF'er doing that in 1920.
So yes Babe lost homers because of the distance but how many hits did he gain because he didn't make an out? How many homers did he hit because his team didn't make outs?
Am I saying the two cancel each other out? Nope, just spitballing here.
I guess that would allow Ruth more at bats if his team made fewer outs, he would come to bat more times. That effected his total home run number but his AB/HR ratio was second only to McGwire another stat that is a part of ranking the best home run hitters.
That was the point of my previous post, high runs per game in those times and now but different methods of scoring then and now.
Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 07-23-2007 at 06:36 AM.
With Ruth leading the way more began swinging for the fences in the 1920s.
Without trying to justify one leap in offense over the other, it's two different worlds. Whether some cared for the leap in the 1920s, they knew what took place. It was a whole different game before 1920 and after 1920.
This was not the case before the early 1990s and after. We were already in the long ball era and fans could not understand how all of a sudden some slugging records were being challenged, home run records were smashed.
Again not saying one leap was more acceptable than the other but you can't compare the leap in the 1920s even though it was more dramatic than the leap in the 1990s.
As evidence of the unparalled distances Ruth could hit [the older balls], and what challenges the fields of old presented, one could examine Bonds' 2001 season, in which he hit 73 HR's. Excluding altitude-aided Denver, Bonds longest hit in his best year was only 462 feet. In Ruth's day, a 462 ft. drive to center would not have reached centerfield fences. This further demonstrates the enormous power Ruth generated, and how the much smaller size of today's parks alone would have dramatically boosted his home run totals - nevermind all the other offensive advantages.
Last edited by TRfromBR; 07-23-2007 at 01:25 PM.
Same answer as in my previous post. Two different worlds before 1920 and into the 1920s, changes made in the game known to all, no more trick deliveries, cleaner balls and the big one, contact hitters were in fewer numbers, the long ball was in. Didn't it stand to reason that the offense had to take off. Of course the 1920's leap had to be more dramatic than that of the 1990's it was a new game in the 1920's.
I've found out one thing in all the years I've followed this game. When there is a dramatic change in the game and there seems to no known reason why, fans are more suspicious. Fair or not thats the way it is.
Another reason why the 1920's leap is not spoken badly of. None of us were here at that time. We grew up in the long ball era, this is the game we knew. I doubt there are any on this board that were here in 1919 and old enough to be aware of that change, if there are any from that time God bless you. At that time the new power game was looked down by some players and fans.
Give us some credit for at least considering the conditions the hitters faced before 1920 when evaluating them. I am sure most of us take that into account and I'm sure that some who played before 1920 could have put up some far better home run totals than they did had they played after 1919.
Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 07-23-2007 at 01:38 PM.
I'm sure that back in the 1920's there were a lot of purists who didn't like the changes and probably had a low opinion of the then current state of the game. However, since MLB never reverted back, everyone eventually just accepted the change as permanent.
The same thing may very well happen with the current era. If players continue to use steroids or other PED's and the league contnues to slackly enforce the rules or legalizes the use of PED's then eventually the situation will just be accepted, and there will be greater acceptance of the current era. Baseball history will in effect be divided into 3 eras, the deadball era, the first liveball era, and the second liveball/PED era.
However, if the PED ban is stictly enforced, then in the future the contempt for the records of this era will likely grow, not subside. If players in the future, who are not using PED's, have to have their peformances compared to records set by players who were using them, I don't think they would tolerate such a situation. I believe that such a situation would eventually lead to a movement to have the records from this era exorcised is some manner.
Once again only time will tell.