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Ty Cobb General Thread

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  • #46
    Mr. Burgess;

    How long have you had this Ty Cobb obsession? Has he always been your favorite player?

    I know, personally, I hated Ty Cobb from the very first time I read about him... he was a racist and he never touched alcohol, and those are two things I absolutely cannot abide in a human being.

    But I know that to me, it was never the best players that I always had as my favorites. Babe Ruth, as great as he was, was never my favorite player... though I always loved him, more for his personality than his hitting feats. Pepper Martin and Billy Martin were always my favorites (odd that they've got the same last name...)... guys who were scrappy, spent most of their time drunk, and were as likely to fight you as look at you. I've always respected that, in a ballplayer and in a human being.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam,


    • #47
      In some instances players can move a team up three to four places but the 1963 NL race is NOT a typical example. I'm laughing about where you say you're a big fan of the "rest of the team" then you say that one guy can make his team win twenty games just by himself.
      Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
      Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge


      • #48

        I have to thank you for all the insight and great stories.

        I grew up living and breathing Detroit Tiger baseball (and George Brett), and Ty Cobb was always my favorite (after George Brett). Honestly I never knew about any of the 'bad stuff' about him until I was probably a late teenager. So I guess I was too young to realize he shouldn't be my favorite player because he was supposedly such a bad person or whatever???

        Anyway, I've been reading your posts here and find them VERY INTERESTING. I can see, agree or disagree, you have put a great amount of time and study into what you are saying. Thank you, it's great to see somebody with so much passion for what they speak of. I definately plan to check out some of the books you mentioned.

        Now I have to get off this thread before I end up not getting any work done



        • #49
          My goodness, theres a lot of material to work throught in this thread. Bill, I applaud the effort you've put in to collecting your collections of Ty Cobb tributes. Some interesting reading, but do you really think it proves Cobb was better than Ruth? I think if anybody wanted to put in the effort (not volunteering myself thanks) they could come up with hundreds of equally glowing quotes about Ruth. Also, isn't it possible alot of the old timers picking Cobb over Ruth were as much expressing their preference the old "scientific" ball over the new live ball as anything else?
          El Halo, I think you drastically underestimate defense. Your Walter Johnson vs Jason Jennings comparison "wouldn't they give up the same amount of runs with the same defense behind the" is a classic strawman. NOBODY thinks defense is the only factor in preventing runs. If it was, all pitchers on every staff would have the same ERA. There is a theory floating around that pitchers only control strike outs and home runs and defense determines almost everything else. I personally don't buy that, but I think defense is more like 30-40 of run prevention than the 10 percent you estimate. If you go with 30% that would make 15% of a position players value defensive. I would double that for middle of the diamond guys and half it for corner guys (just rough numbers here). If you check out a few pitchers that moved from good defensive teams to poor ones I think you'll be surprised by how much their ERA is impacted.
          Total Baseball is a great reference in many ways, but I take their TPR with a grain of salt. Even though I respect defense more than some, I think they weigh it wrong and have some other conclusions that are hard to buy into. Bill Dahlen 20th all time? Tim Raines better than Joe DiMaggio? Art Fletcher better than Willie Stargell? I can't take that seriously.


          • #50
            Mr. Burgess,
            I cannot fathom the amazing information and writing on Cobb you've done in this forum. In my history on baseball fever, I've never seen a better dissection and collection of research than what you've amassed on a singular player. You could write a book with all of your information! I give you much respect, and you deserve some kind of award for what you've done, because you're more than just a poster-you're a true baseball historian. I just wanted to comment on the fascinating job you've done, and I hold high respect for you on these boards. You bring extensive arguments to the table, and give every post some interesting information.

            Keep up the great work,


            • #51
              Roy Hobbs,
              You have a good point on #1 of your last post. Mr. Burgess, if you're intending to win the argument that Cobb is indeed the greatest player that ever lived, you may or may not realize that you may be working against him if you bring ethics of a player to the table, because Cobb really was a brutally bad man, and even though there are shades of grey to the argument, his actions may affect how people see him as an overall player.


              • #52
                I think anybody who knows much about either man would have to agree both Cobb and Ruth were extremely flawed human beings and extremely great ball players. To a large degree, picking between them is as much a choice of styles as it is about talent. Roy, I don't think Bill really needs my help here, but comparing raw RBI and run totals for Ruth and Cobb doesn't tell the whole story. Runs were MUCH easier to come by in Ruth's day. Bill, don't give up on converting me. I'm actually going through somewhat of a change of heart on how to wiegh the total ball player vs hitter in evaluating greatness.
                Babe was a decent fielder in his younger days, okay range with a good arm. He was also an agressive baserunner -to the point of recklessness. I picture Hal McRae when trying to imagine a young Ruth on the basepaths. By the late 20's though he was a liability in the field and on the basepaths, frequently being lifted for pinch runners or defensive replacements (they didn't call Sammy Byrd "Babe Ruth's Legs" for nothing). Babe is still holding the #1 spot for me while I mull this over, but I could see a move of a better rounded player such as Ty or Honus or Willie or Bonds to number 1. Pure hitters like Williams and Hornsby would have to beat Babe on that basis and I can't see that.


                • #53
                  Originally posted by leecemark
                  I think anybody who knows much about either man would have to agree both Cobb and Ruth were extremely flawed human beings and extremely great ball players.
                  Here I disagree. I agree that both were extremely great ball players. But I disagree that Ruth was an extremely flawed human being. Ruth was a heavy smoker, an alcoholic, a womanizer, a carouser... in short, exactly the kind of guy you'd want to have as a friend. Always quick with a smile and a dollar for the bartender. Loved children, loved women, loved liquor, loved life... in short, all of the qualities that one could hope to portray in themselves.

                  How was he a flawed human being?
                  "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                  Sean McAdam,


                  • #54
                    For the number crunchers.

                    The 24 seasons that Cobb played in the major leagues his teams averaged 712 runs a season. Cobb averaged 13% of his team's runs overall.

                    The difference between league total run averages in Cobb's career and Ruth's is 540.

                    If we disperse that average across the league, each team scores on average 67 runs more in Ruth's era than in Cobbs.

                    So, add 67 to the 712/season average for Cobbs team and you've adjusted it basically.

                    Multiply that number by .13, you get 101.335, multiply that by 24 and you get Cobb's adjusted runs which = 2,432.

                    Even with the adjustment Cobb scores a run every 4.7 ABs and Ruth scores a run every 3.8.


                    • #55
                      El Halo, I'll agree Babe was probably alot more fun to be around than Ty. I suppose if you don't think being a drunk, a whoremonger, a glutton, an an extremely ignorant, foul mouthed man who had absolutely no respect for authority and couldn't even be bothered to learn his teammates names are character flaws, then no he wasn't flawed in any way.


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by leecemark
                        El Halo, I'll agree Babe was probably alot more fun to be around than Ty. I suppose if you don't think being a drunk, a whoremonger, a glutton, an an extremely ignorant, foul mouthed man who had absolutely no respect for authority and couldn't even be bothered to learn his teammates names are character flaws, then no he wasn't flawed in any way.
                        Oddly, I consider those all to be positive character traits. Except the ignorance part, of course.
                        "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                        Sean McAdam,


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by ElHalo
                          Oddly, I consider those all to be positive character traits. Except the ignorance part, of course.
                          I don't know whether to life or cry at that statement...from the irony of saying all are positive traits except ignorance by using an ignorant statement such as this...have you ever lived with an alcoholic? It's NOT a positive trait.

                          Here's something to ponder over.


                          Ty Cobb DID change, he built a hospital in a predominately black community in GA. He has a scholarship that is given not based on race but based on income. He fought many of his demons and won...many he still held. His mom killed his dad at 18 that is something no one can speculate what it would do to you, plus right afterwards he got hazed but his teammates and became paranoid.

                          Babe NEVER learned from his mistakes, and they eventually took a toll on his health, decimated what could have been an even more eye popping career...and eventually killed him. When he was passed over for a managing job, he pointed fingers instead of looking in the mirror and pointing one at himself. He had everything handed to him on a silver platter for so long, he couldn't see how much of a terrible, dependent person he was.

                          I'd rather be friends with Ty Cobb, because at least for the most part he saw many of the errors of his ways...unlike Babe. I think after the 3rd intervention with Babe I would have to walk away.


                          • #58
                            "2) You can call Cobb "Mr. Intangibles" all you want. But there's only a few statistics I think matter in this debate:

                            Ty Cobb had 2,245 R, 1,937 RBI in his career. This is over 11,434 AB, 3,035 G, 24 seasons.

                            Babe Ruth had 2,174 R, 2,213 RBI in his career. This is over 8,399 AB, 2,503 G, 22 seasons.

                            Now lets look at that.

                            All that baserunning ability, all that stealing, all the ferocity, all of that, gave Cobb 71 more runs than Ruth. Seventy-one more runs in 3,305 more ABs and 532 more games. Wow Cobb, that's amazing. Your baserunning skills, your stealing, so impressive.

                            Wow. 71 more runs in thousands more attempts.

                            So what if Cobb was a great runner and Ruth wasn't. Ruth did much better at what REALLY COUNTED, getting back to home plate, simple as that. That is the point to baserunning, setting yourself up in the position to score a run. Cobb did a lot to score runs but realistically Ruth was obviously better at it.

                            Ruth had many more RBIs and RBIs/AB than Cobb. I'm loathe to use RBI as a stastic of comparison because overall it is more of a team factor than an individual. But since you were talking about "place hitting" and contributing to the team... Well, all that place hitting et cetra didn't allow Cobb to drive in more runs.

                            And sure, Ruth had typically a better supporting cast than Cobb did (although the Tigers were no slouches.) But that doesn't account for Cobb scoring only 71 more runs in thousands of more ABs."

                            What are the runs/game, BA, SLG, and OBP for the American League during Ruth's career 1919-34 (as a regular) vs. Cobb's 1905-28???

                            Ruth played in an era DRASTICALLY more offensively oriented (overall) than Cobb.

                            Cobb never had anyone on any of his teams hit more than 21 homeruns, and most years nobody with CLOSE to even that weak figure.

                            On "71 more runs"... if Ty had a guys AVERAGING 150 RBI'S a A YEAR BATTING BEHIND HIM for 10 years, I think the disparity would be SLIGHTLY more. Just speculation, though. lol

                            He was on the top run scoring team of alltime (even with 154 games), and many others (murderers row) that were stacked with tremendous hitters, both power and for average.

                            You have to look a lot harder at this one (way past raw numbers). Adjust and normalize everything first, then take into account the teams the players were on. Then take into account the equipment improvement and rule changes that favor Ruth tremendously (as a HR hitter). Then playing in parks with a 256 ft. right field line, and later in one with a short porch and a 296 ft. right field line.

                            Ty Cobb had a 370 ft. right field line to contend with, conversely.

                            Ruth had many huge advantages that Ty was never afforded, yet Cobb was better alot longer and put up a record that stands up to anyone's.

                            And that's just ON PAPER, where Ruth shines. Read Bill Burgess' files to get some perspective on all the things Cobb did vastly better which by nature CANNOT show up in quantitative analysis. Baseball isn't a science, it's a game. And anyone who played most of their life (or was an astute observer) can tell you that there is a ton that happens on a baseball diamond that cannot show up in a stat book.

                            Last edited by csh19792001; 05-02-2004, 07:55 PM.


                            • #59
                              Bill, you love to throw that home/away disparity in Ruth's 1921 season around. In the interest of fairness I think you might add that that was by no means typical of his career and his road slugging that season still lead the league by a wide margin. Ruth was helped by the Polo Grounds and later by Yankee Stadium, but to suggest he was a product of his park or that he wouldn't have been a tremendous slugger elsewhere cheapens the debate.


                              • #60
                                On to Cobb's personality, they are based off the following accounts:

                                One day while walking in Detroit, he stepped in freshly poured asphalt and was yelled at by Fred Collins, a construction worker who happened to be black. Cobb responded by slapping Collins, knocking him to the ground, and continuing on his way. He was charged with assault and battery and found guilty, but received a suspended sentence. Collins then filed a civil suit, which Cobb settled out of court for $75.

                                An unfortunate incident in Cleveland's Hotel Euclid forced Cobb to go through Canada to avoid arrest during the 1909 World Series in Pittsburgh. Late one Friday night, Cobb got in an argument with the elevator operator and slapped him. The night manager, a black man named George Stansfield, came to aid the elevator operator and ended up in a shouting match with Cobb. Stansfield then hit Cobb with his nightstick, and the two rolled on the floor. Cobb drew his knife and slashed Stansfield, while Stansfield drew his pistol and hit Cobb again with the nightstick. Stansfield filed both criminal and civil suits against Cobb, but later dropped the criminal suit. But the case was still pending during the World Series, with an arrest warrant out for Cobb. Police waited for the Tiger train through Ohio en route to Pittsburgh for the World Series to arrest him, but Cobb was going through Canada. The civil suit was settled for $100 and court costs.

                                These incidents pale in comparison with what happened at Hilltop Park in New York in May 1912, and what that episode triggered. A fan whom Cobb recognized as a regular heckler was sitting behind the Tigers' dugout verbally abusing Cobb. He and Cobb traded insults for a while, but Cobb wanted to avoid trouble, so he stayed in center field carriage park area during the second inning. In the third, he went by the New York dugout to look for the owner to ask to have the fan removed. When he got back to the Tigers' bench, he yelled something to the fan about his sister. The fan, Claude Lueker, responded to Cobb by calling him a "half-[racial epithet]." Sam Crawford asked Cobb if he would take that from the fan, at which point Cobb charged twelve rows into the stands and began to beat the fan vigorously.

                                The first incident is completely inexcusable. If you walk on freshly poured concrete you should most assuredly expect the construction worker who just took the time to pour it to say something to you. Cobb would be in the wrong there whether the man was black or white, and I don't know how Cobb would have replied if the man had been white. But I see how he replied when the man was black.

                                The second incident in the elevator is hard to say. He was already engaged in a fight when the black man became involved so I can't say the whole incident was racially motivated.

                                The third incident, Cobb's most famous incident, stems from nothing but racism since he proceded to actually climb into the stands because someone had had the gall to suggest Cobb was black.