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  • #61
    Honus Wagner Rules,

    It is my great pleasure to meet someone with such great judgement to appreciate Hans. Even though he is my #2 greatest ever, I can never get mad at anyone who ranks Hans over Ty, because I love Hans so much. My love of him knows no bounds, and I judge others by how much they love Hans. He is my measuring yardstick.

    Bill Burgess

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    • #62
      Originally posted by [email protected]
      Honus Wagner Rules,

      It is my great pleasure to meet someone with such great judgement to appreciate Hans. Even though he is my #2 greatest ever, I can never get mad at anyone who ranks Hans over Ty, because I love Hans so much. My love of him knows no bounds, and I judge others by how much they love Hans. He is my measuring yardstick.

      Bill Burgess
      So I guess passed your baseball IQ test?
      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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      • #63
        Oh yeah, big time! You're A OK with me! Long live the Great Dutchman!

        Bill

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        • #64
          Originally posted by ElHalo
          Womanizing, smoking, drinking, staying up all hours of the night, fighting... and still performing his job at a level higher than anyone ever had before?

          Babe Ruth is the American Dream. Babe Ruth is what we all wish we could be, but aren't skilled enough for. Everybody wants to have fun, fun, fun, all the time, and then go out and beat the world when work time comes. THAT's why Babe was adored, in combination with his quick smile and love of children. It's because everybody wished they could be Babe Ruth. He was big during prohibition, remember, when the entire society was rebelling against authority. He was the ultimate rebel.
          Thats often been my take on why Ruth was held so high back then and even today.

          As you state it was prohibition and also the working man was at the mercy of his employer, his boss, unions were few if any at all. Here was a guy telling the boss to shove it and getting away with it. Here was a guy often on the town most of the night and still doing a great job at knocking the cover off of the ball.

          So he made the rounds of many a whore house but also found a great deal of time for kids at institutions and even some to private homes. He even took time to answer a letter from a young boy in Germany. When a shoe company promised Ruth a pair of shoes for every home run he hit he took the deal. His only stipulation was that they be childrens shoes. I don't recall if that was the season he hit 54 or 59 but he then delivered the shoes to a childrens orphanage in person. So he was not perfect, who is. I have to laugh at those who wonder why Bonds is so disliked by many and Ruth with all his flaw is held so high. They don't get it or don't want to get it, two different cases. One was a flawed man, his personal habits, the other keeps sticking his foot in his mouth over the years, often making comments the fans don't care to hear.
          Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 02-20-2005, 05:44 AM.

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          • #65
            --The media was different then too. They either didn't mention a players "colorfull" persoanal life or told some highly edited versions. If the Babe conducted himself in the same manner today, I'm pretty sure his image would be very different - and not in a good way. Not saying today's model is better, but it is different and Ruth would be regarded differently.

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            • #66
              Ruth was lovable because he was seen as a gentle giant. He may have been a wild party animal but he also showed his lovable side and character. Bonds has never been lovable. He's demonstrated his character even before the possible steroid case when he publicly dissed the fans during the strike. You don't understand, Mr. Bonds, those fans are paying your salary!
              Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

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              • #67
                I do understand that Babe Ruth fulfilled the public's need for rebellious anti-heroes, who flaunt authority, and get their way in the end. Do we not all secretly envy men who can demand that a room full of women get naked and they complied? He'd typically announce, "Anyone who doesn't intend to put out, you better leave now!"

                So I can grasp why folks would envy him, admire his on-field clutch performances. But others have been similar! Why did the public not turn Rube Waddell into a god? He was as spontaneous, more so, drank even more, was even more colorful, chased women as eagerly. Rube was as gregarious, extroverted, un-intellectual (to say the least), and performed on-field like a champ. And while the public did embrace Waddell, and made him a box office drawing card, it was never on the scale of Ruth's drawing power.

                So what gives? Why Babe and not Rube?


                Bill Burgess
                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-20-2005, 12:38 PM.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by [email protected]
                  I do understand that Babe Ruth fulfilled the public's need for rebellious anti-heroes, who flaunt authority, and get their way in the end. Do we not all secretly envy men who can demand that a room full of women get naked and they complied? He'd typically announce, "Anyone who doesn't intend to put out, you better leave now!"
                  What's this "secretly" nonsense?

                  So I can grasp why folks would envy him, admire his on-field clutch performances. But others have been similar! Why did the public not turn Rube Waddell into a god? He was as spontaneous, more so, drank even more, was even more colorful, chased women as eagerly. Rube was as gregarious, extroverted, un-intellectual (to say the least), and performed on-fieldd like a champ. And while the public did embrace Waddell, and made him a box office drawing card, it was never on the scale of Ruth's drawing power.

                  So what gives? Why Babe and not Rube?


                  Bill Burgess
                  Because Waddell didn't completely blow away everyone else who'd ever played before. Waddell was excellent, and struck people out like a madman. But he never struck out more than any other team combined.
                  "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                  Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

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                  • #69
                    What's this "secretly" nonsense?


                    Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Yeah, man. I agree. Wouldn't mind being that compelling. The truth is that I'm a million times better looking than the Babe, am better read, more well-spoken, and have never been a "babe magnet."

                    Ruth was the least likely babe magnet in history. They say fame, money, talent are powerful attractions, but still . . . Ruth was homely, fat, artless, crude, vulgar and yet, made Hugh Hefner look like a babe repellent.
                    I will never get it. Too schooled in good manners. Animal magnetism always mystifies me.



                    Bill Burgess

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by [email protected]
                      What's this "secretly" nonsense?


                      Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Yeah, man. I agree. Wouldn't mind being that compelling. The truth is that I'm a million times better looking than the Babe, am better read, more well-spoken, and have never been a "babe magnet."

                      Ruth was the least likely babe magnet in history. They say fame, money, talent are powerful attractions, but still . . . Ruth was homely, fat, artless, crude, vulgar and yet, made Hugh Hefner look like a babe repellent.
                      I will never get it. Too schooled in good manners. Animal magnetism always mystifies me.


                      Bill Burgess
                      No answer to that one Bill. I't's like that in Hollywood, it's even like that in our personal life. There are stars that appear to be equal on most accounts yet some just seem to knock out the public, win them over. There are folks in our personal life that for no apparent reason, nothing we can put our finger on but we just like or love their company. What ever it is, be it persons of note or just friends they have something that just can't be detected, it's just there, makes them likable..

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                      • #71
                        On Honus Wagner, no matter who one would pick as the greatest, this guy has to be in the mix. Would loved to have seen him in the live ball era.

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                        • #72
                          Originally posted by ElHalo
                          What kind of numbers would Babe have put up in 50-70? My guess?

                          Well, he did .342/.474/.690 in the time he played. In 50-70, I'd guess that he'd have gone .320/.450/.710.

                          An interesting thing about .710? That's 43 points higher than Willie Mays ever saw in his life.

                          I put Willie Mays 3rd all time because that's what everyone says. The more I really analyze him, the more I see that he just wasn't enough of a hitter to really deserve that spot from me. If I move him down, that moves Rogers Hornsby to number 3 all time. Hm. Not sure on this. Just seems to me that the third best guy ever should at least be in the top 10 in hitting, especially if he's an outfielder / first baseman. I don't know.
                          Mays was a lot like Derek Jeter, Jim. Most people that grew up in the 50's-60's said they never saw anybody nearly as good- we just weren't lucky enough to see him play in his prime. His greatness extends far beyond his numbers- as great as they were.

                          When the average player is much better, it's that much harder to seperate yourself from the pack in a MAJOR way- like Ruth, Cobb, and Wagner did. The logical conclusion is that the playing field is much better (not that the best players aren't as good). If you put Willie Mays from 1920-34, his numbers would have been pretty awesome, too- he played when baseball was probably as strong as it ever was (and possibly much stronger than it was 30-40 years earlier).

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                          • #73
                            I know I'm not going to convince anybody about anything with this, but here goes.....

                            Any debate over whether Ruth was the greatest ever is eventually going to boil down to how much more competitive one thinks the game is today as compared to Ruth's day. I know many of you already have strong opinions about this and couldn't give a **** what I think, but here it is anyway. For me, I find it impossible to believe that Ruth's game was as competitive as today's game. I have always believed that Ruth, Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Wagner, Cobb, etc., were very talented individuals who were able to exploit the relative lack of talent in their leagues to put up numbers that, when adjusted for era, have them standing further away from their peers than any modern player could ever hope to achieve. Simply put: the easiest way to appear great is to play against crappy competition.

                            I base this belief on several things. First, racial and geographic factors once limited the population pool from which players could be selected. You'll find more major league talents in a population of 4 million than you will in a population of 500,000. No black, Latino, or even white players from the West Coast would have limited the talent pool in Ruth's day, enough to offset any diluting factors that modern league expansion has wrought.

                            Second, scouting then was less sophisticated than it is today, and so it would have been more difficult to identify the best players from the population pool, further limiting the level of competition. (When Ruth was a rookie, the American League was only 10 years removed from the time where, if a team ran out of players, they'd go into the stands, ask if there were any ball players in the stadium, and slap a uniform on a semi-pro player who happened to be in the crowd. That 's major league baseball?)

                            Third, the lack of a breeding-ground minor league farm system (the minors then were independent and not yet slaves to the major leagues) would have made it impossible to "funnel" and consolidate all the best talents into the majors, as is the situation now.

                            Fourth, medical science can now save the careers of top talents that would otherwise have been lost forever. Players back then got hurt too, just like players today. You never heard of them, because they got hurt and never played again and went back to the farm or the coal mines and died in obscurity. How many talents were lost that could have been saved with today's medicine? Take just Tommy John surgery alone, for example. Something like 1 in 9 pitchers in the big leagues today have had Tommy John surgery for torn ligaments - an injury that, prior to 1972, would have flat ended anybody's career. How many mysterious "dead arms" of the past could have been saved? Pitchers can now come back as good as new - in fact, often even BETTER than they were before - about 80% of the time with TJ surgery.

                            Fifth, look at team winning percentages then and now. The standard deviation of winning percentages has been decreasing over time, and is smaller, now, than it has ever been. There is less of a gap in winning percentage between the best teams and the worst teams, now, then there has ever been in times past. It's true; get out a copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia, look up team winning percentages year by year since 1872, plug those mothers into Excel, and graph it out.

                            So I really don't think that it is just idle speculation that the league is more competitive than it used to be - it seems to be a statistical reality. All this in an era when the financial gap between the richest and poorest teams is bigger than it has ever been. And in an era of free agency - non-existent in Ruth's time! So now, we have a situation where the richest teams are richer than the poorest teams by the greatest margin in history - AND we have a situation where the richest teams are free to gobble up the best players like no other time in history. By all rights, there should be the biggest gap ever in team winning percentages - we should be living in the LEAST competitive baseball era ever - yet the exact opposite is true.

                            If that doesn't convince you that today's players are more tightly clustered than ever in terms of talent and ability, then I gots nothin' left.

                            Anyway, I don't know for certain how MUCH worse the league was then than it is now. Who does? I will say this - the gap between Ruth and his comtemporaries is bigger than for any other player ever. Well, Barry Bonds...... but Bonds has only opened the gap between himself and his peers in the last 4 years, whereas Ruth's CAREER value was always leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the league.

                            How much of that was due to the lack of competition, I don't know. Maybe I overestimated how much more competitive things are today. Maybe, even after adjusting for the relatively less stiff competition, Ruth was STILL so much better than his peers that he is still the greatest ever. I don't know for sure. Who does? Nobody.

                            I will say this. I balk at choosing any player pre-1950 as the greatest ever. I don't look at a minor league player who batted .380 and wonder, "Is he better than Tony Gwynn, who batted .338 in the majors? Well, let's see. Gwynn had a higher level of competition to succeed against. But HOW much higher? Is it possible that a .380 average, after adjusting for the weaker league, is actually a more impressive accomplishment?"

                            I don't ask these types of questions because it seems to me that a minor leaguer shouldn't even be compared to a major leaguer. You compare a major leaguer to a major leaguer. Let Joe .380 succeed at the highest level of competition, THEN we'll evaluate him. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Obliterating second-rate foes is great, but I don't want to start trying to figure out how much weaker the second rate foes are than the first rate foes, and then start trying to figure out what the performance WOULD have been against top-shelf competition, if only it had been available.

                            So for me, I'd start with post-1950 players, because that's when the league became fully integrated, and the modern farm system was in full effect. I'd pick guys like Mantle, because he was the best player of the 50's; Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, because they were the best players of the 60's; Mike Schmidt, because he was the best player of the 70's and 80's (yeah that's right, Mike Schmidt!); and Bonds, who was the best player of the 90's - even before his steroid-fueled transformation.

                            One last thing I want to say. You can who toss out my argument about level of league competition and pick Ruth as the best ever, but then you need to explain why Josh Gibson WASN'T the best ever. He had better numbers than Ruth did, in the Negro Leagues. How about 800 home runs and a .350 average in 17 seasons? Or 80 home runs and a .400+ average in 1936?

                            Hey, no fair arguing that the Negro Leagues wasn't as competitive as the major leagues! Arguing level of competition supports MY argument. Toss out league competitiveness and you're pigeon holed into accepting that Gibson was better than Ruth. Anyhow, lots of white players saw Gibson and said he was Ruth's equal as a hitter - and these were the 1930's, so there was no political correctness at work when they made these statements. They simply gave their honest evaluation.

                            Ruth's trump card is that he was also a very good pitcher - for 4 years. But did I mention that Gibson was a CATCHER? Wrap your head around that one. He played the most important defensive position on the diamond, and the most physically exhausting one, for 17 years. Does that trump Ruth's 4 years as a pitcher? Hard to say, but a very good argument could be made. You might wonder how much better Ruth might have been had he lived a more disciplined lifestyle. No dice. Gibson was an alcoholic, and a heroin addict later on, who died at age 35.

                            (Off topic: according to the book "Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball" (a very interesting read!) Ruth (or his ghost writer) says that after the 1925 season - his worst ever, at the age of 30 - Ruth put an end to his excesses of partying and drinking. Ruth (or his ghost) says that he had been able to get away with all that debauchary without his play suffering on account of his youth; but by age 30, it finally caught up with him, and he had his worst season ever. Amidst rumors that he was washed up, Ruth spent the entire winter in the gym boxing and doing aerobics and calisthenics, and bounced back to top form in 1926. 1927 you all know about. Ruth says after that, he stopped overeating and partying and has always spent the offseason exercising. So, maybe he wasn't as undisciplined as we think. He was productive all the way to age 37, you know.)

                            Back on topic. I don't know for sure if Ruth was or wasn't the greatest baseball talent ever. But I don't think the answer is very cut and dry.
                            Last edited by Metal Ed; 02-20-2005, 02:03 PM.

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                            • #74
                              Metal ED, that is a well written argument. I personal feel that after watching baseball for over 50 yrs that the great ones could have played in anytime. You can't hold it against Wagner & Cobb for when they were born. Baseball in their time was different, but they were the stars that blazed across the sky, likewise Ruth came into baseball and helped usher in a new era, but he hardly did it by himself. Take a look at the League numbers for HRs and SLG% in the time Ruth played. I would venture to guess that they both were rising along with Ruth, after all Ruth has little to do with any increase in the NL Numbers.
                              Mickey Mantle 1956 Triple Crown Winner

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                              • #75
                                Metal Ed,

                                Nice post. Of course, we all give a snot what you think. Just may not agree with you automaticly. Let's say all your points are fine. But that still leaves a big unanswered question in my mind.

                                Let's say God chose to put 5 of the best overall ballplayers in to play before 1950. And they, predictably, killed their competition. Which we grant you, was softer, easier to dominate. Do we then eliminate them from our consideration as the best players, simply because their competition wasn't up to standards?

                                Why do Wagner, Cobb, Ruth, W. Johnson need be skipped over because their peers were crap, by comparison to later eras? Just doesn't feel just or honest to me. Just because you're crushing crappy competition doesn't automaticly rule you out, does it? You're penalizing great players due to their time of birth, which was beyond their control. Same as with the Negro Leagues.

                                Just because we all agree that they couldn't field a league as strong as the MLs, due to under financing, doesn't mean a few of their stars were not as good as the ML stars. They just were not allowed to prove their level of competence, due to circumstances beyond their control. Charleston, Mackay, Santop, Gibson, Lloyd, Joe Williams and Paige were generally recognized as MAJOR talents in the BB firmament, cursed to languish in BB hell, due to skin tone, beyond their control.

                                I think your argument, while valid, lacks fairness/context.


                                Bill Burgess
                                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-04-2005, 03:20 PM.

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