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How Would Babe Ruth Hit in 2019?
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Babe Ruth was baseball’s most important revolutionary — he went against all the conventional wisdom of his day — that the best hitter put his bat squarely on the ball the most, hitting the most line drives to strikeouts. Ruth chose instead to up his chance of striking out considerably to increase his chance of hitting a homer dramatically. This also increased his chance of getting a walk, which is quite useful to scoring runs.

Ty Cobb pointed out that the only reason Ruth was allowed to teach himself how to do this from 1914-1919, learning to upper cut the ball to hit more fly balls, was that he started out in MLB as a pitcher and nobody in authority cared about how pitchers hit enough to make him stop, like they would have done if he had come up as a hitter.

Ruth made the most significant adjustment of any player in 20th Century baseball history, and he did it all by himself, so if anybody could adjust to being time traveled to a different era, it would be Ruth.

On the other hand, obviously, time travel would be discombobulating for anybody. Consider current day New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He hit 59 homers in Miami in 2017, one shy of Ruth’s 60 in 1927. But when he was traded to the Yankees just before the 2018 season, he initially appeared frazzled by the stress of living in New York City. He played okay on the road, but his first couple of months at his new home in Yankee Stadium saw him strike out a huge amount. Eventually he stabilized and hit a decent 40 homers, but it was a stressful adjustment for all concerned.

Still, Ruth’s personality would likely make him better suited for showing up and thriving in a new environment.

In general, there aren’t that many instances in pro sports of a player becoming outmoded before his natural career was up. Bill Simmons points to a 1950s NBA player named Neil Johnston who a 6 time All Star using his side arm hook shot. Then he ran into the Celtic great black defender Bill Russell and Johnston found that he could shoot unblocked sidearm hookshots over Bill Russell. And that was pretty much the end of Johnston’s career.

In baseball, Maury Will’s 104 stolen bases in 1962 ended the career of several national league catchers who could hit well but not throw well enough to get Wills and Lou Brock out.

But in general, ballplayers careers didn’t decline too much as baseball advanced. Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 and .388 in 1958

Wilt Chamberlain suffered that his 1960 scoring average of 50 ppg couldn’t stand up to improved defences, so by 1972 he was only scoring 14 points due to his lack of small motor finesse sills, but averaging 19 rebounds per game, plus who knows how many blocks per game.

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  1. G. Poulin says:

    Yes, the Babe would have adapted. He’d be gobbling down steroids instead of hot dogs.

  2. Anon[173] • Disclaimer says:

    I believe time-traveling, peak Babe Ruth would be capable of at least one Ruthian season.

    He would not have today’s training but he would have:

    today’s luxury travel
    today’s lighter bats
    today’s clubs more sensitive to resting players
    today’s computer metrics
    today’s designated hitter role
    today’s stadium lights/constant stream of new balls
    today’s discouragement of excessive eating/drinking during the season (and in the clubhouse)
    and so on…

    Ruth would hit like steroid-Bonds for a season. Say 2004 Bonds, who hit a mere 40+ home runs but with a .600+ on base percentage. Or it would be more like the 2015 version of Bryce Harper (who had a Bonds type season that year, IIRC).

    But the problem would be, like Harper, the league would adjust by the next year.

    What Ruth-as-is wouldn’t be able to do would be to be other-worldly for a 12, 13 year period like he was from ’21 to ’33.

  3. “Ruth chose instead to up his chance of striking out considerably to increase his chance of hitting a homer dramatically. ”

    Hold up. Ruth never struck out 100 or more times in a season, as pretty much every single power hitter has done for the last several decades.

    “This also increased his chance of getting a walk, which is quite useful to scoring runs.”

    So is hitting the ball. Babe Ruth’s lifetime batting average was .342. He won the 1924 batting title with by hitting .378. He also hit above .3oo in 16 seasons.

    • Replies: @Ed Grimley
    , @bobbybonilla
  4. The parameters of this poll are placed seemingly to downplay and or diminish Ruth’s overall greatness: “plucked out of 1927 with no training.” So as with most current era vs. old era comparisons that current era sportswriters make, this is an underhanded attempt to promote the greatness of the current era POC who play the game in comparison to old era players.

    • Agree: ben tillman
  5. Okay, since Posnanski stipulates that Babe Ruth circa 1927 must be dropped into today’s MLB with no preparation, here’s what happens.

    Season 1: The Babe has some temporal relocation issues. He’s accustomed to a 40+ ounce bat, which he can get around on 1927 pitchers, but the speeds at which today’s MLB pitchers deliver all the offerings in their repertoires force him to drop down to a more typical 30-32 ounce bat. It’ll take him some time to reconfigure his swing to these new physics. He also needs to deal with parades of lefty relief specialists, many of whom throw vicious sliders, a pitch that didn’t really exist in 1927. He shows promising streaks of potential dominance, but he is not a superstar. There are too many adjustments he needs to make.

    But then —

    Season 2: The Babe’s extraordinary hand-eye coordination allows him to catch up with the new speeds and pitches he’s seeing. He does some 21st-century conditioning. He also has realized, sometime in Season 1, that his teammates are taking some very special vitamins to help them feel peppy and powerful, and he gets on the juice, too. The results are highly satisfactory. He borrows some capacious caps from Barry Bonds, and this season he’s right up there with the all-time greats once more.

    • Agree: BB753
  6. This one is so easy to answer. After his first game in 2019 Major League Baseball, ESPN would report he’d asked why there were colored players on the team and dames trying to interview him in the locker room, so he’d receive a lifetime ban.

    The 1927 Babe would never get the chance to hit.

  7. ” Then he ran into the Celtic great black defender Bill Russell and Johnston found that he could shoot unblocked sidearm hookshots over Bill Russell. And that was pretty much the end of Johnston’s career.”

    Is this missing a word or something? If he found he could sidearm hookshot over Bill Russell, wouldn’t he keep doing it?


    • Replies: @Hibernian
  8. Could The Babe Have Been Bigly Big League?

    The Bambino would also have to contend with the unreal stereotype threat posed by genetically modified organisms, so one should hypothesize a Unified Field of Dreams Theory, building upon Keats’ “Ode to a Night Game” –

    Thou wast not born for death, immortal Babe!
    Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for homers,
    He stood in tears amid the alien corn…

    See also: Other than that, how did you like the double play Mrs. Lincoln? Your name is no joy in Samuel Mudville, Mighty Bill Casey has struck out against Woodward, baseball stats – Jabberwo[n]ky, the Babe ruths outgrabe, the coming of age story in Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe – Bildungsroman and they will come…a lot

    • Replies: @reactionry
  9. Danindc says:

    I say he doesn’t make the trip north with the team after Spring training.

  10. Gus says:

    The NBA has been rapidly changing its rules lately to the detriment of players who are both very tall and very good at scoring from close to the basket. That player type of course was the original archetype of the NBA star—Mikan, Wilt, Kareem—before Jordan showed shorter, faster players with very good ballhandling skills could star for a champion. On top of that, normal people could relate to those
    players because they looked short or at least normal sized on TV and appeared to work harder for their shots than Kareem or Wilt. The NBA it seems to me has changed the rules to incentivize this shorter skillful player type over plodding centers.

    This has lead to a whole bunch of “post-up big men” going obsolete in what seemed like a week and half. Some current representative examples:

    Enes Kanter, on an 18 million dollar a year contract, was just cut with the team eating about 9 mil of that deal. He won’t make more than a few mil again. He’s 26.

    NCAA champ Jahlil Okafor—the third overall draft pick in 2015–has been on three teams already. He’s 22.

    Greg Monroe began his career averaging a double-double (at least 10 pts and 10 rebounds per game) for several seasons. This used to be perhaps the most important thing a center could do for job security. Monroe is now 28 and basically on his way out of the league completely.

    Replacing these kinds of players are centers who do almost nothing on offense but set screens for the little guys who want to drive to the basket.

    • Replies: @Truth
    , @JeremiahJohnbalaya
  11. keypusher says:

    Yes, he’d be a star. He was far and away the best hitter in the history of baseball when he played. He didn’t have to worry about competition from blacks and Latinos, but I believe baseball was scooping up a greater share of white athletic talent then than now, and anyway baseball doesn’t favor black athletic attributes to the same extent that football and basketball do. Ruth was a physical freak, not just in strength, but in hand-eye coordination and perception speed, as near as they could measure such things in the early 1920s.

    “The secret of Babe Ruth’s ability to hit is clearly revealed in these tests, His eye, his ear, his brain, his nerves all function more rapidly than do those of the average person. Further the coordination between eye, ear, brain, and muscle is much nearer perfection than that of the normal healthy man.”

    But strikeouts would be a problem for him. If you see clips of him hitting, sometimes he’ll take almost a little hop before swinging. He couldn’t get away with that today.

    Strikeouts, like passing yards in NFL, are a contextual stat; what used to be a big total is now rather modest. Ruth had nearly twice as many strikeouts as home runs (1330), and when he retired in 1935 I believe he was about as far ahead of everyone else in Ks as he was in HRs. He’s now something like 128th in career strikeouts and dropping like a rock. In 1921, probably his best year (59 HRs, 177 runs), Ruth was third in the AL in batting average, .378, behind Harry Heilmann (.394) Ty Cobb (.389). But he struck out 81 times, compared to 37 and 19 for them respectively.

    He’d adjust, I think, he’d shorten his swing, but his numbers today would look more like a modern slugger’s numbers, not so much like his numbers in the 1920s.

    Now some disjointed observations.

    Ed Barrow, Ruth’s general manager and sometime nemesis, was interviewed in 1942, near the end of his career (but before integration). He said this on quality of play over time: “Some of the stars of the past would be stars today, but the average big leaguer 40 years ago couldn’t hold a job today.”

    Bill James, New Historical Baseball Abstract (2003): “It is my belief that the quality of play in major league baseball has improved steadily over time, being higher in almost every generation than it was in the previous generation.” He introduced a statistical adjustment to his ratings to account for that, although it didn’t do Ruth any harm — he was still #1.

    Ruth’s peak was around 1921, when he was 26. Here’s a picture of Ruth from 1920. It’s a lot more plausible to see that guy in the majors today than the 1927 edition.

    Also, by the standards of the 1920s he took good care of himself in the offseason, after he’d almost eaten, drank, and whored himself out of baseball by 1925.

    In general, there aren’t that many instances in pro sports of a player becoming outmoded before his natural career was up.

    Since no one has a 90 year career, this doesn’t matter much for purposes of the present discussion. Not many people will argue that Red Grange could be a star today. The last white guy to lead the NFL in rushing, if memory serves, was Jimmy Taylor in 1962. Seeing Larry Csonka in the NFL Super Bowl ad made me think — not only would he be too slow to be a star in the modern game, he’s too tall. 6’3″ running backs just don’t exist anymore, and speed is paramount, even for power runners.

    Finally, the main reason Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring dropped to 14 ppg was that he practically stopped shooting. His small motor finesse skills were just fine, I suspect. His scoring would have gone down from 50 ppg anyway, because the game slowed down a great deal, defense became more important, the NBA made rule changes to make it more difficult for him to score, and a lot more great (black) athletes came into the league. But if he hadn’t limited his own shooting so much, his ppg would have dropped to 20-25, say, instead of 14. Check out his scoring percentages at the end of his career. They’re ridiculous. If you’re making over 70% of your shots, you’re not shooting enough.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  12. keypusher says:

    Just for laughs, here’s what Sporting News thought of Ruth at his peak:

    “As a batter, Ruth is an accident. He never plays inside baseball at the plate. He goes up trying to take a swing on every strike, a style that would cause any other player to be benched. He either knocks home runs or strikes out. Any man who strikes out as many times as Ruth did last year [1921] can never be classified as a great hitter.”

  13. Sean says:

    Babe Ruth’s LIKELY level if you plucked him out of 1927 would be pathetic. A more interesting question is what he would be like if he was born later and was in his twenties now. That would turn on how much bigger would Ruth be today? Ruth was the best without steroids ect but it seems to me having a big frame to pack chemically enhanced muscle on is more important now. Ruth strikes me as being a naturally testosteronised athlete, but where human skyscrapers can juice ect far beyond the natural limit, natural high T may be far less of an advantage.

    Wilt Chamberlain suffered that his 1960 scoring average of 50 ppg couldn’t stand up to improved defences, so by 1972 he was only scoring 14 points due to his lack of small motor finesse sills, but averaging 19 rebounds per game, plus who knows how many blocks per game.

    “His teammates scored at 50.7% efficiency. Wilt’s TS% went up as well. But, here’s the most interesting wrinkle: Even if Chamberlain’s TS% had remained the same, the overall team efficiency would have gone from 49.0% to 51.4%, and at well over 100 “attempts” per game, that results in a colossal shift in scoring efficiency. (As it were, the team’s TS% increased to 52.8% because Chamberlain’s TS% also increased.)”
    1) New coach Alex Hannum joined the 76ers in ’66-67. This was actually his 2nd stint with Wilt, the first came on the San Francisco Warriors where in his first year the team became much better with the bulk of the improvement being on the defense. So this was a smart coach, not simply saying “Hey Wilt, shoot less.”, he was putting a new system in place.

    2) When Hannum arrived in San Francisco, there are anecdotes about him being completely shocked at how badly Chamberlain’s teammates had regressed because of their roles, i.e. “Pass to Wilt, and stand there.”

    3) Wilt’s new role wasn’t simply to score less, but to act as distributor. Wilt thus had a new focus on getting the teammates the ball in a position where they could do something with it.

    4) If we had all relevant data relating to a scorer, this would include the turnovers caused getting him the ball, the turnovers of the player once he gets the ball, and how effective a position players are in when they get the ball back from him.

    Jack Dempsey would still hit as hard as he did in round one against Willard, but only if they led him use his rail spike/knuckleduster again.

    • Replies: @Semperluctor
  14. @reactionry

    -oops – To be or not to have been? As might have been said by members of an anti-American Indian League, it could have been as in the casey with Nathan Phillips-Vodka (Julius Günther “Der Reamer” Röhm Nazi League pitchers and catchers probably prefer, parenthetically speaking, to signal with (((Phillips))))*, that I used the wrong tents and should have written, “Could Casey Still Be Bigly Big League?

    Also see NFL- To Half and Half Not,
    Foreign Agent Draft – H2B or not H2B, MLB?


  15. @The Last Real Calvinist

    I already used up my LOL quota, but I lol’ed at your prediction for Season 2…

  16. Kyle says:

    Check the mlb record books. Babe Ruth is generally the best hitter of all time. If he was in today’s league he’d still be the best hitter of all time.

  17. njguy73 says:

    In baseball, Maury Will’s 104 stolen bases in 1962 ended the career of several national league catchers who could hit well but not throw well enough to get Wills and Lou Brock out.

    Yes, and it started new careers of better catchers.

    The years following 1962 were characterized by a frantic search for new and better defensive catchers. In what must be a record of its kind, 11 of the 20 major league teams had a different No. 1 catcher in 1963 from the one they had had in 1962. Three of the new catchers—Tim McCarver, Bill Freehan and John Bateman—were 21 or younger. Older ones like Doc Edwards, Earl Battey and Clay Dalrymple must have felt lucky to hold on to their jobs. Smoky Burgess may have become the last .328 hitter to lose his.

    Teams combed the woods for hot young catching prospects who could throw. Not surprisingly, quick, strong-armed youngsters, who might have spurned catching before, began to gravitate toward the position. Another remarkable coincidence: There were probably more outstanding catchers born in 1947 than in any other year, notably Johnny Bench, Thurman Munson, Ray Fosse and Bob Boone. With those catchers coming along, plus Carlton Fisk, a year younger, and strong throwers like Freehan and Joe Torre who were already in business, the rate of increase in stolen bases slowed through the ’60s.

    – Bill James, 1982

    • Replies: @Marty
  18. Anon[111] • Disclaimer says:

    This sounds like a movie … “Babe, Sweet Babe.” Get an agent.

    ‘Rome, Sweet Rome’: Could a Single Marine Unit Destroy the Roman Empire?

    It was a hypothetical question that became a long online discussion and now a movie in development: Could a small group of heavily armed modern-day Marines take down the Roman Empire at its height?

    By Alyson Sheppard, Oct 31, 2011

    James Erwin was browsing Reddit on his lunch break when a thread piqued his interest. A user called The_Quiet_Earth had posed the question: “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?”

    The question struck a chord with the 37-year-old Erwin, a technical writer from Des Moines, Iowa, who happened to be finishing a book called The Encyclopedia of U.S. Military Actions (Through Facts on File). Erwin tells PM that he wasn’t impressed by other users’ early attempts to answer this question, and so, posting under the username Prufrock451, he came up with his own response. Erwin wrote a 350-word short story chronicling the fictitious 35th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which suddenly disappears from modern-day Kabul and reappears on the Tiber River in 23 B.C. Erwin posted the piece, finished his meal, and went back to work.

    After work, Erwin checked reddit. Thousands of users had read his post and they demanded more. Excited and overwhelmed, Erwin continued submitting pieces of this growing Internet phenomenon. The next day, Los Angeles–based management firm Madhouse Entertainment contacted him about representation. Within the week, after Erwin had put just more than 3500 words to screen, Warner Brothers Studios bought the movie rights.

  19. DCThrowback says: • Website

    some proposed changes to this fine blog post:

    *into the Celtic great black defender Bill Russell and Johnston found that he could NOT shoot unblocked sidearm hookshots over Bill Russell

    **Maury Wills’

    ***so by 1972 Wilt was only scoring 14 points due to his lack of small motor finesse sills, but averaging 19 rebounds per game, plus who knows how many DAMES postgame.

  20. Babe Ruth would be a top level home run hitter if he were playing today.

    Babe Ruth would use a shorter and lighter bat if he were playing today.

    I saw Babe Ruth’s bat at the baseball place in the town founded by one of James Fenimore Cooper’s ancestors. It was a cave man club in the shape of a bat. The internet says Ruth’s bat was 36 inches long and about 40 ounces.

    Barry Bonds used a shorter, lighter bat to increase bat speed through the hitting zone. Bonds used a bat that was made of maple, I don’t know what wood Ruth’s bat was. Hickory or ash, I imagine.

  21. Babe Ruth already came back, & he was Steve Balboni.

  22. SB71 says:
    @NJ Transit Commuter

    Hahaha … NJ Transit Commuter nails it.

    The Ty Cobb quote is great, what a student of the game. Would love see Cobb go into the stands and kick the crap out of some neckbeard heckler

  23. Babe Ruth was the Rob Gronkowski of 1927.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  24. is there a “not” missing here: ” … and Johnston found that he could ???shoot unblocked sidearm hookshots over Bill Russell.”

  25. keypusher says:

    I checked the Posnanski Twitter thread. Bill James said “Superstar” and added, “…Ruth was a very smart guy. The first half of the season he would struggle because his bat was too heavy to use in today’s game, but in a month he’d be using a light bat and hitting a home run every four games.” (So maybe The Last Real Calvinist is really Bill James?) And then some nonentity further down the thread said “to think some people say superstar or even star.”

    We’ll never know, but being on the same side of a baseball question as Bill James is generally a good idea. Not every time, but most of the time.

    One other point that was made in the Twitter thread — yes, there are sliders now, and pitchers throw harder, but in the 1920s they threw at your head, and there were no batting helmets. Ray Chapman was killed by a beanball (thrown by Ruth’s teammate Carl Mays) in 1920. Imagine pitching to a Babe Ruth who owns the plate.

  26. Walsh2 says:

    If you “plucked him out” of 1927 he’d be really good and have an Edgar Martinez like career with the DH. There’d be an argument for him to be in HOF. 1927, however was apex of career when he hit 60 HRs. After 1927 HR production declined every year and fell off a cliff toward the end. Instead of using 1927, use 1919 or 1920 and look at the stats. You pluck him out of 1919 and put him in present day he’d end up being one of the all time greats.

  27. Cortes says:

    “In general, there aren’t that many instances in pro sports of a player becoming outmoded before his natural career was up. Bill Simmons points to a 1950s NBA player named Neil Johnston who a 6 time All Star using his side arm hook shot. Then he ran into the Celtic great black defender Bill Russell and Johnston found that he could shoot unblocked sidearm hookshots over Bill Russell. And that was pretty much the end of Johnston’s career.”

    In professional football (“soccer” in US terminology) several leading rank goalkeepers have seen their star fade due to the insistence of modern coaches, led by Pep Guardiola – originally at Barcelona, then at Bayern Munich and currently at Manchester City- that the keeper be competent playing with his feet. The highest profile “victim” was the first pick keeper for Manchester City and the England national team at the time of Guardiola becoming City’s coach – Joe Hart, first “loaned out” to Italy and London and now languishing, unplayed with his small hometown club, Burnley.

    Since Christmas 2018, the first pick keeper for my team, Celtic, in Scotland, has been promoted from the bench due primarily to being much more “comfortable on the ball” than the previous incumbent. The ball-playing keeper helps a side “recycle play” much more promptly and thus affords the “outfield players” to exploit counter-attack possibilities more aggressively.

  28. I witnessed a striking example of being discombobulated or adjusting to moving to NYC. My wife and I through a social accident were taken to a Yankees-California Angels baseball game at the Yankee Stadium by Mitch Miller (don’t ask!) and sat in the owner’s box behind the dugout (Yankees owned at that time by CBS). My wife grew up in the same neighborhood in south Austin as Danny Cater who was then playing for the Yankees. Wife wanted to say hi and Cater was called out of the dugout. He looked up and recognizing her said “Hey Lonn! Are you up here (phonetically “hay-er”) too?”

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  29. prosa123 says:

    Wilt Chamberlain suffered that his 1960 scoring average of 50 ppg couldn’t stand up to improved defences, so by 1972 he was only scoring 14 points due to his lack of small motor finesse sills, but averaging 19 rebounds per game, plus who knows how many blocks per game.

    He turned 36 years old in 1972, which certainly didn’t help.

  30. JoeFour says:

    “Bill Simmons … ran into the Celtic great black defender Bill Russell and Johnston found that he could [not] shoot unblocked sidearm hookshots over Bill Russell. And that was pretty much the end of Johnston’s career.”

    Well…maybe not exactly….per Wikipedia: “Johnston was forced to retire after a serious knee injury in the 1958–59 season. “

    • Replies: @Bragadocious
  31. Anonymous[388] • Disclaimer says:

    Gretzky would not be able to survive in today’s NHL let alone score 90+ goals. The current best goal scorer (and he’s been so for 10 years) is Alex Ovechkin. Last year he was the highest goal scorer with 49 goals (and captain of Stanley Cup-winning Caps). Gretzky was 5’11” and 175 lbs and slow. Way too small and slow for a league where forwards now are the size of NFL linebackers. Ovechkin is a forward, is fast, and is 6’3” and 240 lbs. And the NHL goalies today are bigger and quicker and goals are much harder to come by.

  32. Abe says:

    A very apropos example is Albert Pujols, the most dominant hitter since Ruth*, moving from the American League to the National League right after winning a World Series. His hitting sorta collapsed with the Angels (though he still is on track to hit 700 homeruns). How would his first two years after the move have been like if he had stayed with the Cardinals, stayed in a familiar ballpark, and continued to face still mostly familiar pitching (yeah pitchers go from American League to National League and vice-versa every year, but not THAT MANY any particular year)? In other words, what might have been if a Pujols had not been plucked out of the National League and the Cardinals franchise?

    The Cardinals front office was praised as being so smart for not getting suckered into giving an over-the-hill superstar a $250 albatross contract. But tell me- the Cardinals blew a 3-1 NLCS advantage to go back to the World Series first year after Pujols leaving, then lost a 2-1 World Series advantage second year after his leaving. That’s 1, maybe 2 World Series titles they could have likely reaped with him still on the team. Plus they would have had the coup of being one of only 4 teams whose logo graced the mighty chest and arms of an all-time great slugger blasting his 700th homerun (baseball is about 50% winning championships, 50% breaking records- Ted Williams never won a title). Overall I think the non-signing will in retrospect look like a big mistake.

    • Replies: @Ian M.
  33. The Z Blog says: • Website

    The amusing thing about these debates is no one every thinks about the opposite. Would any players of this age do well in 1927? Just as Ruth would have to make major adjustments, the modern players would have to change their game radically to make it in 1927.

    Basketball is a sport where the answer is a bit easier. Modern players sent back in time would foul out so often, they would be cut before having time to adjust. That and they would be called for traveling so much, they would never get on the floor. Basketball is now a different sport from fifty years ago.

    • Replies: @Prodigal son
    , @Kyle
  34. Do you mean:

    “Then he ran into the Celtic great black defender Bill Russell and Johnston found that he couldn’t shoot unblocked sidearm hookshots over Bill Russell. And that was pretty much the end of Johnston’s career.”

    It doesn’t make sense otherwise.

  35. @NJ Transit Commuter

    I’m guessing Ruth jokingly donned blackface at least once back in the day — not to mention a sombrero — so warm the time machine back up once some SJW finds those pics.

    • Replies: @Hapalong Cassidy
  36. Abe says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    He’s accustomed to a 40+ ounce bat, which he can get around on 1927 pitchers, but the speeds at which today’s MLB pitchers deliver all the offerings in their repertoires force him to drop down to a more typical 30-32 ounce bat.

    Serious question- why do you think pitch velocity would be significantly higher in 2019? Pitchers being much taller on average? The fact that the talent pool is international now? On my son’s little league team last year one of the youngest, smallest players had the best arms- like 6 years old and was already clocked at 50-something MPH his dad told me, though to me it seemed he was now getting close to 60 MPH. Some newspaper had a pretty good “long-form” article about a pitching farm put together by a former MLB coach or player trying to take legitimate prospects to the next level using the latest technology and techniques. One of the featured clients at this farm was a mid-level MLB pitcher- upper middle class background so has had the best equipment, coaching, etc. all his life. And the proof of how awesome this farm was…. the fact it bumped his fastball to 93 MPH (yawn).

    I would therefore think a pitcher’s arm is something one is just born with and so the velocities Ruth would see in 2019 would not flummox him compared to what he was accustomed to in 1927. But I am happy to stand corrected on this count.

  37. istevefan says:

    If the 1927 Ruth were deposited into 2019, he’d be so shocked at the current demographics that he’d demand to be taken to America.

  38. anon[251] • Disclaimer says:

    According to Chamberlain’s fg% was a ridiculous league leading .727 in his final, age 36, 1972 season. He also lead the league in fg% the previous year. They probably should have just gone to him more. Did teams just start fouling him hack-a-shaq style or something.

    • Replies: @flyingtiger
  39. @istevefan

    If the 1927 Ruth were deposited into 2019, he’d be so shocked at the current demographics that he’d demand to be taken to America.

    Most likely. On the other hand, he’d be so pleasantly surprised with the amount, quality and variety of booze in America that, after mulling it over, he’d be happy to stay…

  40. RH says:

    It would be nice to be given the names of those catchers whom Wills forced out of the Bigs.

  41. Informed of the American League DH rule, he would get so merrily drunk at the prospect of $15mm for no field play that he would be giddy and incoherent for days.

    Yet after reporting for spring training with his one-piece swimsuit, a case of Old Forester and a box of Havanas, his mood would darken considerably at the prospect of endless calisthenics, the Tom Brady diet and a mandatory PR interview with Stephen A. Smith.

    When he found out that Hialeah was closed and Coolidge was no longer President, he would demand to be taken to the time machine for re-transport to 1927.

    • LOL: Captain Tripps
  42. @The Last Real Calvinist

    Also, in 2019 they don’t allow him to smoke or show up to games drunk, which improves his performance as well.

  43. “How Would Babe Ruth Hit in 2019?”

    Just fine, after a liberal dosing of steroids.

    • Replies: @Alfa158
  44. Wilt could have scored a lot more in 1971-72–he changed his style to help the Lakers have one of the best seasons ever at 69-13. He shot 65% on 9 attempts per game. I watched a lot of those games as a young kid living in SoCal. What a great show they were.

  45. A: With a baseball bat, and with as much force and accuracy as he could.

    That’s how all professional players hit baseballs, silly goose.

  46. Isn’t it safe to say Wilt Chmberlain never stopped scoring ridiculous amounts, and that, from all known accounts, his finesse with fine motor skills was the least of his troubles in scoring so much?

    • Replies: @Truth
  47. syonredux says:

    Meanwhile, in population replacement news…..

    Progressive America needs a rogue billionaire to sponsor the construction of a few cities in Montana and the Dakotas to level the senate playing field.

    Wouldn’t take too many new residents to swing low-population stages.

    • Replies: @bomag
    , @nebulafox
  48. phil says:

    Per Bill Jenkinson, Ruth was the greatest long-distance hitter in history. Of the longest 100 drives, Ruth alone hit 29. In 1921 he hit a 500+-foot home run in every single American League ballpark.

    In 2019 he would connect as frequently as he did in 1921 or 1927, but the outfield distances today are generally much shorter than they were in the 1920s, so many of his pop-ups would be home runs today. He could bat between .300 and .315 nowadays (on average), Of course, we are all just guessing, but when Sabermetricians look at all the numbers, Ruth is still the #1 rated player in the history of baseball–by a comfortable margin.

    • Replies: @phil
    , @Truth
  49. astorian says:

    “What If” games can be fun, but the reality is, baseball changes GRADUALLY, and the best of the best adapt.

    Ty Cobb batted over .350 both before and after the Dead Ball Era.

    Stan Musial was a batting champ both during and after the Second World War.

    Warren Spahn was the best pitcher in baseball before and after the rise of integration.

    Babe Ruth could have adapted to all of baseball’s changes, but it would be crazy to expect that he’d adapt to 100 years worth of changes overnight.

  50. MEH 0910 says:

    SCTV – The Babe Ruth Story

    • Replies: @MEH 0910
  51. The 1971-72 Lakers, with Chamberlain at center and his 14ppg, won 69 games. Gail Goodrich and and aging Jerry West were reponsible for most of the scoring. If they missed a shot, Wilt was likely to get a rebound.

    By the way, as my nom de guerre may imply, I’ve spend a lot of time in Wilt’s first NBA city. I had the eye opening priviledge of sitting behind the baskedtduring a 76ers game at the Univ of Penn Palestra Fieldhouse, five rows up. The sixers played there while the Spectrum was being built and Convention Hall was undergoing renovations.

    Watching this huge incredibly muscular man move, box out, rebound, and otherwise deals with opponents as they were tootpicks was absolutely jaw dropping. And the guy would sweat rivers.

  52. Anonymous[264] • Disclaimer says:

    A useless post, but OK, which catching careers were ended by Wills? Nothing from Bill James on this.

  53. phil says:

    Sorry, I meant to say that Ruth would NOT connect as frequently today because of today’s superior pitching, but we was a true freak of nature.

  54. bomag says:

    construction of a few cities in Montana and the Dakotas

    Stocked with Matt’s usual friends from elsewhere. The problem is that MT, ND, et al are poor states, with rather paltry state welfare programs. Matt’s friends prefer the likes of NY, IL, and CA with their more generous state programs that they can add to the fed stuff that is the same everywhere.

    Montana’s Democrat cuck of a governor went in with the refugee resettlement plan, but the “refugees” would get their initial aid package and promptly move to the usual environs.

    Montana’s resort towns; college towns; and Indian reservations are already well stocked with reliable Yeglesias voters, and currently have split the senators there between R and D.

  55. Potential HBD catnip in the NY Times:

    Skimming the overly long piece, I get the impression that female surfers who are largely physically unable to surf the same waves as male big wave surfers want to be paid the same as the male big wave surfers cuz equality n’ stuff.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  56. Anon[291] • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t understand the para about Johnston and Bill Russell

  57. anon[251] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s hard to believe they threw as hard given how many innings pitchers threw. Average pitch velocity has increased in just the past two decades from 88.5 tp 92. Pitchers in the 20s didn’t even lift weights. Lots of reasons to think they didn’t throw as hard.

  58. Professional sports are all fixed and they are all on steroids. Some of you seem to know this. The rest are ostriches.

  59. Clyde says:

    Also, in 2019 they don’t allow him to smoke or show up to games drunk, which improves his performance as well.

    Beer was ubiquitous back then, especially with all the Germanic ball players. Tap water was undependable plus we all know what the fish in water reservoirs do. Nonstop.

  60. Anonymous[264] • Disclaimer says:

    So discombobulated by those nawthun ways that he had his best season there in ’70.

  61. MEH 0910 says:


  62. Marty says:

    In ’27, he’d have seen blacks in the stands (not even counting barnstorming tours). Today, he wouldn’t.

  63. @Anonymous

    How does size equate with speed and maneuverability on ice compared to other sports? Generally, under 100 meters the fastest guys are smaller. Bolt aside, many 100 m runners hover around 5-9. You’d have even shorter runners if the 50 m was in the Olympics. Small guys can also change direction faster (think slot receivers and the shorter running backs). In the NFL, the advantages of small size are negated by the disadvantages of a short reach and an easier tackle, so you usually only have a handful of guys in the NFL in the 5-7 to 5-9 range. (And those short guys often exceed 200 lbs – Ray Rice is about as big as 5-8 can be without being fat)

    Within humans – as between animal species – smaller size generally provides greater power-to-weight but lower overall power. Think Olympic shot putters vs gymnasts. I used to follow cycling and it’s the same with lung capacity/aerobic output. The best climbers are usually short and small (Quintana is 5-6) while the flatlanders and time trialists can be quite big (Boonen is 6-4). Another aerobic example is marathon runners vs rowers. For example Haile Gebrselassie is 5-5 and Giuseppe Lanzone is 6-5.

    It goes against the hypo, but if Babe Ruth were born today he’d also probably be 1-2 inches taller. (He was 6-2).

  64. @Hypnotoad666

    Also, in 2019 they don’t allow him to smoke or show up to games drunk, which improves his performance as well.

    You sure about that?

    It is said that when Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery told him, ‘I neither drink nor smoke and am a hundred per cent fit’, Churchill famously replied ‘I drink and smoke and I am two hundred per cent fit’.

    Ruth used to stop into McCuddy’s for refreshment between games of doubleheaders across the street at Comiskey Park.

    Now, there are no more McCuddy’s, no more Comiskey Park*, and no more doubleheaders.

    *I mean, no more real Comiskey Park.

    • Replies: @Ling Chow
  65. @The Z Blog

    True…with the lower pitchers mound, smaller strike zone and the smaller juiced ball of today along with steroids, And with the longer season Ruth would be hitting 70 home runs per year today due to smaller ballparks and the juiced ball

  66. Dan Hayes says:


    Some time ago I along with my Orthodox Jewish friend and his sister visited the New London Ct Submarine Museum. Sister exclaimed upon seeing Admiral Rickover’s statue:

    Look at that large Jewish nose!

  67. istevefan says:

    Serious question- why do you think pitch velocity would be significantly higher in 2019?

    I think some of it has to do with how many innings you are expected to pitch. In 1927 a starting pitcher was expected to go 9 innings, or more if the game went into extra innings. They didn’t worry about pitch counts. They did not have specialist pitchers who were brought in for one inning, let alone one batter. So in 1927 a pitcher would have had to pace themselves and not throw at full intensity, or they would have worn themselves out.

    Today that is not the case. Starting pitchers might go 6 innings and the manager is happy. Relievers are ready to come in and throw fire for just one inning or one hitter. You can’t do that if you have to pitch the whole game.

  68. MEH 0910 says:
    @MEH 0910

    SCTV DiMaggio’s On The Wharf (Special Guest Bill Murray)

  69. @JoeFour

    Well we’re talking about Bill Simmons, who’s a combination Goebbels-Comical Ali on all matters involving Boston sports. Russell was great, so there’s no need to embellish his record, but Simmons goes ahead with it anyway. He drove that Johnston guy out of the league! It’s right here in my 1000 page book.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @Truth
  70. Marty says:

    In one of the many biographies of Mickey Mantle, he’s quoted in 1966 as saying he piled up the stats he did because so many pitchers in the ’50’s were 5’9″/180 (i.e. built like Tommy Lasorda).

  71. Olorin says:

    It suggests one has been reading iSteve and The Baseball Guru too long when you glance at the above header and read it as

    Who Would Babe Ruth Hit in 2019?

    That probably needs a footnote.

  72. Danindc says:

    Important to point out that Joe Posnanski’s brother Tony is a TDS nutcase. He’s been POZ’D.

  73. @Roger Sweeny

    Roger, Gronk went to HS in nearby Williamsville. I saw him play basketball twice against our HS team. There was probably no Gronk physique under Babe’s portly build.

  74. @Anonymous

    Anonymous, I guess you have never seen Patrick Kane or Johnny Gaudreau play hockey.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @ben tillman
  75. @anon

    Yes. Chamberlain had a terrible free throw percentage.I remmember a game against the Lakers. The Lakers were behind by 3 and the game was in the last minute. One player tugged Chamberlain’s jersey and actually shouted at the referee, “I’m holding him!” Opposing teams would rather see him at the free throw line than shooting normally.

  76. @Hypnotoad666

    Hyp, Years ago I was rummaging through a box of old sports photos from the Boston Globe, IIRC. Anyways, there was a photo of Ted Williams standing in the locker with a towel wrapped around his waist. Most noticeable was his lack of a chisel physique, a bottle of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. One of the best hitters of all time.

  77. anonymous[449] • Disclaimer says:

    Yeah, I don’t know who Bill Simmons is, but it sounds like a BS creation of an urban legend by someone writing about things long before he was born. I remember Neil Johnston and the Philly Warriors very well, and Johnston had no such trouble. That’s the whole point of a hook shot. It’s not very accurate (except Alcindor). But it can’t be blocked because the shooter’s body and elbow are between the ball and the defender. Well, an 8-footer like Manute Bol–maybe he could block it. But Russell wasn’t much taller than Johnston.

    • Replies: @Truth
  78. Yankee fan since my youth but I also catch a lot of Cleveland Indian games. (Oh and adios Chief Yahoo). The Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez doesn’t get the publicity of most Yankee players but he batted .270 last year with 39 HRs, 105 RBIs, 110 Runs and 34 stolen bases. For most of the year he was hitting above .300. That is a true star.

    • Replies: @Hhsiii
  79. he would bat .000 in MLB today. because he would play AAA today. not sure why this is even a discussion.

    he would play AAA today, even if he grew up today. people who think otherwise have no idea what they’re talking about.

    batters who are 10 times better than him, had trouble hitting in 2018, because pitching has never been better, comes from an international pool of 7 billion players, and the pitchers have a huge advantage today. batting average has been dropping about 0.002 per season for years now.

    not one single athlete from 1927 would play any single sport well today. this isn’t like intelligence, where the smartest guy from 1927 who be one hell of a smart guy today too. this is significantly different.

    “I say he doesn’t make the trip north with the team after Spring training.”


    he can’t pitch, either. so those 20 game wins seasons, you can throw those out too.

    • Disagree: bomag
  80. hhsiii says:

    A lot of people like to talk about “before Jackie Robinson” but there really aren’t many black pitchers today. David Price, Chris Archer. And Babe faced black players barnstorming, and Cubans (some black). There are also now many more teams due to expansion.

    Adam Ottovino, the reliever, claimed he could strike out Babe every time, and as evidence pointed to his swing and running style in old footage. Of course that footage looks sped up and awkward.

    Babe’s body also fools people. He looks fat. But he was barrel chested. He certainly isn’t in worse shape than Price Fielder. But a better comparison to today’s players might be Lou Gehrig or Jimmie Foxx. They were ripped. Of Foxx, Lefty Gomez said he has muscles in his hair:

  81. It is interesting how recent the modern day conditioning is.

    There was a time when people simply did not believe in conditioning.

    In the early 1970s the Phillies hired a guy who had learned all sorts of training and conditioning practices in Hong Kong. Almost nobody would pay attention to him. In general, the team sucked. One pitcher, Steve Carlton, was, like, into Oriental mysticism, man, you dig? So Carlton gave the Oriental training methods a shot.

    The pathetic Phillies only won 59 games that year, 1972.
    Carlton won 27 games, had an ERA of 1.97 and 310 Ks.
    Not only that, but Carlton was one of the team’s best hitters. There were games he won with his bat as well as his arm.

    WAR of 12.2

    So of course the Philadelphia sports reporters turned on Carlton as soon as he had a worse season. They made fun of his Oriental mysticism, claiming it made him a worse pitcher.

    Carlton stopped taking to reporters and got a few more Cy Young awards.

    These days conditioning on Carlton’s level is the norm for pitchers. But they don’t throw as many innings.

    • Replies: @Olorin
  82. Truth says:

    A couple of issues.

    1. Ruth didn’t strike out much.

    2. Chamberlin’s decline is scoring was not because of defenses, athleticism or size, but a desire to become a “point center” Wilt actually led the league in assists once and was top 5 a few times.

    3. There is a great story about Ty Cobb doing an interview in 1949. A young reporter is speaking to Cobb at the all star game about how Cobb thought he would do if he played during the current era. Cobb took it literally:

    ‘How much do you think you would hit if you were playing today?’

    ‘About .320,’ he said.

    ‘Why that low?’ the startled reporter asked.

    ‘You have to remember I’m 62 years old,’ said Cobb without the trace of a smile.

    • Replies: @JeremiahJohnbalaya
  83. Ruth might have preferred to play in Baltimore, his hometown. But the powers that be would want him in Denver or Atlanta, to take advantage of the easier air for home runs.

  84. Truth says:

    Yeah, it’s killing the game. They need to do something about the three point line. There have been a few interesting options bandied about:

    1. Rip up a few rows of seats and make the court bigger, then push the line back.

    2. Keep the court the size it is and push the line back

    3. Impose an illegal offense rule in which you can only have 2 (or three) players behind the line at once.

    4. (Mine) change the 3 pointer to be worth 2 1/2.

    5 (Someone else’s) allow every individual team to impose it’s own 3-point difference, sort of like baseball outfield dimensions.

    There are issues and benefits to all of these solutions, however I feel that the NBA must act now. The problem is that the league is in a period of seemingly unrestrained growth, so no one wants to kill the golden goose.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  85. Truth says:

    I have read where a scientist concluded that “Bullet” Bob Feller’s fastball topped out at 92 mph. The discrepancy in his reported 100+ being that in those days, the measured the FB velocity as it left the pitcher’s hand. Today it is measured as it crosses the plate. Big difference.

  86. Wilt Chamberlain’s 50 points per game season was in 1961-1962, he “only” averaged 38 points a game in 1960-61, and in 1962-63 he averaged close to 45 points a game. Interesting note about Chamberlain is that he had by himself over half of all 50 point games in NBA history until the early 1980s. He finished with 118 games over 50, Jordan is a very distant second with 31, which is fewer than Chamberlain had in that one season alone.

    • Replies: @JeremiahJohnbalaya
  87. hhsiii says:

    Babe hit .316/.377/.534 with 9 homers in 133 at bats against Lefty Grove, the best lefty of that era (although a lot younger than Babe). Rob Neyer, baseball writer, says he thinks Grove threw low to mid-90s (a munitions testing firm said Walter Johnson threw 91 mph in 1917, but speed measurement is a quirky thing in baseball, at plate, from hand, etc, and is more accurate now).

    Gehrig hit Grove to the tune of .314./390/.567.

    Jimmie Foxx hit .360/.464/.694 in 1939 with 35 homers on the same Red Sox team as Ted Williams when Williams was a rookie. Williams hit .316/.451/.645 at age 42 in 1960.

    • Replies: @Ling Chow
    , @Brutusale
  88. @istevefan

    My family and I would like to hitch a ride with him if that’s the destination.

  89. hhsiii says:
    @prime noticer

    How many Chinese, Indians, Europeans or Africa-continent living Africans, etc, are part of this 7 billion pool?

    How about this guy, he doesn’t look capable of hitting today?

  90. Anonymous[388] • Disclaimer says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    Anonymous, I guess you have never seen Patrick Kane or Johnny Gaudreau play hockey.

    Point taken. But you just mentioned two smaller-than-average guys with phenomenal and fast skating ability. Just like Julian Edelman proves you can be 5’10” & under 200 lbs & white and be a wide receiver in today’s NFL.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  91. @prime noticer

    First, the people in India (1.4 billion) and China (1.2 billion) would be surprised to know that they form a meaningful part of the major-league baseball talent pool, as would the people in Africa. The pool of talent is certainly larger and more international now, but let’s not exaggerate.

    Seems like the rest of your diatribe against Ruth is conclusory. Where’s the reasoning or the statistics?

    Ruth would be able to work out with equipment and tactics that weren’t available then, change his diet, have a personal trainer, get accustomed to the pitchers’ modern height and style / techniques, and rest a Hell of a lot more if he chose to be a DH. Hard to say what would happen, but the better guess seems to be that he’d do anywhere from just fine to phenomenal.

    Es Lebe The Babe!

  92. @The Wild Geese Howard

    Illogical, maybe, but I still would rather watch the ladies surf….

  93. Ty Cobb pointed out that the only reason Ruth was allowed to teach himself how to do this from 1914-1919, learning to upper cut the ball to hit more fly balls, was that he started out in MLB as a pitcher and nobody in authority cared about how pitchers hit enough to make him stop, like they would have done if he had come up as a hitter.

    Ted Williams, in The Science of Hitting, proposed that a true level swing has a slight upper cut to it.

    Williams’ reasoning seemed sound to me – the pitcher stands elevated on the mound, and releases from a point somewhere between the top of his head and the mid point of his face. Therefore, all pitches arrive at the plate with some degree of decline. So a slight upper cut in the swing actually adjusts for that angle of decline, ensuring more square contact with the baseball.

    It’s hard to teach to youngsters though, who seem not to grasp the difference between a slight upper cut and an exaggerated upper cut that results in foul balls, fly balls, and weak ground outs.

  94. mr. wild says:

    When I was a kid, one of my neighbors was an elderly farmer who had pitched in the minor leagues and got called up to “the Show” briefly. He pitched against Ruth once, and years later was back in the minors when he threw to Ruth to warm up a bit before an exhibition game. He was astounded that Ruth remembered him from that single game years before: “Every pitcher is different, and I remember them by their pitch”.

    • Agree: Cortes
  95. How Would Babe Ruth Hit in 2019?

    Nevermind that, the real question of the upcoming Spring Training is will newly-married, 31-year old minor leaguer Tim Tebow make the Mets big league roster, get a call up sometime during the season, or retire from professional sports sometime this year?

  96. How Would Babe Ruth Hit in 2019?

    How would an in-his-prime Muhammed Ali have fared against in-their-primes Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, and Vitali & Wladimir Klitschko?

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  97. Hhsiii says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    And he’s 5’9” 165 pounds. Or at least listed at that. Betts his smallish too. As well as Alex Bregman.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  98. Ling Chow says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    There still is Hotz’s Bar in Cleveland. The Babe used to hang out there after games. Sometimes he’d bring his teammates, including Lou Gehrig. Other patrons have included FDR, as well as Meryl Streep and DeNiro (they filmed some of the Deer Hunter in the neighborhood).

    Ruth was a generous, lavish spender, but when drunk, would often pay his staggering (no pun intended) bar tab with a check, knowing full well that the bartender wouldn’t cash it–keeping it for the autograph.

    Ruth was the greatest ballplayer of all time, and not just the greatest hitter, although you could argue that he was—for my money, you could make a case that Ted Williams was the best pure hitter.

    BTW, regarding the “diversity” question–Ruth barnstormed against Negro League stars several times, and based on the available records, he kicked ass against them just like he did in the Major leagues.

  99. Ling Chow says:

    Ruth and Gehrig were awesome. For a full measure of their awesomeness, look at their postseason records. As great as they were in the regular season, the stats they put up in the playoffs and World series were amazing. Gehrig even more so than Ruth-athough Ruth’s numbers are incredible.

  100. What would Babe Ruth think about Albert Finney’s 1981 movie appearances in Looker and Wolfen?

    I think if Babe Ruth had enough beer, hot dogs and hamburgers, he would watch both and be content.

    What was going on in 1981? That was also the year that David Byrne and Brian Eno released the album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

    I read Fielding’s Tom Jones, I ain’t watching no departed Finney in it.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  101. OK, so Ruth might hit 70 or might not even make the team today. Who knows?

    But one thing any sci-fi fan knows is that to balance the time-travel equation, one of today’s players would have to be sent back to 1927 in return for the Babe. Would have to be a white guy, so … Trout? Harper?

  102. Americans born around 1900 grew up doing physical work as kids to an extant most of us now can’t comprehend . That develops a certain kind of strength that’s ideal for baseball . The Babe would’ve had that advantage over most modern players . Also wondering if many Dominican and other Latin American players have the “sugar cane cutting “ strength base .

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Anon87
  103. In 1927, Babe Ruth was the highest paid MLB player at a salary of $70K. That’s a bargain at $1.01 million today.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  104. J.Ross says: • Website

    Besides acknowledging that Steve exists, V-Dare does valuable work, such as translating the counter-SOTU given in Spanish by Xavier Becerra, attorney general for California. In it he explicitly talks sbout taking over the United States through numbers. He flat out says that the political system of the United States is a PRI-style corruptocracy.

    “Our system of government rewards whoever participates. And with 66,000 Latino citizens reaching 18 years of age, the voting age, every month, we have many hands to reward.”

  105. As a general proposition, you would expect professional performers who dominated ball games in past generations to dominate again, unless the game has changed, or perhaps the player enjoyed some kind of genetic physical advantage in his time that would not exist today.

    In some sport like soccer, the early maturing type of youth will tend to dominate at the youth level of the game, but does not always fulfill his early promise quite as much as hoped for.

    Wayne Rooney, currently playing at DC United, joined his first professional club, Everton, at the age of 9. In the 1995–96 season, he scored 114 goals in 29 games for Everton’s under-10s and by the age of 15, he was playing for the under-19s.

    At 16, he started making appearances for the first team, and five days before his 17th birthday, scored a last-minute winning goal against Arsenal, who were the dominant Premier League team at the time. The goal ended Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run, and also made Rooney the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history.

    So a promising start. He then joined Manchester United and made his debut on 28 September in a 6–2 home win over Fenerbahçe of Turkey in the European Champions League, scoring a hat-trick and laying on an assist.These goals made Rooney the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League aged 18 years 335 days.

    At this point in his career it seemed that Rooney was heading to be one of the all time greats of the game, but in fact, although he had a very successful career as a professional soccer player, and is still playing, he never quite hit the heights that had been hoped for, and the tabloid press regularly ran stories about epic scale gambling, frequenting brothels, drunkenness, smoking cigarettes (not a good look for a professional athlete).

    Rooney, now in his thirties, was arrested on December 18th, 2018 at Dulles International airport and charged with public intoxication and use of foul language. The arresting officer noted that he was speaking in “broken English”. Fortunately, as is often the case with multimillionaires, it was all a misunderstanding and caused by sleeping pills taken on the flight. (Flights from the UK to the US usually depart in the morning and arrive in the afternoon due to a 5-hour time difference, so naturally one would want to take pills to sleep through lunch.)

    But he WAS a phenomenon as a teen, though at the age of 16 he was preternaturally physically developed for his age and was able to physically hold his own with older men,

    So some of the stars of the past may have been able to physically dominate their opponents–like Rooney did in the juniors– in a way that would be much harder for them to do today.

    • Replies: @Cortes
    , @Cortes
  106. @E. Rekshun

    E, How would Ali have fared against his contemporary the Cuban heavyweight and Olympic Gold medalist Theophilo Stevenson ? We will never know.

    • Agree: E. Rekshun
  107. Alfa158 says:
    @The Alarmist

    He might be hitting just swell even without the steroids. I haven’t followed sports since I was a kid, but I have a vague memory that he was the only player in history who ever hit a ball onto the left field roof of Yankee Stadium. Maybe somebody can check me on that, but if that is true, and he did it with a dead 1920’s baseball and no PED’s or weight training then he must have been a phenomenon.

  108. @Hhsiii

    H, he is smallish compared to giants like Judge, Harper and Stanton.

    • Replies: @hhsiii
  109. @Ling Chow

    Ling, Ruth was great, in his day. I’d build my any era ball team around Yogi.

    • Replies: @Ling Chow
  110. Cortes says:
    @Charles Pewitt

    His best scene:

    And: which Hollywood star would the Yankee Clipper marry today?

  111. @Ling Chow

    I gather there was one time Ruth hit a towering home run in a barnstormer against the great Satchel Paige.

    According to legend, when Ruth rounded the bases, Paige was at home plate to shake his hand. The story is a ball boy retrieved the ball, Ruth signed it and gave it to Paige.

    Paige later said he regretted never having pitched to Ruth. Either he was old and confused or he meant he never got to pitch to Ruth in a real game.

    Dizzy Dean famously organized “Dizzy’s All Stars” so he could face Paige in a barnstormer. Dizzy’s team was mostly members of the World Series Championship St Louis Cardinals. Supposedly Satchel’s All Stars beat Dizzy’s All Stars.

  112. Cortes says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    Rooney is one of the all time great players.

    He lacked (in my untutored eyes) good professional management advice at the peak of his career when the quality of the Manchester United team was plummeting and his own career could have been rejuvenated elsewhere, perhaps in Spain or Italy. At ManU he was increasingly surrounded by mediocrity and the fans took it out on him for not being a miracle worker.

  113. Marty says:

    Thanks for that link to James’ SI piece from ’82. It serves to remind us that everyone has to bullshit a little when they’re first coming up. In support of his thesis that Wills ended the careers of poor-throwing catchers, he cites Doc Edwards and Smoky Burgess. Except, Edwards played only for bottom-tier American League teams, who presumably weren’t worried about Wills, and was never a regular anyway because he coukdn’t hit. Burgess was already 35 in 1962, when he only started 94 games. How many games woukd he gave caught at 36-37 even if the stolen hase had been outlawed? Jeez. And you wouldn’t count Johnny Bench among the crop for which teams responding to Wills “beat the bushes”, woukd you? After all, he replaced Johhny Edwards, who was known as a good thrower, but also couldn’t hit. Finally, the best thrower of them all, Jerry Grote, was given up on by the Colt .45’s because he couldn’t hit.
    Well, what the heck, even sabermetricians need time to develop, right?

  114. Anon7 says:


    Chamberlain holds 72 NBA records, 68 by himself. Among his records are several that are considered unbreakable, such as averaging 22.9 rebounds for a career or 50.4 points per game in a season, scoring 100 points or 55 rebounds in a single game, scoring 65 or more points 15 times, 50 or more points 118 times. During Chamberlain’s time, defensive statistics like blocks and steals had not been recorded yet. However, according to Jack Ramsay, “Harvey [Pollack] said he used to tell one of his statisticians to keep track of Wilt’s blocks in big games … One night, they got up to 25.”

    Maybe he just got bored.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  115. @anon

    Hard throwers are self taught, in my opinion.
    Short upper arm, long lower arm doesn’t hurt either.
    Can’t see heavy weights being anything but a hindrance.

  116. nebulafox says:

    Is Yglesias and the rest of the Vox crew secretly some kind of white nationalist cabal? Because proposals like these seem almost calculated to forment explicit racial consciousness among non-bien pensant whites generally and rural whites in particular.

    Of course I know that Occam’s Razor would suggest they really are so stupid, self-satisfied, and out of touch with average human nature to honestly expect that crowing triumphantly about the incoming “minority majority” (which is only one in the sense that white people-still a plurality that votes more often and has more socioeconomic affluence-won’t be it) is going to elicit submission from the ex-majority rather than backlash. But still, sometimes you’ve really got to wonder, as this is mainstream Millennial liberalism here.

    • Replies: @Arclight
  117. J.Ross says: • Website

    Has anyone ever really thought [they ha]d using as far as made clear?

  118. George says:

    Ruth was born in 1895. He was 20 when birth of a nation became the first movie. He may have never seen a TV. Unlike today’s players he spend little if any time watching screens. So I wonder if he would have some sort of superior visual processing that would enable him to confound today’s pitchers?

    Would Ruth have been able to pass a modern drug test?

    • Replies: @Corn
  119. hhsiii says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    Sure but plenty of guys his listed size have been sluggers. He was listed at 6’2” 215 and was much bigger in the early 20s. But Ramirez hit 39 homers at 165 lbs. listed.

    The ball is also much livelier now. And replaced if it gets scuffed in the slightest. Not true in Ruth’s era.

    Some guys have slider speed bats. He might not have been able to make the leap. I have no doubt at all some guys could. You are talking the best guy in a pool of 75 million men. Now the players are double in a pool of maybe 350 million including Japanand Latin America. He’d definitely be as good as, say Yelich or Matt Carpenter, or likely a lot better. He was the absolute best of his day. He’d be top 10 now without a doubt in my mind. Unless he just couldn’t adjust to speed, but very doubtful. He was a phenomenal pitcher and batter.

    • Replies: @Ling Chow
  120. @Buffalo Joe

    I’m wondering whether he’s ever seen anyone play hockey.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    , @Ron Mexico
  121. Arclight says:

    No, they just think that come the glorious day in which the diverse outnumber the hated white population and they are in firm control of the major cities, government, etc. that they will be thanked and treated well for being good ‘allies’. But the reality is that if the US devolves into explicit raced-based politics, the Yglesias class will be steamrolled first because they refused to stand up for themselves.

  122. donut says:

    Music is ubiquitous in every public space , it’s pollution like diesel fumes . It doesn’t pollute any physical space it pollutes the mind in an intimate way . Some towns have noise ordinances but those are nuisance laws . Music affects your mood , you can be sure they’re not playing “Fire” by “The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown” over at Target .

  123. J.Ross says: • Website

    “My Boyfried Steve Disappeared into the Ugliness of 4chan.”
    Bonus: “a user has to dive into seriously threatening territory to get noticed and banned from Twitter” (this, after Twitter announced it would ban anyone who told a journalist to “learn to code”).
    I get that advice column letters are as real as epistles to the Gucciones, but when the rule is clearly to pretend that 4chan is only used by angry teenaged virgins, why use this setup?

  124. They lowered the mound in the intervening years… Ruth would best Bonds’ single season record if ‘plucked from 1927’ and placed in today’s game.

  125. @Known Fact

    Of course, there was the rumor that Babe had black ancestry and was “passing”. Placed in the current year, he could certainly use that to his advantage.

  126. @Abe

    anon and isteve have both provided good answers; all of the factors they’ve named are relevant.

    I’d just add the following: the eyes don’t lie on this. If you watch pitchers now compared to olde-timey pitchers in the early film clips, their motions look subtly different. A typical pitcher’s delivery today looks like a crossfit move; it’s all muscle-loading and focused, almost explosive, effort. Pitchers 80-100 years ago look as if they’re dancing; their motions are smooth, rhythmic, and elegant.

    Were there pitchers in 1927 who could bring the fastball in the 90s? Surely yes. But my guess is that a guy with a naturally good arm who threw 92-94 back then would likely be throwing 98-100 today. And there would have been lots of pitchers back then who would never have touched 90 on a radar gun; there were still numerous pitchers like this back in the 70s and 80s. Very few such pitchers make it to MLB today.

    When I was a kid getting into baseball in the late 70s, I recall the TV announcers getting excited if a pitcher was clocked at 95 or above. Nolan Ryan, by breaking 100 regularly, was a unicorn who occasioned special mention and wonderment. Now there are so many pitchers, especially relievers, routinely breaking 95 that it essentially goes without mention, other than to say ‘he’s got a pretty good fastball’. 100 is the new 95.

    The St Louis Cardinals, for example, have a relief pitcher who regularly throws a sinker(!) at over 100 mph. His regular fastball averages 101. His name is Jordan Hicks (see samples of his pitches here: LINK), and he’s been in the league for a full season, but his outlandish velocity has not exactly made him a household name. It’s too common now.

  127. mr. wild says:

    When I was a kid, one of my neighbors was an elderly farmer who had pitched in the minor leagues and got called up to majors briefly. He pitched against Ruth once, and years later was back in the minors when he threw to Ruth to warm up a bit before an exhibition game. He was astounded that Ruth remembered him from that single game years before: “Every pitcher is different, and I remember them by their pitch”.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  128. hhsiii says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    There are good pitchers now who throw 85.

  129. Ling Chow says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    Friggin’ Yogi. What a guy. A poor kid, the son of immigrants, from flyover country, and with an 8th grade education, signed for $500.

    In a total of 22 World Series-won more than half of those. One of the few who was part of a WS winning team in both AL and NL. All Star team at least 15 times, 3 or 4 MVPs. A hero on D-Day in the Navy. A beloved household name known to everybody. Married a beauty queen and stayed married to her for 65 years. All 3 of his sons played professional sports-two in the majors (one baseball, one NFL) Presidential Medal of Freedom. A multimillionaire who died in his sleep at 90.

    Not a bad life.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Pat Kittle
  130. Ling Chow says:

    Funniest story about Ruth size was a fairly recent one. In the 1990s, John Goodman signed on to do a biopic of Ruth, playing the Babe of course. He was gobsmacked when he found out he had to lose 50 pounds to play the Babe.

  131. Cortes says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    And, for avoidance of doubt, as the lawyers say, a distinct anti Liverpool agenda.

    The genuine Liverpool FC superstar with non Metropolitan LGBX status, medals at high European levels, Alan Hansen, Scottish with Scandinavian background, saw the writing on the wall re his media career and bowed out…

    Wayne Rooney is a target for the same non London centric “Let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya” nonsense.

  132. @hhsiii

    There are good pitchers now who throw 85.

    Yes, but not very many of them make it to MLB anymore. I suspect lots of them get scouted out for not being ‘projectable’.

    • Replies: @Hhsiii
    , @Ed Grimley
  133. @Ling Chow

    Yogi Berra is kind of like Davey Crockett — an American folk hero who sounds made up, like Paul Bunyan.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  134. @mr. wild

    Ruth was a baseball genius.

  135. @Anon7

    Boredom is a big factor in Wilt’s career. Wilt was easily bored and was always looking for a new challenge. Bill Russell was fascinated by winning NBA championships, while Wilt tended to get bored and look for a new accomplishment. Like in 1967 Wilt had his best all around year, including finishing 3rd in assists, and Philadelphia won the NBA title. But next year he decided to be the first (and last) center ever to lead the league in assists, which he did, but it probably got in the way of winning.

  136. @E. Rekshun

    From about 1930:

    Reporter: “Babe, how do you justify having a higher salary than President Harding?”

    Ruth: “Well, I had a better year than the President.”

    • LOL: E. Rekshun
    • Replies: @Flip
  137. @Waylon 347

    Funny how the “wiry Latin middle infielder” stereotype faded away not long after steroids started being regularly sold without a prescription in Latin American drug stores.

  138. Cortes says:
    @Steve Sailer

    My favourite player was nicknamed Yogi Bear…,_born_1943)

    He told me that the reason why his wondergoal for Crystal Palace (London team) vs Sheffield Utd – that goal was #1 and his other goal was #2 in the BBC “Goal of the Month” – wasn’t Goal of the Year was because one of the judges was Jock Stein, “legendary” manager who’d encouraged his exit from then mighty European powers…Celtic.

    Hughes has many faults and perhaps is an arse of a human being but I believed and continue to believe him.

  139. @Gus

    Curious how Boogie Cousins helps/hurts the Warriors…

  140. @Anonymous

    Anonymous, thank you, but Kane and Gaudreau are in the top 5 of NHL scoring and have been for a while. Small hockey stars are protected by the goons on their team. Gretzky would be a star in any era.

  141. Babe was also a very good left handed pitcher, still very much in demand in MLB.

    He might do a Shoheu Ohtani and DH on the days he doesn’t pitch.

    Ruth was so much better than almost everyone else in baseball during his era, it’s very hard to imagine he wouldn’t excel. Hitting more home runs than most teams is impossible to imagine now.

    Sure there’s much more talent now. But there were 16 teams in 1927 v. 30 now.

  142. @ben tillman

    ben, be nice, or you won’t be “Gentile Ben.” Hmmm, doesn’t look right.

  143. @Truth

    The documentary “Fastball” came up with estimated speeds for

    Walter Johnson: 98 mph

    Bob Feller 107

    Nolan Ryan: 108

    But I couldn’t tell you if their methodological adjustments make sense.

    Ruth hit Johnson pretty hard, I’m hearing, although we don’t have full stats for matchups before 1925, although most of Ruth at-bats were against an older Johnson, not 1912-13 Johnson. Against the greatest AL pitcher of Ruth’s later years, Lefty Grove, Ruth was tied with Gehrig for most homers and was 3rd highest in OPS, behind Gehrig and Fred Schulte in OPS among guys with 100+ Plate Appearances against Grove. Ruth never appeared against Bob Feller.

    Ruth got a small benefit in an 8 team league by his teams usually having good pitching staffs, so he saw worse pitchers than the average guy not on his team.

    In general, the best hitters aren’t usually overwhelmed by sheer speed.

  144. @Truth

    5 (Someone else’s) allow every individual team to impose its own 3-point difference, sort of like baseball outfield dimensions.

    That’s an interesting idea.

    • Replies: @james wilson
  145. @Truth

    LOL’d at the Cobb quote. I knew this arguably childish question would at least lead to something interesting in the comments.

  146. @Unladen Swallow

    I’m from one of the Cackalackies (ok, North) and have a SoCal friend (who played major college ball) who insists that Jordan isn’t in the top five all time. He turned me on to that games-over-50-pts stat.

    • Replies: @ben tillman
  147. @Steve Sailer

    Seriously? 108?

    I’ve never heard of this documentary; it sounds extremely interesting.

    So this documentary is suggesting that today’s wealth of pitchers throwing 95+ may be a result of different measurement techniques, making comparisons with past records suspect/invalid?

    BTW, the fact that Ruth dominated Grove, another lefty, is one of the best signs of his unsurpassed greatness.

  148. Jason y says:
    @prime noticer

    So Bill James doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Did you even read the article, bro? Too many numbers, or what?

  149. songbird says:

    If they all returned – Babe, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, etc. – to play on one team, the NYT would be complaining.

  150. @Ling Chow

    Ruth was the greatest ballplayer of all time, and not just the greatest hitter…

    I tend to disagree. Besides the mound, his only defensive positions were right field and first base– used as filler on most teams.

    Whoever the “greatest ballplayer of all time” is, he’d have to have as pronounced an effect in the field as at the bat. And no right fielder or first baseman is in a position to do that.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    , @Keypusher
  151. @Reg Cæsar

    Reg, I don’t want this tread to become a mobius band, but Yogi is my ‘greatest ballplayer of all time.”

  152. I suspect that in modern baseball, Ruth would have spent his entire career as a pitcher.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  153. Flip says:
    @Steve Sailer

    President Hoover at the beginning of the Depression

  154. Ruth came up during the dead ball era.

    His first two years in the majors he led the league in ERA one year and victories the next. I can’t remember the order.

    In his third year he was tied for the AL lead in homers with 7. As a pitcher. Several NL batters did better.

    Thing is, that isn’t even close to the single season HR record for a pitcher.

    When one realizes he pitched for several years AND came up in the dead ball era, his numbers are unbelievable.

  155. bjondo [AKA "5 dancing shlomos"] says:

    Babe would die after one meal.

    back then even ‘garbage’ food

    better than today’s “quality” foodstuffs.

    see senomyx and monsanto.

  156. anonymous[348] • Disclaimer says:

    Babe Ruth was no more than a fat guy with good musculature who excelled playing a child’s game against other men who played a child’s game. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

    He also lied about not hitting on whores every fucking season, and he was a fat glutton.

    Let us, my friends, let us grow up, and let us leave behind the toys of youth….

    When I was young I had lots of girlfriends, many of whom were mothers, eventually, to the sort of children who grew up to be the “whores” that “the Babe” mistreated and underpaid.

    Fuck him, and fuck the horse he rode in on. I don’t care how good he was at a child’s game, I say he was a loser, a sinner, a disgrace to his family. I don’t look on him as some sports hero from bygone years, I look on him as a dirtbag who needs(needed) to repent (adjust the timeframe if you need to adjust the timeframe to understand).

  157. @Sean

    The story about plaster of Paris wraps was made up by Tex Rickards after their split. Dempsey knocked Firpo (220 lbs) clean out of the ring and nobody has ever whispered that he had illegal wraps in that fight. His demolition of the slow Willard was not the result of plaster hardened wraps.

  158. @Colin Wright

    I suspect that in modern baseball, Ruth would have spent his entire career as a pitcher.

    More likely a DH.

  159. @Steve Sailer

    Walter Johnson: 98 mph

    Johnson also hit 23 home runs as a pitcher, tenth on the list, and one more as a pinch-hitter.

  160. @Ling Chow

    Yogi correctly observed that…

    “Nobody goes there anymore — it’s too crowded.”

  161. Truth says:

    When I was young I had lots of girlfriends, many of whom were mothers, eventually, to the sort of children who grew up to be the “whores” that “the Babe” mistreated and underpaid

    And exactly how many of these lovely young Moms did you marry, Billy Graham?

  162. @anonymous

    Fuck him, and fuck the horse he rode in on.

    You’re advocating homosexuality and bestiality — while condemning Ruth as a “sinner”??

    Get thee hence, Satan!!

  163. Let’s try this the other way around. Send a player of your choice back to hit for Ruth in 1927. He has to use a 40 oz bat. No weight training. No training. No sleep. Lotta beer. No batting cages, no vid, etc. I want to see him go 60 and 164, .356 and .486, slug .772. With sleep, maybe Ted Williams, but the bat is a problem. It changes everything.

  164. @Steve Sailer

    Twenty years ago I saw an old time scout (in his eighties) call out the speed of every fastball without a gun (there were guns present). He said the old time scouts he knew who had seen baseball from Johnson to Ryan put the younger Johnson first, Feller second, and Ryan third. Although, the fastballs Ryan threw for his few innings with the Mets were other worldly. But he had only two pitches and not much command, so it is interesting to see hitters ambushing him.

  165. @Truth

    Na. There’s a fairly well known film of Feller throwing in his street clothes on a road for a slow motion camera against a motorcycle going exactly 98 mph.

  166. Olorin says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    Carlton was never a hippie. He was always a conservative man. I can’t imagine him ever saying “you dig.” And he wasn’t an “oriental mystic” but a stoic, a martial artist, and an early “doomer”…who would fit right in at /pol/ today or LATOC in the 2000s. (Actually there were a couple voices from “rural Rockies” anons at LATOC that I always wanted to ask whether they were Lefty, but never thought it proper.)

    No, I take that back about /pol/; he hated anything crude, disgusting, gory, or degenerate.

    Carlton made the mistake of talking openly to Pat Jordan in 1994. Of trusting a scribbler who admitted he knew nothing about him.

    Pat Jordan was contracted for a Philadelphia Magazine profile of Carlton in his HOF induction year. Jordon got the assignment from its EIC, his friend Eliot Kaplan, today in charge of talent acquisition for Hearst Magazines but then at Philadelphia Magazine, and previously at GQ.

    See here, for a good example of media animus against exceptional white men of non-hive inclinations even 25 years ago:

    Every sentence should be in triple parentheses.

    Kaplan and Jordan speak at the end of that piece about its framing/origins. Useful context before reading the story itself. It’s crystal clear that they had absolutely no idea what to do with either Carlton or the ideas he was suggesting and likely would have enjoyed batting around. He loathed the MSM.

    I have very few regrets in life. One is that I didn’t attend Lefty’s HOF induction. I had to fly somewhere and work.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  167. Hhsiii says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs had the lowest average fastball velocity of any qualified starting pitcher last year. 86.9 mph.

    Brad Ziegler, a reliever, averaged 84.4 mph on a fastball he throws 70% of the time. Next lowest is Alex Claudio at 86.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  168. @ben tillman

    The Gretzky “wouldn’t survive” statement is ridiculous. Not score 90 goals today, yes, but the 89-99 Gretzky would be just fine today. Besides, Gordie Howe is the greatest hockey player ever, like Ruth was the greatest hitter ever, time period not a factor.

    • Replies: @Phil
  169. Keypusher says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    That’s just not true, because hitting varies more than fielding, and great hitting generates more runs than great fielding saves. So an off the chain hitter/average fielder can be more valuable than a great all-around player. Viz. Ruth, Cobb, Hornsby, Gehrig, etc….

    Also, don’t underestimate Ruth as an outfielder. He had a hell of an arm, obviously.

  170. @anonymous

    Anonymous, Whoa buddy, what do you have against horses.

  171. @flyingtiger

    In 1972, my dad took my brother and me to Cobo Arena in Detroit to the Lakers (with Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.)
    Chamberlain’s free throw form was bizarre: he stood three feet behind the foul line when he shot (bricks.)
    I doubt he could get his vaunted finger-roll shot off against today’s defenders – he’d turn to his right and extend his right arm over the heads of smaller players then, but today’s defenders are too quick and athletic for that now.
    Why even 30 years ago, the “unblockable shot” – Kareem’s skyhook – was regularly rejected by Hakeem Olajuwon.

  172. Corn says:

    “So I wonder if he would have some sort of superior visual processing that would enable him to confound today’s pitchers?”

    I don’t know about that but supposedly Rogers Hornsby refused to go to the movies and didn’t like to read often because he was afraid it would hurt his eyesight.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  173. @flyingtiger

    In 1972, my dad took my brother and me to Cobo Arena in Detroit to the see the Lakers (with Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor) play the Pistons.
    Chamberlain’s free throw form was bizarre: he stood three feet behind the foul line when he shot (bricks.)
    I doubt he could get his vaunted finger-roll shot off against today’s defenders – he’d turn to his right and extend his right arm over the heads of smaller players then, but today’s defenders are too quick and athletic for that now.
    Why even 30 years ago, the “unblockable shot” – Kareem’s skyhook – was regularly rejected by Hakeem Olajuwon.

  174. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The greatness of Ruth can never be overstated. If you read actual game stories from that period, you will learn that baseball is not really all that different from the 1900’s. Pitches were similar (different names), players and managers understood the game with similar strategies. Other than rule changes to protect players from injuries today, its played very much the same.
    Managers today over use pitching substitutions that may or not be beneficial to the outcome of the game. (This should be limited to 2 per 9 innings played)
    In addition to the things already discussed.
    Lets not forget that Ruth was also a 20 game winner for several years as a Pitcher. (great in any era) He also pitched longer in most games .
    He played in a shorter (150 game) season. (current season is a month too long).
    The parks he played in were much bigger in some cities. (This should have been standardized after the Boston fiasco).
    He lived under constant scrutiny on a professional and personal level.
    Anyone who can perform at that level, for as long as he was able, deserves to be the benchmark for greatness in this game.

    • Agree: bomag
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  175. Kyle says:
    @The Z Blog

    Plus they palm it every time they dribble. No modern player has a good ball handling. Basketball officiating is a joke. Certain players get calls and certain players don’t, depending on point spreads. You can’t defend against a “fast player with good handle” who is driving the lane because that’s a foul. You can’t reach in. It’s hard to do anything defensively other that step to the side and watch little fast guys who palm it on every dribble drive to the basket. I wish that basketball was more like soccer. It’s totally legal to tackle someone as long as you go in for the ball and you come out with it.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  176. bomag says:

    You realize that is a picture of Wilt, on the same team as Johnston?

    Russell was around an inch taller than Johnston.

    In “57-“58, Johnston’s last effective year, Philly went 6 – 5 against Boston in the regular season.

    I’m with Anon in that Simmons was probably reaching a bit.

  177. Ian M. says:

    Pujols the most dominant hitter since Ruth?

    No, that would be Bonds.

    Also, Ted Williams. Maybe Mickey Mantle.

    Even for his own era, I’m not sure that Pujols would win the honor: it’s at least arguable that Miguel Cabrera was more dominant at his peak that Pujols was.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  178. Ian M. says:

    Gretzky not able to score 90+ goals in today’s NHL? Yes.

    Gretzky not able to survive in today’s NHL? Nonsense.

    Gretzky was known for his great vision, anticipation, and playmaking more than he was ever known for his goal-scoring. He was not one of the fastest players even in his own era, yet he still thrived and dominated.

    Mario Lemieux came out of a three year retirement in 2000 after the league had already become more defensive-oriented, and tallied 76 points in 43 games at the age of 35, a rate which would have put him at 145 points for an 82 game season, 24 points ahead of the league leader, Jaromir Jagr, who along with Joe Sakic were themselves over 20 points ahead of the third-place guy. (Jagr himself tallied 46 points in the modern NHL in 2017: not too shabby for a guy who was 44).

    And Gretzky was even better than Lemieux. So Gretzky would have no problem adapting. He did play against big, fast guys like Sergei Federov in his own time and was better than they were.

  179. @Olorin

    You are right, or at least mostly right.

    I am embarrassed because the idiot sports writers whom Carlton despised were responsible for exaggerating his attention to Oriental mysticism, and made him look like a hippie. Lefty, in the unlikely event you actually read this, I want to publicly apologize.

    That being said, Carlton DID flirt with Asian, especially Chinese, philosophy. Note that the Asian martial arts were very much tied with Asian philosophy and often religion. For example, the famous monks of the Shao Lin temple were the baddest asses in China. It would not have been possible for Lefty to have gotten as deeply into Oriental martial arts and training without dabbling in Asian religion and philosophy.

    Note that the Chinese religious philosophy was very much grounded in practicality. The Master Kung avoided talk of other worldly matters completely, yet there is a religion based on his writings. It is a very spartan and stoic religion, and quite practical. Things like, how do I study for this exam?

    The Asian religious philosophy mixed in with the marital arts is far more practical than many westerners, especially sports writers, can imagine. The idea of training to be the ultimate fighting machine so that you can use your skills to avoid ever fighting is an interesting concept and clearly way over the heads of sports writers.

  180. @Ian M.

    Pujols as a hitter is often compared to Joe DiMaggio: a great line-drive hitter, but not one whose offensive game was wholly optimized toward homers and walks. For example, Pujols’ impact has been hurt very badly by the new defensive shifts, but he hasn’t adapted to them. He stills hits a lot of pretty hard liners, but now there’s somebody standing there.

  181. Phil says:
    @Ron Mexico

    I saw Gordie Howe play live many times, including early in Bobby Orr’s career. If these had been boxing matches they would have been stopped. It was like a plodder facing Muhammad Ali. Howe was a plodder—a very good player in his prime who played a long time.

  182. @Semperluctor

    Firpo knocked Dempsey out of the ring. Jack landed on a typewriter.
    He was probably out there for longer than the count of ten, but who cares?
    Firpo also ended Willard’s career in 1925.
    Chief second Jimmy De Forest confirmed Manager Doc Kearns’s claims about Plaster of Paris.Ray Arcel was also one of Jack’s seconds at the Willard fight, but he doesn’t appear to have ever gone on the record.
    Tex Rickard died in 1929, and never had a falling out with Jack Dempsey.
    Willard appears to have had the same problem Sonny Liston had, to wit: Nobody was ever going to beat him in a fair fight, so there wasn’t any money to be made.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Semperluctor
  183. @Ed Grimley

    Tell that to Greg Maddox.

    When Maddux came up with the Cubs he had at least MLB-average velocity. He hit 90+ when he wanted, and at that point, i.e. the mid-1980s, a 89-90 mph fastball was the MLB standard. Now it’s around 92-93 mph.

    Maddux’s velocity declined a lot at the end of his career, and so did his effectiveness.

  184. up next:

    jack dempsey would win the belt, he would just need to ‘adjust’. a few warm up bouts to get used to the new 10 ounce gloves and the WBC belt is his.

    red grange would probably lead the league in rushing, after a period where he ‘adjusts’ to the new, heavy and cumbersome helmet. he’d prefer the leather helmet of course, you can see better out of that.

    bill tilden would be the favorite to win wimbledon this year. he’d do a few warm up events on the ATP tour to ‘adjust’ to metal rackets, then it’s smooth sailing to the silver trophy.

    percy williams can probably edge the jamaicans in tokyo come 2020. all he needs is a new pair of modern track shoes, and i’d peg him as the favorite.

    “But, but, but, that’s different….” blathered the old baseball guys.

    what babbling nonsense. this thread has gone on long enough. old baseball guys and their ludicrous obsession with a AAA player.

    hey baseball guys – YOU’RE WRONG.

    of course i’m using acerbic humor, but if steve paid me, i’d be glad to write a scholarly article about why ruth can’t play. just like all his contemporaries VERY CLEARLY COULD NOT PLAY TODAY. strange how there’s never an argument about that. just this old fat guy and his sycophant, unathletic sports writers hearkening back to some era where the average athlete that ruth competed against was pure garbage. ruth might have been 20 years ahead of the field in his sport, even. so what? he can’t play today. his numbers are a product of his capability relative to the field. and the field was dog$hit.

  185. a quick perusal of youtube, where you can actually watch videos of these athletes in action, will quickly disabuse anybody of the notion that they could even remotely play today.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  186. @Ed Grimley

    You’re preaching to the choir re: Babe Ruth, the original GOAT.

    It is unfortunately people such as Steve, who for whatever reason, appear not to be able to fully rely upon traditional stats (e.g. BA., SB, RBI, etc) and must look to Bill James and Sabermetrics for official answers. If Bill James gives his okay on Babe Ruth, then and only then is Ruth considered to be a major star. Not the greatest ever, mind you. But among a minor to sorta okay possibly very good for his generation all things considering.

    FACT: As PEDS did not exist during Ruth’s era, his stats more than stand vs the test of time. There were some years where he out homered entire MLB clubs. Think about that one. At one point it was like for every 10 HRs hit in the AL for a given year, 1 was hit by Ruth. That’s incredible.

    Ruth also played in 10 WS and won 7. Not too shabby, so he wasn’t a very great player who didn’t play in October.

    He is the gold standard, the Rolls Royce, upon which every MLB HR slugger is compared to. From an offensive standpoint, he was the first to change the entire way the game is played. One could state that without Ruth, there would be no “True Outcome” a la Bill James Sabermetrics. So he influenced an entire discipline that didn’t come about until a couple generations after his death.

    In MLB, it is always Ruth first, and everyone else second.

    No one comes close. Except in the 21st century NE QB Tom Brady, the GOAT of the NFL.

  187. @prime noticer

    Ted Williams hit .406 at age 22 in 1941 and .388 at age 38 in 1957. Stan Musial hit .357 in 1943 and .351 in 1957.

    Nolan Ryan struck out 10.4 per 9 innings in 1972 and 10.5 in 1991.

    How many examples are there of a great player falling off due to the competition getting better? I imagine there are some.

    Here’s sort of an example: Ty Cobb’s hitting performance in the 1920s from age 33 to 41 is a little less in relative terms due to the Ruth led revolution in home run hitting: Cobb kept doing what had worked so well for him in the 1910s in the 1920s, but the competition was getting better due to home run hitting. In particular, Cobb no longer routinely led the league in various hitting categories due to Ruth’s dominance, although he led the league in OPS in 1925 at age 38 due to Ruth’s self-inflicted health woes.

    More speculatively, I suspect that if Sandy Koufax’s arm had allowed him to pitch through age 40 in 1975, he’d have endured a major falloff when the strikezone was shrunk, the mound lowered, and the Dodger Stadium fences brought in 10 feet around the end of the 1960s. Koufax’s awesome 1963-1966 were, in part, a product of being the right man in the right place at the right time.

    Perhaps Dan Marino wasn’t quite as effective for the rest of his career as in his second year because of defensive adjustments. Albert Pujols hasn’t adjusted well to the spread of defensive shifts. But these are more likely specific issues rather than a general improvement in the competition.

    In golf, I suspect there are examples of short hitters who no longer were competitive after Tiger Woods’ 1997 Masters win set off a search for more distance. Perhaps Cory Pavin, a small golfer, would be an example of somebody whose game got outmoded when he might still have been in his prime.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  188. @prime noticer

    “his numbers are a product of his capability relative to the field.”

    Every single athlete of every single generation is a product of his era as well as their stats, duh, duh, and DUH. This argument is garbage as it can be used vs every single athlete forever. Therefore, there are other ways that are called in to measure greatness. (Although stats are very important, especially in MLB the first sport to really make use of stats in general). The other athletes that were named are not as instantly automatically recalled in the same way as Babe Ruth, mainly, because unlike the other sports, MLB was literally the National Pastime during the early part of the 20th century.

    One can only be judged according to his own era. The fact that Ruth is instantly recalled even by non-MLB fans today, and for the most part, these non fans can say exactly what Ruth was known for “Fatso hit tons of HRs”. 70 yrs after his death, 84 yrs after retirement speaks volumes. Very few athletes are instantly recalled that many years after their death and retirement from their respective sports. It also helped that Ruth played the bulk of his career in NY and played in several WS. Winning championships tends to cement greatness, one’s legacy, etc. Also, unlike the other sports stars of Ruth’s generation, they didn’t get paid near anything to Ruth, who not only was paid very well for his time, but money from endorsements, personal appearances, etc. So championships and money tend to mean the most to a sports obsessed US.

    “Americans love a winner”–General Patton

  189. @Steve Sailer

    For the vast majority of his career, Marino also didn’t have a major superstar dominant WR on the level of Jerry Rice, considered to be the greatest WR in NFL history. Also, it is interesting that defenses have yet for the most part been able to stop Brady’s quick release of the ball to his receivers. At 2 seconds, this is the fastest timed release by a QB to a receiver in NFL history. Aside from occasionally putting pressure on Brady, NFL defenses have yet to come up with a way to consistently prevent Brady’s release to receiver. And he has been working on his quick release for over a decade now.

    For much of Marino’s career, it was simply his talent that enabled MIA to contend for the playoffs. Had they a standout RB to compliment him perhaps the Dolphins would’ve gotten to more Super Bowls. Ironically when the history of NE’s 21st century dominance is written it will be Brady who is instantly recalled, Bellichick as coach, and….and….lots of interesting supporting cast members. Hard to believe that if Brady is to Ruth then Julian Edelman is to Lou Gerhig? That’s a hard one to believe indeed. And yet….

    Perhaps the closest thing to a Babe Ruth in terms of winning is Tom Brady. 9 Super Bowls and 6 Championships. Most dominant QB ever in postseason history, and his stats place him in the top three of all time. As he and Drew Brees are poised to pass Peyton Manning’s career TD passes next season, this will further cement Brady’s legacy to GOAT.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  190. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Brady has won 30 of 40 playoff games. Second in victories is Joe Marino who won 16 of 23. Second in playoff games is Peyton Manning who won 14 of 27.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  191. @Corn

    Corn, other than today’s training/conditioning the effect of contact lenses is overlooked. Poor eyesight made near perfect is available and affordable for athletes coming up.

  192. @Kyle

    Kyle, They should have a stat for yards per carry. Travelling? Hell, they tuck the ball and run to the rim.

  193. @Steve Sailer

    Ruth was a baseball genius.

    Yes. This is what the statistics do not show. Talent and tenacity are necessary, but the mind fulfills the sufficient condition.

    Babe Ruth’s intelligence means dropping him into the current day produces an unexpectedly successful outcome.

    Genius is underestimated, because it is misunderstood.

  194. @Steve Sailer

    So Brady’s current postseason total equals Manning/Montana. Just one more postseason win and Brady will have more than either of them combined. Definitely a case that he is GOAT.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Anon87
  195. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    There ought to be a way to adjust quarterback statistics for the weather. Brady plays half his games outdoors in Massachusetts from September to January. He’s awfully weatherproof for a Californian.

  196. @keypusher

    Wilt Chamberlain didn’t really have a great offensive move as of 1972. I’m not sure that he ever did. He didn’t have a jump shot and he didn’t have a hook shot like Kareem. He was great at slam dunking off offensive rebounds and good passes from penetrating guards. But he wasn’t a good dribbler so he couldn’t get to the rim that well. He’d end up taking this weird finger roll shot from about 4 feet away, which sometimes worked. But fouling him would make a lot of sense because he was such a bad free throw shooter.

    In his high scoring days he took a ton of fall away bank shots, but by 1972 he only would take one when the clock was running out. Chick Hearn would get really mad if Wilt took one for fun. He’d say Dr. Kerlan should have cut the fall away bank shot out of Wilt.

    But he was an incredible rebounder and shot blocker at age 35 (I’m guessing six blocks per game) and a good passer. He decided to make himself a super unselfish team player in his mid-30s and of course he was extremely good at it, finishing second in the MVP voting to Peak (35 ppg) Kareem.

  197. There are some clear examples of athletes who got left behind by rising talent levels, such as World War II 4-F baseball players. Most of the best players went into the military in 1943 or 1944 and came back in either late 1945 (Hank Greenberg, who had gone into the military in 1941 and missed over 4 seasons) or 1946. They kept playing baseball, but with various guys who weren’t drafted, such as Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder who hit .218 in 77 games with the 1945 St. Louis Browns. (He sounds like a subject for a Coen Brothers movie.)

    One case of a wartime star who couldn’t hack it due to better postwar competition was Snuffy Stirnweiss, second baseman of the Yankees. He got called up in 1943 when future Hall of Famer Joe Gordon went in the Navy. He wasn’t very good that year, but in 1944 and 1945 he was one of the best players in the AL, finishing in the top 4 in MVP voting both years. But then he wasn’t a very good hitter once the big guys came back in 1946, although he continued to be an excellent fielder.

    Oddly, there aren’t all that many examples of guys falling off sharply as competition went up in 1946. For example, Hall of Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser was AL MVP in 1944 and 1945, going 29-9 and 25-9. But in 1946 with DiMaggio and Williams and company back in the league, he went 26-9 and finished second in MVP voting.

    In general guys who were good in 1944-45 continued to play pretty well in 1946, although the returning superstars like Ted Williams mostly eclipsed them (Newhouser and a few others being exceptions.)

    It’s a little hard to figure out the effect of the sharp rise in talent in 1946 because there weren’t that many guys who were good in 1944-45 who suddenly stopped being good in 1946, like Stirnweiss. One reason was that Newhouser aside, there weren’t many superstars in baseball in 1945.

    What it sort of looks like is that when they drafted almost everybody really good by 1945, baseball was able to replace the marginal players with 4-Fs who were only a little more worse than the previous replacement level players. They didn’t have anybody to replace Ted Williams, but at, say, the 25th percentile of player quality, the 25th percentile players weren’t all that much worse in 1945 than in 1946. Okay the St. Louis Browns’ one-armed outfielder wasn’t very good by league standards, but maybe by St. Louis Browns he wasn’t too far below peacetime norms.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  198. The beginning of the Steroids Era around 1993 left some non-partaking players behind. One possibility is Will Clark, the SF Giants first baseman who looked liked a Hall of Famer from 1986-1992, but in 1993-2000 suffered some injuries while not upping his power game along with so many others.

  199. @Hhsiii

    A few years ago Mark Buehrle was down to about an 82 mile per hour fastball toward the later parts of his final season, in which he won 15 games. But they left him off the playoff roster. The theory for why Buehrle was quite successful despite not being able to throw hard was that he was just about the best fielding pitcher ever. Buehrle turned a lot of ground balls up the middle into double plays and it was practically impossible to steal off him. Pitchers don’t get that many chances but on average they are pretty bad fielders, so Buehrle’s high competence made him a great fielder, relatively speaking.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  200. @JeremiahJohnbalaya

    I still think Phil Ford was better at UNC than Jordan. And don’t get me started on David Thompson.

  201. Ian M. says:

    The discrepancy in his reported 100+ being that in those days, the measured the FB velocity as it left the pitcher’s hand. Today it is measured as it crosses the plate.

    Other way around: today the velocity is measured as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. Back in Nolan Ryan’s day (in Feller’s day, they weren’t using radar), the ball was measured as it crossed the plate. The documentary Fastball that Sailer mentions below estimated that there is about a loss of ~8 mph between the time when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand to the time when it crosses the plate, so that when Ryan was clocked at 100 mph, he would have been measured at 108 mph using today’s methodology.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  202. @Steve Sailer

    Regarding the NFL, sometimes things can be overthought. Example: The Ice Bowl (Dec 31 ’67) alleged temp winchill reached -58F. Green Bay was behind to DAL for most of the game yet managed to win 21-17. Neither team was up for playing in sub zero temps.

    AFC 1975 Title Game PIT vs OAK, Three Rivers Stadium was frozen solid ice (akin to playing on concrete). PIT won 16-10, but there were 13 turnovers, missed FG’s, blown opportunities.

    SD vs CIN in ’81 AFC Title game, one of the coldest on record. What tends to be forgotten is that SD didn’t have a running game with “Air Coryell” and SD’s defense was usually substandard. In Super Bowl XVI, played in the Pontiac Dome, CIN had the ball on the 1yrd line with first down and couldn’t punch it in, losing 26-21.

    “Sometimes a cigar is a cigar is a cigar”–Freud. Nothing really to overthink. Either the better team wins or it does not.

    Perhaps one of the best most complete played Super Bowls of the first era would be Super Bowl X. DAL only had 2 penalties the entire game, while PIT had zero. PIT’s infamous Steel Curtain Defense sacked DAL QB Staubach 7 times, still a record for the Super Bowl. Missed FGs, scoring opportunites, and yet PIT managed to win 21-17.

    The great teams manage to find a way to win and things tend to even out at the end, regardless of the weather.

  203. @Steve Sailer

    HOF ST Stan Musial was able to play in ’43 and ’44, only getting called up in ’45. So there were some Alist players around during WW2 yrs.

    HOF CLE P Bob Feller on the other hand, enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor and so missed ’42-’45. His 266 career W’s definitely would’ve been over 300 had he even pitched for two of those years (as it was early in his prime as a power P).

    Greenberg also missed the entire 1936 season with a broken arm which occured in Spring Training vs NY while spending three years in the minor leagues.

    Point being, as far as WW2 is concerned, a lot of players served their country. It was what it was, but at least per FDR’s request, MLB continued during the war and provided some form of credible entertainment.

  204. @Steve Sailer

    BAL/NY P Mike Mussina was also another excellent to great fielding P.

  205. @Steve Sailer

    Also don’t forget that Manning played his prime years in a dome. The fact that he only could win 1 Super Bowl with IND does tend to show that some QB’s may peter out come January.

    PIT beat him 21-18 in ’05 Divisional Game, still a classic of a top notch defense going on the road and shutting down one of the premier QBs of his generation.

    Notice with Brady’s 6 Championships that the question “Who’s greater, Brady or Manning” is no longer being asked? Winning more than any other QB in the Super Bowl era tends to do that.

  206. TWS says:

    Alright since I’ve used up my quota of ‘lol’s I’ll have to leave this. LOL.

  207. Anon87 says:
    @Waylon 347

    Check out Bobby Hull’s farm physique pics. Hard work makes hard bodies, which certainly can translate to sports.

  208. Anon87 says:

    The push for Brady as best ever is a joke. As much as people downgrade past athletes, the QB specifically and NFL generally is a joke today. I’ve watched some clips of Bradshaw throw deeper, more often, and take a comic amount of punishment.

    It’s not Brady’s fault, Bellicheck’s system of dink and dunk obviously works, but let’s be real. His QB skills are nowhere near best ever. And let’s not forget about Gorilla Glue Gloves that further pad the passing game.

  209. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Ruth struck out alot more than his contemporaries. He either led the league or was second in strikeouts 12 times out of his 16 complete seasons as a hitter.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  210. @Ian M.

    Ironically for all his legendary speed and K’s, Nolan Ryan also has the most MLB career record for walks. Also, during a 27 season career, Ryan only won 20 games twice in his career. His .526 winning percentage is respectable. In other words one way to get to Ryan was to outwait him during the later innings as he often had more L’s than W’s in a season.

  211. @bobbybonilla

    And, a .342 career batting average. That’s just two points behind Ted Williams. Ruth won a batting title with .378, and also hit .393. In ’27, the year he hit 60 HRs, he hit .356. He hit over .300 12 times. Not many modern HR sluggers can lay claim to hitting like that.

  212. @Anon87

    And yet, in the Super Bowl era, the one measurable stat among all eras is Championships Won. Which QB has won the most ever? Pure and simple question. Which QB has gotten it done more times than all the rest? Pure and simple. It is about winning. And winning, as in, which QB has WON the most championships, is definitely 100% measurable and comparable within the Super Bowl Era.

    Who has won the most championships within the Super Bowl era. Pure and simple.

    • Replies: @Anon87
  213. Sean says:
    @anon tinkers are still around

    Liston had a serious drink problem, and was drunk the night before he lost the title, and the promoter publicly said this afterwards. The Kearns allegation was in 1964 so not the original or main one, it was known to be impossible because the wrappings are always checked by opposing corner-men and Kearns was saying Dempsey didn’t know. Forget about that. However, there is reason to think there was something fishy if you look at Willard.

    None of the contemporaneously published newspaper accounts of the fight suggest anything but an extraordinary amount of damage on the right side of Willard’s face, which was a “fountain of blood” Willard’s claim soon after the fight was that he had been defeated by “gangsterism”. Willard was saying back in the imediate aftermath that Dempsey had used some kind of knuckleduster. Willard only seemed to get really hurt in 90 seconds of the first round, all damage was on the right hand side of his face, and there is a peculiarity about the damage too. Ferdie Pacheco (Ali’s doctor) wrote about it in a book and said the injuries to Willard face and cheekbone looked very like they had little bone fractures underneath them ,and and more consistent with his face being impacted with with a small hard surface like a ball pein hammer than a boxing glove, now matter what was in it. Kearns and Dempsey had a massive bet for a first round KO and would have made a million dollars in todays values.

    The real allegation is Dempsey had an object resembling a rail spike in his left for part of the first round, during which he knocked Willard down seven times, It was the only round of the fight in which Willard was knocked down. Thinking it was over, Dempsey rushed out of the ring at the end of the first round, and there was a long delay before he could be got back and the second started, ( if Willard had used professional corner man they would have insisted the bell be rung for the round 2 and Dempsey would have lost by forfeit). But why rush away like that as soon as he thought he’d won? When the fight restarted, Dempsey could not put Willard down again.

    Nothing about the recovered 42 year old Willard verses Fripo and the 29 year old Dempsey verses Fripo suggest that aged 37,Willard was someone Dempsey could have come to close to a first round KO of without the help of his pal “Dusty”. One British boxing writer recalled interviewing Willard when he was an old man , he invited the writer to palpitate his head and the tissue gave way, there was a large dent in the side of his noggin.

  214. Brutusale says:

    “Listen, my friend, there’s no man alive who can throw harder than Smokey Joe Wood!”
    –Walter Johnson

    Wood was 117-57 with a 2.03 ERA until injuries ended his pitching career…at age 25!

    Left unsaid is that Ruth had won 67 games and had an ERA of 2.07 in his first three years. Could lefty hitter Ruth hit lefty pitcher Ruth?

  215. Brutusale says:
    @Pat Kittle

    When you’ve got a ticket to ride, you do what you can to keep riding.

    The Red $ox put the bullpens out in right field to give Williams a closer fence to knock balls over. They even called it “Williamsburg”.

  216. Brutusale says:

    Are you talking about the Terry Bradshaw with the 212 career TD passes and the 210 career interceptions while throwing to TWO Hall of Fame receivers?

    THAT Terry Bradshaw?

    Something to remember about downgrading past athletes is something that Jim Bouton pointed out 50 years ago in Ball Four. In every sport where performance can be measured objectively (distance/time), today’s athlete is far superior to those of the olden days. Johnny Weissmuller, five-time Olympic gold medalist and the first man under one minute in the 100-meter freestyle, couldn’t make the woman’s team today.

    But also remember, as exemplified by the guy you seem to hate, will can defeat skill.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    , @Anon87
  217. @Brutusale

    NO, we’re talking about the HOF QB Ken Stabler who had more career INT’s than TD’s. And STILL The HOF won’t put PIT Defensive standout LC Greenwood in!

  218. keypusher says:
    @prime noticer

    of course i’m using acerbic humor

    If you have to point it out, you’re not being funny.

    Count Bill James among those who think Ruth would be a superstar if he played today. He’s the size of a modern major leaguer, and his key attributes, in addition to strength, were speed, reflexes, good eyes, and keen baseball intelligence. He also had enormous self-confidence and ambition. Saying he’d be great today is not saying the same as saying that a 187-pounder would dominate heavyweight boxing, or Red Grange would dominate football (in fact I pointed out elsewhere that few would argue Red Grange could succeed today). Tilden I express no opinion about, since I don’t know anything about tennis.


    It is unfortunately people such as Steve, who for whatever reason, appear not to be able to fully rely upon traditional stats (e.g. BA., SB, RBI, etc) and must look to Bill James and Sabermetrics for official answers. If Bill James gives his okay on Babe Ruth, then and only then is Ruth considered to be a major star. Not the greatest ever, mind you. But among a minor to sorta okay possibly very good for his generation all things considering.

    This is 100% backwards, as is standard for you. The old baseball books argued endlessly about whether Cobb or Ruth was the better hitter, using the traditional stats you cherish. It was the sabermetricians, led by James, who settled the argument in Ruth’s favor.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  219. @keypusher

    Not exactly. The baseball fans (using the traditional stats such as HR) decisively settled the matter in Ruth’s favor, and during Ruth’s prime. From a popular standpoint, during the ’20’s Ruth became the symbol of MLB and it wasn’t even close. In some ways, Ruth remains MLB’s official symbol. Every time someone hits a HR, he should be thanking Babe Ruth.

    Whereas no one thanks Ty Cobb whenever the tactics of “small ball” are employed. No one notices “Oh, I just employed a magnificent bunt, then stole second, got the pitcher to wild pitch me to third, and finally scored on a sac fly. Thanks, Georgia Peach!” No one does that. Ty Cobb, while certainly one of the all time greatest hitters, remains an unforgotten relic of the pre-modern past whereas Babe Ruth, in terms of overall on field MLB tactics, remains relevant today as ever before. HR = Babe Ruth, the fans discovered that decades before Bill James was born. But, you’ve made my point regarding “OK, the Babe is relevant ’cause I say so.” No, he’s been relevant for nearly a century now and counting.

    Books often are the tools of the elite. Which is fine in academic subjects but not for sports. The people decided, and firmly in Ruth’s favor. The Roaring 20’s was Babe Ruth’s decade. One could make a case that Ruth, like Donald Trump during the ’80’s, was one of the few people to actually transcend an entire decade, becoming larger than life while remaining relevant (in terms of on field tactics) for years to come.

    There is of course another unnoticed big time appeal to Ruth’s prowess. HR’s are sexy, while bunting is not. Then as now, chicks dig the long ball. The girls lined up for Ruth, and they certainly line up for HR sluggers today.

  220. Anon87 says:

    So you agree Yogi Berra is the greatest baseball player of all time in the World Series era. Pure and simple. Right?

  221. Anon87 says:

    I’m sure there is a Baseball Prospectus way to normalize passing stats to an era, but if you want to compare the raw stats of a passing game of 30-40+ years ago to today be my guest. I wish I could find it, but there was a graphic comparing the bombs Bradshaw put up to the conservative dink and dink “passes” of recent Super Bowls. No comparison. I’m not saying one style is better than another, since they obviously both have succeeded, but completely different environments making head to head arguments kind of silly.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  222. @Anon87

    Passing strategies used to be along the lines of “Heave it way downfield and see what happens.”

    • Replies: @Anon87
  223. Anon87 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    High risk, high reward. Belichick’s style could be called low risk, high reward. Hard to argue with results (and honestly that’s what would be ideal in life for most endeavours). Really boring from an entertainment perspective though. Bring on the gunslingers and hold your breath as they sling it 40 yards in the air!!

    So it’s also hard for me give too much praise to Brady. I’ve never seen him get lit up like Joe Montana did and still come back and beat you. Most of the NY Giant defense would probably be banned for life for some of the punishment they doled out to Joe. All legally.

  224. @anon tinkers are still around

    Good correction on Doc Kearns (falling out) and I read Sean,s interesting comment below…it’s hard to believe the story of the spike in the left hand…unless it’s a true knuckleduster, which would have been impossible to hide. A knuckleduster works by preventing the deceleration as a fist/knuckle distorts/collapses upon impact..this lessens the impact energy into the head of the opponent..aside of course from breaking bone (impact vs momentum transfer). So a knuckleduster would be great to knock down a much bigger man several times in the first rounds..but a spike gripped inside a clenched glove.. is that what was alleged? That makes no sense…this would increase the mass of the fist, but it might also reduce its velocity, so final KE would diminish (square of the velocity) and the knuckles would still flatten, although I suppose that the gripped spike would stiffen the overall fist, so maybe that would end up reducing distortion.. on balance though, gripping a metal rod would make punching more difficult as it would not feel natural. What round did Dempsey knock out Firpo.. I checked it was the second round…even though Firpo also knocked him through the ropes, the point is that Dempsey put the 220 lbs Firpo down several times before knocking him out in the second round. That shows very considerable punching power…easily enough to knock out the out of condition 245 lbs Willard.. and, my apology for mistaking Tex R as being the one who fell out with and then badmouthed Dempsey, but Doc Kearns did, right (I am too tired to check) so why should he be believed when he had motive to knock his former mealticket?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  225. @Semperluctor

    Firpo’s tomb

    in the Recolecta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is even better than Evita Peron’s tomb.

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