Thursday, May 11, 2006

Winning baseball and interesting reading...

The Giants have taken the series against the Cubs with a 9-3 win, and the Royals enjoyed a day off today after sweeping the Cleveland Indians yesterday.

Can everything just stay...just like this?

I also read a neat piece by Dayn Perry over at FOX Sports which summarizes a bunch of reasons why Babe Ruth was overrated. I agree with him wholeheartedly while disagreeing with him -- all of his reasoning is solid and factual: Ruth drank heavily and cheated on his wife, he didn't play against the best competition because baseball wasn't integrated, the dimensions of Yankee Stadium favored his home run exploits, etc, etc.

There can be absolutely no doubt that if Ruth played today as he was then, he wouldn't have gotten anywhere. His physical limitations (brought on by his eating and drinking habits) would have greatly hampered his effectiveness in today's game, and even if he was to do well enough to hold down a job as a DH or something, he'd get blasted in the media day-in and day-out for his lack of morals. He either wouldn't have been good enough to stick around unless he got in shape, and he wouldn't even have been welcomed for very long by any club with all of the negative press he would've brought with him.

However, that being said, there is a reason why Ruth is so huge -- he was so much better than anyone else playing around him, weakened talent pool or not. Not admiring Ruth's baseball career would be like to discount, say, LeBron James' high school career. Sure, it was obvious he was head and shoulders above those around him, but what could he do about it?

It would've been nice if Ruth had been tested against the world's best players, which is what someone like Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, or Greg Maddux have to do everytime they play. This wasn't the case, but there's nothing that can change that, so I don't see much value in bringing Ruth down because of it.

If we are doing a comparison of Ruth and Willie Mays as players and trying to equate their accomplishments, then sure, Ruth's era and circumstances warrants a huge hit. But if we are compare Ruth's and Bonds' stature and impact on the game at the respective times they played, well, Ruth is and should be just as big of a deal as he is.

And who knows? If Ruth had been tested against the world's best and had found his physical condition lacking, perhaps he would have made the necessary changes to adjust and still be just as good as he was. While it might be a valid point to doubt the absolute validity of Ruth's accomplishments from a statistical standpoint (especially when compared with today's players), I don't think it's wise to doubt his talent and impact on baseball.

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