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Post Info TOPIC: Time to Reconsider Wagner and Gehrig's Greatness?
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Season Ticket Holder - Upper Deck

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
Time to Reconsider Wagner and Gehrig's Greatness?
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Came across this interesting article:

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/mlbrank100_wagnergehrig/mlbrank-exploring-greatness-honus-wagner-lou-gehrig

Within the article, the author makes this point:

"That's the '30s for you in a nutshell: a statistical slaughter with half the league populated by patsies and without African American and Latino players who were shut out because of their race. Now you tell me: Which pitchers are going away if the game were integrated to include black and Latin talent? Not Lou Gehrig's teammates, but a whole lot of the people Gehrig feasted on suddenly go away."

Strat-O-Matically speaking, this is what I love about my UABA (United American Ballplayers Association) 56 game project; now in its second season. With the UABA I, I integrated the 1920's -'30's and now the UABA II integrates the 1930's - '40's. It's wonderful that with Strat-O-Matic, we can go back, sit in the stands and watch Oscar Charleston take his rips against Bob Feller and Red Ruffing, as well as Leon Day and Frank Wickware.

By the way, Ruth and Gehrig finished 1/2 in the AL Homerun race!



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Third Base Coach

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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So Gehrig feasted off these "pasties" but who did everyone else in the league face? 

I agree there was a lot of talent in the negro leagues that would have elevated the competition in MLB.  But to make the suggestion that Gehrig or Wagner would not have thrived in an integrated league iacksddepth.

Further, I would argue that the late thirties and early forties is when MLB suffered the most from the lack of talent.  Does that mean Dimaggio, Williams or Musial weren't great? I think they continued to perform well even after the integration of baseball.

Talent got further thinned out during the expansion years of the sixties and series.  Should we question Aaron's, Mays or Koufax's greatness?

I could even argue that top talent today is being lured to other sports like soccer and hockey and foreign leagues further diluting the talent pool that's already stretched over 30 teams.

The point is Gehrig and Wagner were the MLB stars of their time. You don't need to tear them down to build up players like Paige, Charleston or Gibson. They were great in their own right and I wouldn't, not even for a second, suggest they would not have flourished in an integrated MLB. 




-- Edited by Tall Tactician on Friday 15th of July 2016 04:12:11 PM

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Third Base Coach

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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I stand by my comments above, but now that I have read the full article I should point out a few things.

First, the premise of the article is that when discussing the greatest infield of all-time we should not automatically put Gehrig at first and Wagner at short, and less to do with the integration of Baseball than the quote provided a above would lead you to believe. She is trying to make the case for Puljos and Jeter receiving consideration.  So please substitute those names for Paige, Charleston and Gibson in my last paragraph.

The concluding statement of the article shows the author's brilliance and where she is misguided:

We know about Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter what we could never know about Gehrig or Wagner:  what they could do against the best competition on the planet in the most competitive era the game's history.

Hence, my comment above stands. I wish she had written something more insightful after the colon.  Her assertions make her opinion known but they fail to prove her point.  C-



-- Edited by Tall Tactician on Friday 15th of July 2016 05:00:18 PM

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First Base Coach

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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I think she has a good premise, we shouldn't just except the players with the best stats/numbers (whatever they may be) without looking at the era as a whole. I do think many players numbers from the pre-integration era get a boost. I also think Gehrig, Wagner, etc. would be dominate players regardless of era, they may just not be as dominate in terms of the numbers.

I don't think this is the most competitive era - with the # of teams and the growth of other sports. Much as been written about the lack of African-Americans in the game over the last decade. The limitations of opportunities for inner-city athletes (of any race) to have access to baseball.

So what is the most competitive era? Would it be the 1950s?

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General Manager

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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I had to Google the article and the writer.......from the looks of their work, they should know what they are talking about (not just random ESPN employee writing about something they know nothing about)..........I would how they voted in the last few HOF elections, since they are a member of the BBWAA.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Christina Kahrl (previously known as Chris Kahrl) is one of the co-founders of Baseball Prospectus. She is the former executive editor of the think tank's website, BaseballProspectus.com, the former managing editor for their annual publication, and is currently writing and editing for ESPN.com. She is a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Kahrl is an activist on civil rights issues for the transgender community in her hometown of Chicago and a member of the Equality Illinois board of directors. The story of her publicly coming out as a transsexual sportswriter in 2003 was part of a GLAAD award-nominated segment entitled "Transitions" on HBO's Real Sports that aired in 2010.

From 2000 to 2005, Kahrl was employed as an acquisitions editor at Brassey's Sports (US), a mid-list publisher that focused on sports history and analysis.

After the launch of BaseballProspectus.com in 1996, of which she was a founding member, she contributed a regular column entitled "Transaction Analysis," listing and analyzing the transactions (player trades, contract signings, promotions and demotions) by all Major League Baseball teams for the site. In 2011, she kicked off a new standalone opinion and argument column for the site entitled "Purpose Pitches." She was a co-editor of nine of the Baseball Prospectus annual volumes of baseball statistics and analysis.

Kahrl has also written for SportsIllustrated.com, ESPN.com, the New York Sun, Salon.com, Slate, Playboy, and the Washington Blade, and was an associate editor of The ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia.

In 2008, Kahrl was accepted as a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and thus became eligible to vote on Major League Baseball post-season awards and nominees for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. She voted for the American League Rookie of the Year in 2009 and for the National League Manager of the Year in 2010.  Reflecting on the meaning of her election, Kahrl wrote, "While I expect to still write about transactions, I really want to try and breathe new life back into the game story as an art form, and perhaps in my conceit try to take pages from Runyon and Lardner and Pete Palmer and Keith Woolner to provide something old and something new, all at once."

In April 2011, Kahrl announced that she would be joining ESPN.com to write and edit, teaming up with David Schoenfield in penning the "SweetSpot" blog, which provides a sabermetrics-driven analysis on the goings-on in baseball.





-- Edited by nacster on Friday 15th of July 2016 06:51:13 PM

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Umpire

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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glewis wrote:

I think she has a good premise, we shouldn't just except the players with the best stats/numbers (whatever they may be) without looking at the era as a whole. I do think many players numbers from the pre-integration era get a boost. I also think Gehrig, Wagner, etc. would be dominate players regardless of era, they may just not be as dominate in terms of the numbers.

I don't think this is the most competitive era - with the # of teams and the growth of other sports. Much as been written about the lack of African-Americans in the game over the last decade. The limitations of opportunities for inner-city athletes (of any race) to have access to baseball.

So what is the most competitive era? Would it be the 1950s?


 The 50s...Yankees alone make the 50s not competitive. I think the 80s. New winners every year.

Ted Williams was awesome pre and post integration. Stars would be stars in any era.



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General Manager

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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Nitrous Oxide wrote:
glewis wrote:

I think she has a good premise, we shouldn't just except the players with the best stats/numbers (whatever they may be) without looking at the era as a whole. I do think many players numbers from the pre-integration era get a boost. I also think Gehrig, Wagner, etc. would be dominate players regardless of era, they may just not be as dominate in terms of the numbers.

I don't think this is the most competitive era - with the # of teams and the growth of other sports. Much as been written about the lack of African-Americans in the game over the last decade. The limitations of opportunities for inner-city athletes (of any race) to have access to baseball.

So what is the most competitive era? Would it be the 1950s?


 The 50s...Yankees alone make the 50s not competitive. I think the 80s. New winners every year.

Ted Williams was awesome pre and post integration. Stars would be stars in any era.


 Bill James said it once............paraphrasing..............the great ones would adapt to any era. 



__________________

"NACSTER'S HISTORICAL REPLAY"

34 REPLAYS IN THE BOOKS!

1876-1883

1896-1900

1906

1916-1917

1921, 1929

1936-1937

1943, 1946

1956-1963

1976

1986

1991, 1996

37,117 regular season games through 34 replays!

 

 



VP of Operations

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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nacster wrote:
Nitrous Oxide wrote:
glewis wrote:

I think she has a good premise, we shouldn't just except the players with the best stats/numbers (whatever they may be) without looking at the era as a whole. I do think many players numbers from the pre-integration era get a boost. I also think Gehrig, Wagner, etc. would be dominate players regardless of era, they may just not be as dominate in terms of the numbers.

I don't think this is the most competitive era - with the # of teams and the growth of other sports. Much as been written about the lack of African-Americans in the game over the last decade. The limitations of opportunities for inner-city athletes (of any race) to have access to baseball.

So what is the most competitive era? Would it be the 1950s?


 The 50s...Yankees alone make the 50s not competitive. I think the 80s. New winners every year.

Ted Williams was awesome pre and post integration. Stars would be stars in any era.


 Bill James said it once............paraphrasing..............the great ones would adapt to any era. 


There are so many things to consider...

Okay, Major League Baseball in the pre-Jackie Robinson era meant an exclusion of the top Negro League players, and other top players from places like Cuba (though lighter-skinned Latino players were allowed).

But...Major League Baseball was all of 16 teams, with hundreds of minor league teams dotting the landscape.  It could be argued that holding onto a Major League job might have been harder, because there were so few positions available, and so many places to look for a replacement.

One bad season and you might be gone, with no guaranteed contract to keep you in place.  You had to earn your keep every year.

Fact: Every era has multiple uncompetitive teams.   In the Deadball Era, it might be the Rustlers/Braves, Senators, the pre-Ruth Yankees.  The '20's had the A's down cycle, the post-Ruth (and Speaker, and Hooper, and Lewis, and on and on...) Red Sox, the post-Black Sox scandal Pale Hose.

The early '40's were necessarily weak because of the war effort.

Modern levels of competitiveness are also largely due to the re-writing of the rules, most importantly the elimination of the Reserve Clause and the onset of true free agency.  Teams can't horde prospects forever, keeping them on the farm until the need finally arises.

Major League Baseball players are also arguably better, simply because of evolution of the game.  I like to use basketball as the best example, because of the way you can watch endless hours of tape, and break down every element of a player's game, then try to pick it apart, to find a way to counter it.

But you do the same in baseball, breaking down every facet of a pitcher's motion -- things like his release point -- just as the pitchers study how each batter settles into the box, and how they attack the pitch, and what their hot and cold zones are.

Given those same advantages, and the advantages of things like field quality, equipment, nutrition, training facilities, could you say that Deadball Era players would not also be able to better themselves if they had the same opportunity?

Also, look at things like ballpark dimensions.  How many homers would A-Rod hit in a league that included places like old Comiskey Park and Griffith Stadium?  How many homers might Gehrig hit today, in bandboxes like Camden Yards?

In fact, he might take advantage of free agency, just to put it to a test. 

Going back to the subject of the '50's-era Yankees...they were finally laid low by two things: their unwillingness to fully embrace integration from the start, and the creation of the amateur draft.  A draft, from bottom-to-top order, meant they could no longer comb the countryside and just throw money at anyone they wanted.  They had to wait their turn.

That was one of the ways that changes within the game altered competitive balance.  But, that's an artificial construct.  The rules made baseball more competitive.  And, when free agency reared its head, the Yankees jumped right into the fray, to take advantage of those new rules.



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First Base Coach

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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I agree with NO. The stars would be great in any era.



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VP of Operations

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chip71bucs wrote:

I agree with NO. The stars would be great in any era.


I would tend to agree that the stars would be stars.  How brightly they shine might up for discussion.

I'm not saying A-Rod wouldn't have been a star in other eras.  But I'm also not saying we know how much more -- or less -- than someone like Gehrig.

Would Jamie Moyer have been better suited to pitching in the Deadball Era?

Are the players themselves better -- or less -- suited to the style of their eras?

Who would Jimmie Foxx be today?



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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



First Base Coach

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Date: Jul 15, 2016
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Nitrous Oxide wrote:
glewis wrote:

I think she has a good premise, we shouldn't just except the players with the best stats/numbers (whatever they may be) without looking at the era as a whole. I do think many players numbers from the pre-integration era get a boost. I also think Gehrig, Wagner, etc. would be dominate players regardless of era, they may just not be as dominate in terms of the numbers.

I don't think this is the most competitive era - with the # of teams and the growth of other sports. Much as been written about the lack of African-Americans in the game over the last decade. The limitations of opportunities for inner-city athletes (of any race) to have access to baseball.

So what is the most competitive era? Would it be the 1950s?


 The 50s...Yankees alone make the 50s not competitive. I think the 80s. New winners every year.

Ted Williams was awesome pre and post integration. Stars would be stars in any era.


 I was thinking about the impact of the Yankees in the 50s later in the day.

I agree that stars  would be star in any era, the numbers may look slightly different, but the impact would be similar.



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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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Date: Jul 16, 2016
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I try to stay way from these types of debates for a variety of reasons, chief among them, there is no right answer. It really is just an opinion with little real evidence or argument to buttress it; the correctness of Karl's premise is utterly unknowable. We only know how those individuals performed against the competition they were provided and that is where the objective aspects of the debate end, and frankly, where it should end normally. Time's arrow points in only one direction, and there is absolutely no way to know how these things would play out. Would Gehrig and Ruth improve with better training and nutrition available to modern players? Would they even play baseball. How would Jeter do against the spitball. It doesn't matter in this instance because it cannot happen (well, on our tabletops, perhaps, but that is a different "reality.")

But as someone who fancies himself a rabid student of baseball history, I am usually put off by the suggestion that there is a consistent and steady arc of improvement that has as it's analog other athletic endeavors, specifically those of singular event sports like track and field, weight lifting, swimming, etc. Baseball involves complicated kinetic chain event coordination that is more nuanced than running fast in a straight line. It has also existed as a significant profession far longer than other team sports in this country and went through it's adolescent experimentation over a hundred years ago. You want to argue basketball was not fully formed in the forties when the NBA started, I'll buy that. The game had not been played at a high level, with concentrated talent, and some fairly basic strategy and playing styles had not been introduced. Same with football, although to a lesser degree.

But baseball was well-formulated as a serious endeavor by the turn of the century, and thoroughly established by the twenties and thirties. The lively ball introduced new strategies, but I think it informative how quickly not just stars but the entire sport adapted to the new realities. Ruth and Gehrig were not cavemen figuratively thumping rubes over the head with clubs. They were performing against some of the best athletes the country had to offer, a far cry from Pujols and Jeter, who play(ed) in a sports landscape that placed baseball well behind football and basketball, and possibly other sports for the attention of the best athletes in the continent.

If the Negro Leaue players and others had been allowed to play prior to Jackie, the talent level would have been higher, no doubt. The unspoken part of the argument, however, is it may well have been higher than what current players face. People seem to forget that up until a few decades ago, EVERYONE played baseball. Being a major-leaguer was the dream of most athletically inclined young males in this country, and even spastics played ball. It was part of the culture in ways that mere attendance figures and TV ratings can't begin to capture. I struggle to see how that all-encompassing interest would not translate to the quality of play in meaningful ways that current players (at least those born in the US, who still make up a majority of the MLB) are not gifted by.

So at the end of the day, give me Ruth, Wagner, Gehrig, Johnson, and Cobb and I'll kick the living crap out of the best that MLB has today. :)

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General Manager

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Date: Jul 16, 2016
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^^^amazing post!!!!

__________________

"NACSTER'S HISTORICAL REPLAY"

34 REPLAYS IN THE BOOKS!

1876-1883

1896-1900

1906

1916-1917

1921, 1929

1936-1937

1943, 1946

1956-1963

1976

1986

1991, 1996

37,117 regular season games through 34 replays!

 

 

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