MLB  > General MLB  > Current Sluggers WAY Over-Rated Part 1 (from "Entirety of Baseball History Replayed")
December 29, 2009, 12:21 AM
Current Sluggers Way Over-Rated

A common theme in baseball commentary is how big and strong and fast and generally awesome the modern day baseball player is versus his predecessors. This was a common topic in the 1950's when I first started following baseball -- and is even more pervasive and exaggerated now. The huge media expenditures and costly tickets probably have a lot to do with it, because if the players now are only as good as the old-timers, what's the big deal? There would go the hype...

It's almost like the guys from, say, the 1920's were a bunch of relative weaklings with very limited talent -- except for a few giants like Babe Ruth.

To some degree, this perception superficially seems to be supported by statistical information. But this support is almost totally invalid.

Granted, the players were physically smaller in, say, 1925. Part of this was because the Deadball era, which put a premium on speed/coordination/agility, had just ended five years previously. Part of this was that people were smaller in general because of nutritional factors.

On the other hand, the case could be made that young men in the 1920's were much more rugged and likely to be involved in physically demanding manual labor (lack of labor-saving devices, smaller white collar class) and probably were just as strong or stronger on average. Also, the day-to-day playing of baseball was far more universal in the 1920's than it is today, where so many other sports and activities (including watching hundreds of HD TV channels, many of them with sports programming) compete for the time once spent actually playing the "National Pastime". And baseball may have been a more attractive career path then compared to now, with limited white collar opportunities in the 1920's for many and few if any sports effectively competing with baseball for athletes.

Most importantly, the home run "numbers" of the 1920's cannot be compared to todays' "numbers" since there was a huge variance from ballpark to ballpark in the ease of hitting homers -- and some of the parks had gargantuan dimensions that would be unconscionable in this age of "arena baseball". There were a number of parks in both leagues where home run hitting was so difficult that it would be illogical for players to even try to knock one out. For example, 15 homers (both sides) were hit in Cincinnati home games in 1925 and 29 in Boston (N.L.) in 1925 -- compared to say 146 in Philadelphia's Baker Bowl. Counting both home and away games, 26 of the 85 homers that the Reds and Braves hit were of the inside-the-park variety.

In the A.L., there were 26 homers hit in Washington (the A.L. champs) and 38 in Boston -- compared to say 146 in St.Louis' Sportsman Park.

Why this discrepancy? Well, for example, it was 424' down the LF line in Washington's Griffith Stadium in 1925, while only 328' to RF -- but with a 30' concrete wall!! Boston's Fenway Park was configured a bit differently in 1925 as well -- 321' down the LF line, but 550' to CF!! In Cincinnati's Redland Field (later renamed Crosley Field), it was 384' down the RF line and 420' to CF. Braves' Field featured a "friendly" 402' distance down the LF line, over 500' to CF, and 365' down the RF line!! And the Dodgers' Ebbets Field was not the bandbox of the 1950's, with a 419' LF foul line in 1925!
 
April 27, 2011  12:01 PM ET

I am sorry to see that my Uncle's message board was banned. It was extremely popular and, while edgy in certain ways, was good-hearted, inclusive, life-affirming, and friendly. Perhaps people were confused in the most recent episodes that 'Toastie'. the drunken Tolstoy impersonator, was Tolstoy himself?

Since Uncle Walt's posts were in many ways the bright spot of this board and 'carrying' it, it seems not only unfair but not very bright and self-defeating on the part of the editors to 'ban' it.

For myself, I will not ever post here again unless Uncle Walt's board is 'un-banned'.

Abby

P.S. In the past week or so, my brand posts received about 1,000 views on this board and Uncle Walt's received more than 1,000. It's always amazed me how self-defeating the editorial practices of message boards are -- a few people are offended by (or, really, jealous of) an edgy, extremely 'hot' thread... and there goes the poster... and the board. Meanwhile, the posts blatantly selling athletic apparel remain. Well, this will now return to being a gloomy, nowheres-ville board now with little traffic and interaction. I hope you know what you're doing. ..

Read more: http://www.fannation.com/message_boards/show_topic/335303-uncle-walts-mess age-board-banned#ixzz1Kjv846J8

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