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Are ballplayers today better than previous eras?

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Postby ThatDude » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:42 pm

noseeum wrote:That Dude, I don't understand your logic. You say you can't compare eras, but then you say just because a guy is one of the best in his era, doesn't mean he should be in the hall.

Don't you think those two thoughts conflict?


No, I don't.

I don't think the Hall is for people who were one of the best in their era, it should be for people that transcend all eras.

Maybe I'm not explaining it well enough, but it makes perfect sense to me.
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Postby great gretzky » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:45 pm

this is tooo tough, especially in baseball.

I think there is no doubt that football and basketball players (with some noted exceptions) are definitely better now.

Baseball, its hard to tell. Because the old guys would know to use smaller bats be able to use the same training, have more pitches and strategies than they had in the past, etc. They also would be MUCH more comforatable in creature comforts, especially during travel, which I think is an underrated aspect of this. Could you imagine taking the train for some of these series? how tired and out of it would you be?

AND, what would have happened if Ruth and Aaron had access to HGH or Steroids? They could have gone totally buck wild.

I do think that in general, it is much, much harder to be a pro in any sport that you can make millions in now. The expansion hasn't kept up with the increase in population in America, and now the leagues are taking so many more international players. the pool of comeptition has gone up, as have the incentives. For a lot of the old-ttimers, these sports were part-time gigs. so if they could take care of their bodies better, have better travel accomodations, and better means of cheating if they so desire, its too tough to tell.

I do think the flip side is, that so many of these guys were protected by the media, Ruth especially, that their lifestyles simply wouldn't fly in this day and age. Ruth was such a hedonist, he would be out on the town, and possibly mixed up in drugs. Imagine Joey D and Marilyn today? With the way they focus on people who couldn't hold his jock or her bra today, how distracting would the new media approach to famous couples derail him?

I think the reverse would have benefitted aaron and maris though. While racism is still pervasive, I have no doubt the mentral stress on african american players would have been lessened, possibly leading to BETTER stats without that headache.

Too many vairables ultimately.
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Postby wkelly91 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:45 pm

A few thoughts:

1) Prior to the Ruth era the whole strategy for the game was different...slapping hits rather than slugging.

2) The parks were much, much larger back in the Ruth era.

3) The mound was lowered.

4) The equipment is much better today. How many balls were hits with the small gloves back then versus todays gloves? The bats are much lighter and easier to whip today than the old ones.

5) Players had much rougher schedules back then riding trains for days rather then flights.

6) Players had to work in the off season rather than workout.

7) Much smaller foul space in parks equates to more chances for hitters today.

8) Pitchers won't throw at batters today who crowd the plate for fear of reprisal from the league or the player....versus the old days when they laid them flat.

Just a few thoughts....
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Postby noseeum » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:50 pm

ThatDude wrote:
noseeum wrote:That Dude, I don't understand your logic. You say you can't compare eras, but then you say just because a guy is one of the best in his era, doesn't mean he should be in the hall.

Don't you think those two thoughts conflict?


No, I don't.

I don't think the Hall is for people who were one of the best in their era, it should be for people that transcend all eras.

Maybe I'm not explaining it well enough, but it makes perfect sense to me.


But given the proven fact that it becomes more and more difficult to dominate a sport as it matures (which is essentially what I would gather you mean by "transcending eras"), don't you think you're excluding too many modern players?

Look at the 20s-40s, and how many "transcendent" players there were. There weren't. It was just easier to dominate back then. The Yankees had a few of them on their rosters at the same time. Every decade, there will be fewer and fewer per decade, until you're down to just Bonds, Clemens, and Maddux for the last 20 years.

There's holes in your analysis. You should watch college sports if you want to people run rougshod over the competition. It don't happen anymore. Even Bonds' ridiculous years pale in comparison to the dominance Ruth showed. It's more a reflection of era and the ability to dominate than the player.

They'll never be another Ruth in baseball. They'll never be another Gretsky in hockey. There will be great players, but their stats will never match up in terms of sheer dominance over other players.
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Postby ThatDude » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:10 pm

noseeum wrote:
ThatDude wrote:
noseeum wrote:That Dude, I don't understand your logic. You say you can't compare eras, but then you say just because a guy is one of the best in his era, doesn't mean he should be in the hall.

Don't you think those two thoughts conflict?


No, I don't.

I don't think the Hall is for people who were one of the best in their era, it should be for people that transcend all eras.

Maybe I'm not explaining it well enough, but it makes perfect sense to me.


But given the proven fact that it becomes more and more difficult to dominate a sport as it matures (which is essentially what I would gather you mean by "transcending eras"), don't you think you're excluding too many modern players?

Look at the 20s-40s, and how many "transcendent" players there were. There weren't. It was just easier to dominate back then. The Yankees had a few of them on their rosters at the same time. Every decade, there will be fewer and fewer per decade, until you're down to just Bonds, Clemens, and Maddux for the last 20 years.

There's holes in your analysis. You should watch college sports if you want to people run rougshod over the competition. It don't happen anymore. Even Bonds' ridiculous years pale in comparison to the dominance Ruth showed. It's more a reflection of era and the ability to dominate than the player.

They'll never be another Ruth in baseball. They'll never be another Gretsky in hockey. There will be great players, but their stats will never match up in terms of sheer dominance over other players.


I don't see any holes, I just see a significant difference of opinion, which is why we will probably never see eye to eye on this.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:28 pm

wkelly91 wrote:A few thoughts:

1) Prior to the Ruth era the whole strategy for the game was different...slapping hits rather than slugging.

2) The parks were much, much larger back in the Ruth era.

3) The mound was lowered.

4) The equipment is much better today. How many balls were hits with the small gloves back then versus todays gloves? The bats are much lighter and easier to whip today than the old ones.

5) Players had much rougher schedules back then riding trains for days rather then flights.

6) Players had to work in the off season rather than workout.

7) Much smaller foul space in parks equates to more chances for hitters today.

8) Pitchers won't throw at batters today who crowd the plate for fear of reprisal from the league or the player....versus the old days when they laid them flat.

Just a few thoughts....


The other thing that happened in Ruth's career was that pitchers had been allowed to slather the ball w/ chaw, loogies, licorice and anything else that they could think of until Ray Chapman got killed by a ball during a game. Shortly thereafter they started the modern day practice of keeping the ball cleaner and more visible.

Another development that might not be understated would be the popularization of relief pitchers so, instead of getting an AB or two vs. a gassed dude, you are up against some high heat out of the bullpen. On teams w/ deep pens, they trot out a fresh arm during 7-8-9 in a close game.
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Postby Art Vandelay » Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:58 pm

Of course they're better today. If you took any team as it is today, and plunked it into a previous era (assuming they get to keep their knowledge and use of scientific advances that have helped the game) they would absolutely dominate. Same goes for just about every sport.
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Postby stevekahuda » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:28 am

The 1950s - early 1960s are most likely when the strongest teams existed. Baseball was America's game, kids still played pick up games. There were 16 teams, the Negro leagues were being absorbed into ML baseball, Latin American talent was beginning to show up, and most importantly, and I can't emphasize this enough...

There were no other sports competing for players. If you were an athlete with baseball ability you played baseball. Football was a joke, basketball wasn't serious as a pro sport yet. That's no longer the case. Kerry Collins and John Lynch for example were each able to throw baseballs in the high 90s. Chris Young and Todd Helton are aberrations now. Lots of very talented players now play other sports. The other thing overlooked is that weight training in baseball isn't as important as being able to actually hit the ball. This skill is most likely exactly the same between eras. The best of the best were always selected. So in short, this era most likely had a much higher concentration of talent.
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Postby stevekahuda » Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:31 am

Art Vandelay wrote:Of course they're better today. If you took any team as it is today, and plunked it into a previous era (assuming they get to keep their knowledge and use of scientific advances that have helped the game) they would absolutely dominate. Same goes for just about every sport.


I agree with you in terms of basketball and football, but those are sports where the strategy of the game has evolved over decades. Baseball strategy (offensively) is, I imagine, much the same. With regards to pitching, I bet those other teams would catch on real fast. Or they might not need to since their starters were used to being used for much longer. Baseball is not a game predicated on speed, strength, or jumping ability.
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Postby noseeum » Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:00 am

stevekahuda wrote:The 1950s - early 1960s are most likely when the strongest teams existed. Baseball was America's game, kids still played pick up games. There were 16 teams, the Negro leagues were being absorbed into ML baseball, Latin American talent was beginning to show up, and most importantly, and I can't emphasize this enough...

There were no other sports competing for players. If you were an athlete with baseball ability you played baseball. Football was a joke, basketball wasn't serious as a pro sport yet. That's no longer the case. Kerry Collins and John Lynch for example were each able to throw baseballs in the high 90s. Chris Young and Todd Helton are aberrations now. Lots of very talented players now play other sports. The other thing overlooked is that weight training in baseball isn't as important as being able to actually hit the ball. This skill is most likely exactly the same between eras. The best of the best were always selected. So in short, this era most likely had a much higher concentration of talent.


Not so. The country's population was way smaller. There were less organized sports. There were not scouts spread all over the world.

Yes, there is competition for the best American talent, but there is MORE American talent, and there is more internation talent, found and developed at a much younger age.
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