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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Murray Chass on Baseball: NO TO MINNIE AND ROGER

Talk last week about the Houston Astros’ idea of bringing Roger Clemens back to pitch for them this season prompted recollection of the Chicago White Sox attempt to bring back Orestes (Minnie) Minoso, the outstanding Cuban outfielder, to play in the final week of the 1990 season so he could become the first major leaguer to play in six different decades.

...Turning to the Clemens issue, Vincent said, “I think the tragedy here is Clemens’ lack of mental health. It reminds me that these guys, whatever their financial circumstances, they miss being center stage, going behind the curtain and not having a life. It’s a substantial problem.”

Which ties in nicely with Fay Vincent’s recent “Getting old, you have ‘no agenda and are not trying to impress anyone;’ trying to crush dissent proves a folly”. (WARNING: Metamusillyness abounds!)

In my case, the great men of my youth, the sports and literary and music and political giants, are all gone. So I cling to the joy of listening to tapes of Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman while maintaining to all who will listen that Jim Brown was the greatest football player I ever saw — and by a large margin.

We are, of course, resisting the young who are so ignorant of history. I confront many who seem to believe baseball was invented in about 1970. One prominent writer claimed Jeff Kent was the greatest right handed hitting second baseman in baseball history. The greatest record in baseball history is not the 56-game hitting streak of the luminous Joe DiMaggio but rather the incredible record set by Rogers Hornsby — a second baseman — when he hit for an average of over .400 in five years from 1921 to 1925. Imagine hitting .397, .401, .384, .424, and .403. That record will never be broken. How can anyone ignore Hornsby and his .358 lifetime batting average?

Repoz Posted: September 16, 2012 at 08:26 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4237254)
I think the tragedy here is Clemens’ lack of mental health

The tragedy here is a bitter, bitter, old man's lack of perspective.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4237416)
And in both cases, everybody knows the real star was Mickey.

Anyway, you certainly do have to do some major timelining to get Kent anywhere near Hornsby. But one of the reasons we'll (almost surely) never again see anybody hit 400 over a multi-season stretch is because we will (almost surely) never again see an era when the league BA is 294 as it was during Hornsby's run. The league BA for Kent's career was 267.

Kent might have a claim for the post-integration era although Robinson himself is his first competition. After that a simple OPS+ list of RH 2B with at least 1200 games there turns up Grich at 125, Kent at 123, Sandberg at 114 and Biggio at 112. Biggio had a ton more PA but even equivalising those only gets him up to about 119. If we rank by Rbat (P-I won't let you use oWAR), Kent is 38 runs ahead of Biggio and 42 ahead of Grich.

So Kent has a good case as best-hitting RH 2B of the post-integration era or at least the post-Robinson era. That puts him in the conversation for best since Hornsby (Joe Gordon, Lazzeri as a contemporary spring to mind but you can argue that Kent beats them).
   3. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 16, 2012 at 08:05 PM (#4237506)
I cling to the joy of listening to tapes of Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman

You might want to get those old tapes transferred to a digital medium, Murray.

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