Saturday, June 4, 2022

Babe Ruth Is Dead.


So sorry not to be able to palaver with the rest of you during the remarkable series with the Angels, but I was trapped near the inner circle of thought.  

Seriously, it is so sad when something as cruel as work interferes with following baseball.

But I just wanted to say, however belatedly...hey, we beat Babe Ruth!  

That is to say, the modern Babe Ruth, as the moguls of MLB would have it, in their relentless desire to 

overhype a game they don't really believe in.  

I'm referring, of course, to Shohei Ohtani, the bright young star from Japan. The Yanks pounded him for 4 earned runs and 8 hits in just 3 innings, before the Angels moved him back to the DH spot. 

(Last year, the beating was even worse, as our boys notched 7 earned runs off him in just 2/3 of an inning in his one Yankee Stadium appearance—before our pen gave away the game.)

All around, Ohtani had one miserable little series here in New York: 2-12 at the plate with a walk, a double, no RBI, no HR, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts. Plus he was picked off first. 

And did I mention that he was pounded in his one mound appearance? I did.

Of course, this won't stop the hype, which extended to awarding Ohtani a Rookie-of-the-Year Award he didn't deserve in 2018, and an MVP he didn't deserve in 2021. Numerous MLB sycophants writers and TV commentators even hastened forth to proclaim that Ohtani's 2021 season—9-2, 3.18 on the mound; 46 homers, 100 RBI, .257/.372/.592/.965 at the plate—was BETTER than any, all-around season Ruth ever had.

Why, Ruth never stole 26 bases in a season, as Ohtani did last year! we were informed. (Ohtani also got caught an AL-leading 10 times. And The Babe did steal home 10 times in his career.)

Why, Ruth never had such a combined pitching/hitting season as Ohtani did last year! we were told.

Except in 1918, when—despite the whole last month of the campaign being lost to WW I—the Babe led the AL in homers, batted .300 (and led in OPS, at .966), went 13-7 with a 2.22 ERA, and 2-0 in the World Series with a 1.06 ERA.

Let's get real.

Shohei Ohtani is basically a DH with a power swing, who also pitches. That's pretty rare, and something that deserves our praise and wonder.

It doesn't make him Babe Ruth.

Ohtani is simply not a true, "two-way" player. At age 27, he has played all of 8 1/3 major-league innings in the field anywhere but on the mound...and has yet to record a single chance as a fielder, save as a pitcher.

He is a lifetime, .261 hitter, with 104 home runs. As a pitcher, he is 16-9 in the majors, with a 3.62 ERA. He has averaged 5.25 innings a start, and has never pitched so much as a complete game, much less a shutout.

At age 27, Babe Ruth already held what was then the all-time, major-league home run record, with 197 round-trippers.  His pitching career was already completed, save for two more, token, last-game-of-the season starts; he would finish at 94-46, 2.28, with 17 shutouts, 107 complete games, and 4 saves. 

Ruth's all-time home run leadership would last for over 50 years. His record for home runs in a World Series would last until 1964. His record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the World Series would last until 1961.  

He played a very good—if, at times, overenthusiastic—corner outfield, where he was renowned for his strong arm and never throwing to the wrong base.

I know, I know, it's a very different game today.  (Babe Ruth changed it.)

I suspect that Ohtani would probably have been a much better—or at least more durable—pitcher in the deadball era.  On the other hand, The Babe would've had a field day with so many hitters swinging for the fences on every pitch.

And Ruth did not have the DH. And played in ballparks where the fences were almost universally 20-50 feet farther back than they are today. Oh, and he never struck out as many as 100 times in a season. In fact, he never stuck one-half as many times as Ohtani fanned last year.

You all know the old saw: the coach or manager comes out to the mound and tells the quaking rookie, "Throw strikes.  Babe Ruth is dead.)

Well, he is (see the scene of fans waiting in line overnight for his Yankee Stadium showing, below).  

Will we ever see his like again? I dunno. But good as Shohei Ohtani is, it ain't him, Babe, no no no it ain't him.


Local Bargain Jerk said...


Mel said...

Thanks for saying this! Had the same thought: he ain't no Ruth.

Mel said...

Analytics Me This:
Will there be more RBIs if your biggest slugger is preceded by the 8-9-1 hitters or by the 1-2-3 batters? Or even the 9-1-2 guys?

I understand the idea "more at bats hitting leadoff or 2nd," but figure the leadoff hitter is at .333 OBP. So best bet is one RBI (In about a 6-7% of at-bats). But 1-2-3 has a chance of one or two reaching base.

So the Slugger still reaches the plate in the first inning. Of course I wrote this just before Judge's leadoff hr. Something to be said for getting an early lead I guess.

AboveAverage said...

Here's something for all you thinking thinkers to think about. Judge's yearly salary in millions will be the total number of HRs he hits in 2022. 45 = 45 million p/y. 52 = 52 million p/y. 75 = 75 million p/y. It will impact the duration of the contract of course, but hey - I'd rather accept 47 per year over six plus one than 25 over ten.

ranger_lp said...

Yankees Win!!!

JM said...

That's a big Yankees win.

JM said...

Hoss, you're singing my tune about Otani. He's nowhere close to Ruth, who was a great pitcher and changed the game with hitting so dominant, there has never been a truly comparable slugger.

Otani is a good pitcher and a decent hitter, with good power. Totally overhyped, which only makes his accomplishments less impressive than they are.

JM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheWinWarblist said...

Wow, 1 hit shutout, 3-0 win. Impressive.

Thuh-uh Yanks win again.

Kevin said...

Horace, you're totally right. Going back to the 1970's my friends and I started talking about how quickly retired players (in all sports) were forgotten, and that the GOAT seemed to roll out of a factory every 5 or so years. Mass marketing, first it was baby food, then sports, now political science. We've been so dumbed-down, so quickly, and so easily.

TheWinWarblist said...

Bo Jackson and Dion Sanders. Just leaving those names here.

Kevin said...

We currently have five starters in the American League's top fifteen in ERA. I don't ever recall that happening this far into the season.

Local Bargain Jerk said...

They're saying on the radio post-game show that Miguel Andujar requested a trade following his demotion to the minors. The post game guy on WFAN couldn't help but attribute it to Andujar wondering why he was being demoted "when others are struggling, specifically Joey Gallo".

Hearing all that makes me like Gallo less, if that's possible.

BTR999 said...

No he ain’t the Babe. Not even close

Just like Anderson ain’t no Jackie Robinson. Not even close.

Andujar back to Scranton. Gallo celebrates by striking out 3 times.

Meanwhile, we continue to kick tiger tail. Hope they wake up in time tomorrow to play hard and sweep the series.

Kevin said...

Winnie neither of those guys ever had an full season of sustained greatness. Flashes of greatness, yes. But plenty of players would look "great" if a highlight film of them were made. It would have been something if Bo, having been picked by the Yankees in the second round of the 1982 draft had foregone football. He might have had a HOF career. Might. And he would probably still have his natural hips still in place. Sigh..... Sanders almost certainly made the right career choice.

Kevin said...

Local Bargain Jerk, Gallo is out of options so he can only get sent to the minors if he agrees.

Mildred Lopez said...

Otani...the Sho Hey kid

ranger_lp said...

Ohtani can't be greater than The Babe. Ohtani couldn't eat more hot dogs than Ruth...

Local Bargain Jerk said...

Gallo is out of options so he can only get sent to the minors if he agrees.

Yes, I knew this but the Yanks don't need Gallo's permission to DFA his unproductive bee-hind.

Hinkey Haines said...

I wish they’d dump Gallo & stick with Andujar. But they won’t. Maybe they can get a bit better lottery ticket in exchange now that he’s hitting again & looks playable in left, but it’s a shame. I still think Andujar is going to be a productive player while Gallo is a waste of space who’ll contribute virtually nothing to this team, as a player or a trade “asset.”

TheWinWarblist said...

Dion was a halfway decent baseball player and the dominant defensive back of his error. A true hall of fame. And Bo was, well Bo.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, guys. And Winnie, yeah, Bo and Deion were great, though that's a whole other type of greatness: multi-sport athletes. And really, very impressive, and rare.

I mean, there was Jim Thorpe—but even Thorpe couldn't hit a major-league curveball consistently. Neither could MJ.

Ruth...was maybe the greatest athlete of all time, in that he not only transformed the sport he was in, but first brought all pro sports to a mass level. That probably would have happened anyway, though.

HoraceClarke66 said...

The Andujar demotion is a disgrace. And woefully short-sighted. If Donaldson goes down, they could put Miggy on third in a pinch. This was Cashman at his most pigheaded and Three True Outcomes addicted.

JM said...

The woman host on WFAN was just scathing about sending down Miggy and keeping Gallo. Livid. And correct.

To paraphrase Kenneth Mars, Ruth was better looking than Otani. He was a better dancer than Otani. He told funnier jokes than Otani.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Thorpe couldn't hit a curveball, but could pretty much do anything else.

Duke Kahanamoku was the Babe Ruth of both surfing and swimming. There is a new movie about him that is pretty interesting.

Ohtani is a fair pitcher and a pretty good hitter.

Babe Ruth was Babe Ruth. Pitching and hitting.

AnDUjar deserves better, even if he isn't Babe Ruth.

Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside said...

That’s a beautiful picture of Yankee Stadium on the bottom of your post. I’m too young to remember before they paint it over or cement it over the tile, but those ticket stands were still there. Or they move them they looked like those.

edb said...

Great job Horace. You stated it so well.