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A message from Ted Williams

Sep 19, 2012, 8:13 AM EDT


Hi, I’m Ted Williams, The Greatest Hitter who Ever Lived.

My time is brief — I’m here thanks to a passing chrono-synclastic infundibulum and it’s gonna take me back to Baseball Valhalla soon– but I had somethin’ I wanted to talk to you all about before I go.

I know a lot of you are concerned right now that this Miguel Cabrera fella may win the Triple Crown and still not win the MVP Award. You’re worried that all of those kids with the calculators and the fancy statistics are gonna make the case for this Mike Trout kid.  Boy, howdy, that will be an unpleasant few weeks of arguin’. Everyone talkin’ about “WAR” and whatnot. Let me tell you something, I fought in two wars and if I never hear the term again, it won’t be too soon.

But let me let you in on a little secret: I won the triple crown twice: in 1942 and again in 1947. And you know what happened? Yessir, I lost the MVP award. Both times. The first time to some second baseman who led the league in strikeouts. I bet that even though that guy is also in the Hall of Fame, most of you couldn’t even come up with his name without checkin’ first. Go ahead, give it a try. Ha ha, I knew it.

The second time I won the triple crown I lost it to a fella you have heard of: Joe DiMaggio. Now, don’t get me wrong, Joe was a helluva player. But go take a look, my friends: he didn’t lead the American League in any significant statistical category in 1947. Heck, I had over one hundred points on him in on-base percentage. He had a lot of good teammates that year, no question, and his boys won the World Series like they always did, but that may have been his seventh best season in a thirteen year career.

Not that old Ted gettin’ overlooked was anything new. 1941 was a humdinger of a year. I hit over .400! No one has done it since. That’s over 70 years now, and only a couple of fellas have even sniffed at it. And it wasn’t empty average, either: I led the league in slugging percentage, on-base percentage (.553, my friends), batting average, runs, walks and home runs.  And guess what? That’s right, old Joe won that MVP award. All because he had a 56-game hitting streak. And heck, I even had a better average during his hitting streak than he did!  You can look it up.

But I’m not tellin’ you all of this to get your sympathy. I don’t need it. My legacy is secure. No one thinks less of me as a ballplayer. And Ted here is comfortable in his own skin. Probably more comfortable than old Joe is. No, I’m tellin’ you this because I want you to know that, from what I can tell about this Cabrera fella, he’s gonna be alright if you don’t give him the MVP. Probably more than alright. And if I’m bein’ honest, I don’t think he should win it anyway, triple crown or no.

I’m no math whiz, but I can tell that this Trout kid has had a better year than Cabrera. He’s not been the hitter that Cabrera has been. Close, sure, but not quite. But the thing about that MVP Award is that you have to look at both offense and defense. And when it comes to defense Cabrera can’t hold a candle to the kid. The kid is a fantastic center fielder. Cabrera is a bad third baseman. If you need to look at some numbers to tell you that, well, you’re beyond helping. Same goes for his base running, too, and that matters a whole lot.

I bet Cabrera knows all this.  And what’s he gonna do, complain about it? When he knows that Old Ted was jobbed way worse than he ever could be?

Oh well, it looks like it’s time for me to be goin’. But I’m glad we had this talk.  Think about it a little. And when everyone starts to fussin’ and fightin’ over the MVP award, ask yourself: will the world really end if a triple crown winner doesn’t get it?  I think you coulda figured that out even if I hadn’t talked to you today.

Bye, friends.

  1. The Common Man - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    Wait! Ted! Don’t go! We have so many questions. What do you think of Jim Rice in the Hall of Fame?

    • indaburg - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      I have a question too, Mr. Williams! Should Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark Maguire and the others of the needle class make the HOF? Seeing as many of the guys you played with were on performance inhibitors, I would be curious to hear your take on this. Thank you, sir.

      (Speaking as a red blooded American female, that picture is smokin’. What a hottie.)

  2. kevinleaptrot - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    That was Freakin’ Awesome! Hall of Fame ballplayer and Hall of Fame American.

    • kevinbnyc - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      I’m so grateful to the Williams family for letting Craig defrost Teddy for this chat.

  3. nolanwiffle - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    There goes the greatest hitter whoever lived.

    • stex52 - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      He served honorably in the military (twice) as was right in those bad times. But if you gave him back his military years for baseball, he would own virtually every record except for home runs. For a combination of OBP and power, it is hard to find anyone to compare.

      • kevinleaptrot - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        He might have owned the career home run record too if he got those years in the military back. He was at his peak when he went of to war. Probably would have been considered the greatest player ever, not just the greatest hitter, if he got those years back.

      • ufullpj - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        Completely agree on Ted Williams. The act of self sacrifice – military service – has had a profound impact on the aggregated numbers for many players from the 1940’s – late 50’s.

        The question I’d love to know the definitive answer to, though, is would we be talking about Josh Gibson in similar vain had there not been the ridiculous color line?

      • American of African Descent - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        Just remember that some guy named Willie Mays lost two or three prime years to military service. Just saying . . .

      • stex52 - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        Absolutely nothing negative to Mays. I was a big fan of his growing up. I was just talking about Williams here.

  4. Lukehart80 - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Speaking of the Triple Crown, if you combine 2011 and 2012, Ryan Braun win the National league Triple Crown.

    He’s got a .323 BA (to .319 for Joey Votto), 73 HR (to 68 for Giancarlo Stanton), and 215 RBI (to 193 for Jay Bruce).

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      And Albert Pujols won the decade triple from for the NL from 2001-2010. Which is:

      1). Much more impressive
      2). Not actually that interesting.

      • Lukehart80 - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        Yes (about Pujols), and I know there are other examples too. I suppose the thumbs down to my original comment speak for themselves, but I thought it was at least KIND OF interesting.

      • paperlions - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:29 AM

        #2 Cracked me up, all too true

    • nolanwiffle - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.

  5. deadeyedesign23 - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    Old Ted was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.

    • stex52 - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:03 AM

      All this Kurt Vonnegut love. It just doesn’t feel right without Gator. C’mon kids, let’s call him over:

      “Poo tee wheet”!

      • Old Gator - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:30 AM

        Ted! Wait! You left your head on my desk!

      • Old Gator - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        Phooey. Whoever gave me a thumbs down is an asterisk.

    • hokiegajanisgod - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      Old Ted was a victim of a series of New York sports bias…not accidents.

      He was waay better than Joe DiMaggio.

      And the NY bias is still in effect. How else do you explain Derek Jeter winning multiple Gold Glove awards!!!

      • deadeyedesign23 - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:54 AM

        Oh boy.

      • paperlions - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM

        I explain the GG awards as managers/coaches being to lazy to be informed….in general, they vote for guys having good offensive seasons, unless a player already has the reputation of being a fantastic defender.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        Great point Hokie. Jeter is/was certainly above average defensively.
        But like Paper said…a good offensive season seemingly outweighs everything.
        I feel it’s definitely contradictory.
        I mean, after all it is supposed to be a defensive minded award.
        But if it were truly a defensive minded award Brendan Ryan and Clint Barmes would win it.

    • ptfu - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      So it goes.

    • hokiegajanisgod - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      Yes, I know the quote was from the overrated Vonnegut (get off your literary high horse..we all graduated from college).

      I’ll take F. Scott Fitzgerald over Vonnegut anytime…just like Ted Williams over the overrated Joe DiMaggio.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM

        Then you should know it was just a joke and you can save your Yankee bias rhetoric for someone who gives a damn.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        Wow Hokie. I was with you previously…
        Then you used the word “overrated” while referring to Kurt Vonnegut and Joe DiMaggio.
        I can only guess you are Baseball playing superstar who moonlights as a literary genius.

      • stex52 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:58 PM

        I’m not sure what the point of contact would be between Fitzgerald and Vonnegut. That’s like saying “I like chocolate better than I like going to the beach”. Or something. As to DiMaggio, sure Williams was better, but he put up some pretty amazing stats, too. “Overrated” is a strong word for his resume.

  6. Brian Donohue - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    CC channeling KV channeling TW. Kilgore Trout for MVP!!!

  7. heyblueyoustink - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    So, the moral of the story is, when they froze Ted’s head, the kept the vocal chords intact?

    • 4cornersfan - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      He is going on tv next. A talking head.

  8. southofheaven81 - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    Awesome. Enjoy your monthly trips to Hell to kick Hitler in the balls, Ted! You fucking rule.

  9. Detroit Michael - Sep 19, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    Actually, Trout probably has been a better hitter too, but that’s close. Not close (were the season to end today) considering the other aspects of winning baseball games.

    • Old Gator - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:33 AM

      I remember nothing about Kilgore Trout playing baseball. Maybe he played in the minors, and then crawled up his own asshole and died.

  10. larrytsg - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    OK, this was awesome, but I think the best part (Craig, sorry for hijacking this) is when Ted starts to refer to himself in the third person “Not that old Ted gettin’ overlooked was anything new”. I was waiting for him to rip off a mask and reveal himself as Rickey Henderson!

    We all know Williams was ripped off in 41, 42, and 47 for MVP, and this in a league with only 8 teams! In the end, New Yorkers will always believe that Joe was a more sophisticated and smooth player, while Ted was….. an ornery guy. Let’s see….. Mr Marilyn Monroe versus the Fighter Pilot, Mr Coffee vs Ted Fisherman, oh well……

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      Whoa Nelly. Hold it larry, if we’re bringing Marilyn into this, the duel is Mr. Monroe and one other wife for Joe, and 3 wives and a fourth partner for Ted. As for WWII, it’s Sgt. Joe D of the Army Air Forces before his medical discharge vs Ted serving as a Marine flight instructor. Ted soared to war hero status during the Korean War, where he served as wingman to future astronaut John Glenn.
      And is there really anybody out there who wouldn’t want BOTH of these guys on their team?

  11. yahmule - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Ted is so awesome he didn’t even point out that he got jobbed on those MVP awardss by bitter asshole baseball writers. In the 1947 voting, one writer left him off their ballot entirely, effectively handing the award to DiMaggio who squeaked by with 202 points to Ted’s 201.

    • moogro - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      Squeaked by good. Eke out bad.

  12. charlutes - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Liked this.

  13. yahmule - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Ted is so awesome he didn’t even point out that he got jobbed on those MVP awards by bitter asshole baseball writers. In the 1947 voting, one writer left him off their ballot entirely, effectively handing the award to DiMaggio who squeaked by with 202 points to Ted’s 201.

  14. jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    I love it. Leading the league in strikeouts used to mean you struck out 95 times.

    • 18thstreet - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Yeah, the sport really changes all the time.

      It’s part of the reason that, when I’m doing those “best of all time” discussions, I prefer to limit myself to roughly 50 years or so. I think it’s reasonable to consider the modern era, at this point, as being post-expansion in 1969.

      • thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        My off-the-top-of-my-head New Modern Era All MLB Team

        C: Johnny Bench (sorry Mike Piazza, you were a better hitter, but that glove was just too wonderful)
        1B: Albert Pujols
        2B: Joe Morgan
        SS: Alex Rodriguez
        3B: Mike Schmidt
        LF: Barry Bonds
        CF: Ken Griffey Jr
        RF: Ricky Henderson (yeah, I know he was also a left fielder. He can play right…it’s fine)

        SP: Roger Clemens
        SP: Tom Seaver
        SP: Greg Maddux
        SP: Randy Johnson
        SP: Pedro Martinez

      • 18thstreet - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:59 PM

        I agree, except that (a) it a cop-out not to choose a real right fielder and (b) you’re only allowed one starting pitcher.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:09 PM

        So, here’s the Fangraphs list of best RF for the last 25 years.

        Absolutely amazing: even if Hank Aaron starts playing at age 28, his career still leaves his the best RF of this time. I don’t think I’d choose Reggie Jackson, because he really faded quite a bit after 28.

  15. randygnyc - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Excellent article, Craig!!

  16. thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    “a. He’s not been the hitter that Cabrera has been. Close, sure, but not quite. But the thing about that MVP Award is that you have to look at both offense and defense.”

    AND baserunning. Trout has also swiped 46 bags.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      “Same goes for his base running, too, and that matters a whole lot.”

      Did he add that to the article after your post, or did you just miss it?

      • thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        I probably missed it. There are a lot of words in that post. I have things to do, you know?*

        *statement may not be true.

  17. number42is1 - Sep 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    is it weird that i read this in a southern drawl and picturing Ted chewing on a piece of straw?

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      Not the least bit weird 42.
      Now…don’t get me wrong. You are very much a weirdo. As weird as they come in fact.
      But I also read this in a southern drawl.
      The only difference is…I pictured Ted smoking a cigarette.

    • schlom - Sep 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      Probably, considering Ted Williams is from San Diego.

  18. thefalcon123 - Sep 19, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Really, everyone shouldn’t so worked up about the MVP. I know we all do, myself as well, but the voters usually do a pretty horrific job of giving out the award. Every couple of years, they give the award to someone who is clearly inferior to one or even a whole host of other players (Eckersley, Morneau, Tejada, Gonzalez, etc).

    Given the BBWAA’s track record, we shouldn’t be surprised it Delmon Young nabs the award.

  19. astrosfan75956 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Give the MVP to Trout, he deserves it!

  20. pshanks62 - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Base running is about a hell of a lot more than stealing bases….cabrera understands the game and is a fantastic base runner, and deserves the MVP without Cabrera the tigers aren’t anywhere close to 3 games back…Trout and his WAR can shove it, Cabby is the BEST hitter in the majors

    • jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      Is he also a human highlight reel in the field? Does he take the extra base over 60% of the time?

      Cabrera is a modern great and may be an all-timer when all is said and done, but to write off Trout dismissively only sells readers of your comment on your bias, not on Cabrera’s merits (of which there are many).

  21. craig7406 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Ted also approached things scientifically and was a fan of some of the early sabermetric writing; guessing he would be on board with the “new school” approach. From a book “The Ted Williams’ Hit List”:

    “Of those stastics related solely to hitting, I give special credence to one used by Thorn and Palmer, known as production. Production (PRO.) is determined by adding on base percentage (OBP) and slugging average (SLG.). On base percentage is a stat developed by Roth and Rickey in the early ‘50s.”

    “This single statistic most closely reflects my thinking on what makes up a superior hitter.”

  22. philliesblow - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Trout vs. Cabrera = Mays vs. Ruth. One great all around player vs. a feared, game changing slugger. Will be interesting to see if Trout can stay at this level in years to come.

  23. plmathfoto - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Loved this.

    Also slightly off topic, loved the Dimaggio stuff as well. But has any one thought about how much Joe D would’ve been skewered in this day and age? Take your pick besides his gigantic ego, making sure he always was referred to as the greatest living player, his private life with Marilyn, etc..

  24. moogro - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    What’ll be weird is if Trout gets the MVP but loses ROY. It’s possible.

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