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HBT Daily: Is Roger Maris the true home run champ?

Jul 10, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

Guess my answer.

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132 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. bills399 - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    never did I say that white pitchers are better because they are white, that is a racist statement or belief. I listed white pitchers who are viewed by baseball as the best if all time. I am trying to counter a statement that if baseball was integrated a player like babe Ruth would not be viewed the way he is today, his numbers would not be as good. As far as your statements and beliefs on skin color I could not agree with u more. I work in an urban setting and there is a lack of interest among many African American students when it comes to baseball. former players like Darryl strawberry are trying to make baseball more enticing to black youth. Torii hunter has made comments on this as well where he wrongly took criticism for. What I am trying to say is that I don’t know if an earlier integration of African Americans in baseball would have drastically changed the game and the statistics. I may be viewing things thru my eyes and my opinion may me skewed, but that does not mean I don’t understand race. I am enjoying this conversation and I think it is important to discuss minus the politics.

    • zen609 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      “never did I say that white pitchers are better because they are white”

      Yes, that’s exactly what your statement means:

      “hate to break it to the “Ruth only faced white pitchers” people but the greatest pitchers of all time were and are white”

      Your argument was that whites are superior pitchers, therefore adding black and Latino pitchers wouldn’t have increased the quality of pitching, and Ruth’s numbers wouldn’t have been effected

      Then you listed the “Best pitchers of All-time” –

      ” sandy kofax, don Drysdale, tom seaver, warren Spahn, whitey ford. how about a bullpen with randy Johnson, john smoltz, Justin verlander, greg Maddox, Jim palmer, Orel hersheiser.”

      – Intentionally excluding all black and Latino pitchers, as if Paige,Gomez, Gibson, Jenkins, Marichal, Cuellar, Martinez, Rivera, etc aren’t among the best pitchers.

      8 of the last 13 AL Cy Youngs have gone to a black or Latino pitcher. Blacks and Latinos can pitch just as white pitchers – their race does not hinder them in pitching. If the league had been integrated, talented black and Latino pitchers would have displaced lesser talented pitchers on rosters, raising the quality of pitching, just as talented black and Latino hitters would have replaced lesser talented position players.

      In this hypothetical integrated league, the pitchers’ numbers would have gone down facing a league of higher quality hitters. the hitters numbers would have gone down facing higher quality pitching. But not only would the numbers have dropped with greater parity in talent, but there would have been black and Latino players on the leader boards. It would have been like….it is now, when the best hitter or pitcher on a team or the MVP or Cy young winner could be white, black, Latino, or Asian.

      But don’t say that things wouldn’t have been different because whites are the best pitchers – that’s not true. The best pitchers now are white, black, Latino, and Asian – race doesn’t mean anything in terms of ability, and it wouldn’t have meant anything then, either. Some people may think that race is real and that peoples abilities can be determined by race or racial stereotypes,, but it’s just not true. White people don’t pitch better than those of other races.

      So, if baseball had been integrated, Ruth’s numbers wouldn’t have been so gaudy playing in a league whose talent was watered down by excluding talented non-whites.

  2. bills399 - Jul 12, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    so u still want to hang on 1 misstatement where I said all instead of most. u still want to say I was inferring that they were the best because they were not white. u listed pitchers from the past 70 years, as if all would play during ruths eras. I was specifically talking about black pitchers and u had to bring every other minority into the conversation. reason being that there have been a handful of dominant black pitchers since integration, Paige, Gibson, I would even say Richards in Houston and gooden for a few years. this is once again not saying there haven’t been many because they were black, its just a simple fact that there haven’t been many in the past 70 years. So once again, sprinkle 70 years of black pitchers around the league when Ruth played and u would not notice a huge difference in numbers. This argument wouldn’t even be taken place had bonds never taken steroids in the first place.

  3. zen609 - Jul 12, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    You said white pitchers were the best pitchers, therefore the non-white pitchers wouldn’t have displaced white pitchers in an integrated league.

    The Negro Leagues were full of black and Latino pitchers, many of whom would have displaced less talented white pitchers in an integrated league.

    The reason that non-white pitchers were under-represented after integration was a lingering racist idea in MLB that non-whites weren’t intelligent enough to pitch. Unless a non-white pitcher was a sure-thing, ML teams didn’t waste time and money trying to develop them.

    You want to make the point that in an integrated league, the pitchers would be white, because whites are the best pitchers. Well, we have an integrated league now, and the best pitchers are white, black, Latino, and Asian – not white-only. 8 of the last 13 AL Cy Young winners have been non-white.

    In other words: we don’t need to speculate that the pitchers in an integrated league would be white as “whites are the best pitchers” – because we have an integrated league now, and the pitchers aren’t all white.

    As you mentioned earlier, the popularity of baseball among African-American kids continues to decline, which has been a concern for decades now. Basketball is clearly more attractive, and doesn’t require a field or a lot of equipment, aside from a ball and a hoop.But in the era of ML segregation, this was not the case. Baseball was clearly the most popular sport. There were entire leagues of non-white pitchers.

    Again, essentially, the argument that you’re making is that whites are the best pitchers, so in an integrated league, non-whites wouldn’t have been good enough to displace the superior white pitchers, therefore Ruth’s numbers would have remain unchanged in an integrated league.

    In an integrated league, you will find plenty of non-white pitchers, and that can be demonstrated by looking at the current rosters.

    I’m not exactly sure why you would make the proposition that an integrated league would have all-white pitching when we have integration now, and don’t have all-white pitching, and especially since we’re talking about an era in which baseball was the most popular sport in the US, and we had the Negro Leagues stocked with black and Latino pitchers – there was no shortage of non-white pitchers.

  4. bills399 - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    8 out of 14? go back 30 years and it is 9 out of 30. and that is combining both black and Hispanic. how come you didn’t mention the national league any time? that is because there were only three either black or Hispanic pitchers who have won in the last 30 years. That is 11 out of 30, white pitchers in a fully integrated league 19. unless u want to argue that the league was still keeping black and Hispanic players out in 1983, which all I could do is laugh, I don’t see 11 in 30 years drastically changing truths numbers. change them sure but this guy basically becoming a player like dunn because 11 black or Hispanic players have won the cy young in the last 30 years is a joke

    • zen609 - Jul 12, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      The number of pitchers on rosters can’t be determined by CY Young wins – I mentioned Cy Young wins as a premise that non-white pitchers are clearly not inferior in ability. I could have said that one of the pitchers on your list, Verlander, didn’t win the Cy young last year, Price did.

      The number of non-white pitchers on rosters would have been greater than it is even now, simply due to the fact that baseball was THE professional sport of that era. Again, there were the Negro Leagues, which were full of non-white professional pitchers.

      You’re argument here is like tthis one from the 70s, “Blacks can’t play quarterback. Don’t believe me? How many black starting QBs can you name? Blacks can’t play QB.”

      Non-white kids were discouraged from pitcher in baseball after integration into the 70s. Teams didn’t put money and time into developing non-white pitchers. In the 20s and 30s, though, there were plenty of non-white pitchers, Leagues of them.

      It’s funny that after 70 years, some people are still trying to keep non-whites out of 1930s baseball, even on the hypothetical level. “No, it’s just impossible – everyone knows whites are the best pitchers There wouldn’t have been non-white pitchers in an integrated league. OK – maybe a few, but they wouldn’t have been any good, because non-whites are inferior to whites.”

      • zen609 - Jul 12, 2013 at 3:16 PM

        and, look, I know you’ve disclaimed and recanted your earlier remarks by saying:

        “never did I say that white pitchers are better because they are white, that is a racist statement or belief”

        But your arguments are the opposite of that statement – that non-white pitchers wouldn’t have been good enough to make rosters or play to the the level of white pitchers in the segregation era because whites are better pitchers than non-white pitchers – therefore the quality of pitching in the league wouldn’t have changed and Ruth numbers would have remained the same.

        Essentially, you’re saying that the segregated league would have been segregated anyway because non-white pitchers lack the ability of white pitchers.

        Again, in the current era, an era less effected by the lingering racial stereotypes of the 50s-70s, even with the ever declining interest in and access to baseball by African-American kids, there is a demonstrated racial diversity among pitchers in the league. You’re argument says that non-white pitchers wouldn’t have made rosters or had success in an integrated league because white pitchers are better than non-white pitchers, but I’m looking at the current league, and that’s clearly not true.

        And again, this is an era in which black kids are increasingly disinterested in or lacking access to baseball – this was not the case in the segregation era. So, an integrated league in the 30s would have seen a greater percentage of black pitchers than the current league simply because there was a much greater number of professional black pitchers.

  5. bills399 - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    again its easier for u to say things I never said by now using the example that some in the 1970’s said blacks can’t play quarterback, is if I said black people can’t pitch. I never said that they can I said as fae as domination is concerned there are a few examples (Paige, Gibson) but not many. again I never brought it to a level where I said people are held back by their culture or race or whatever, u keep saying that over and over by accusing me. the black quarterback thing doesn’t work if that was aimed at me at all because I would find it difficult to imagine there is someone out there happier than I am that ej Manuel will be quarterbacking my team and will be the face of my team. maybe besides Manuel and the bills

    • zen609 - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:44 PM

      the part of your argument that is akin to the old “blacks can’t QB how many black starting QBs can you name? Black can’t play QB.” is that you’re looking at the post-integration era, when there weren’t a lot of black pitchers because of the racist idea that non-whites weren’t intelligent enough to pitch. It’s the same premise for “Blacks can’t play QB.”

      The argument seeks to prove that non-whites lack the pitching ability of whites by using the premise, “How many great black pitchers can you name?”. It’s the same argument as “how many black starting QBs can you name?”

      The reason for both premises is the same: both non-white pitchers and non-white QBs were scarce after integration because of the racist idea that non-whites lacked the intelligence to play positions, based on the racist, and untrue, assumption that whites are more intelligent than non-whites.

      And the argument in both cases is circulus in demonstrando:

      “Non-white pitchers/QB make inferior pitchers/QBs, therefore, we won’t sign them. As proof, how many great black pitchers/QBs can you name?”

      That’s not a new argument, it’s been used in a racist context for virtually every field during integration in the 20th century.

      The lack of non-white pitching in the eras following integration was not because non-whites can’t pitch, it’s because of this racist idea that non-whites are inferior pitchers to whites, so fewer of them were signed and developed. You’ll observe that Latino pitchers of the 60-90s were mostly developed in their home leagues, not in the Affiliated American Minor leagues. that was the same situation in the segregation era – that African-Americans were developed in their own leagues. After integration and the end of the Negro Leagues, MLB eschewed developing non-white pitchers, in the same way American football didn’t develop black QBs.

      Again –

      1) there was no lack of non-white pitchers in the segregation era – there were entire professional leagues of nothing but non-white pitchers.

      2) the idea that an integrated league would have only a few and weak non-white pitchers because whites somehow pitch better than non-whites is very clearly counter-demonstrated by the racial diversity among pitchers currently in MLB.

      3) Despite your disclaimer of the racist notion that white pitchers are superior to non-white pitchers, your argument is exactly this.

  6. bills399 - Jul 12, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    I want to address ur second set of comments here too. for me to say that satchel Paige, Bob Gibson, even Dwight gooden wouldn’t have made a roster in the 30’s and been an all-star is insane. I’m not saying that at all. what I am saying is that there weren’t enough. this is really a difficult argument, and I’m trying to frame my point that it is not a slam dunk that had Ruth played in an integrated league he would be a shadow of what he was.

    • zen609 - Jul 12, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      There were more than enough. There were hundreds of professional non-white baseball teams in the segregation era. There were thousands of developed non-white pitchers.

      Why do you think the talented players of that era had such gaudy stats? Players regularly batting .400, hitting 50 HRs, 150-170 RBI? Pitchers regularly winning 30 games with sub 2.00 eras? And I mean in the 20-30s, after the mound move.

      Were these guys superhuman? Were they so much better than the players of all eras that came after? No, they were talented players playing in a league with watered-down talent.

      It was after the war and desegregation that these gaudy stats came down to Earth with integration bringing a parity of talent. We didn’t see a great increase until the 90s expansions, which watered-down the talent. That was in issue in the 90s with expansions – that the talented pitchers would feast on the weaker hitters and vice-versa. And that’s reflected in the stat increase from the 70s-80s. the pitching stats would have been insane had the standard pitching management model not become the 5-man rotation with 6 inning starts, 2 inning set-up, 1 inning closer.

      The segregation era was an era of watered down talent, when talented players were excluded because of race by less talented white players, thereby padding the stats of the talented white players.

      If you removed all non-white players from MLB right now, they would be replaced by less talented white players, and the talented white players would feast on them, The stats for those players would be monstrous, like in the segregation era.

      That’s not a particularly difficult idea to understand. I don’t know why you can’t get to that – cognitive bias is my guess – and that’s all in your head.

  7. bills399 - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    zen u make great points but the game was different beyond the integration issue. I respect your point that even after integration there were whites in baseball that did not believe black pitchers could succeed much like the racist thoughts surrounding black quarterbacks.
    I am not sure how old u are but there was a guy with the dodgers as late as 1988 (not sure if it was the gm?) who said black players are athletically superior but inferior in regards to upper management positions. the guy actually said this on tv. the scary part was he wasn’t hateful at all it was just what he believed pathetically enough. I saw the replay years later. from reading some of your responses I hope u don’t think I share the same mindset.
    I think comparing eras is next to impossible, integration is a variable, the level of the mound is a variable, the size of the ballparks is a variable, etc. I just believe racism in baseball has been relatively insignificant in the last 30 years. I know that is easy to say but I believe most GM’s are concerned with one color…
    In the past 30 years I do not believe racism has held back black pitchers, I believe mlb is doing a poor job reaching out to black kids.
    the argument I was trying to make zen is if u take the best black pitcher, Hispanic pitcher, white pitcher all three will cancel each other out. looking at the numbers there are more dominant white pitchers (just over the last 30 years). I don’t want anyone to read into that because that is as deep as I am going. if I said white pitchers were dominant I meant by the numbers not as an overall culture. I truly did not mean to offend u or anybody else.

  8. zen609 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    I’m not offended, and it is problematic to compare eras.

    However, the basic premise you’ve used to support your conclusion not only compares eras but equates an aspect of them, and more importantly, it takes a specific from one era and applies it to another. You observe a greater number of white pitchers in the post-integration era 50-70s, an era in which non-whites were discouraged (and in general non-white players needed to be superstars to get a roster spot – 50s-60s), and the 80s-90s era when African-American kids lost interest in and access to baseball. Then you applied that specific from those eras to the general (at first saying that whites were better pitchers, and then amending that to “there were as many black pitchers.”

    That’s a fallacious argument on it’s face (you’ve extrapolated the sparse number of non-white pitchers in the post-integration era to a general truth for all eras – “there were a sparse number of non-white pitchers in the 20s-30s”. That’s clearly counter-demonstrated by the Negro Leagues. There were plenty of non-white pitchers, just as there were plenty of non-white position players.

    That premise supports your conclusion if and only if it is necessarily true that non-whites are inferior in ability to whites. You’ve said that you don’t agree with that statement, and neither do I. So, the premise is false, and doesn’t support the idea that there wouldn’t have been an increase in the quality of pitching in an integrated league.

    If it is that race is not a factor in pitching ability, and we agree that it’s not, then an integrated league would have included non-white players. The top players in the Negro Leagues were comparable in ability to the top players in the integrated league. That means that they would have displaced the less talented players in the league, raising the level of talent across all positions. The stats of the talented players wouldn’t have been so gaudy playing in a better league.

    That the league would have been more talented had non-white players been allowed to play is indisputable, unless someone wants to make the proposition that white people are somehow magically superior to non-white people in ability. But you don’t believe that, So, I don’t see any dispute here.

  9. bills399 - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    “whites were superior pitchers”. if I made that statement many posts ago (not denying it) I was strictly speaking about numbers. I definitely do not believe in superiority in regards as race perse just what the numbers show. I agree with you that even after Jackie Robinson the 50’s and 60’s and even the 70’s progress was pretty slow in regards to mlb. I have tried to frame my argument from 1980 forward, however zen with all of these posts I admit I have been all over the place. I enjoy having conversations about race because its really the inky way to educate ourselves. I have learned thru our discussions that my statements do not always reflect my thoughts. not using social media as an excuse I need to do better in framing my arguments.

  10. bills399 - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Jesus ill work on proof reading too

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