In Defense Of Babe Ruth
Jared Carrabis Couldn't Make A D3 Team Either
I started writing this blog in August. Ohtani was on top of the world, and the MLB Twitterverse, for some reason, started dragging Babe Ruth in the mud again. That ended with Ohtani’s injuries.
Then, people suddenly came out of the woodwork again this weekend to put up some clickbait posts because they had nothing else to discuss during this offseason. So, I will clickbait the clickbaiters and write a little defense of Babe Ruth blog.
Disclaimer: I think it’s stupid to compare different eras in baseball. They were practically different sports. However, I want to put some pro-Ruth stuff out to counter the negativity. Instead, they should be constantly embracing the past and encouraging the young fans to do so as well. Trying to grow the game by bringing down the foundation that it is built upon will lead us to ruin
In an era where the concept of a home run was still evolving, Ruth’s ability to hit the ball out of the park was revolutionary. When Ruth hit a then-unprecedented 29 home runs in 1919, he didn’t just break the existing record – he nearly doubled it. But he didn’t stop there. In 1920, he obliterated his own record by hitting 54 home runs, a figure that was more than any other American League team hit that year. This wasn’t just superiority; it was rewriting the rulebook. No one outside of Ohtani is rewriting the rule book. So, to have a tweet like this is lazy.
Let’s go and compare their whole season real quick.
Again, this is not a knock on Matt Olson at all. It is a critique of these major MLB accounts that for some reason are trying to start useless arguments within the baseball community. .
A Comparison with Contemporaries
To grasp Ruth’s dominance, consider his contemporaries. In the 1920s, the era of Ruth’s peak performance, the average number of home runs per team per season fluctuated around 50. Ruth alone was out-homering entire teams! His 60-home run season in 1927 stood as a record for 34 years and was more than double the total of his closest competitor that year. This video below, done by Baseball Rankings, highlights how dominant he was compared to his peers. Have fun finding anything close to this discrepancy in today’s game.
In Ruth's time, the technology and materials used for bats were vastly different. Bats were generally heavier and lacked the tailored, ergonomic designs seen in modern bats. Ruth often used bats weighing around 40-54 ounces, significantly heavier than the 30-34 ounces typical in today's game. This difference in weight affects swing speed and control, making Ruth's power-hitting even more impressive.
Gloves and Protective Gear
Fielding gloves were far less sophisticated and offered less support and protection. They were smaller, less padded, and didn't have the webbing or pocket design of modern gloves, making fielding more challenging. Additionally, protective gear like batting helmets didn't exist, increasing the risk of injury, especially for power hitters like Ruth, who often faced pitchers aiming to intimidate or brush them back.
Ball and Uniforms
Baseball itself has undergone significant changes. Earlier, baseballs were less tightly wound and would become softer and less lively as the game progressed. It wasn’t until 1920 that umpires began cleaning balls. Prior to this, they were just brown blobs coming at the batter. This was a result of Ray Chapman getting hit in the head and passing a few hours later.
Uniforms, too, were made from heavier, less breathable materials, affecting players' comfort and agility.
Training and Conditioning
Lack of Specialized Training
In Ruth's era, the concept of specialized training routines for athletes, particularly baseball players, was almost non-existent. Training methods were rudimentary, with little understanding of sports science or nutrition. Players often had off-season jobs and didn't train year-round, which is a stark contrast to the modern athlete's lifestyle and commitment.
Nutrition and Lifestyle
The importance of nutrition and its impact on athletic performance was not well understood or emphasized. Players like Ruth were known for their hard-living lifestyles, which included heavy drinking and smoking, habits that would be highly discouraged for athletes today.
Medical and Rehabilitation
Medical knowledge, especially in sports-related injuries, was limited. Rehabilitation methods, if they existed, were primitive. The lack of advanced medical support meant that players had to play through injuries or face lengthy recovery times, potentially affecting their performance and longevity in the sport.
Ruth battled injuries his entire career. Including a near-death illness that kept him out the first two months of 1925. Oh, and it was so bad the country thought he was dead.
So, why even take 30 minutes to write this? Because of garbage like this.
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