Monday, February 06, 2017

The True GOAT: The Babe at 122

With all this talk about Tom Brady as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), today, February 6th, is a reminder that, despite the need for "instant classics," the GOAT issue has long been resolved.

Today is the 122nd birthday of George Herman Ruth, and he laughs at all of this.

George - you know, Jidge, The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, The Great Bambino, or as most of us call him, The Babe, sort of once dominated baseball.

And sports.

The Babe -- he who out-homered entire teams -- was in an era with Jack Dempsey, Red Grange, Bill Tilden, Helen Wills, Gertrude Ederle, and Bobby Jones. All GOAT contenders in their own right.

I simply don't have the energy for the debate about Babe not playing against the best competition, etc. While it would be intriguing to see, I would imagine Satchel Paige (for instance) would still have been great, and Ruth would have stayed just as great.

GOAT's win out at the end of the day.

I mean, I'm not going to get into the details of how amazing he was on the field. But I'd suggest just going with 1920, 1921, and 1927 for a start. Or -- save for his horrible 1925 campaign -- how he never dipped below 29 homers and 96 runs batted in between 1919 and 1933.

Oh, and his batting average low in that spell (against, except for '25, when he had "The Bellyache Heard 'Round The World") was .301. In 1933. When he was 38.

While I'm at it -- despite saying I wouldn't do this -- he led the league in OPS (that matters to some) every year from 1918 to 1931, except for 1925, of course.

And he was the best left-handed pitcher in baseball from 1915-1918.

What if he had hit just a little bit more in those years? Think we'd be talking about Aaron or Bonds as the greatest home run hitter? No. Shot.

For you Curt Schilling-types who want to talk about the post-season, well this guy Ruth posted a .326 batting average with 15 home runs 1.214 OPS. Keep in mind he was pitcher in the 1915, 1916, and 1918 Fall Classics.

Oh, and for you Tom Brady "bruhs," Ruth won seven championships.  Seven.


He wasn't perfect. God, no. He wasn't the finesse and brute force of Gehrig, for instance. He stupidly tried to steal second and base and was thrown out to end the 1926 World Series. He got suspended for defying Judge Landis over a barnstorming tour in 1922. He fought with his manager, Miller Huggins (though the two seemed to love each other, and Ruth was devastated by Huggins' passing in 1929). Huggins suspended him at one point, with owner Jacob Ruppert's support.

His 1925 season was largely marred by his own arrogance and excess, including eating too much. Yes, he womanized and drank until he settled down with his second wife, Claire, in 1929. However, his first wife, Helen, who he separated from in 1925, died mysteriously in early '29.

Yes, there were plenty of flaws. Michael Jordan had flaws, and he's the GOAT of basketball, in my opinion.

Anyway, there's so much to Babe Ruth.

So as we're quick to try to anoint Tom Brady as Mr. Everything today, let this serve as a reminder that there are a lot of athletes that stand ahead of the Pats' QB.

And Babe Ruth is the best of them all.

Happy birthday, big fella.

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