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Thu Nov 8, 2012, 06:36 PM

Bill Clinton is Babe Ruth. Obama is Ted Williams. Discuss.

Last edited Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:49 PM - Edit history (2)

First, though Babe Ruth is a bigger name outside baseball, this OP does not suggest that Clinton, or Babe Ruth, is better. (I am a Ted Williams guy, myself.)

Any serious statistical analysis of baseball tell us that the greatest hitter of the pre-steroid era was either Babe Ruth or Ted Williams. Tiny changes in the analysis can shift the result so it's a good topic of friendly argument.

I think it is uncanny how good Ruth and Williams are (purely as hitters) as analogies for Clinton and Obama. They are the only two 2-term Democrats since FDR, so they are the greatest of the post-WWII era. (In baseball terms, JFK's career was cut short by injury.)

Babe Ruth was too hefty to be a great athlete... except he was. He was a natural. He was even pretty fast, but you took the good with the bad. He was vain about his foot speed, or instance, and thus a reckless base-runner. His wild, undisciplined talent was matchless. Staggering. But also a little unpredictable.

Babe Ruth reinvented baseball. Before Ruth there was no such thing as a home-run hitter. Upper-cutting the ball was considered an unwise strategy. But Ruth didn't listen. He used a heavier bat than anyone in the majors has used in at least 50 years and was a very strong man. And once people saw that you could win his way the whole game changed in only a few years.

Ted Williams was a scientist at the plate. (I prefer him because I can identify more with him.) Discipline and control were everything. He would always take a walk because the math says it's the right thing to do. He didn't have awesome physical power, but he hit a lot of home runs because he hit the ball perfectly. Everything he did at the plate was graceful perfection.

Williams came up as a skinny kid with the nickname "the splendid splinter" and hit .406. (Probably the last average over 400 we will see.) His vision was phenomenal. (A fact confirmed by the US Air force during his two stints as a combat fighter pilot)

Ruth was famous for doing things like eating five hot dogs during a game, after a night spent chasing women, and hitting four home runs.

WIlliams wrote a book about hitting full of mystifying charts. Babe Ruth was instinctive—he just saw the ball and hit it.

And here is something very cool about the two men, that gets to the Clinton/Obama thing.

Ruth and Williams almost always led the league in on-base percentage. They got a LOT of walks.

Williams got a lot of walks because he refused to make a mistake. He would simply not swing at a ball outside the strike zone. Ever. And he hit about .500 over the middle of the plate, so you couldn't really afford to throw strikes either. He punished all mistakes, but did not force things.

Ruth got a lot of walks because pitchers were afraid of him. Even with Lou Gehrig hitting behind him, Ruth was a fairly wild swinger. He would chase junk out of the strike zone and put it in the parking lot. So pitchers had to pitch even further outside.

Same result. Two approaches. Both had incredible abilities, but different approaches. One lacking discipline but so bursting with talent that the highs were better than the lows. One fiercely disciplined and unwilling to make a mistake... dedicated to maximizing his talent.

And at the end of the day, they were the two greatest hitters.

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Reply Bill Clinton is Babe Ruth. Obama is Ted Williams. Discuss. (Original post)
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 OP
Bicoastal Nov 2012 #1
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 #3
baldguy Nov 2012 #4
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 #6
TTUBatfan2008 Nov 2012 #8
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 #9
TTUBatfan2008 Nov 2012 #10
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 #11
TTUBatfan2008 Nov 2012 #16
TTUBatfan2008 Nov 2012 #2
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 #5
2roos Nov 2012 #7
wilt the stilt Nov 2012 #12
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 #14
wilt the stilt Nov 2012 #18
Adenoid_Hynkel Nov 2012 #13
cthulu2016 Nov 2012 #15
Honeycombe8 Nov 2012 #17
Tommy_Carcetti Nov 2012 #19

Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 06:51 PM

1. Does this make Nixon Pete Rose? and George W. Bush Jose Conseco?

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Response to Bicoastal (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 06:56 PM

3. Nixon as Pete Rose is superb. Right on the money.

Ugly, tennacious, mean, driven, corrupt, quite talented but with no brilliance... and around for decade after decade.

Bush though... hard to equate him with anyone super talented.

I'll cross sports and say W was Tim Tebow. "Why is this guy even in the pros? Why do these idiots like him?"

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Response to Bicoastal (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 06:56 PM

4. W is the third-rate Minor League left fielder who thinks he's Ty Cobb.

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Response to baldguy (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:01 PM

6. Exactly. Ty Cobb without the talent or guts

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Response to Bicoastal (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:02 PM

8. Dubya is Barry Bonds...

Both won by cheating: home run record for Barroid and two term Presidency for Shrub. Both are complete disgraces to the country and most people do not respect their achievements. In the same way that there is a big asterisk next to Barroid's home run record, Shrub is an outcast in the Republican Party. You didn't see him being used by Mitt Romney on the campaign trail because he is toxic just like Bonds.

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Response to TTUBatfan2008 (Reply #8)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:10 PM

9. But Barry Bonds was the best player in baseball for a decade before he started cheating

W was never anything but a RW affirmative action hire.

I cannot equate W to anyone with real talent, even a flawed person with real talent.

Baseball, unlike the presidency, is a meritocracy. And Bush wasn't great at anything.

Reagan and Nixon were bad men with undeniable talent. Bush was just a puppet for the big-money boys... Warren G. Harding.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #9)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:11 PM

10. Fair enough

Although I would take Griffey over Bonds.

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Response to TTUBatfan2008 (Reply #10)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:18 PM

11. As a stats guy at the time, Bonds on-base percentage always elevated him in my eyes

Griffey was phenomenally talented, no doubt. And a better athlete than Bonds, and better fielder.

But the sabermetrics crowd (where Nate Silver came from) made a very persuasive case for on-base percentage as the most under-rated stat. Bonds would have very similar stats to someone else, but then you'd get to BB and he had 100 more.

So I would have traded Giriffey for Bonds at the same age.

But that's no knock on Griffey.

I think Bonds won 4 MVP awards before ever juicing. A sad case.

Oh well. In 1916 Shoeless Joe Jackson was a hall of fame level guy, as were Eddie Chicote and Buck Weaver. But throwing the world series is what it is.

You can't cheat.

(Unless your name is Neikro, in which case you can be in the Hall of Fame while writing a book about how to cheat! Pitchers are different, I guess,)

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #11)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 08:44 PM

16. I kind of have a torn view on the roids era

On one hand, "greenies" were used by many players in the past and I think you could argue amphetamines did positively improve the performance of those players. Hank Aaron even admitted to using them, although he says he only used them "one time" when he was really tired during a double header on a long road trip. But that is reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez saying he only used roids for a single year. It's just hard to trust any of them. There are a lot of cheaters already in the Hall of Fame so it kind of feels strange to keep the likes of Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro, Rodriguez, etc. out of the Hall.

But at the same time, the cheating in the roids era is a huge stain on the history of the game. And as a Griffey fan who thinks he didn't cheat, it's even more frustrating to see what others have done while juicing at the same time. But he will get the last laugh. I think he gets in on the first ballot unless some evidence comes out that he cheated. There hasn't even been a single rumor about it, so I doubt it will happen. I hope Bonds never gets in. He is an arrogant asshole who was jealous of McGwire/Sosa and pissed his own legacy down the tubes.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 06:54 PM

2. The only one that should be compared to Ruth is FDR

Ruth shattered records and totally changed the game of baseball. FDR is the only 4-term President and he certainly changed the country with Social Security, the FDIC, the SEC, and so many other programs.

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Response to TTUBatfan2008 (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:01 PM

5. But FDR is not really like Ruth, except in being very great. I'd pick Branch Rickey

Clinton really is a lot like Babe Ruth in the nature of his talent.

Nobody in baseball can match the vast scope of what FDR meant to America, but if pressed I'd go with Branch Rickey:

an innovative Major League Baseball executive elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. He was known for breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier by signing African American player Jackie Robinson, for drafting the first Hispanic superstar, Roberto Clemente, for creating the framework for the modern minor league farm system, for encouraging the Major Leagues to add new teams through his involvement in the proposed Continental League, and for introducing the batting helmet.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:01 PM

7. Hey - publish this post in a magazine

cthulu2016 - you need to send this to Huffington Post or some similar outlet - more people need to see your creativity.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:18 PM

12. go read Summer of '49

and you can make the argument that Joe D was as good a hitter as Ted Williams. DiMaggio was absolutely the better fielder and way better clutch hitter.

Two stats that bring DiMaggio into focus

361 hr's and only 369 strikeouts. No one and I mean no one is even close. Ted had 521 HR's and over 800 SO's.

56 game hitting streak and without a couple of spectacular plays it would have been a 73 game hitting streak.

Furthermore Ruth was also a great pitcher.

I also think that Obama will have a much longer and greater impact historically than Clinton. Clinton did not change Reagan's values of greed, selfishness and hate.

I think Obama changes America into a caring and a better country.

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Response to wilt the stilt (Reply #12)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:32 PM

14. re: DiMaggio

DiMaggio was a truly great player and his streak will never be broken. But Williams was a better hitter.

Keep in mind that Dimaggio's career encompassed much of the 1930s era while Williams' was centered on the 1950s. All hitting stats are higher in the 1930s, for everyone.

And in terms of assessing talent over a career, Williams being drafted into WWII AND Korea make a substantial dent in what are already some remarkable career stats.

I don't think anyone ever questioned that DiMaggio was the superior all-around baseball player. I certainly don't. Williams was a mediocre fielder and probably not the best team-mate. He wasn't a leader like DiMaggio was. And he was never loved like DiMaggio was.

But nobody has ever offered a serious statistical case for DiMaggio being a better hitter than Williams.

As far as picking Obama over Clinton or visa-versa, the OP tries hard to not do so for a reason. Like Ruth and Williams, they are hard to compare.

People seem to have forgotten that Clinton changed a national sense that the presidency was to be Republican forever. He meant as much to Democrats in 1992 as Obama did in 2008.

And 10-20 years from now people will be complaining about Obama in exactly the same way. The compromises we see as necessary in real time will appear tragic errors in the comfort of hindsight.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #14)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 09:42 PM

18. You really are talking to a guy

who studied and memorized the baseball encyclopedia. Ted was a rookie in 1939 and Joe was a rookie in 1936. They were contemporaries. Joe retired in 1951 because he couldn't be Joe DiMaggio anymore. read The Summer of '49 and you will see they were rivals. Joe never struck out and he was a power hitter. No one has ever done that.
My Dad played against the major leaguers of the forties in the service. I have 16 signed baseballs with a ted Williams ball and 3 Yankee balls form the forties and a Brooklyn Dodger ball with Jackie Robinson. I also have a Cleveland Indian baseball from the championship year in'48 worth $10,000.. I also was in the St.Louis clubhouse for Stan Musial night at the polo grounds in 1963 and have a baseball signed by Stan the Man to me and my brother. Williams was probably the greatest hitter of all time but Joe D had some special qualities that are forgotten like never striking out.

That being said the greatest all around player of all time is Willie Mays.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:20 PM

13. Mitt Romney is George Steinbrenner

and everyone hates him

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Response to Adenoid_Hynkel (Reply #13)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:35 PM

15. Mitt is Steve Garvey

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 08:48 PM

17. Never heard of Ted Williams. 'Nuff said. When there's a movie about him, THEN he can be Obama. nt

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 10:05 PM

19. And George W. Bush is Mario Mendoza.

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