Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Do Know That Babe Ruth Also Played For the Yankees, Right?

You remember Babe Ruth, right? The Bambino, the Sultan of Swat. Hit 714 career home runs. Singlehandedly changed baseball--and all of sports for that matter--forever. Arguably the most famous athlete who ever lived.

Most baseball fans are familiar with the Babe and his story. Most fans know that he started his career as a pitcher, but when it was discovered that he was a great hitter, he was converted into an outfielder. As good as he was as a pitcher (which was pretty good), we all know his exploits as a hitter.

Again, this is fairly common knowledge to baseball fans. Apparently, it's not common knowledge to Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star.

2 Tribe position players await their chance to pitch

This isn't the worst story ever written, though there is a factual error in it (more on that later). However, in the sidebar "Hitters who hurl" included with the story comes this tidbit:

Blame it on Babe Ruth. Or Ty Cobb. Or Jimmie Foxx.

Since baseball began, hitters have thought they could pitch...

Babe Ruth is a "hitter who thought he could pitch?" Seriously?

The Babe started 129 games as a pitcher (winning 80) before becoming a full-time outfielder in 1919. It's interesting to note how incredible he was in 1919, as he started 111 games in the outfield and another 15 as a pitcher. His batting line was .322/.454/.657 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and he hit 29 home runs in 432 AB. His pitching line was 9-5, 2.97 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 12 complete games. Not the greatest in the world for his era, but still pretty good considering. Perhaps his 1919 season was the best all-around season ever.

To say that Babe Ruth was "a hitter who thought he could pitch" is pretty ignorant. Ruth was a pitcher--a pitcher who hit so well, they converted him into an outfielder so he could play every day. That's a bit different than a guy who has never pitched in the majors coming in to throw one inning in order to save some work for his team's bullpen.

In Wilson's defense, he does mention that Ruth won almost all of his games before becoming a full-time outfielder. So the sidebar and the story contradict each other--what else is new for the Star? Can whoever is editing sports stories there read?

Now to the small factual error: Wilson says that Nick Swisher of the Yankees became the "latest" position player to pitch in a game. Although it is true that Swisher pitched for the Yankees on April 13, the most recent to do it in a game was Florida's Cody Ross, who did it Sunday, in a nationally televised game.

I get that Wilson probably wrote the article last week. But for fuck's sake, can anyone at the Indianapolis Star do any editing? It's not hard--if you don't actually follow any sports yourself (as seems to be the case at the Star), there is this little thing called THE FUCKING INTERNET that will allow you to check your facts in about 12 seconds or so.

As much as I want the Star to increase its baseball coverage, seeing stories like this makes me glad that it doesn't.

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Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

First rule of blogging with multiple writers - Make fucking sure that someone else has not written an article on your topic first.

I wrote an entry on this very same article, posted it and then saw your article. Mine definitely was not as good as yours, so I deleted it.

Happy you were able to post something. I did have a good laugh about us doubling up.

I noted that I would have referenced Jose Oquendo of the Cardinals in the article. In 1988, Jose played every defensive position and became the first non-pitcher in 20 years to earn a decision, a 19-inning 7-5 loss to the Braves. Jose pitched three scoreless innings before allowing 2 runs in the 19th. Not bad.

The Star's staff must be getting pretty thin if they have Phil writing on baseball the week after the NFL Draft.

April 29, 2009 at 12:04 PM  

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