posted on Mar, 16 2006 @ 03:38 PM
But look at James' criteria. Mathews wins on EVERY SINGLE ONE.
If you look at his lengthy discussion about Cobb vs. Mantle, he points out that Mantle wins one or two, but only as flukes--e.g., Mantle had the best
THREE peak years, but Cobb had the best FOUR; and Mantle had the best FIVE, but Cobb had the best SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, etc., plus much better career Win
Shares, plus better Win Shares per 162 games, etc.
James then goes on to say that virtually every other expert would take Cobb over Mantle. (I'm pretty close to an expert, and I wouldn't take Cobb
over Mantle. Cobb had Sam Crawford and several other fine players, and won ZERO rings in 24 years; Mantle won a million, and it's not like Hank
Bauer, Gil McDougald, etc., were 1927 Yankees material. It was pretty much Ford, Berra and Mantle... NOT in that order.) Anyway, James says that if
he owned a team, he would take Mantle over Cobb in a New York minute, and have no qualms, and he's sure he'd never regret it, but that objective
ratings and his own system force him to rate Cobb above Mantle.
Ok, then, HOW THE HELL can he rate Brett over Mathews, when EVERY SINGLE CRITERION in his ranking system--check it out; I'm not kidding--puts Mathews
ahead of Brett, some by a big margin? As I've said before, I know Mathews declined drastically after a certain point, and was out of the game real
young. You could win a lot of money in barrooms, betting people they couldn't name the only member of the 500 HR club whose last at bat was for the
winning team in a World Series. It was Eddie Mathews, pinch hitting for the 1968 Detroit Tigers, at age 36. He'd been washed at least 2 or 3 years,
which is really bizarre, unless it was a huge injury or chronic condition.
But you are Mr. "Big Seasons," and Mathews has it all over Brett there. I do remember, clearly, Brett's 1980 season and how the country held its
breath to see if he'd stay above .400, as he did for so much of the season. And until I read James book, his discussion of his ranking system, and
his numbers on these two guys, I was POSITIVE Brett was #2 all-time at 3B.
But remember, I was born in 1953, not 1943. I didn't see Mathews' great seasons. I don't remember the long period when everyone thought Mathews was
a better player than Aaron, and believe it was Mathews, not Aaron, who would break Ruth's 714 record. So it's natural that I, based on what I saw,
think of Brett as the better player.
Now, neither one of us is required to accept James' system, nor any particular ranking of his. As I've said, I think he seriously underrates Goose
Goslin, who was victimized terribly by Griffith Stadium. But I will say this with confidence: If you read James' explanations of his
different ranking stats, and you then look at how Mathews and Brett compare on EACH of those stats, you will feel compelled to conclude JAMES should
have--indeed, was obliged to--rank Mathews ahead of Brett.
He was true to his system, albeit apologetically so--in explaining why he ranked Cobb over Mantle. I respectfully dissent, although your career
length can sure be enlisted on Cobb's side there. But his addiction to K.C. players got the best of him on Mathews v. Brett, and while laying out
their respective ranking numbers--and letting us all see how unjustifiable HIS #2 ranking for Brett was in light of their numbers--he said not one
word to explain a ranking which, in the context of his ranking system cannot be justified.
I'm not nearly as big on 1, 2 or 3 huge seasons as you and James are, which is why I rank Aaron much higher than either of you. I could be persuaded
to go back where I was before James' book on Mathews v. Brett. Pretty easily, in fact. But James himself is in an indefensible position, and that is
Both you and I, however, need to bear in mind: (1) how much of Brett's great career we experienced (in my case, 100%); and (2) how many of Mathews'
great seasons we experienced (in my case, maybe one or two good seasons, but zero great ones). That's GOT to color our judgments.