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Baseball: Is winning overrated?

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posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 02:31 AM
Do you think winning is overrated in this modern world of sports? To me, it seems as if a player cannot be considered truly great anymore unless he wins a championship. I watch PTI on ESPN every day and, although I like Kornheiser, I hate his stance on winning. When they were debating who was the best QB in the NFL, he said Tom Brady because Brady has three rings. So just because Tom Brady's team has won some Super Bowls, that makes him a better QB than Peyton Manning, whose statistics are clearly superior to Brady's?

Winning is overrated. Was Michael Jordan any better because he won some titles? Obvioulsy not, because his greatest statistical years were before he even won a title. What about some greats who have never won? Dan Marino and Barry Sanders in football. Ted Williams and Ernie Banks in baseball. Karl Malone and Charles Barkley in basketball. Their teams never won championships, but they were amazing players. Should we diminish their greatness by saying they couldn't win?

One thing I always try to stress is that teams win championships, not players. Michael Jordan did not win six NBA titles, the Chicago Bulls did. Without Pippen, Grant, and later Rodman, the Bulls were not a complete team. Now I think that winning can contribute to greatness; it just shouldn't be the deciding factor.

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 02:56 AM
Yeah winning doesn't have any drastic affects on the galaxy (that I know of), but its winners that make legends. Now I'm a Pats fan and I despise Manning. Sure Manning has better numbers but he folds in the playoffs consistently. Brady shows he's a better team leader and that is what it comes down to in sports.

The players you listed who haven't won are probably hurting inside because of it. They're all great, but I'm sure they'll never get over the regret. Winning doesn't necesarilly have to be the path to greatness, but unquestionably its the path to legendary status.

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 01:41 PM
Good point. Winning--especially performing in the clutch--make for legendary status. When people think of "moments" that linger in the mind, they think of The Catch, The Drive, Bird's steal in '87, Jordan's shot to beat the Cavs in '89, Gibson's HR in '88, and others like that. What do they think of when they consider Marino? The clock play, to be sure, but what else? I liked Marino, but I will always remember him from Super Bowl XIX, when he had two interceptions and was sacked four times in the second half of a 38-16 loss.

What I don't like is people using winning as the only testing point. Remember that some people never had the team surrounding them. Marino's Dolphins never had much of a defense in his early years, and once they did have a defense, he was past his prime. While Don Shula was there, they didn't have a running game. By the time there was a running game, there were no longer any quality receivers.

Without a doubt, though, winning causes some players to be unjustly elevated to a certain level. Take a look at the stats of Joe Namath or Terry Bradshaw sometime. Namath's were horrible! He had 47 more interceptions that TD passes. Bradshaw only had two more TDs than interceptions. On the basis of stats, should they be in the Hall of Fame? No, but Bradshaw's Steelers won four Super Bowls, and Namath's Jets pulled off the most legendary upset in NFL history.

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 02:14 PM

I liked your point about the great clutch players who never won. Barkley, Reggie Miller, and Stockton (my fav) were all sick competitors who deserved a ring but life is unfortunately not always fair. I still think the previous mentioned athletes are borderline legendary at the very least.

I think winning is the main testing point to greatness because sports is obviously a team game. The individual athletes are marketed for financial reasons and to build a fan base, but it's the team that ultimately counts (just compare the Lakers to Detroit). Also many athletes have had their status elevated because they were lucky enough to play on a great team. At least the brighter sports fans recognize this.

One last thing, I was wondering if your name was in reference to Larry Bird, the "basketball jesus." Here's a quote I found from him that I think seperates the stars from the legends.

"Are you basing it on the regular season or the playoffs? I mean, it's hard to compare guys that have never been to the Finals to other players. If you gear yourself to play six months of the year, it's completely different than gearing yourself to play nine months a year. My whole focus was trying to gear myself to play nine months a year."
-- Larry Bird, responding to Tommy Heinsohn's comment that Paul Pierce was the greatest offensive player in Celtics history


posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 08:56 AM
As a fan of most Philadelphia sports, I can tell you that winning is everything. Take it from me, a guy that knows too much about losing.

The only place winning doesn't apply is at the little league soccer games and that sort of thing, depending on who your parents are.

posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 03:50 PM
I think winning is far more overrated in hoops, hockey and football than it is in baseball.

Any knowledgeable baseball history fan would include Ty Cobb and Ted Williams in his/her list of the 10 greatest major leaguers of all time. Ty Cobb went to the World Series in three consecutive seasons at the beginning of his career (1907-1909), LOST all three times, and never made it back. Ted Williams, despite being on some of the greatest offensive teams in post-WWII history (including one which batted over .300 as a team!), went only to the 1946 Series and lost Game 7 on Enos Slaughter's famous "mad dash" in the bottom of the 8th, 4-3.

Those two guys get all the credit they deserve for having been really great players. If you gave any half-way serious history buff a list of Cobb, Speaker, DiMaggio, Mays and Mantle--the five great CF's--he or she would perhaps wonder whether Speaker belongs there (he does), but would surely not question Cobb's legitimacy. And, leaving Bonds aside for the moment, only Stan Musial could seriously be argued as a challenger for Williams' claim as the greatest LF ever. Also, while Cobb gets all the credit he deserves for having been a $#@*, Williams got all kinds of such credit during his playing career, but has somehow turned into a hero and a great guy in the decades since. He was anything but.

Ernie Banks, largely because he never got to the Series despite all his infectious enthusiasm, seems to be many people's choice as the #1 SS of all-time--a position which is statistically indefensible, in light of Honus Wagner. Bill James has Banks at #5, and I think that is generous, if anything. James has Larkin and Ozzie behind Banks. Hitting is more important than fielding, but Banks was a great-hitting SS for 10 years and a mediocre first baseman for his last 10 years--one James says may or may not rate among the top 100 at 1B, if that had been his sole career.

So, the three most obvious examples in baseball would suggest that winning rings is not overrated there. But I would point out a big difference. In baseball, prior to 1969, you played 154 or 162 games in the regular season, then 4 to 7 games in the W.S. Since then, it's turned into two best-of-7 series, and now a best-of-5 as well, but even so the 162-game season dominates a player's stats and fans' perceptions of him.

In the N.B.A., good players tend to get in the playoffs almost annually, and if they play in 2 or 3 rounds, now they've played a number of games which is significant in comparison to the number of games in the regular season. Ditto for the NHL. And with the NFL, if you make conference title game, that's almost 20% as much as the regular season; if you make the Super Bowl, it's 25% as much.

I don't think this is an empty exercise in arithmetic. I think that the playoffs dominate fans' attention much more in the other sports than in baseball, and that stats dominate fans' attention much more in baseball than in other sports. Therefore, a great player will get his credit more readily in baseball than in the other sports, and may even be seen as a sympathetic figure if he compiles great stats but his team never wins "the big one" for him.


[Edited on 4/8/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]

posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 05:55 PM
I'm sort of on the fence here, guys. Winning, and elevating the level of those around you, is the measure of success in any sport. Sure, you can be a star athlete, have all kinds of outragous stats, but without that ring, you'll always have an asterick next to your name. That's just the way life is.

On the other side of the story, there is more to life than winning. As a Utah fan, you have to know that I think Stockton and Malone are two of the best ever in the NBA, but they dont' have a championship. However, they did still win a lot of games, they just couldn't get through the Chicago juggernaut. There is more on this discussion in this here thread, the greatest NBA player of all time -

Back to your Tom Brady/Peyton Manning discussion. If you were starting a franchise for next season, which of those two woudl you want to build around? Your answer to that question is who you think is the better QB. Me? I'd take Brady, his experience and leadership show the kind of team player and professional that he is.

posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 06:23 PM
I really wanted to see Brady vs. Manning at Indi in last year's AFC Championship Game. But corruption/blindness (take your choice) kept New England out of it in that Denver game (New England's second half going-on-tilt didn't help, either), and SOMEHOW Indi lost to Pitt. As I said in a post months ago, I believe the primary blame for that loss lies at the feet of Indi's G.M. and/or owner.



posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 09:15 PM
personally winning cannot be overrated, its how a team basis there success on during that particular season, every teams goal before the season start is to win, why would anybody want less than that is my question?

Sure winning in some sports is jsut a way to apease the owner or the fans, but when is losing fun

posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 09:28 PM
Oh, never. But there are a LOT more guys in the Baseball Hall of Fame who played with losing teams for all or almost all of their careers than I would expect to find in the other three big team sports' Halls. I'll use two examples:

Ted Lyons is not in the Hall because he was 260-230. He is in the Hall because he was 260-230 with execrably bad Chicago White Sox teams from 1923 to 1946. And he is but one of many examples. In fact, he did have one redeeming feature on those teams--Hall of Fame SS Luke Appling, a.k.a. "Old Aches and Pains," who had a .399 career on-base percentage but no power and a below average glove (for his time).

Even with the .310 career batting average, I don't think Appling and his bad glove and his non-existent power (45 HR's) gets into the Hall on a good team, and I'm CERTAIN Lyons wouldn't have gotten into the Hall if he'd been a pitcher who went 260-230 with a great team. The fact he did it with a perennially horrible team is the reason people remember him, and it's the reason he's a HOF'er.


posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 07:53 AM
Yeah, but does the fact that these guys are in the HOF make winning over-rated? They were obviously good players, they have the stats to prove it. But, are stats everything? Is making it to the HOF vindication for a good player on lousy teams? More importantly, IMO, does having the good stats make the fans feel better about the losing?

I'll throw an answer to that last one, again with Utah as my example. Stockton holds career records for assists, steals, and Malone is second on the all time scoring list, only Kareem scored more. Yes, I like to brag these facts up. But that's because I can't, and never will be able to, say that they are NBA champions. They are my favorite 2 players in NBA history, but they didn't do it, and that leaves a cold spot in the heart.

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 02:23 PM
I can toss in the fact that when I asked my famous basketball star/actor friend to name his all-time team, he took Jordan at big guard, vacillated between Magic and Robertson at the point, vacillated between Bird and Dr. J at small forward, vacillated between Wilt and Russell before picking Wilt at center, but--in picking his power forward--hesitated not one nanosecond.

He said, in a firm and unequivocal voice, that the #1 power forward of all time was Karl Malone.


[Edited on 4/9/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]

posted on Apr, 12 2006 @ 09:24 PM
BHN, that was a great point about the length of season. The NHL, NBA, and especially the NFL accept more teams into the playoffs than MLB, and their length of their postseasons is a much larger percentage of the length of the regular season. In the NFL, a player can get get a 16 games of postseason experience in about six seasons. Jerry Rice played 28 playoff games in his career; that's almost two seasons worth. Does any baseball player have 300 playoff games played? I don't think so (although I am sure BHN know who has the most). In the NFL, winning means so much more because of that ratio of playoff games to regular season games.

What I wish to avoid is making winning the #1 criterion when comparing players. It is just one of the elements one should take into consideration. I love PTI on ESPN, but I hate Kornheiser's approach to winning. He always claims that certain players are better than others simply because they have won a championship. For example, when he and Wilbon debate Brady vs. Manning, he always says, "What has Peyton ever won?" I don't like that perspective. Doing that can diminish the achievements of great players. For example, Barry Sanders. Is he inferior to Emmitt Smith because the Lions never won a Super Bowl? I really hope that no one thinks that.

posted on Apr, 12 2006 @ 10:10 PM
It is my understanding that many NFL players felt, at the time in question, that the best quarterback in the NFL was Archie Manning, but that he never got to prove it because the Saints' offensive line was a perennial joke. I don't know if that's true of not, but I heard it from multple sources, and the perspective supposedly came from multiple NFL players.

Has anyone ever seen Archie Manning listed as one of the NFL's 10, 20 or 30 greatest QB's of all time? Of course not. But if he'd been a fantastic pitcher on a baseball team filled with clowns who couldn't hit, score or field, he would get his full due.

Which is right?

In my opinion, baseball has this one right and football has it wrong. Mind you, you'll not see me say that very often, because when I was a small child, EVERYONE played baseball and followed it like a religion, and the NFL was an upstart challenger to the national pastime. In the nearly half-century since then, oh, how things have changed!

The NFL has shown a great deal of wisdom in marketing its product. It knows which parts of its game have the greatest appeal; it knows that football is best marketed as a team sport (as YeahRight pointed out); and it understands the things which appeal to American men, who are by far its biggest customers.

Of course, not all of this huge cultural change is attributable to the godlike wisdom Pete Rozelle. A lot of it is attributable to the endless stupidity and avarice of the owners--whose ridiculous reserve clause nearly amounted to a nullification of the 13th Amendment for the first 70+ years of the century (and yes, that's hyperbole)--and a lot of it is attributable to the avarice of the players and their reps, who just loved beating up on the owners.

Cancelling a World Series?!! That obscenity was on the owners. But a lot of other cr@p has been on the players. In all, I probably rate it at about 70-30, with the owners deserving about 70% of the blame.

But it hardly matters now how the blame should be apportioned. While some very intelligent people at the NFL were figuring out the very best ways to market their product (other than playing football on the weekend after JFK got killed), some very, very stupid people at MLB, offended that the player-serfs finally had some legal rights, went about destroying what had ALWAYS been THE major sport in America--the one all the great athletes, when given a choice, picked because it paid the big bucks.

Think you'll see that again? Think ANYONE took John Elway seriously when he threatened to play for the Yankees' minor league team if the Colts didn't trade him? (Yeah, John, you were gonna skip a multi-zillion dollar career in football to be a mediocre minor league baseball player.)

Well, it's water under the bridge now, and since Selig's chances of having credibility in his lifetime are about the same as Clinton's were on the point of what constitutes "sex," I sure as hell won't live to see baseball back at #1. So I enjoy reading about the lives of players who played long ago, before idiots like Selig, when baseball really was America's pastime.

And the NFL enjoys the fruits of its long, hard, intelligent labors: The distinction of correctly calling itself America's pastime.


posted on Apr, 12 2006 @ 10:50 PM
You hit the nail right on the head there, BHN. The NFL has definitely outstripped the competition, but their view on winning is not right. Baseball has the correct view there. I would go so far as to say the pressure to win in the NFL is altering the game. A couple months ago I was listening to Colin Cowherd in ESPNRadio. He was talking about Brett Favre and saying that Favre's style was outdated. He said the same about Daunte Culpepper. He argument was that NFL teams no longer want the most talented quarterbacks, but those who will fit in best with the team's system. Favre was and is a gunslinger. He takes chances no other QB will, and in his youth that worked a lot. He is no longer young, and lat year was terrible. Cowherd said that the NFL wants teams with low profile guys who can run the system: guys like Trent Dilfer in 2000 and Brad Johnson in 2002. They want QB's who make a minimal number of mistakes.

I am not a big fan of baseball, but I love the fact that Ted Williams can be named as the best player ever by someone even though he never won a World Series. In football, no QB ever considered as the best ever (with the possible exception of Marino) failed to win an NFL title.

posted on Apr, 12 2006 @ 11:49 PM
I cannot imagine any knowledgeable person's naming Williams as THE #1 greatest baseball player of all time (as opposed the #1 LF), and I don't buy the idea he was the greatest hitter, either. The notion Ruth should get demerits because of segregation applies to Williams, too, because almost ALL of the great black players in the 1940's and 1950's were in the NL. Elston Howard did not become the Yankees' regular catcher until 1961, the year after Stengel was fired (and Williams retired).

Ty Cobb? Yes, I can still imagine an argument for him and I in fact know old people who have been lifelong baseball nuts and who still think he's #1. But with Williams, you run right up against Babe Ruth, who was a similar and clearly superior player. Moreover, Williams had an atrocious attitude. He was insouciant about both fielding and baserunning, even though he was dismal in both departments, and he was terrible with fans. Ruth, until he neared the end and became very fat, was a terrific athlete and, by the clear majority of his contemporaries' opinions, a much better RF than Cobb was a CF (not a big statement per se, since Cobb was an erratic CF, but an offensive run machine).

Williams was clearly one of the Top 10 of all time, as was Cobb. But it's easy to argue Cobb as the greatest of the Dead Ball players, whereas with Williams, the people he goes up against not only include Foxx and Gehrig, but Mantle and Ruth. I think he wins the first two comparisons, but not the last two, though with Mantle it's at least debatable. With Ruth, I emphatically believe it's not.

Bill James, if you're interested, has his latest Top 100 players of all time made up--including Negro League players, with Josh Gibson at #9 and the incredible Oscar Charleston at #4, which, if anything, is probably too low.

But I can give you his Top 20 MLB players of all time--and the beauty of this is that he made this list as of the end of the 1999 season, which, in my opinion, is the point through which we can safely say Bonds' stats were legit. In fact, James providentially made THIS statement prior to picking Bonds' place among the top 20 MLB players of all time: "This rating is based on the assumption that his career ends with the 1999 season."

As far as I'm concerned, it did. What James has to say on that subject today, I don't know, but he obviously could not have foreseen the, ahem, enormous change that was about to occur. Had he foreseen it all, I would like to believe he would not have rated Mark McGwire as the third greatest first baseman of all time. I guarantee you I wouldn't and won't.

I know this new book says Bonds started using after 1998, but I watch their games regularly and did not notice ANYthing clearly different about his size or strength in 1999. In 2000, it was very obvious, and by no means only on that home run off of Seth Etherton. And it became increasingly flagrant as the season wore on.

Note there are NO catchers on this list. Note further that, though many experts agree with James, I disagree vehemently with his #2 choice. I do agree with his top choice at 2B. I will put an (O) by those I think he overrates (ancients, all), an "O!" by those I think he vastly overrates, and a "U" by those I think he underrates:

20. Cy Young (O)
19. Rogers Hornsby
18. Mike Schmidt
17. Grover Cleveland Alexander (O)
16. Lefty Grove (U)
15. Eddie Collins
14. Barry Bonds
13. Joe Morgan
12. Lou Gehrig
11. Joe DiMaggio
10. Hank Aaron (U)
9. Tris Speaker
8. Stan Musial
7. Walter Johnson (O!)
6. Ted Williams
5. Mickey Mantle
4. Ty Cobb
3. Willie Mays
2. Honus Wagner (O!)
1. Babe Ruth

Although I have been persuaded to agree with the ancient (1874-1955) Wagner as the #1 SS, I think putting him at #2 is silly. I also think Walter Johnson is closer to the #7 pitcher than the #7 total player, and I think his stats for his 8 final seasons, starting at age 32 in 1920, when the live ball came in, prove my point. The guy flourished in enormous Griffith Stadium, with excellent fielders, but the live ball changed him a lot.

But for the most part, I agree with this list. And as I've said elsewhere, as much as I detest Bonds (and, of course, Cobb and Hornsby), I think Bonds' rating is appropriate--without regard to what's happened since the 1999 season ended.

When you look at the names Bonds is surrounded by there, you get a pretty good idea why I feel he should be treated differently from the myriad other cheats. On his legitimate merits, he rates among the greatest players of all time--and if rating AHEAD of Schmidt, Collins, Grove and Hornsby, and immediately behind Morgan, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Aaron, isn't good for a first-year Hall pass, I can't imagine what is.


[Edited on 4/13/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]

posted on Apr, 13 2006 @ 01:26 PM
Is winning over rated? I don't think so. I don't see it as even an issue. Where's Marino's SB ring? He's in the HoF. Same can be said for many great players. Conversely, name me any player on the Tampa Bay Lightning(last Stanley Cup champs) after Lecavellier and Richards. It's a team sport. As to M Jordan, if he didn't win an NBA championship I have no doubt that he still would have made the HoF.

posted on Apr, 13 2006 @ 03:10 PM

Originally posted by truenorth
As to M Jordan, if he didn't win an NBA championship I have no doubt that he still would have made the HoF.

yes, but is the HOF the ultimate acheivement?

posted on Apr, 13 2006 @ 03:18 PM
Sure, these players make the Hall of Fame, but remember that it can take many years for them to make it. But "winners" seem to make it in sooner than "losers" with comparable stats. For example, Troy Aikman this year. While I do believe Aikman's stats are Hall worthy, his passer rating is just above 80, not really in the elite range. (NOTE: passer ratings for QB's who played before the 1978 rule changes are typically much lower than those who played after '78.) I think those three rings pushed Aikman over the top.

How about Lynn Swann? Sure he was spectacular, but are his stats really Hall-worthy? I don't think so. He has four rings, though, and he made some amazing catches in Super Bowls.

I made the point earlier about Joe Namath. Horrible stats, yet he is in the Hall of Fame

Biggest example of all. TOM BRADY. After the Pats beat the Eagles to give them thee titles in four years, some members of the media were hailing him as a Hall of Famer. Now not a future Hall of Famer, mind you. They claimed that his current credentials qualified him. This is a man who had only played four seasons!!! He's not a Hall of Famer just because the team he played on won several Super Bowls.

I have a question for BHN. I noticed that on that list Bill James compiled, there are only five players (I think) who played their entire careers after 1950 (Schmidt, Bonds, Aaron, Morgan, and Mantle). And only two of those (Schmidt and Bonds) played their entire careers after 1970. Why is there such a discrepancy in the periods the players played in? Are those older players really that much better? Are all the factors being taken into account?

posted on Apr, 13 2006 @ 03:31 PM

Originally posted by Gibbs Baby!!!
yes, but is the HOF the ultimate acheivement?

I think so. It's the definition of a players carreer. Mind you, there are some that have success, due to their team, that do they really warrant the HoF?

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