Mickey, Willie & The Duke

I need some help, understanding today’s Major League Baseball. I’m missing something, and maybe someone can help fill in the blanks.

When I was a kid, Major League Baseball had 16 teams, and even if you weren’t in a ‘baseball household,’ the best baseball players were well known to everybody.

Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Duke Snider, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Joe DiMaggio, Sandy Koufax, Henry Aaron, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, and others, were all well known names. They were all sought after, for late nite TV talk shows. They were baseball’s best talent, and those not necessarily interested in baseball, knew exactly who they were.

These guys were the super stars of Major League Baseball, America knew that, and held them in the highest esteem.  While I never saw Joe DiMaggio play, his name lends to the point of this Cubs Crossings entry.

Where did this caliber of player disappear? What changes took place?

Back then, it seemed like a very big deal if, a pitcher were to hit the dirt. It used to be unacceptable, a real cause for concern. It didn’t seem to be acceptable from a Major League pitcher. Now, it seems to be acceptable to lose a pitch in the dirt, as long as it’s not repeated……too many times.

An ERA approaching 4.00 was cause for concern, and now it’s okay with many pitchers at 5.00, and more.

Then, a CG for a pitcher was the normal expectation. Now, it’s a matter of pitch count. A pitcher could still be strong but, some Managers will pull a strong pitcher with a few too many pitches, and replace with a question mark from the bullpen.

Then, you used to attend games with enthusiasm, to watch a brilliant, complete game pitching performance, coupled with the .300 hitters. The power hitters.

.300 was magic, and Ted Williams was the master magician when it came to hitting. There are plenty of hitters in MLB but, not of the caliber I remember from my childhood. Nobody spells f-e-a-r at the plate, any more. They all seem, in varying degrees, vulnerable. When Mays, Mantle, Aaron, Musial, and Williams approached the plate, they were larger than life.

Maybe, the magic is only missing because, my childhood is no longer in tact. Maybe I’m not looking close enough at today’s game. I’m perplexed over this, and maybe someone reading this, has some insight to offer.

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7 Comments

  1. The game changes and evolves. Personally, I think big salaries have contributed to the pampering of pitchers with short pitch counts a more days of rest between starts. And yet, they seem to get injured more than they ever did. But as for big name stars, at least on the offensive side, there are plenty. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, both rookies last year, may be the best new pair of super stars to enter the game in the same year since Mantle and Mays in 1951.

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    • Every time I see a player like Harper or, Trout, my hopes are raised that, finally, the game is going for the super stars, again. As they mature, they may become household names bringing MLB back to that level, I once knew.

      Justin Verlander is another one with that kind of potential. First time I saw him pitch, I thought, this just might be the new Koufax from the right side.

      When MLB begins to expect that kind of player to be in the mix, and GMs look for those players, instead of taking a .280 hitter or, a pitcher with an ERA of, 4.00, 5.00, and more as a potential pick-up for the team, maybe, the standard is raised to where it once was.

      And yes, I’m in total agreement. Multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts for today’s average player has made MLB a lower class of game with pitcher pampering, etc.

      Thanks for the comment.

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  2. I’d like to see more complete games.

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    • I agree with you, Complete Games is part of that picture but, it’s one piece of the puzzle.
      Overall, what am I missing or, do I have it right? Has the caliber of play in MLB gone down? Is that what’s missing? The baseball super stars?

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      • I think with the PED scandals happening, it’s certainly affected play but I believe once all these controversies are put aside, we’ll see the play improve. It sounds ironic, but it will level the playing field. Here’s another theory I have; we live in a fast pace environment with mass media everywhere, but I feel pretty soon, people will take a step back and enjoy sports and activities like baseball which requires viewers to follow every area of the game.

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        • You give me hope for this game. As it once was, it can be…..

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