I'm entirely new to this blog, but I wanted to share a piece I recently wrote on LeBron James and Babe Ruth. I've included the beginning of the article below...you can read the rest of it on my blog, Devout Fanatic .
In October 1923, on the eve of the World Series, one figure commanded the public’s attention, and took responsibility for much of the ink being spilled on the nation’s sports pages. George Herman “Babe” Ruth towered over the American sporting world of the early 1920′s, his legacy built on mammoth long balls, barnstorming tours through small-town America, and a reckless, salacious lifestyle in the Big Apple. Though only twenty-eight at the time, The Babe’s home-run hitting prowess had already proved an electric shock to the sport of baseball, winning Ruth and the Yankees legions of new fans, while at the same time upsetting baseball traditionalists everywhere who venerated small ball. With The Babe and his New York Yankees preparing for their third straight World Series appearance against rival New York club, the Giants, the debate over Ruth’s legacy in the game faced a defining moment. Would Ruth finally defeat the wily, small ball-oriented Giants and silence the critics who said his long balls and bombastic personality were but a passing fad, or would he come up short for the third straight year and risk cementing his reputation as a postseason choker?
One needed to look no further than Babe Ruth’s opponent in the 1923 Fall Classic, skipper John McGraw and the New York Giants, to find some of his most vocal detractors. The Giants had shut down the mighty Babe the October before, winning the Series in five games, giving old man McGraw a welcome opportunity to crow about Ruth’s impotence (2-17 during the Series): “I signaled every pitch to Ruth…We pitched only nine curves and three fastballs to Ruth during the entire Series. The rest were slowballs [changeups], and of twelve of those, eleven set him on his backside.”1 The undisputed batting king of the regular season, Ruth flopped in 1922 and failed to lead his Yankees to a World Series title. Not only had they lost two straight World Series’ titles to their crosstown rivals, the Giants, but Ruth’s long ball philosophy appeared to have no substance when confronted by well-executed, fundamental small ball. As a Detroit paper opined, “McGraw came as near to perfection in his strategy as man probably ever will come in baseball.”2
More personally, newspaper columnists derided Ruth in the aftermath of 1922 for his poor Series’ showing, labeling him an “exploded phenomenon” and a “flat failure.” Though no one could argue with his regular-season dominance, all agreed with Arthur Robinson of the New York American, who wrote, “A man of a thousand successes, the Babe has since his ascendancy as a home run hitter been a World Series jest.”3 In more sweeping terms, Baseball Magazine contended, “It is almost certain that Ruth can never be restored to anything like the position he held in the minds of the fans…Ruth is no longer a youngster, except in disposition, and bids fair to become a liability to the NY club instead of its best asset.”4
To continue reading, head on over to my blog, Devout Fanatic.