published Friday, June 8th, 2012

5-at-10: Historic Friday mailbag

Gang, if we get around 20 comments today, we'll have a 100-plus comment week. That would be a new weekly high, and since we're going to be on the road for most of Friday, we're leaving it mostly in your hands. And play nice.

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    Super Bowl champion quarterback Eli Manning talks to more than 2,000 attendees at the 2012 Best of Preps banquet Thursday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
    enlarge photo

Before we get to the mailbag, two things we need to cover really quickly. First, Best of Preps was a grand slam. We can't put into words how many folks do how many different things to make this come together, but it was great. And Eli was a good sport. For those of you in attendance, feel free to chime in.

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    Miami Heat forward LeBron James, left, prepares to drive against Boston Celtics forward Mickael Pietrus, right, during the first quarter in Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Second, did we witness LeBron just issue a grudge funk on the Celtics? Did we witness LeBron fulfilling the need to answer the bell like the best player on the planet? Yes and Yes. Sweet buckets of irresistible force, dude goes for 45 points and 15 boards with his team facing elimination. Where are the LeBron bashers this morning, because dude deserves some praise for bringing his Todd962-level A-game.

On to the mailbag from the "Talks too much studios"

From BlueOval

OK, Jay not sure if it's mailbag material or not but with your love of Babe Ruth today in the 5/10, who is your greatest hitter of all time? I think I would have to go with Ted Williams or Tony Gwynn.

Blue Oval,

Excellent question. Best hitter is a tricky connotation, but in the grand scheme of things, we'd probably say Ruth then Ted Williams. He hit .344 for his career and hit 521 homers despite missing three seasons in his prime serving our country in the military.

We'd rank Ruth No. 1 and likely go with Williams No. 2. The difference between their lifetime averages (Ruth hit .342, Williams hit .344 for their careers) is miniscule. And while three years of heroic military service cost Williams a slew of homers off his career total of 521, Ruth hit 714 homers despite being a pitcher in the first few years of his career and spending a chunk of his time in the dead-ball era.

If you are talking about pure knowledge and style and the science and art of hitting — Williams, Gwynn and some of the other hitting savants would rein — then we may have a different list. But in our view is power+average deserves some special kudos.

If we could go without regard to defense, here's our all-time hitting order (and gang, don't get spoiled by this research stuff... you know how we like to fly from the cuff):

LF — Williams (.344, 521 HRs, 1839 RBIs)

CF — Ty Cobb (.366, 117, 1,938 — surprised he had more RBIs than Williams aren't you? Cobb is wicked underrated by today's population)

RF — Ruth (.342, 714, 2,213)

3B — Chipper Jones (.304, 459, 1,585 — he's roughly 40 points higher than Schmidt, and has 140 more homers and roughly the same number of RBIs and the same average as George Brett)

SS — Honus Wagner (.328, 101, 1,733)

2B — Rogers Hornsby (.358, 301, 1,584 — another guy completely underrated by today's baseball fan, the 5-at-10 included)

1B — Lou Gerhig (.340, 493, 1,995 — and he did this in 17 years, which meant his 162-game average was .340, 37, 149... Wow-Standing)

C — Mike Piazza (.308, 427, 1,335)

Don't get spoiled by the research.

————

From McPell

In reading today's TFP (paper version), I saw where David Reutimann will replace Kurt Busch-league at Pocono this weekend. To better control this knucklehead, and others like him, will NASCAR start suspending the car too and make the Owner discipline/control the driver?

Imagine if Goodell had told the Saints, not only is Vilma suspended for a year, but you now have a 52 man roster for the 2012 season. The only bounty you'd hear about is the paper towels in the breakroom.

McPell,

This is an excellent idea. Top notch.

In fact, it's so good it will N-E-V-E-R happen. No way NASCAR ever parks a car that has a sponsor on the hood. No way. In fact, the reason that Busch — who is a world-class punk, up there with the all-timers in fact — is getting extra heat from his car owner is that the sponsor likely has had enough of Kurt Brat's antics.

As for the NFL scenario, what a great idea. In fact, when Roger Goodell reads this mailbag — and we all know he's a 5-at-10 regular — he's going to slap his forehead and scream, "Why didn't I think of that.... Someone get James Harrison on the phone so I can suspend someone."

Now we don't embrace the soccer red card rule where if a player gets dismissed they can not be replaced. Imagine that in hoops if someone gets tossed and you have to finish the game with four players. (Our team is on the floor is how Coach Norman Dale would phrase it.)

But those are in-game decisions, rather than suspensions form on high.

———

From CelticVol

Hey 5@10,

What a huge win for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. These NBA playoffs are FANTASTIC! (Remember those commercials?) First let me preface my question by saying that I don't like the Miami Heat, Lebron James or Dwyane Wade. I can deal with Erik Spoelstra and that's where my question comes in.

Is he that bad of a coach? They made the Finals last year. They're in the Conference Finals this year. Is that really the sign of a bad coach? Do you think Spoelstra has been placed in an impossible situation where it's either NBA Championship or total failure?

CelticVol,

We think Erik (Estrada) Spoelstra is a mediocre coach who to this point has been getting middle of the road results. So it goes.

The Heat have two of the five best players in the league. This should not be this hard. And while getting to the NBA Finals is certainly nothing to sneeze at, looking at the yahoos who have ridden a hot streak to the big stage.

Now, we think you are correct that (Estrada) Spoelstra is in a severely tough spot. Win it all, and that was the goal/expectation. Don't and you underachieved. So it goes.

But every professional coach/manager knows three things:

1) When the local media is out to get you, you're cooked

2) Those paychecks have a nice number of commas

3) When things go bad, it's way easier to replace the coaching staff than turn over the roster

(And while our man C-Vol submitted this question Wednesday o the afterglow of his Celtics' impressive Game 5 win, we once again must bring up Game 6. Let's not overstate it — just like we tried not to overstate some of his playoff struggles — but calling Game 6 LeBron James' finest moment is not overstating anything. Wow. Dude was a killing machine. Period.)

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From Todd962

Top five sports moments that made your face leak. MJ winning one without his faja, the olympic sprinter blowing his hammie and finishing with his dad.

Mr. 962,

Dude, you have really delivered this week. Great run.

Let's go two lists: five in real life that got us and five from sports movies that made us ask if it was getting dusty in the theater.

Real-life face leaking moments (and there are a few that were before our time — Munich Olympic massacre, Marshall plane crash, Jackie Robinson, etc.)

— US Hockey in 1980. So special and dramatic.

— The sprinter hurting his Achilles and his father helping him finish in 1the 1992 Olympics. So real for anyone who has children. God bless you Derek Redmond.

— The autistic kid that came off the bench and hit a slew of 3-pointers.

— Piazza's homer to beat the Braves in the first game back in NYC after 9/11

— Auburn winning the 2010 national championship in football. Didn't know if we'd ever see one.

Moments on film

— U.S. Hockey scenes in "Miracle." This would be life imitating art and vice versa. Quite possibly the most underrated sports movie out there right now.

— When Rudy gets accepted into Notre Dame and he sits on the bench at Holy Cross and cries.

— A slew of scenes from "We are Marshall." Both good and bad.

— "Dad you want to have a catch" from Field of Dreams.

— Of the many great scenes and moments from the TV series Friday Night Lights, we'll dare anyone to stay dry-eyed when Smash Williams comes home and embraces his momma and says, "I'm going to college," or when Matt Saracen breaks down after his father returns from Iraq in a casket. (And if you have not been apart of the Friday Night Lights greatness, well, we have just given you hours of great TV viewing this summer. Enjoy.)

————

From Sportsfan,

In anticipation of the Summer Olympics, here's my Olympic Top Five Game Changers (if ever so briefly...) - Al Oerter (4 time Olympic Champ - read that again...at the top of his game over the span of 4 Olympics), Mark Spitz (7 Gold Medals), Sugar Ray Leonard (Olympic Gold winning 5 bouts by 5-0 decisions), 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team (Beat the Russians during the height of the Cold War), and Vasely Alexiev (80 World Records in weightlifting and Olympic gold medals in '72 and '76). Who are yours?

Sportsfan —

Great list (did that guy have 80 world records — wow — who knew there were 80 weight-lifting categories in which to set records). Let's cover the five game-changers all-time and five potential game-changers for these summer games.

All-time Olympic game changers (there were several that were tough to leave off including Carl Lewis going nuts, Greg Louganis, Usain Bolt, Eric Heiden and Michael Johnson):

— Jesse Owens putting his thumb and four gold medals in the Nazi party eye in Berlin in 1936

— The 1980 Olympic hockey team, who showed us the power of inspiration and proved that magic can happen

— Dick Fosbury wins the 1968 gold in the high jump in Mexico City. Every high jumper from that point forward used his style of leading with your head — in fact today's common style of high-jumping is known as the Fosbury Flop.

—Michael Phelps winning eight golds. Plus, Phelps was the first mega-star that came to the Best of Preps banquet, so he was game-changer on international and local levels.

— Any of the collection of inspirational pixie gymnasts of Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton and Keri Strug.

As for this year's Olympics, well, there are a ton of storylines and we'll get more into them later this summer. Here is a quick five overview:

— Caster Semenya, who posted the year's fastest 800 time as 18-year-old in 2009. Her masculine build created accusations of PEDs, and unofficial leaked results of those tests revealed she had male and female parts. She has qualified as a female for the London Games.

— U.S. women's soccer... can they finish the drill?

— Is Usain Bolt still the fasting thing on two feet?

— Who will rule the pool, Phelps or Lochte?

— Are we ready for LoLo mania?

Discuss and enjoy.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Blueoval said...

Can't leave Brian's Song off the movie list.... Hope you all have a good time, be safe.

June 8, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

As an attendee of last night's BOP, it was great! I highly recommend attending. I thought about the soccer red card also and realized that wouldn't cut in basketball, although Ron Whirled Peas Artest makes a good case for it. Where does Rod Carew fall in the great hitters?

June 8, 2012 at 10:52 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Oval —

Brian's Song was our first alternate. It's close, but we came across it later and all we can see is Lando Calrissian and Sonny Corleone.

McPell —

Thanks for attending and the kind words. Lots of folks do a lot to make that happen, but it really is a great deal of fun to be a part of.

Carew was Tony Gwynn before Tony Gwynn.

Top five great hitters who were hitting savants/experts on the science of hitting

Williams, Musial, Carew, Gwynn, Boggs

— 5-at-10

June 8, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.
chas9 said...

When I read that Jay ranked Ruth and Williams 1-2 as best hitters, I thought OK, but include The Gawga Peach in the sentence somewhere. Then (thankfully) Jay redeemed hisself by saying Ty is seriously underrated today. The fact that the racist Rough as a Cobb hit a career .366 is enough to make your jaw drop, and add to it that he had way more hits than either The Sultan of Swat or The War Hero. Admittedly, not a lot of dingers, but still a big RBI number.

June 8, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.

Ruth, Cobb, Gerhig, Wagner, Williams, and Hornsby... did any one of them face middle relievers or closers? Hey, it would be interesting to note the batting averages of these guys after the 6th inning.

June 8, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
patrickd said...

The sport of horse racing is dead to me.

June 8, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Cobb was so money. Dude averaged like nine homers a year but still drove in 120 runs per.

BTG —

That would be interesting to see the batting averages of the folks pre-specialization. It also would be interesting to see what a Walter Johnson's ERA was after the sixth. Or a Mathewson or even a Gibson.

No they did not face overstuffed bullpens or faced African-American pitchers. But they hit deadballs and played in places that had crazy dimensions like 500 feet to center in some parks. They also hit spit balls and batted with helmets and body armor and thin-handled wooden clubs with space-aged engineering.

And let's not even talk about PEDs.

That's one of the things that make it tough to compare generations, but we'd take our chances with a top six of the order being Cobb, Hornsby, Ruth, Gehrig, Williams, Wagner and take our chances in the NL East.

— 5-at-10

— 5-at-10

June 8, 2012 at 12:05 p.m.
jgreeson said...

SWEET BUCKETS — I'll Have Another scratches from the Belmont.

May change the horse's name to "No Thanks, I'm Good"

Huge news. And we guess we'll have to juggle the contest.

Details to come.

— 5-at-10

June 8, 2012 at 12:08 p.m.
patrickd said...

Funniest comment I've read yet. Thanks for the laugh.

I know it's a taboo subject because it' an animal but what sport worth watching doesn't feature it's athletes playing through adversity or even injury?

June 8, 2012 at 12:14 p.m.
chas9 said...

Amen. "No thanks, I'm good" is hall of fame scribbler good.

And I'll take my chances with the oldtimers' lineup, too. That bunch could hit and run, too. And they say The Flying Dutchman was a heckuva shortstop, too. I wonder how many times his lifetime paycheck total is dwarfed by the sales of his rare baseball card?

BTG--In addition to the relievers' impact after the sixth inning, some of these guys might have been slowed a bit by the beer they consumed in the first two-thirds of the games.

June 8, 2012 at 12:40 p.m.
chas9 said...

From 1930 to 1978 there were 18 horses that won both The Derby and The Preakness. Ten of those went on to win the Triple Crown. Since 1979, the eleven horses that won the first two legs are zilch, zippo, nada for the Belmont. Literally, they don't breed 'em for stamina like they used to.

Don't know if that's an argument for the Wagner, Ruth, Cobb contingent. But Christy "Big Six" Mathewson pitched 79 career shutouts, including three shutouts in six days in the 1905 World Series. He started 552 games and finished 435 of them, and four times had 30-win seasons. And during part of his MLB career, "The Christian Gentleman" also played in the NFL.

June 8, 2012 at 1:11 p.m.
Todd962 said...

The lady friend and I were watching the Heat game last night when Lebron caught that rebound and slammed it with his head nearly over the rim. Lady Todd commented "He's ridiculous. He plays like one of the Monstars from Space Jam." Yes, last night he was playing like he was from outer space, for sure.

So no I'll have another...what the heck am I supposed to use as a crutch for my weekend of excess now? Stupid horses. Always ruining the fun.

And did you say boy and lady parts on the track person? Huh...thats a new one. Feel really bad for the girl though. Probably not news a 19 year old wants spread all over the world.

June 8, 2012 at 1:23 p.m.
Todd962 said...

And if you can watch that Derek Redmond video without getting a little dusty eyed you've either never worked for something in the world of sports, do not have a father, or need to have your pulse checked. Guy works his whole life to get that moment, disaster strikes, and he has the will to get up and hobble the other half of the race to finish. His dad, who clearly would never be able to do what he did in this post 9/11 era, busts through security, rushes to help his son, and then tells the Olympic official to buzz off (probably in some other choice words) when he tries to pull them off the track. Good stuff. Youtube it when youre somewhere its ok to face leak.

June 8, 2012 at 1:32 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, is there room for Stan "The Man" Musual (.331, 3680, 1951) in that outfield batting order? I think this a body of work worthy of consideration. In any case he is my first alternate, plus he won mulitple World Series as a opposed to Williams for one, and Cobb was known to disappear in the big Game.

June 8, 2012 at 1:39 p.m.
chas9 said...

FEC--I was 9 or 10 when we got our first TV, B&W, of course, and I watched Stan the Man in his latter years. Boy, he had a funny stance, but it worked for him.

Another hitter to consider is Yogi. I guess most these days would take the pizza man, but some knowledgeable types like Berra better. Playing on the same team with The Mick and Joltin' Joe, he led the Yanks in RBI seven straight seasons. He had great extension and great bat control, rarely striking out. An 18 time all-star, he set all kinds of records for World Series appearances. But he never said some of the things he said.

June 8, 2012 at 1:56 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Chas9, got whatever Cardinals knowledge I've obtained from watching film of the Cardinal's World Series appearances during the 60's in 11th grade English class taught by a certain ex-punter then high school coach who was my teacher.

I've read where them sportsy people say it's either Yogi or Johnny for the top catcher.

June 8, 2012 at 2:11 p.m.
chas9 said...

I knew an ex-punter turned teacher named Johnny B.

June 8, 2012 at 3:24 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Right on the nose, Chas.

Update: Stan "The Man"--.331, 3680 hits, 1951 RBIs, 475 HR.

June 8, 2012 at 5:54 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Before you go on vacation, 5... They only played 154 games a year in the Iron Horse's era.

And when you factor in Cobb's runs scored and stolen bases, you realize just how bad a dude he was, even without sharpening his spikes.

Which sport suffered a bigger blow over the weekend, boxing or horse racing? How many TV sets that would have been tuned to the Belmont suddenly found themselves showing Flip This House, Swamp People or something from Bravo or Lifetime instead? How much luster is gone from any potential Pacquiao-Mayweather bout which boxing really, really needs to stay relevant?

June 10, 2012 at 5:16 p.m.
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