David Ginsburg – Bonehead Sportswriter of the Week
by Asher B. Chancey, Baseball Evolution
July 17, 2005
And to think, I thought we would have to wait for Rafael Palmeiro to retire and become some team's hitting coach before some buffoon sportscaster would call him one of the All Time Greats. Little did I realize that it would happen mere hours after Rafie's feat.
On Sunday, July 17, 2005, the Annapolis newspaper carried an article by AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg. It would appear that Mr. Ginsburg already sees Rafie as one of the game's greats, hence his headline, "Select Company: Unassuming Palmeiro one of game's greats."
Ginsburg's article gets off to a rip-roaring start, asserting that "No left-handed batter in the history of baseball has showed the consistency and power of Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro . . ." Consistency AND power – that IS a rare combination, especially if we are only talking about left-handers. Surely, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams were no match for what we have seen from Rafie.
Ginsburg continues: "There's no way to accurately determine the greatest left-handed hitter in baseball history, but an argument can be made for Palmeiro." No way to determine it, eh? That's interesting, because I could offer a pretty accurate determination that Babe Ruth is the best hitter of all time, followed by Ty Cobb, and then Barry Bonds, and not too far back would be Ted Williams, all of which are lefties, but also that any argument for Palmeiro would be simply silly. But I digress.
As evidence of Palmeiro's pre-imminence amongst left-handers, Ginsburg argues that he already has "346 more hits than Ted Williams, nearly 450 more home runs than Ty Cobb, and 127 more hits than Babe Ruth." This is exactly the kind of bovinery that I knew would emerge as would-be baseball experts attempted to make a great player out of a very good one.
Tell me something, David – if it is such an accomplishment that Rafie has more hits than Williams and Ruth, why is that both of them have averages over 50 points higher than Palmeiro's? Could it be that Palmeiro has been a major league hitter for almost 20 years, while Ted Williams spent five years at war, and Ruth spent six years as a pitcher? Does this make Palmeiro better, or is he simply a career milestone horse?
Further, even though Palmeiro has 450 more home runs than Ty Cobb, a mother load to be sure, isn't it strange that Palmeiro is losing the OPS battle to Cobb, 945 to 889? If Palmeiro has 450 more home runs, isn’t he doing something majorly wrong to have a lower OPS than Cobb?
Ginsburg seems aware that his assertions are a bit unorthodox, offering, "Some may scoff at the notion of placing Palmeiro among the game's premier hitters, mainly because he has attained those lofty numbers with very little fanfare." No, David, we scoff at it because of Rafie's .289 career average, his .371 career on-base percentage, the fact that he has never been the best player in his league over the course of a single season, let alone many, and because generally speaking we have more sense than that.
Not to be outdone, Cal Ripken, Jr., gets into the act, commenting about Palmeiro and Eddie Murray, "They are two of the best hitters of all time, and I was honored to call them both teammates." But ultimately it is Ginsburg who wins the day, pointing out that "Thanks in part to [Palmeiro's] standout play this year, the Orioles have become contenders after a run of seven straight losing seasons." Now, I have pointed out myself that Rafie is having a decent year, but aren't we throwing around the phrase "standout" a bit freely.
Of course, if you are going to throw around words like "greatest" and "all time" with respect to Rafael Palmeiro, you may as well throw in "stand-out" as well.
So, David Ginsburg, without further ado, Congratulations, you are this week's "Bonehead Sportswriter of the Week."
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Asher B. Chancey resides in Alexandria, Virginia, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org