Class Warfare Blog

September 14, 2017

Racism is as American as Baseball

Filed under: Culture,Race,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 10:53 am
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Some baseball fans unfurled a banner with the above printed on it at last night’s Red Sox baseball game. Of course they were ejected … for telling the truth. (Actually there is a team policy forbidding “signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark,” but I was feeling snarky writing this.)

Actually I believe this statement is true but baseball may show us the way forward. Baseball had a racist past. Early on, people of color played but soon enough, Backs and Hispanics were banned from the professional game. (There were still plenty of “colored” baseball players, but they usually were relegated to playing on and against teams made up of just Black and Brown players in front of Black and Brown audiences.)

In 1942, as almost everyone knows, the “color barrier” in white, major league baseball was broken by Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Robinson, the player, took the abuse on the field while Rickey, the schemer behind the effort, took the abuse from other baseball executives and from fans in his mail.

Many brave actions were taken by players supporting members of their own team and many despicable actions were taken by players not supporting members of their own team but eventually everything was sorted out. I saw my first major league professional game in 1958 and by then there were quite a number of Black and Brown players. What I did not know was that even my team, the S.F. Giants, had a self-segregated clubhouse. The Blacks kept to themselves, the Hispanic players kept to themselves, and the whites kept to themselves, mostly.

Fast forward to now and you see major league teams in which Black, Brown, and White players mingle, enjoy each other’s company off of the field, support one another when they have family issues, etc. It isn’t a perfect world, but it is far, far better than where it began.

Sports teams, in general, have embraced Rodney King’s plea of “Can’t we all just get along?”

The U.S. is not the last bastion of racism. Racism is a live and well elsewhere around the world. But racism is a smear on a facade of a country claiming to be a better place, an exceptional place. It is time we address our racist past and our racist present and make ourselves an exception, rather than a manifestation of the rule.


August 24, 2017

Why is Colin Kaepernick Still Unsigned?

The Guardian summed up the situation thus:

The NFL season begins in two weeks and the quarterback who took the San Francisco 49ers to within seven yards of winning the Super Bowl four years ago does not have a job. His absence isn’t difficult to explain. His refusal to stand for the national anthem last year as a way to draw attention to racial inequality in the US has apparently made him toxic to the league’s owners who fear a backlash from white fans and corporate sponsors offended by a perceived lack of patriotism.”

So, the obvious question is why is “patriotism” symbolized more by a mindless participation in a ritual than in the actual exercise of rights of citizens as defined by our constitution? In a similar vein, why do people equate support of our military as support for our country? Are we not more than a support system for a mighty fist? How was Colin Kaepernick being “unpatriotic”? How possibly could exercising one’s rights as a citizen be unpatriotic? Is the argument one of balance? Is overt and vicious racism no good reason for disrupting the jingoistic symbolism surrounding a football game?

I wonder how this would all have gone had Kaepernick been white? I am sure team and league officials would have huddled with a star white quarterback and figured out a symbolic way to “address the issue.” which typically would be a grant of some money to a symbolic organization, the quarterback would then have been hustled in front of some microphones to read an apology written by his publicist, and then everyone would be back doing what made this country great: making money, for fuck’s sake! That’s patriotism!

July 9, 2017

The Puzzlement of the Talents

Filed under: Culture,Science,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 6:33 pm

I have been going back and forth with one of my students, who is in many ways my intellectual superior, over the nature of “talent.” I have argued and continue to argue that their ain’t no such thing. He argues that surely there must be.

I argue that scientists have looked and looked for a biological source of a talent and come up dry. There does not seem to be such a thing. What I am talking about is a specific talent, such as for baseball or poker or the violin, not a general propensity to be good at something. People with “talent” seem to progress rapidly and effortlessly in their chosen endeavor. I argue that in most cases what people are observing is a developed skill. When somebody sees a basketball star execute a slick play, gosh they just have to be talented. Of course, the commenter hasn’t seen the dozens and dozens of hours that move got practiced.

People in my camp argue that a physical skill, e.g. hitting a baseball or playing the flute comes from a considerable amount of practice. We acknowledge that people have built in attributes that make them stand out amongst beginners and allow them to learn faster than the crowd. Tall people have an advantage in basketball, for example. (Coach John Wooden used to say “You can’t teach quickness or height, so I recruit for those.”) Baseball requires good hand-eye coordination, strong wrists, and, etc. But is there a talent for baseball? I do not think so. (As an example, think of the multi-sport star athlete in high school. were they born with talents for all of those sports or are they just a good all-around athlete who practices hard?)

My argument is that high levels of skill are developed through training. Training is only pursued when there is interest, so the people who seem to “have a lot of talent,” tried something and were good enough at it that they liked it and so pursued serious training for a time. For example, Mozart was considered a musical child prodigy. But Mozart’s father was a music teacher and Mozart spent many, many hours in practice because, either he had to or he enjoyed it. Expert analysis of Mozart’s early compositions, those of his youth, indicated that they were rather derivative and ordinary. But how many youths are composing serious classical music at a young age? We tend to compare these “prodigies” with ordinary adults in the same endeavor, not with the greats of that endeavor.

One of the counter arguments offered against my position is so many people used the word talent in describing their situation, surely it can’t be just made up. Actually I think it was just made up. I offer, but cannot prove, the following scenario as justification. A youth shows behavior beyond his years. His parents fear demon possession, but a passing clergyman, eager to claim all good happenings for his god, counters that the child has “a gift from god.” These “gifts” became “God-given talents” over time, again to claim their god as the source of all good things (but not the bad things—interestingly, the bad things come from the Devil, or Satan … nobody asks where they came from).

So the idea of a talent was spin. It was an explanation of something that was borderline uncanny that was acceptable to most all people. The existence of talents/gifts was not questioned because they were so common (most people tend to be good at something) but when finally some scientists set out to find the basis for talents, they came and continue to come up with nothing.

If you are familiar with the Bell curve, aka a Gaussian distribution, it is obvious that our attributes and abilities are spread over quite a range. My height, for example, puts me in the top 2.5% of Americans. My IQ puts me in the top 0.5% of Americans. People that are way out on the tails (both high and low) are considered “different.” So, somebody who shows abilities far exceeding the expectations set up for his/her age can be singled out. But I do not see humans who are “off the charts” in their abilities. I see many kids who have opportunities and a few who embrace them seriously and a very few who excel at that activity. We do not sit around and discuss the child who quits right away. (This is a stupid sport; I am going home!) We sit around and ooh and ahh about those whose performances exceed our expectations. We say “They have talent.” What that means, in my thinking, is “They have developed a great deal of skill.” They stand out because they developed that skill faster than others, so at a younger age. Studies of “whiz kids” and “Wunderkinder” do not show a common continuation of their rate of progress into adulthood, many plateau off or “burn out” (not literally). How many stellar performers are you aware of who were child prodigies when young? Not many is my guess.

So, talent? Meh, not so much.

What do you think?

May 3, 2017

This Is Ridiculous!

Filed under: Education,Morality,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 9:23 am
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The University of Alabama has just given its football coach a three-year extension on his current contract with a price tag of $65,000,000 additional in salary. This is ridiculous.

If said coach worked as many hours as an average worker, this means he would be making $11,500 per hour, that’s right per hour.

This means that said coach would make more than the average worker in the U.S. makes in a year in one afternoon.

This is madness. This is not for some life-saving surgeon or freedom-ensuring lawyer, this is for an effing football coach, a coach of amateur football.

Do we need any more evidence that capitalism is broken?

November 20, 2016

A Follow-up to Baseball Season: Ted Williams’ Balls

Ted Williams was one of the finest hitters to ever play professional baseball in the USA. When he retired he wrote a book (“The Science of Hitting”) on hitting that included a famous photo: it was of the “Splendid Splinter” at the plate and the current strike zone was filled with baseballs, each ball labeled with William’s estimate of the percentage of these locations that he would get hits at. The balls were color coded in that if he would hit for a high average, they would be “red” hot, and for a very low average they would be grey, with various colors in between. Note that pitches “low and away” were mostly grey. But realize that ‘Teddy Ballgame” (whatever happened to splendid nicknames?) played in what was then a “high ball league.” In the American League, umpires set up right above the catcher’s head, making it easier to see high strikes and harder to see low strikes, so you might get the benefit of the doubt on a low pitch but not on a high one. The National League’s umpires set up over the catcher’s shoulder on the inside of the plate making the National League a “low ball league” because the umpires had a better view of the low part of the plate. If you couldn’t hit the high fast ball, you couldn’t play in the American league and if you look at Williams’ color code, he feasted on high pitches.ted-williams-balls-2

The only time these two umpire’s perspectives came into play was in the World Series, but when baseball decided upon more “interleague play” one of the things that had to be sorted out before that could be done was this difference between the strike zones in the two leagues. This has been done and both leagues are now “low ball leagues” as MLB standardized on the NL style of umpiring.

The yellow box I have superimposed on Williams’ box of balls is what his current strike zone would be. I wonder what he would have hit had this been the zone in his day. Williams is the last major leaguer to end a full season with a batting average over 0.400 (he hit 0.401 in 1941 if memory serves). Now the pitching has gotten a great deal better but I wonder what Ted Williams would have hit with such a small strike zone. His 20/15 vision and wonderful hand-eye coordination plus his fierce competitiveness would certainly have allowed him to adapt to the new zone and being much smaller that he had to contend with, how high do you think he could have gone?

As an aside, this year’s NL MVP, Kris Bryant of the Cubs, was taught to hit by his father … using the principles described in Teddy Ballgame’s book.

November 4, 2016

World Series Afterthoughts

Filed under: Philosophy,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 9:12 pm
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cubslogoI just finished watching the victory parade of the 2016 Chicago Cubs, who just two days ago won the “World Series” best of seven games mini-tournament. As a resident of the city of Chicago, I couldn’t be happier, but it wasn’t that long ago that I had basically given up on watching sports because, well, it was all so meaningless. Then an editor of the Atlantic magazine made a comment about sports, namely that they possessed a “magnificent meaninglessness.” At that point I realized that “meaning” was overrated in the first place and sports allowed one to pretend they were meaningful, they allowed us to be passionate and to root for our team, but not so that others would take mortal offense at our actions. I have yet to hear of a war being fought over a team or event and I hope never to. (Do you hear me, soccer fans?) So meaninglessness wasn’t a bug, it was a feature.

This World Series, I thought, was fabulous and it would be whether the Cubs had won or not. (I am a Giants fan and when the Cubs eliminated the Giants in the playoffs, I felt it was okay to root for the Cubs.) Here are some other thoughts:

  1. How can one not like the Cubs? They have quality players who are young and very talented and play the game right with a blend of humility and common sense. They have a nice blend of rookies and veterans and play intelligent baseball.
  2. It is a shame someone had to lose this series. Cleveland’s players played their hearts out and came within an eyelash of winning.
  3. Why does every baseball player when photographed in their dugout, chose that moment to spit?
  4. Apparently Fox Sports 1 is locked in as the network to cover the World Series for some years which is a shame. Their coverage was absolutely awful. Now, I understand that baseball games have had declining ratings for many years now and the networks covering them have been looking for ways to spice them up to draw more viewers, but sheesh. Fox started irritating me by injected commercials and interviews into innings (I could skip over the tedious and drawn out pre-game shows). Baseball has always been an advertiser’s delight because there is a natural break after every half inning of a nine inning game, but squeezing in more commercial shots between batters? C’mon man!

And the broadcast crew (not the pre-game or post game stuff, those can be avoided, but the in game announcers … would … not … shut … up. It was if they were broadcasting radio. Joe Buck would tell us who was up at bat and what the count was as a reminder and would call balls and strikes when the little box in the corner of the TV screen had all of that info on display continuously. Then they would be telling stories that were barely relevant when important things were happening on the field. Their cameramen would be taking close-ups of player’s faces in the dugout who were deep in conversations but the shot wasn’t wide enough to show who they were talking to, nor would they speculate on what the conversation was about.

The on screen “enhancements” were lousy, as usual. When a home run was hit they would show a colored line in a replay, supposedly showing the path of the ball into the stands, except you could see the ball in the same shot and it was clear the colored line was somewhat close to the ball but not on the path the ball was taking, making the line … what, another path the ball could have taken or … maybe just eye candy for the underage set?

And the strike zone graphic. The effective strike zone of most umpires is over the plate and from just under the batter’s knees to about their belt buckle (when standing straight up, not in their normal stance, otherwise Rickie Henderson would have drawn a walk every plate appearance). Some of the players were in the range of  6′ 7″ tall  and others closer to 5′ 9″ tall but the box never changed size and often it was clearly positioned too low for the player at the plate. Then, of course, on important pitch replays they used a graphic, with a swoosh line for the ball’s trajectory, leaving behind a circle where the ball crossed the plate. If the grid was in the wrong place, the graphic conclusion was incorrect and it often was. This was clearly shown a couple of times when a replay from an overhead camera showed a different path than the one described both verbally and graphically.

And the bullshit statistics they kept coming up with … argh! In baseball, statistics are used for myriad purposes, but the Fox Sports 1 statistics were typically bizarre, things like “the youngest player to hit a home run in a World Series Game, since year yada, yada.” At one point they breathlessly explained that in one game the #3 and #4 hitters in the Cubs lineup had combined for seven hits and that had never happened in a World Series game before. So … what? Particularly uninteresting were the “Cubs firsts” when they compared home runs with the team’s previous win, in 1908, which was in the “dead ball era” of baseball, an era in which almost no one hit home runs. In the dead ball era, baseballs were used so long in a game that they became so dirty they couldn’t be seen as light faded into evening. Now, if a ball touches the “dirt” (it is not really dirt, and I’m not sure there is any dirt in it) it is removed from play. Such comparisons were stupid to say the least. Now all of the games are played at night, then they played in sunshine, etc.

There is one comparison that seemed valid, though: there were more people attending the Cubs Victory Parade and Rally today than lived in the entire city of Chicago in 1908, the last time the Cubs won.

The best trivia question today was Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts asking the crowd: how many years has it been since the Cubs won the World Series? The crowd dutifully answered: “108 years,” and Ricketts responded “The correct answer is … zero years.” And so it is.

September 29, 2016

Kudos to ESPN

Filed under: Business,Culture,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 9:36 am
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Not only has ESPN hired a female, Lindsay Czarniak, to anchor their flagship program SportsCenter but she recently went through a pregnancy and the birth of her first child and now is pregnant with her second child. Not only has there been a “no big deal” attitude regarding Ms. Czarniak’s pregnancies but she also hasn’t been made to cover up the fact that she was pregnant. When I was a youngin’, back in the middle of the last century, women were expected to don garb that masked their pregnancies. Certainly they wouldn’t do anything so outlandish as to wear something formfitting that would let everyone know that she had, you know, done what people do to get pregnant.

Ms. Czarniak wears stylish clothes, clearly showing the state of her pregnancy, and which also surely would have probably gotten her shamed and/or arrested in the 1950’s.

Kudos to Ms. Czarniak and kudos to ESPN for integrating women into their programs, and not stylized, Barbie-esque women, but women with opinions and knowledge and the ability to share that.

PS After I wrote this, the ESPN show Around the Horn, a sports roundtable discussion show conducted in the style of a panel game, had women as three of its four panelists (Kate Fagan, Ramona Shelburne, and Jackie MacMullen, a basketball hall of fame sportswriter). This was not a gimmick show, with cute questions surrounding women’s’ participation in professional sports, the questions were of the ordinary type and the interplay between opinion givers vigorous. Just another sign that the times, they are a changin’.

August 7, 2016

You’ve Been Waiting for This All Year …

Filed under: Sports,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 3:27 pm
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You know you want it!

All right boys and girls, we are into the second half of the baseball season and it is time for my annual rant regarding baseball. (I can hear the … delete, delete, deletes … and now that we are rid of those not interested, I continue.)

All the rage on TV broadcasts of baseball games are the graphic strike zones which claim to show where the ball was thrown on each pitch. There are a few problems with these graphics and I have already written about one (see “On Baseball from 4/24/2015 … that’s 24/4/2015 for you Euros out there).

Pitch Trax
Here is a screenshot showing the PitchTrax grid and the little balls that represent the places previous pitches passed near home plate.
The ball is about 3˝ in diameter and any part of it that intersects with the strike zone should be deemed a strike.

Here’s a definition of the strike zone:
Rule 2.00: The Strike Zone. The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap.

And we must keep up with rule changes, so in 1996 the “Strike Zone” was expanded on the lower end, moving from the top of the knees to the bottom of the knees.

So if a ball is thrown by the pitcher from any angle (as long as he begins to throw with one foot touching the pitching rubber he can end up anywhere he can reach) if any part of the ball passes through the strike zone, it is supposed to be called a “strike.”

Now with regard to the grid in the little graphic, we have a problem. Home plate is 17 inches wide and hence so is the strike zone … for everybody, but the height of the zone varies with how tall the batter is. So, I decided to use my own body for an example. According to the written definition, my strike zone would be 17˝ wide and 30˝ high. This zone has an aspect ratio of 1.76 that is the height is 1.76 times larger than the width. I then took a plastic ruler and measured the little grids on my TV screen and this is what I got”

PitchTrax     1.35 : 1
tbStrike Zone     1.35 : 1

I must have got something wrong so I remeasured my own zone and it came out the same … and then I remembered that umpires don’t call balls and strikes according to the actual rule. The rule they follow is:
De facto Rule 2.00: The Strike Zone. The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is at the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the bottom of the knees.

This practice has made the major leagues a “low ball league.” So I measured myself according to this de facto rule and I came up with an aspect ratio of about 1.32 : 1 which is close enough to the little screen grid.

But this doesn’t  actually solve my problem. My problem is they use the same grid for a tall player that they do for a short one. Here are the aspect ratios for the strike zone (= height / width) for the tallest and shortest players:

Tallest (roughly 6´8˝)     1.41 : 1
Shortest (roughly 5´7˝)     1.18 : 1

Now those numbers don’t make a very visual difference, so here are the two grids to the same scale graphically:

Strike ZonesThe strike zone on the left would be the one to use for a 5´7˝ player and the one on the right for a 6´8˝ player.
Note they are of quite a difference in height (but same in width as that is determined by the width of home plate, not the batter)
as well as the one for the taller player starts off farther from the ground (estimated).

I do realize that it is perfectly possible to map any of those grids onto the “standard” one they use for every batter, but that doesn’t give an accurate sense of where the ball actually was to most viewers making it easier for them to be disgruntled.

Also, I still wonder about the technology. I was watch Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox pitch the other day and he is a left-hander who often throws side arm. This means the ball is coming from about three feet to the left of a line drawn outward from the center of the plate. The camera is set up in centerfield shooting over the shoulder of the pitcher (so the batter and catcher can be seen) but fairly high up and to the right. (I am guessing it is to the right because most pitchers are right-handed.) So, Mr. Sale throws one of his wicked sliders which curves from left-to-right as well as travels over 90 mph and the “strike tracking software” throws up a ball symbol exactly where the catcher caught the ball, which was just off the grid. The pitch was called a strike, correctly so, for the pitch to land in the catcher’s glove … three feet beyond the plate on the outside edge of the grid it must have traveled through the grid up near home plate. The announcers reacted that the umpire had given the pitcher a gift by calling a pitch that was outside of the strike zone a strike … based upon a glance at the tbStrike Zone. Why the position of the ball symbol on the grid matched the position of the catchers mitt, which was physically impossible for the ball to do unless it started to curve back to the left when it reached the plate is puzzling.

I do not trust the accuracy of these gizmos and for all I know they could have an intern with a light pen watching a TV screen and then touching the grid on a tablet with a light pen, rather than the complicated radar systems they say they have.

I would prefer that they explain their technology better especially why the grid is the same for all players when the rules say each player has his own strike zone.




July 4, 2016

Ah . . . Rio

Brazil is trying to get ready for the Summer Olympics starting in just a few weeks. (Try? There is no try; do or do not. Yoda, Jedi Master) Unfortunately there are, well, complications, complications based upon corruption, incompetence, lack of funding, etc. This scenario has played out before a number of times. Remember Greece? Remember Sochi, Russia? In each case, the host country heroically pulled through and “The Games” went on with relatively few hitches. This time, though, we may be witnessing an historic face plant.

I was part of the effort to bring the 2016 Games to Chicago, IL, USA even though I am not the biggest fan of the world sport fest. I was doing it in support of my sport (archery) and the city I now call home. When the “voting” occurred, Chicago lost out in the first round, and eventually Rio de Janeiro won out, primarily because the Olympics had never been held in South America before. Nowhere in the qualification packets, of course, did it say that extra points would be granted for “opening up a new continent,” but basically I am suspicious of processes that are described as being “open” when they are followed by secret ballots, especially in organizations that have been proven to being somewhat addicted to corruption.

Trust me, I was relieved when Chicago did not get the bid, but I will also be saddened if this Olympics is riddled with structural flaws. I am especially hopeful that spectator stands don’t collapse and kill people, and that the effect of the Zika virus is nonexistent, but those are just hopes.

The Olympics is overblown to the extreme, primarily because of nationalism and jingoistic ceremonies. What do you think “The Games” would be like if only the athlete’s names were provided? That all of the flags, national anthems, country names sewn on the backs of jackets, medal count total lists (by country!), national colors in uniforms, etc. were banned? I think the support of the various countries, both independent and government-sponsored would dry up quickly. The truth of the matter is we are not trying to relish the performances of gifted human beings, we are going through an exercise of national pride, which is why countries pay so much money to send “their” athletes. There are even countries which have mapped out minor sports in which they think they could excel, then massively supported those sports to be able to claim Olympic glory.

The Brazilian people, of course, have been left out of this, other than to be used as laborers and tax payers. At the same time there are political and institutional crises in Brazil that desperately need attention. National humiliation through a failed Olympics will be a smear on the entire country, but might just help discredit the leaders who have pushed this idea so that more responsible people can take a whack at solving Brazil’s real problems, other than the unreal, self-inflicted wounds received from hosting a huge sport festival.

March 2, 2016

Things Are Slow, So . . . Wilt!

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 2:31 pm

Wilt BW #1Now that Stephen Curry’s blowing up the NBA and old-timers are grousing (Sit down, shut up, and enjoy the show!) I decided to revisit a number of past greats. I was watching a video from the Wilt Chamberlin archive comparing Wilt to Kareem Abdul Jabbar. One of the comparisons was based upon production and Wilt was downgraded a bit because he played so many minutes. This is entirely backwards and indicated how we often don’t use reason to evaluate comparisons between players, contemporaneous or from different eras.

wilt_chamberlain_1979_01_01So, the comparison said that Wilt played more minutes, so he had more opportunities to score, so he should be marked down regarding that. WTF? Wilt had attributes that made him, without doubt, the greatest center to ever have played professional basketball. Yes, Bill Russell (my #2) had way more championships, but in case you haven’t noticed, basketball is a team sport and Bill played for much better teams. So, should Wilt’s “production” be downgraded since he played more minutes per game in a comparison? No, that is idiotic.

It is true that one of the reasons Wilt had a career average of more than 20 rebounds per game was he was in the game to make rebounds. One year he averaged over 50 points per game in scoring! No one else has averaged as many as 40 per game. (Actually Wilt did and if you look at the highest per game scoring averages in a season in the NBA, you will find Wilt in third and fourth place, too.) One year Wilt averaged over 48 minutes of play per game. Since a game is only 48 minutes you might wonder at that but Wilt played every minute of every game in that season … including overtimes.

The only fair way to evaluate such a comparison is to switch conditions. Estimate what Wilt would have done had he had 10 minutes of rest each game. Then estimate how Kareem would have done had he played every minute of every game. This is where Wilt wins in any such comparison. If any other player were required to play every minute of every game, their production, minimally, would have fallen off and most likely they would have broken down and gotten injured. They would not have been able to go “all out” knowing they could “take a blow” for a few minutes when they needed to and they would flat out get tired and more tired game after game and pretty soon they would be ineffective.

8089-wilt-receives-two-usps-stampsAnd, I can imagine Wilt coming back off the bench in the second half of game, refreshed, and ready to break some wrists at the rim. You must realize that many of his opponents physically feared Wilt and for good reason. There wasn’t a one of them he couldn’t have picked up and slammed to the floor. Even Arnold Swartzenegger tells tales of Wilt’s immense strength in the gym and Arnold only knew a somewhat over-the-hill Wilt.

Wilt was immensely strong, immensely durable, immensely fast, and had immense stamina. Consequently he is one of the only players in NBA history to have consistently played whole games. And for those who think that those “old guys” in the NBA weren’t worked as strenuously as today’s players, look again. What was considered a foul then was basically blood was drawn. Things that would be considered a Flagrant-2 foul now might not have even been whistled back then. Wilt made the bulk of his baskets with two or more guys hanging on him. And Wilt never fouled out of a game. (Yes, superstars were protected then as they are now, but still.)

Just because scoring and rebounds can be considered on a “per minute played” basis does not mean it is fair to do so. The only fair comparison is to consider what would have happened had each played the other’s game.

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