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2.06.2007

Mays v. Aaron 

Yesterday's post brought one particular comment that deserves more attention: Lyle wrote that Bonds should break Hank Aaron's record for Willie Mays's sake, to help dispel any notion that because of the home-run tally Aaron was better than Mays. Lyle doesn't say this directly, but his comments assume some people would take Aaron's side in the debate. I'm not sure how many would -- at least among fans whose knowledge goes beyond a fondness for the shrieking cartoon baseball that signals SportsCenter's nightly home-run roundup -- so Lyle perhaps is a smidge guilty of the old straw-man setup.

Or is he?

Career stats
Mays v Aaron

HRs: 660 v. 755
RBI: 1903 v. 2207
BA: .302 v. .305
SB: 338 vs. 240
SB%: 76% v. 76%
OBP: .384 v. .374
SLG: .557 v. .555
Adj. OPS: 156 v. 155
RC/27: 7.86 v. 7.65

EqA: .328 v. .326

Once you get past the dingers and ribbies, Mays had a slight edge over Aaron in practically everything. Aaron created more total runs over his career, but a lineup full of Mayses would outscore a lineup of Aarons by two-tenths of a run. But for me the most interesting thing in these side-by-side comparisons is not that Mays was slightly better but that Aaron was nearly as good. I always thought Mays was better, hands-down. He was, but it's closer than I thought.

Then again, we haven't covered defense. Aaron by most accounts was a good, sometimes great right fielder. BP lists his career "rate2" for RF as 104. Mays was according to conventional wisdom perhaps the best center fielder of all time. BP lists his career Rate2 for CF as 104. Interpret that however you wish. Say hey -- did you know Willie made two appearances at SS and one at 3B? Looks like he even made a play at third.

***

P.M. SMALL PRINT UPDATE:

Now listening to Streetnote.org, a Web site full of street musicians. Some are bad, some are good, none are boring. Of note: Soul Lady of Santa Monica, Butchey Smith of Boston, Kyle of Madison, and the Hypnotic Brass Band of Chicago/LA.

Now reading
Caetano Veloso's Tropical Truth, but probably not much longer. It's a personal memoir from one of the most exciting periods in modern musical history, the Brazilian tropicalia movement spearheaded by Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and others. (With this song as one of its anthems, tropicalia blended pop art, psychedelia, Brazilian musical elements, political protest and intellectual playfulness into a civic movement. Gil and Veloso were exiled in the late 1960s by the military dictatorship.)

As much as I love his music, Veloso's writing (at least in translated form) is a confusing hodgepodge of anecdotes, a revolving door of people, and a laundry list of ideologies and sub-ideologies. Certain passages are lovely, such as his depiction of his sleepy hometown, Santo Amaro, and anyone who wants a window into Brazilian pop and the formative years of one of the world's great musicians will get something from it, but mostly it feels like he's dumped his copious notes on us without enough shape, narrative or filter.

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