England-USA -- 1927 Yankees vs 2009 Mariners (1)

Sounder At Heart up front and center with the soccer action.  Good job blokes.


=== Great Theater ===

"Fascinating match" from wire to wire, as the British ESPN announcer marvelled one hour in.  That'll do for us too.

One bone that I'll pick, with U.S. West Coast fan reaction in general, is that U.S. 'net rats were falling way too much over themselves to "be objective" and disavow any U.S. credit in the game.  Most chat threads I've seen focused on Green's catastrophe, reinforcing the pre-game script that the U.S. is not competitive.

The game was very competitive, as as the (outstanding) Brit announcer conceded about 75 minutes along, "The U.S. has a first-class international side.  There is a growing respect in England for U.S. football and this game will do nothing but increase it."


=== 1927 Yankees ===

I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to compare England's current side to, let's say, the 1927 or 1961 Yankees or to the 1976 Reds.  The more so, since those teams had awesome scoring units and less-awesome run prevention...

England has, roughly speaking, 4 of the world's top 10 players -- one up front, two midfield (Gerrard and Lampard), and a center back (Terry).  Absolutely perfect balance among your superstars. 

And that striker, Wayne Rooney, is often accused of being the best player in the world. (He's the thug in the picture; outside the camera frame is the Liverpool centerback who was toppling backwards over the corner flag.)

I'm not arguing against that, either -- Rooney being the #1 player in the world -- since he is a great one-touch scorer plus a dominating air game.  During one streak in the EPL, he scored 7 straight goals on headers.  And that's just the third or fourth arrow to his bow.

Speaking as a Gooner, it gives me no pleasure to say so :- ) but the Man U and Chelsea stars are right there with anybody from Spain or South America.

The second line is world-class also -- three or four more of England's starters are argued for the world's top 100.  Players like Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand (DL) are consistently on that level, among others.


England had 55-60% possession, so the game was a joke?   Come on, what do you expect from anybody against England.  They've got an overwhelming side.  There are maybe six teams in the world that can go eye-to-eye with them and even hope to be "competitive" -- if being competitive is defined as outplaying them up front, midfield, and in your own goal box.

Sure, the U.S. hope against Team England is to scrap, outwork them and hope a bounce goes their way.  Guess what.  The same is true for Greece or Russia or, probably, France for that matter.


Part 2




...between the 2009 Mariners and the 1927 Yankees, I'd wager 130 of them would be close, exciting games...one or two would be Mariner blowout wins and 30 would be Yankee blowout wins...the Yankees would probably go an average of rough 108-54 in those matches, but there would be many games where both teams had great chances to win.
A large difference in overall talent does not exist at the highest levels of pro sports..the FIFA World Cup...or the Major Leagues from almost any era aside from the period before the 60 foot 6 inch mound distance.

Taro's picture

I think the '09 Mariners would competely blow out the '27 Yankees.
Baseball has come a loooooooong ways since 1927.


If you took the '27 Yankees and time-warped them to today, they might have a tougher time in MLB than their record would make you guess...but most of the published studies on league quality would seem to suggest that the difference is on the order of 5-8% between now and 1927...not 30% or more.
And that question is actually irrelevant to the point I was making anyway.  Though a fascinating one to debate for someone like me. :)

Taro's picture

I've noticed. We've had some fun with this topic before. :-)
Just looking at an average 1982 game versus one in 2002 (IMO baseball has peaked in the early 2000s so far)..The game has come VERY far. You go 80 years back and I'm not even sure if those guys are playing low-A ball level baseball.
Its true in any sport. The level of athleticism in the NBA in the early 80s versus where it been since the late 90s is a world of difference. Its not even the same game. Some of the guys who were all-stars in those eras wouldn't even be regulars in today's game. Kevin McHale, for example, would NOT be anything close to a star C in today's game. The farther you go back, the more this becomes true.
Granted the effect is smaller in baseball than in basketball or football, but once you start talking about a span of 20+ years it starts to become just as true.
I think the '09 Mariners would absolutely embarrass the '27 Yankees over a full season.

OBF's picture

Kevin McHale, for example, would NOT be anything close to a star C in today's game. The farther you go back, the more this becomes true.

Do you watch the NBA??  Did you ever watch Kevin McHale?  Are you basing you statement on the fact that McHale is white?  Which of course means nothing.
In today's NBA Big man wasteland, Kevin McHale would be MORE dominant than he was when he played.  McHale would make fools of guys like Oden and D Howard, who, while more physically imposing than Kevin, have never SEEN footwork or actual basketball skill like McHales, let alone experinced it.  Oden would have 5 fouls (if allowed to continue playing) in the first quarter alone!  And positioning, blocking out and basketball IQ would get McHale many more rebounds and he would be a better defender!  Seriously McHale would be AWESOME in today's NBA!
IMHO, the NBA has done a similar thing to what the MLB has done in the tools vs. skills equation but to a much higher degree.  For big men anymore all they do is look at height.  For some reason NBA Gms think that 7 feet automatically makes you a good center and they are of course WRONG.  Shaq wasn't an all star because he was huge, he was an all star because he knew what to do with that huge body and he had the skills to execute that knowledge.  In fact I think that this is what is ruining the NBA.  You no longer have supremely skilled basketball players you have really tall really athletic guys who air mail FREE THROWS!!!
Anyway, sorry for the basketball diversion, but I think that the same argument could be made in baseball.  Adam Jones may be a much much MUCH better athlete than, say, Babe Ruth, but there is no way that he has better baseball skill!

Taro's picture

Looked back at my Jordan DVD last night and McHale was probably a bad example. I dont think he'd be as effective in today's game, but he would likely still be a very good player due to his skill and length. He might get a little overpowered in today's game (a big part of positioning, rebounds, and defense), but he was technically sound, long, and not as slow as I remember from watching the DVDs a few years ago.
Overall though, its just a completely different level of athleticism compared to today. The biggest difference you can see is in size and quickness of the stars, and the complete lack of talent in the average regular and role player during the 80s. There are a lot of college players who wash out in the NBA today due to lack of athleticism who would've worked during that era.
Adam Jones was a star in AAA. Realistically there is no way 1927 baseball was as good as AAA ball is today. At that point I think we're just going too far back.
I've seen the NPB go from somewhere between A+ and AA to somewhere in between AAA and MLB in the past 20 years.
80+ years ago is  just a rediculous amount of time. The game has evolved. There is way more money involved, a vastly superior talent pool, better scouting, better training, better coaching knowledge, etc.  

OBF's picture

I certainly agree with you that in both baseball and basketball the overall athleticism and physical talent is leaps and bounds better than what it was even 20 years ago (not to mention 80), but my contention is that as these spots (players, coaches, gms, the whole industry) has concentrated more and more on style over substance, on brawn and size and speed and bench press reps and 40 times over boxing out, the ability to read the spin and distance of a shot to position your self for the long (or short) rebound, the ability to put bat on ball, the ability to foul off good pitches in order to get the one you can handle, the mental fortitude to go through slumps and the long grind of a season, the skill to feather in a (Doug Fister) fastball to all four corners over muscling up to 98 (Morrow) but having no idea where it is going, etc, etc, etc.  That all of that added stature, athleticism, and Physical talent really hasn't gotten us all that far!
Wilt, Bill Russel, Magic, Bird, Jordan, all those guys would still be dominant today, and even some of the lesser stars, guys like (to use a NW example) Kiki Vandeweghe, Barkley (a great example of hard work and basketball skills over a hard body and phyical prowess), Lucas, Baylor, Petit, Cousy, they would probably all still be starters today on good teams.  The list could go on and on.  Yeah the scrubs back then couldn't jump as high as the scrubs now... SO?  I bet they were still just as good at the game of basketball.
Would Babe Ruth start in today's MLB?  I sure would take him on the M's right now!  Would Hoyt and Pinnock be able to get MLB hitters out?  I bet they could throw quality starts against these M's, but how about say the Cardinals MOTO?  Maybe not.  I am not sure how fast those guys threw, but Moyer shows us that this game is not all about MPH. 
I am sure you are correct that today's MLB as a whole would beat the 1927 MLB, but probably not to a bloddy pulp.  And specifically the '27 Yanks vs. the '10 M's?  Seattle lost before it even got to the field because they are mentally broken right now, but even if they played before the season the Yanks would clean up!


I agree with Champ's basic premise that sports have come farther even than most people think... 1950's NFL teams would be humiliated against a 2010 team, no doubts there...
Ya Kevin McHale had the 2nd most unstoppable post move I've seen, right after Abdul-Jabbar's skyhook... his arms made him effectively 7'4" or something, he had footwork that put Akeem Olajuwon to shame and that dude would score 30 a night these days...
Where I agree with Taro is that in 2010, it seems like half of NBA has Clyde Drexler's hops :- )
Dividing line for the NBA was the Jordan era.  Teams before that, say the 1970's Warriors or Sonics, weren't going to match up to today's teams.
But IMHO, starting with Jordan and Magic and the Bully Boys Pistons, those teams were playing modern ball...
If there's a sport wherein the 1950's and even 1930's players might surprise you, I would nominate baseball...  there is a max-out point for how hard the human arm can throw a baseball, and the rest of the sport has been *somewhat* capped by the limits of human pitching, it seems to me...
I'd be pretty surprised if Lefty Grove weren't at least as good, in absolute terms, as Erik Bedard or Cliff Lee...

Taro's picture

Good stuff Doc.
I shouldn't of brought up McHale as he was a bad example. I think he'd still be very effective on offense (but with worse numbers) and A LOT less effective on defense and rebounding.
I do think some stars from the past would still be succesful in today's game, but not to nearly the same degree.
Fukudome posted 1.000 OPS in the NPB, but we didn't expect that from him in the MLB despite the NPB being not that far off in quality. Thats because despite two relatilvely close leagues, the stars are better and in more quantity, the regulars are better, the role players are better, etc. Most of your production comes from beating on weaker competition.
1927 MLB isn't anywhere close to 2006 NPB.
Guys in A ball are pretty good as well (better than 60-70s NPB for sure), but baseball today is on a completely different level.
Would Babe Ruth hit like Pujols in today's era with that swing? Or is he John Kruk in a different era? Is he even that.. who knows?

OBF's picture

case is certainly very reasonable, and I echo your sentiment "Who Knows?"  It is of course something we can never know for sure, which is too bad.  When are we going to get those time machines working!  Come on Doc!...oh wrong Doc :)
Of course we need SOMETHING to argue about during a lost M's season :)

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