Ted Cox's Reader article (5-1-98) keeps up the irritating tradition of white sportswriters making racist and odious comparisons of the career of Babe Ruth to that of the careers of superstar black athletes to put the black athlete down.
In some weird way, he finds Michael Jordan's first game of the 1998 playoffs with the New Jersey Nets to be comparable to Babe Ruth's 1927 60-home-run year, after Ruth's virus/syphilis attack. He claimed Michael looked "aged and vulnerable" and played badly.
"He certainly had the look of someone who could readily ponder retirement," Cox says. Michael was the only Bull who played the entire schedule, enduring double and triple coverage every game. He endured more fouls than any Bull because he had to go into the hole more than any Bull. Yet this logical show of fatigue is described as an indication of age (obviously he shares Jerry Krause's hope that Mike will retire and Krause will win with a white team).
Most ridiculous is Cox's statement: "He [Michael] may not yet be the legendary figure Ruth was off the field...but [grudging] his sporting exploits are beyond even Ruth's."
Why use a white baseball player for comparison? Particularly one who played in an all-white league that excluded the best players from other races, so that records made in that league are worthless. Babe Ruth's 60-home-run record was tainted because they counted balls that went into the stands on the first bounce as home runs.
Baseball is not a sport to be compared with basketball. Basketball has evolved into the most complicated and physically demanding of all the sports. Baseball simply requires the player to be able to hit, throw, and catch the baseball and run in a straight line at any speed.
Basketball, on the other hand, requires the player to be able to dribble a basketball while running at full speed with five competitors trying to get the ball, to pass accurately on the run, to catch and dribble at the same time under the pressure of a competitor, to shoot the ball into a basket ten feet high from all areas of the court under intense competition, and play in a team strategy.
It is the difference between playing checkers and chess. Baseball is the checkers game and basketball is the chess game.
African-Americans will continue to dominate sports in America because it is one of the few areas where they can be rewarded for ability. If the NBA chose players the way private industry does, most of the players would look like Jerry Krause and other white male corporate types. These sportswriters need to get over it.
Clarence C. Terry