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Negro League reclassified as major league

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I get the sentiment.  There were a lot of MLB-caliber players, including any number of Hall of Famers and other stars.  There are 35 Negro Leaguers in the Hall.  It's nice to elevate their performances to a different level, even if it's symbolically.  The Negro Leagues were probably on par with (or in some respects better than) the Majors of the 19th century.  I'm 100% sure the NNL of 1930 would obliterate the 1884 Union Association, which is called a Major League.

But... it's clear the Negro National League didn't have the same overall quality of play, or facilities or resources or record keeping or a dozen other attributes of the Majors at the same time.  The stats on bb-ref are all over the place, short seasons, incomplete numbers.  We all wish they did directly compare, but they don't.  So MLB is classifying a parallel league as a Major that could probably be better categorized as an independent minor league. 

And if the Negro Leagues are Major Leagues, then why not the Japanese Leagues of at least the last 30-40 years?  Or the KBO today?  If you went through a checklist of all of the attributes of a Major League the NPB will check at least as many boxes as pre-WWII Negro Leagues.

So I get why they did it, to give some recognition to players who got a really bad deal in their time.  And it's a very nice gesture.  But they're doing so by elevating a league that probably wasn't much, if at all, better than the International League or the Pacific Coast League of the same era.

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1 minute ago, DrungoHazewood said:

I get the sentiment.  There were a lot of MLB-caliber players, including any number of Hall of Famers and other stars.  There are 35 Negro Leaguers in the Hall.  It's nice to elevate their performances to a different level, even if it's symbolically.  The Negro Leagues were probably on par with (or in some respects better than) the Majors of the 19th century.  I'm 100% sure the NNL of 1930 would obliterate the 1884 Union Association, which is called a Major League.

But... it's clear the Negro National League didn't have the same overall quality of play, or facilities or resources or record keeping or a dozen other attributes of the Majors at the same time.  The stats on bb-ref are all over the place, short seasons, incomplete numbers.  We all wish they did directly compare, but they don't.  So MLB is classifying a parallel league as a Major that could probably be better categorized as an independent minor league. 

And if the Negro Leagues are Major Leagues, then why not the Japanese Leagues of at least the last 30-40 years?  Or the KBO today?  If you went through a checklist of all of the attributes of a Major League the NPB will check at least as many boxes as pre-WWII Negro Leagues.

So I get why they did it, to give some recognition to players who got a really bad deal in their time.  And it's a very nice gesture.  But they're doing so by elevating a league that probably wasn't much, if at all, better than the International League or the Pacific Coast League of the same era.

I wonder if this changes any of the long standing records?  Did someone have a 60 game hitting streak in the Negro Leagues?  If they did is that now the record?

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15 minutes ago, Can_of_corn said:

I wonder if this changes any of the long standing records?  Did someone have a 60 game hitting streak in the Negro Leagues?  If they did is that now the record?

That's a good question, I don't know.  The schedules were all over the place.  In '39 The Indy ABCs played 20 games, the Toledo Crawfords 16, and the Philadelphia Stars 50.  What's qualifying for anything?  Bill Hoskins hit .403 in 132 PAs... does he now count as hitting .400 in the majors?  In '38 Buck Leonard hit .418... in 43 games.  Jud Wilson hit well over .400 multiple times, .359 for his career, but never had 300 PAs in a season.  At the age of 49 he went 21-for-58 (.362), but in 24 games.

Actually, Jud Wilson's age 49 season highlights why it's problematic to call this a Major League.  Wilson hit .365 at the age of 49.  Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard were on the team hitting .350.  But their third baseman hit .153 with a .391 OPS, and their 2B .192 with a .505.  One guy threw 114 innings, nobody else threw 50. 

You basically can't throw them in the same pile as the post-1900 majors.  The standards aren't on the same page.

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I don't know the number like 56 or 714, but I remember an anecdote about Josh Gibson having a really big HR year.  I guess at some point I'll learn where on the 60/61/70/73 spectrum that lies.

(Now having read the linked story, wouldn't have guessed Gibson for a retroactive superlative from the Ichiro shelf.  I certainly learned Hugh Duffy along with Matt Kilroy from my first childhood Baseball Encyclopedia)

It'd be cool if there are a few veterans from the 40's still about to gather some token pension here, though I admit not a clue to even what AL/NL guys got/get in that respect before Marvin Miller.

 

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They just said on MLB Now that cumulative stats like career home run or hit totals wouldn't be impacted, but things like batting averages would.

They used the example that Josh Gibson is now the most recent .400 hitter, not Ted Williams. 

I don’t really understand the logic. 

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4 minutes ago, scarey1999 said:

They just said on MLB Now that cumulative stats like career home run or hit totals wouldn't be impacted, but things like batting averages would.

They used the example that Josh Gibson is now the most recent .400 hitter, not Ted Williams. 

I don’t really understand the logic. 

No logic to understand.

Completely arbitrary.

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1 hour ago, scarey1999 said:

They just said on MLB Now that cumulative stats like career home run or hit totals wouldn't be impacted, but things like batting averages would.

They used the example that Josh Gibson is now the most recent .400 hitter, not Ted Williams. 

I don’t really understand the logic. 

This is pretty dumb.

I agree with Drungo.  Nice gesture, but it doesn't make sense.  

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35 minutes ago, Number5 said:

Do the few remaining surviving players get free medical insurance now?

As Drungo suggests -- there needs to be some refinement as to which of the professional Negro leagues are to be designated as "major leagues".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negro_league_baseball#

Per this article
https://www.pjstar.com/sports/20190628/the-man-who-beat-man-who-beat-man-brings-negro-league-history-to-peoria

there were 56 surviving former Negro League(s) players as of June 28, 2019.

As to MLB medical insurance coverage for the survivors, let's see if the MLB owners put their money where their "mouths" are.

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13 hours ago, scarey1999 said:

They just said on MLB Now that cumulative stats like career home run or hit totals wouldn't be impacted, but things like batting averages would.

They used the example that Josh Gibson is now the most recent .400 hitter, not Ted Williams. 

I don’t really understand the logic. 

 

12 hours ago, Can_of_corn said:

No logic to understand.

Completely arbitrary.

Of course cumulative stats won't be impacted, the official schedules were 30, 50, 60 games.  Someone would have had to play 30 or 40 years to get 3000 hits or 700 homers.  In the Seamheads database Josh Gibson has 238 homers, or the same number as Ray Lankford.

The year Gibson hit .441 (1943) he had 342 PAs.

They can say all this now counts, fine.  But you just have to do the same mental gymnastics that you'd do with Long Levi Meyerle's .492 average in 1871.  Sure, he hit .492 and some people say that's "Major League" but it's clearly not the same thing.

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I don't want to be too harsh here, this does make some sense and I certainly understand why they're doing it.  It just has to be put into context.  And the context is that they've added the records of a league that's roughly equivalent to the NL or the AA of 1885.  Baseball in the Negro Leagues and in the 19th century was awesome baseball, and it's good that this is shining some light on it.

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5 minutes ago, Can_of_corn said:

I don't think any of us have an issue with the basic idea of it.

But this should open the door for including the NPB and KBO.

Strike while the iron is still... warm.  Get those leagues in and Oh is the all time home run leader rather than Bonds.

Oh is still alive, so if they follow a typical HOF timeline they'll make the NPB major nine months after he dies.

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Oh... (pun intended).  They're not going to make NPB and KBO majors, that would be elevating the competition.  People would start clamoring for an all-Major League Championship.  Players might start wondering what it's like to shun lowball North American MLB contracts to go to the other Major Leagues. Ichiro would become the all time hit leader, leading to a Pete Rose tantrum.

The Negro Leagues were safe to promote since they stopped being a thing well over a half century ago.

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