Monday, August 29, 2005

Top Five Detroit Athletes of All Time

There is a great debate brewing on our radio web site You can click on the link to the right and join in and check out the entire web site or you can post here. It is a great debate that is going to brew even harder around Super Bowl XL. I cannot tell you exactly what is going on yet but it is going to be a fun issue to debate.
I keep changing my mind but for now here are my top five. Check with me in 48 hours I probably would have changed my mind again.
1. Joe Louis: He meant so much to the community and the nation. He boxed when the sport was just as big as baseball.

2. Gordie Howe: Some will argue he is the best hockey player of all time. He scored, was tough and made playing the Wings very difficult.

3. Barry Sanders: He did not leave the way we wanted but once again you can argue this is the best running back of all time.

4. Steve Yzerman: Another of the all-time greats. I always debate who was better -- Stevie Y or Howe? But bottom line is Howe is higher on the NHL pecking order than Yzerman.

5. Isiah Thomas: There was no Pistons before he arrived. Zeke not only was a great player but he pounded winning in a stale and disorganized organization.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No way can Ty Cobb not be in the top five.

9:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget Duffy Dyer.

10:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ty Cobb can't be lower than #3. Cobb, Howe, Yzerman and Isiah made their teams better. Barry made himself better. He shouldn't be on the list.

10:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howe, Cobb, Sanders, Louis... not sure about the fifth.

12:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Cobb
2. Louis
3. Howe
4. Thomas
5. Sanders

3:39 PM

Blogger dildo_farts said...

SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEd should be number 1 in my book hurry and put him down as a detroit athlete before we trade him......

Darko is number two the guy has made skills for a tall whit gump...

John Crotty is a close number 3...

cecil Fielder enough said at number 4....

and Kid Rock kid's got game.

3:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other notables: Dave DeBusschere, Joe Schmidt, Lem Barney, Night Train Lane, Spencer Haywood, Rudy Tomjanovich, George Gervin, Tommy Hearns.

Not in the top five, but lesser-known athletes who achieved great stature in their sports: Norbert Schemansky (weightlifting), Sheila Young (cycling/speed skating), Ed Lubanski (bowling), Henry Carr (track & field).

3:48 PM

Blogger T Foster said...

I know Cobb was a great player in his time and deserves to be in the top 10. But I have a hard time with players who played before the color barrier was lifted. Were they really playing against the best players? My answer is no. Major League Baseball was diluted. It was not the best playing against the best.

4:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gotta tell you Terry, that's weak. Call it the politically correct list of most acceptable Detroit athletes, then. It's not like Howe was playing against a lot of blacks either. Why not eliminate him?

People who argue against the records of Ruth, Cobb et al on grounds of separatism are over-romanticizing the Negro Leagues. There weren't enough great black pitchers, especially early on in Cobb's time, to represent any threat to the overall numbers posted by the best white hitters. (Take a look at MLB today. There are plenty of black pitchers, but by no means have they taken over the game in the way that black athletes have in the NBA.)

Add to that the fact that a lot of Negro League stats (what there are of them) have been inflated, romanticized or padded during barnstorming tours against amateur or semi pro teams. So if you want to Cobb's 4000+ hits, go ahead ... but we'll know the real reason why.

5:44 PM

Blogger dildo_farts said...

What about Tom Brady????

8:30 PM

Blogger dildo_farts said...

The Lions fucking suck me and terry foster and his huge shlong could tackle better than these ass clowns what fags I'm moving to Seattle to be a fan of a real team and then moving back for bball seasn cause I love Maxiell he's a monster has a monster cock just like T Foster!!

8:33 PM

Blogger dildo_farts said...

Barry Sanders can't be on this list he was the biggest Detroit PUSSY of all time what kind of top athletes quite on you????

Detroits top needs a title Darko is on my top 5 over Barry sanders. He has a title Barry has nothing he's a fag Brian Griese is higher than him, shit even the great Fab Five would be my top fiver over that fag they all won in highschool then they got to the big dance plus they were good at taking bribes thats some real shit they weren't quiters they never sucked dick for coke

8:36 PM

Blogger dildo_farts said...

Hey the dude crying about Gordie Howe not playing against blacks WAKE UP idiot blacks don't play hockey they are much too good of athletes to play such a pussy sport like hockey stop being a bitch you can tell this year hockey isn't really a sport and when the Taampa Bay Fags can win a cup you need to get rid of that sport forever forever ever forever ever

Stupid Dickhead

8:42 PM

Anonymous Inferno Fan said...

T fos, the website couldn't be up soon enough- between the ads and idiots posting comments but don't reveal their names who must be on cool-aid, I'm happy the website's up.

9:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, another Lions season of mediocrity. They look pathetic. It's funny that they've gotton worse since the first PRE-SEASON game. Losers.

10:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Gordie Howe played, there weren't any European players.

So why should he be on the list if Cobb isn't?

10:58 PM

Anonymous Stacey said...

I respectfully disagreed about Cobb. Certainly, if you were making a list of the 5 Detroit athletes with the most character he wouldn't make the list. However, I think there are so many changing dimensions of sports that it's really hard to discount a performance based on historical circumstances. Yes, Cobb would have faced some fiercer competition in an integrated league, but I'm betting he still would be a major talent.
I think the best counter-argument has already been mentioned. Hockey was hardly integrated in Howe's days (heck, it's hardly integrated now). Even without formal restrictions, many talented African-American and other minority players have likely been kept from the ice due to stereotyping, personal prejudices of owners and coaches, etc.
I'm curious to hear your response.

7:14 AM

Blogger T Foster said...

How do you know there were not enough great black pitchers back then?
You dont know.
According to people back then blacks were not good enough to play in the Majors. I don't trust everything that was said and written back then. It is not a politically correct thing to say. It is the truth and you cannod dispute it. I hate when someone challenges what happened back in the day when the majority ruled everybody that it is politcially correct.
Maybe Cobb was the best. But he did not play against the best. He did not play against everybody who could play.
And your hockey argument is weak. Black people did play hockey. So Howe played against the best available. Black played baseball, was great at it, and could not play in the Majors.

7:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terry, by your reasoning, any athlete that competed before 1950 is ineligible for the top five list. Tough rot for Ty Cobb, Hal Newhouser, Hank Greenberg, etc.

Instead of "top five Detroit athletes of all time", you should name your list the "top five post-1950 Detroit athletes", or, the "politically correct top five Detroit athletes".

10:00 AM

Anonymous Disrespect Detroit's Greatest? said...

It doesn't matter who Cobb did or did not play against. Every generation has something that could be held against it (IE: Steroids now), but that shouldn't change the amount of respect we have for the athletes.

Cobb played in the dead ball era, and was still able to put up many records that will never be topped. He dominated the game and changed the way others approached it unlike anyone else, even today.

Bottom line is this: When Cobb was on the field, whether it was offensively or defensively, the strategy of other players was changed more than most athletes (anywhere, not just Detroit) could ever dream of doing.

Don't disrespect the legend. He wasn't the one keeping African Americans out of the game.

10:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terry this dialogue is exactly why the racical divide exists. It is difficult for most that have not experienced discrimination to validate its effects. Ty Cobb DID NOT play against the best possible talent. Nor did ANY athlete who benefited from a particular group being disqualified because of culture. Europeans were not denied access to the NHL because of some horrible law. Look at the ALL TIME records that black athletes have captured in the years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier! Given an opportunity it is ignorant for one to say that players in the Negro Leagues could not have impacted the major leagues. Great players did not start with Robinson, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Stop being so defensive about American history. It is documented and certain folk gained a ton because other folk were not given a chance.

10:23 AM

Anonymous stacey said...

I am certainly not arguing with the fact that many people in history have gained at the expense of others. Obviously this is true in sports and many other fields. It was wrong to not allow Blacks to play in in the major leagues. But it seems you are confusing the issues of the fairness of the baseball system and the athletic ability of the players. Ty Cobb might not have been as spectacular had he played with a wider pool of players. Unfortunately, we can only judge him based on the circumstances he did play in. Would you discount the achievements of Josh Gibson because he only played in the Negro Leagues? I'd certainly hope not.
What about the fact that women have been kept from professional sports (officially, unofficially, any way possible)? If one day the NBA were to become gender integrated would you have to take Isiah Thomas off your list?

4:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, to compare women who are not capable of playing in the NBA to capable African Americans NOT being allowed to play major league baseball is crazy. And the fact that Ty Cobb gets props over athletes like Josh Gibson is exactly the point. Guys like Cobb benefited from a segregated system, plain and simple. That alone tarnishes their place in history, whether it was their fault or not. Gibson does not get his just due because the masses were afraid to allow him to pitch in the big leagues. Consequently when the ALL TIME greats are talked about he is not mentioned. But Cobb is????

7:21 PM

Anonymous Stacey said...

Dear Anonymous,
Wow, I bet the racists who didn't want Blacks in baseball sounded an awful lot like sexists like yourself.
I'm not sure Ty Cobb gets props over Josh Gibson-- at least not by people who know what they are talking about. The only reason people are mentioning Cobb over Gibson here is because Cobb played for Detroit. Remember, this was about Top Five DETROIT athletes.
I'm just not buying this argument. Actually, I'm not buying this opinion because an argument hasn't really been presented.
I'm not sure it's possible to state that Cobb benefitted from a segregated system. I suspect he would have still been a player in an integrated system. It would be the lesser players who wouldn't make it in the majors if more people were eligible to play. Yes, Cobb would have had a lot more competition at the top, and MIGHT have moved down closer to average, but I'm pretty sure he'd still be in the big leagues. In that respect, his stats might have benefitted, but I'm not sure he did.
If we weren't talking about a player who was such an outspoken racist, would this really be a discussion? It makes a lot more sense to just say Cobb shouldn't be heralded because of his racism than to build this inconsistent argument about his lack of competition. I call it inconsistent because people of color have been kept out of all the major sports in one way or another-- whether it's official racism, institutional racism, or personal prejudice. Just because Blacks were allowed to play hockey doesn't mean they weren't kept out. Read about the experiences of Willie O'Ree and others. Racism wasn't exclusive to baseball. The pool of athletes was (and still is) tainted by systems that discriminate against certain individuals. So, what is the real argument here?

8:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So women are good enough to play up to the standards of the NBA?? Swoops, Ford, Nolan can play with the guys. That is not sexist it is real Stacey...

8:53 PM

Anonymous stacey said...

I'm not sure about women playing NBA basketball today, but it might be possible someday when female athletes are given the same opportunities and encouragement throughout their lives as male athletes. (Just as racial and ethnic minorities were thought to be unable to do a variety of things until people stopped prohibiting them from trying). In hockey and baseball, there may be women just as good as the men, but we will probably not see them in our lifetime. And I bet Cat Osterman could strike out a fair number of MLB players so it's hard to say the male athletes are better, just playing a different sport.

I'll admit, however, that the gender analogy has it's weaknesses. There are biological differences based on gender (though the socialized ones may arguably be just as strong in keeping women out of popular sports), but there are not biological differences based on race. And for just this reason, we can only assume the pool of talent would have been stronger in an integrated baseball league. We can't assume Ty Cobb would've become a bench player because of his skin pigmentation chromosome.

Was baseball wrong to exclude Blacks? Yes! Was Ty Cobb dispicable in his personal beliefs? Yes! Should we arbitrarily and inconsistently apply "what ifs" to sports history? Probably not.

9:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Pete Incavilia
2. Eric Montross
3. Bryant Westbrook & Terry Fair
4. Jimmy Carson
5. Glen Hanlon

3:59 PM

Blogger T Foster said...

Stacey ,
I cannot buy your woman argument. Name me one woman good enough to play major league baseball.
There is none. So that argument does not fly with me. The best player are playing today. They come from every ethnic background and come from all over the world.

5:37 AM

Anonymous Stacey said...

I've never scouted the available female baseball talent so I'm not sure whether there are any good enough players out there. But I do believe there would be if girls were encouraged to think of it as a possibility throughout their lives. I teach elementary school and have never heard a girl say she wants to play professional baseball (or football or hockey for that matter). On the other hand, a large percentage of boys list this as their ambition. Will the boys make it to the MLB? ALMOST certainly not since the talent and perseverance needed is hard to come by. Will the girls make it to the MLB? ABSOLUTELY not since by age 9 they've already written it off as a possibility.
This article is one man's opinion, but it has some good points:
It's all a bit silly anyway. You made a good list of the 5 most important Detroit sports figures. They were/are athletes with character and talent who put Detroit in the national spotlight during their tenure. But there is no way to make a definitive list since it is all about individual opinions. I know Tara Lipinski couldn't score goals alongside Yzerman and Howe, but they couldn't land a triple lutz.

10:06 AM

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