Tim Hudson

See, that was what the Braves are paying him for. Hudson finished seventh in the league in ERA, third in innings, and fifth in wins; he didn’t figure in the Cy Young voting because of a late fade, but was in consideration much of the year. The big key was cutting down on home runs; after allowing 20 and 25 in his first two seasons with the Braves, he allowed only ten in 2007. He also cut down severely on his walks while maintaining most of a strikeout gain from the previous season. Also, he was an itty-bit hit-lucky, not too much. If he can keep his home run rate down, he should be in excellent shape.

I am not wild about the Braves’ infield defense, which was below-average at all three positions, but Hudson did okay with it. Hopefully, Johnson and Escobar will be improved in their second seasons… Hudson had the team’s only complete game, a shutout of the Natspos Sept. 16.

Hudson’s most-similar pitcher through age 31 is Mike Mussina. That’s fairly promising. His list also includes Bob Welch and Andy Pettitte, who pitched well for several more seasons after that, but also has Dennis Leonard, Ramon Martinez, and Jack McDowell, who were all finished at this age. Basically, there’s a 50/50 chance that this type of pitcher makes it to 35 as a contributor.

Tim Hudson Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

132 thoughts on “Tim Hudson”

  1. When you say “this type of pitcher,” what do you mean? Why is it that comp scores work well to predict a player’s likelihood of injury, or career failure, at a certain age?

    Ububba, that’s really, really cool. I had a literature teacher in high school (who moonlighted by writing for Rolling Stone) who once said, “You know, a lot of people thought the Beach Boys were just dumb surfers. But really, Brian Wilson was more like God.”

    And John Doe’s album is pretty great too.

    By the way, Mac, I asked John Beamer to fix the broken link in his article and it works now. Hopefully you’ll get a little traffic.

  2. I had a brief email exchange with Derek Carty at the Harball Times about the PitchF/x of McGowan vs. Smoltz (you can see the stats for both of those guys on thehardballtimes.com) and he was nice enough to send me Hudson’s numbers as well.

    I’ll try pasting them here, but they may not format well. Anyone who wants them better lined can write me off-list at TheBourbonCowboy@hotmail.com

    -Nevin

    +————+———–+———+———–+———–+——-+——+——+——-+——–+——–+——–+——–+——–+
    | PITCHER | PITCH | SPEED | BREAKX | BREAKZ | TOTAL | PERC | S_B | X_SWG | S_PERC | B_PERC | C_PERC | F_PERC | X_PERC |
    +————+———–+———+———–+———–+——-+——+——+——-+——–+——–+——–+——–+——–+
    | Tim_Hudson | Sinker | 91.9734 | -9.240105 | 4.542065 | 1294 | 0.65 | 0.10 | 0.55 | 3.00 | 34.00 | 21.00 | 17.00 | 25.00 |
    | Tim_Hudson | Curveball | 77.5674 | 4.054107 | -4.153705 | 53 | 0.03 | 0.14 | 0.50 | 6.00 | 42.00 | 25.00 | 11.00 | 17.00 |
    | Tim_Hudson | Changeup | 82.5666 | -5.069302 | 3.053302 | 329 | 0.17 | 0.49 | 0.44 | 17.00 | 34.00 | 14.00 | 13.00 | 23.00 |
    | Tim_Hudson | Cutter | 87.3778 | -1.872218 | 3.342754 | 303 | 0.15 | 0.46 | 0.41 | 19.00 | 41.00 | 9.00 | 11.00 | 21.00 |
    +————+———–+———+———–+———–+——-+——+——+——-+——–+——–+——–+——–+——–+

  3. Captain Obvious here.

    But isn’t as simple as Hudson keeping the ball down?

    Before last year, he always seemed to have an inning or two where he threw batting practice, non-sinking, belt-high sinkers and that would be that.

    Last year, for the most part, everything that was supposed to be down was. Seemed to make all the difference.

  4. I do worry about Smoltz’s arm; at 41, there are no sure things. As for Hudson, he had a good year but had enough periods of struggle to make me doubt that he is really an ace. There aren’t many John Smoltzes (or Greg Madduxes or Tom Glavines) of course, but the Braves really need to find another one.

  5. Marc, I agree. I do worry that the magic dust that Smoltz uses will one day wear off. Of the big 3 he was the one that I least suspected would remain a front line quality pitcher into his 40’s. I also agree that Hudson hasn’t shown that he can be that stud number 1 pitcher. At least for us he hasn’t. Here is hoping that he continues his performance from last season.

  6. I generally agree with the Hudson sentiments. I think he’s a #2 starter at this point. If Smoltz begins to lose it anytime soon, the Braves would be in a market for an ace-type pitcher.

  7. Hudson is an ace when he keeps his pitches down. The problem I see is that he doesn’t always know when that will be.

  8. I could see a big difference in Hudson’s sinker last year. It wasn’t just about keeping the ball down- it had much sharper late break down last year than previous years. Maddux – like, except harder. Even when he accidently left it higher than he wanted, the sharper break still kept it out of the bleachers most of the time.

    As for being a number 1, guys like Smoltz are often better against the best teams than sinkerballers. During the 90s, I always preferred Smoltz in the postseason over Maddux, despite Maddux’s superiority over the full season, partly due to his better ability to get the big K when he needed it.

    When Hudson is at his best, he can control just about any opposing team. It helps if the ump at the time will call low strikes.

  9. I have some faith that Smoltz can get people out for awhile if and when he loses his stuff.

    And, yes, Hudson certainly earned that boatload o’ cash last year. While the Braves were hanging in the NL East race before the IL games kicked us out, Hudson was really dealing.

    Smoltz, Hudson & Glavine for one season? I’ll roll the dice with that.

    On Brian Wilson:
    Two things worth checking out: An excellent mid-’90s documentary called “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” and, of course, the genuinely classic album “Pet Sounds.”

    Wilson is the only guy I can remember who ever put a theremin solo in a hit pop song (“Good Vibrations”) & really made it sing.

  10. Here come the Worry Wallys again.

    When Smoltz’s arm falls off, it falls off. Adding one more year to your age doesn’t magically increase the likelihood that you’re going to get hurt. Why do we have to go through this schlop every damn year? Just because we don’t have an immediate replacement?

  11. @16

    The point is that Smoltz does have a history of arm trouble and that he, in fact, has had some soreness or whatever, the last couple of years. I can’t believe that the chances of more arm problems doesn’t increase with age. You can’t worry about it, but it’s a factor. Relying on a 41 year old pitcher as your ace seems to me to be tempting fate although there is nothing to do about it now.

  12. Sam, 41 year old power pitchers can do that fall off the face of the earth thing. And yeah I worry that there is no one that can duplicate his performance.

  13. Adding one more year to your age doesn’t magically increase the likelihood that you’re going to get hurt.

    Well, I don’t think magic is involved, but yeah, the likelihood you’re going to get hurt does increase with age. That’s sort of fundamental.

    Marc,
    Agree with everything you say in #17. You, unlike Sam, appear to have a realistic grasp of the situation.

  14. Another Luke Appling story for the interested.

    This story came from his son or son-n-law, who my dad was friends with. Apparently during Luke’s time in the service, he was the star of the Post baseball team. He’d asked for a weekend leave but was denied because his CO wanted him availiable for the weekend game against a rival squad. Not happy with being denied a weekend pass, Luke used each at bat to strafe the Officer’s tent beyond first base with foul balls. After one officer got cracked in the knee, he decided his point was made and laid off.

  15. I think I kinda see what Sam is trying to say. It’s not like going from 40 to 41 will magically make you injure your room, and in that respect he’s right. However, as both Marc and Stu said, there is definitely a correlation between age increase and injury likelihood increase. It also doesn’t help that Smoltz does indeed have a history of arm problems.

  16. In general, Sam just doesn’t like when people point out potential pitfalls or shortcomings of the team. For a while there, he was staying quiet, not taking it upon himself to respond to every single point made about potential causes for concern…too good to last.

  17. One slightly good thing about Smoltz’s arm surgeries (I can’t believe I’m saying that) might be that, because of all the time he’s spent on the shelf over the years, he has less mileage than a 41-year-old might otherwise have.

    I’m still scared for his arm, and was terrified by the way his shoulder was barking last year, but like Ububba I have a certain degree of confidence in his ability to get people out even when he loses a mile or two off his fastball, because his slider is still — according to THT — the best in the bigs, in terms of getting people to swing and miss. I love the guy. I just hope he stays healthy.

  18. Well there’s definitely merit to staying positive, especially when there are so many unknowns about what to expect with our team. I actually came to terms last night with the fact that maybe Wren isn’t the greatest at working trades. At the same time, the Villarreal, Ascanio, and Renteria trades have allowed me to stay a little hopeful since I may be one of the few people who see those as good or at least defensible trades.

    I really just want the season to start already. I might be working for the Phillies during Spring Training, which is pretty sweet. I also found out that we’re going to play about half of my team’s games at Jack Russell Stadium, which is the Phillies’ old Spring Training complex. It’s a really nice field.

  19. but like Ububba I have a certain degree of confidence in his ability to get people out even when he loses a mile or two off his fastball, because his slider is still — according to THT — the best in the bigs, in terms of getting people to swing and miss. I love the guy. I just hope he stays healthy.

    I agree with both of you on this, too. The concern I have is that an injury won’t just reduce his velocity or stuff, but will actually prevent him from pitching. I know the dude can withstand (and has withstood) a lot of pain, but at some point, I have to think it won’t be worth it for him to keep killing himself. I dunno; mostly, I just want to see him pitch forever.

    Well there’s definitely merit to staying positive, especially when there are so many unknowns about what to expect with our team. I actually came to terms last night with the fact that maybe Wren isn’t the greatest at working trades. At the same time, the Villarreal, Ascanio, and Renteria trades have allowed me to stay a little hopeful since I may be one of the few people who see those as good or at least defensible trades.

    Agree with you on this, Rob. I am not as down on Wren or some of his trades as some (many?) on here seem to be. And I agree about not being overly negative. The point I was trying to make is that constantly retorting to being confrontational and sometimes insulting toward the people who aren’t unreasonably Pollyanna-ish strikes me as far more annoying than being negative.

    I could be alone on this, and there’s no need for me to say anymore about it. Just wanted to clarify/specify.

  20. A friend of mine was in the doctor’s office next to Cole Hamels waiting for about 30 minutes, and he didn’t recognize him. He just said Cole was huge, and then when my friend back, he said someone say, “Hey, Cole’s here,” and he felt like an idiot. Of course, I don’t think I would have recognized Cole Hamels either. I might have been tempted to ask someone his size if he played any type of competitive sports.

    I definitely wanna score a bunch of autographs if possible. The field they play on is really nice. Someone said Ryan Howard hit a ball out of the park onto US 19, and if that’s true, that was easily a 500 foot blast. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s pretty incredible.

  21. i’ll tell you what:

    Smoltz’s slider is/has been the best slider in the past 30 years (that’s how long i’ve been watching and UNDERSTANDING baseball)…

    maybe ever.

    when that thing’s on…it’s freakin’ unhittable…

    i saw him throw a slider to someone on the astros back in 1996…and i swear it moved from the righter hander’s butt to a good 1.5 feet off the plate WHILE CHANGING PLANES in a good 1/2 sec.

    that…my friends…is the reason we love smoltzie.

  22. Rob,

    I know you aren’t saying anything out loud, but should we expect some sort of fluke injury from a key Phillie in ST? Not that you would have anything to do with it, of course.

  23. If Ace Chutley takes a bat to the knee from some crazed employee, I can’t be held responsible for that. That’s all I’m going to say.

  24. I’m not saying that another year means that Smoltz IS going to be hurt. I just think that, realistically, you have to consider the possibility with a guy that is 41 and has a history of arm trouble. And, if I wasn’t negative about something, I would feel like I was jinxing the team. :)

  25. Alex R (from previous thread) — I would have picked the jerseys you mentioned for Jake R. for my sone Cameron too, but my wife said they didn’t have Smoltz, Chipper, or Murphy where she found it (not sure where — probably some department store in Richmond). I’m okay with Smurph though.

    Plus, I think my wife kinda likes Frenchy because of the funny overbite thing he does when he’s at the plate. (These are the tidbits you get when someone who doesn’t like baseball is watching baseball.)

  26. @40 funny. My wife, bless her heart, tries to join me when I watch the Braves too. She of course has no interest at all in the sport. She finds it utterly confusing that I would like something so boooorrrrrinnnnnng. But I do get a kick out of listening to her make derisive remarks about the crotch grabbing, spitting, seed chomping, and other disgusting things ball players do. Well sometimes a kick other times I’m annoyed as hell.

  27. 41 — I can absolutely relate.

    My wife kinda likes going to games (we’ve been to one in ATL and a couple in Milwaukee), but can’t watch it on tv.

    The last game I went to I took a number of pictures of Prince Fielder adjusting… just for her displeasure. The guys all thought it was funny. Thinking back at it now, I’m glad they thought it was funny instead of suspecting deviant fetishes.

  28. I met my wife at a Braves game. She’s been going with me on my season tickets ever since. Sometimes I think she’s way smarter about baseball than I am. In fact, one year she was an assistant coach for her son’s (my step-son) baseball team. Having her be a baseball fan definitely makes it easier to get away with watching the Sunday games on TV instead of working on the “honey do” list.

  29. In any given year, many of the best pitchers will get injured and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. The Braves were very fortunate to have Maddux and Glavine go without major injuries for many years. Having a deep rotation is key and this is why I’m against trading the farm for a pitcher like Bedard. Fortunately, with Jurrjens and Reyes or even just one of those two waiting in AAA, I think we’ll have more depth in our starting rotation than the last 2 years.

    Smoltz may or may not get injured this year, but I think his chances of a major injury are aslightly less than they were 10 years ago. He seems to understand his limits much better and he has a tremendous focus on mechanics in addition to staying in decent shape. I expect Smoltz to have a good year this year, but I see his effectiveness declining more as a result of a minor loss in velocity than blowing out his arm. I’m looking for at least one more strong year from Smoltz, but I won’t be surprised to see a gradual decline after that.

  30. Well, I’ll just shut up again, then. Obviously, that’s what most want. I’ll even consider leaving completely if people want that too.

    I get easily frustrated and find it irritating when people prefer to dwell on the negatives. Every time.

    I agree that the concerns are legitimate, and that the team doesn’t seem to have a backup plan, but why does every thread always turn into a discussion on “The Braves won’t or can’t succeed because of x”? Because we can’t prove that they can win? It’s nauseating.

    I make my point known just about every time, even though it gets extremely illogical and is based on faith sometimes.

    If you people don’t want me to break out like this, then obviously I need to leave, because I’m not going to change in that respect. This is going to happen again later, I’m sure of it. I apologize for any personal attacks, because, in general, I try not to be that kind of a person. I can try to better myself that way, but I believe I’ll get frustrated time and time again and lash out. I don’t think I can apologize for that.

  31. …but why does every thread always turn into a discussion on “The Braves won’t or can’t succeed because of x”?

    They don’t, dude. I think your perspective may be slightly skewed. Someone says they’re concerned about Smoltz’s health going forward, and you translate that as “The Braves can’t or won’t succeed”?

    And, speaking only for myself, I have no desire for you to leave. I just wish you wouldn’t feel the need to respond disgustedly every single time someone posts something or demonstrates an attitude with which you disagree. It’s not about the content of your posts, it’s the tone.

    Like I said, though, this may well just be my opinion. Do you have a Facebook page or something? I’d be happy to continue this discussion elsewhere.

  32. Sam,

    I don’t think anyone wants you to leave. There is a place for both positive and negative (me) people I think. I don’t have a problem with what you say even when I disagree. But, let’s face it, it would be pretty hard to maintain a blog and discuss the Braves all year if people weren’t critical or negative to some extent. That’s almost the definition of a blog.

  33. Yeah, I guess so. Like I said, I get frustrated when the same negative thing is brought up over and over. Smoltz’s demise has been prophesized for, what, 3-4 years?

    I probably need a huge dose of “live and let live”, though. I’ll try to be a little bit better. I mean that.

  34. Not a single person here is prophesying Smoltz’s demise, Sam. Perhaps if you’ll reign in your tendency to exaggerate and/or sensationalize others’ remarks/concerns, it’ll be easier for you to avoid lashing out.

  35. I for one believe that Smoltz’s demise will occur on March 15th, 2008 when he is brutally stabbed and killed by various member of the Atlanta Braves, including Tom Glavine.

  36. As I wrote yesterday, there is no reason to think that Smoltz is going to collapse this year. Again, strikeouts, walks, homeruns. If none of those are showing signs of elevation, the pitcher is likely to be fine.

  37. I’m no betting man, but even if I were, I certainly wouldn’t lay money down against the ides of March.

  38. Age, schmage. If you have a choice between a 28 year old with 7 strikeouts an inning and a 40 year old with 8 & 1/2, take the old guy. Throw in his outstanding control and reasonable 2007 workload, and the only NL pitcher I think is a better bet than Smoltz in 2008 is Peavy. Yes, even Webb.

  39. Thanks for the laugh on the Smoltz prophesy (which sounds like a bad book turned into a worse movie).

  40. Guys, I went away for a couple minutes and now you’re all speaking in tongues.

    Er… Wenn ist das Nunstuck git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!

  41. Maybe I should cite Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?

  42. Whats the reason we started speaking in different languages? I mean, Что причине мы начали выступая на разных языках?

  43. Good thing I don’t understand German or I would be dead.

    Huddy’s HR rate worries me. I don’t think it is sustainable, so he is going to give some of it back. He cut his BB/PA 30%, and had very good luck with flyballs. As long as he doesn’t lose control, he is going to be fine, but I think he is goign to have a worse year in 2008 even if he pitches as well as in 2007.

  44. I guess I missed my chance to use some of my favorite phrases in Neapolitan dialect (although I’m quite unsure of how to spell them).

    Anyone know if Huddy has done his ramped up weight lifting this winter or if he went back to his not as strenuous routine?

  45. I dont know if there are any tennis fans here, but I’ve got a lot of respect for James Blake. Check out his recent quote…

    After beating Cilic, Blake was asked for the umpteenth time how much he would regret never advancing past a Slam quarterfinal, one of the last important frontiers left in front of him. It would have been easy for him to offer up a pat phrase or get irritable. Instead, he delivered the following soliloquy:

    “I’m already so proud of my career that I won’t worry about it at all. I mean, to have been at a point once where a doctor laughed at my idea of being a pro tennis player to being in a situation in 2004 [with the neck injury] of them telling me I’m probably never going to play again, to be in the second week of a Grand Slam at all is something impressive.

    To be a five-foot-tall, 16-year-old kid that was about 95 pounds, had no dreams of playing pro tennis, to be in the second week of a Slam is something I’m unbelievably proud of, the fact that I kept working as hard as I did to get here.

    And if my talent isn’t good enough to get through the Roger Federers or whoever else, Andre Agassis, who have beaten me in second weeks, I’ll still hold my head high and say I’m proud of what I did, I’m proud of pushing them as hard as I did and being a part of these great tournaments.

    I think I still have a newspaper clipping of when I was about 12 or 13 years old, when I was — I think I was the Athlete of the Week in the Connecticut Post. It said in there that my dream is to play in the U.S. Open. Not to win a round, not to get to the second week, not to win, it was just to play in it. I’ve surpassed that a little bit now.

    A lot of people would think that every time this happens it seems normal to me now. Every time I walk out on Arthur Ashe Stadium it doesn’t seem normal. It seems like I’m still living a dream. I’m so happy and proud to be there. I know how much sacrifice has gone into it and how hard I’ve worked. I don’t ever want to lose that feeling of it being abnormal. I know how abnormal my job is. I know how surreal my life is. I know how lucky I am to be here. “

  46. Wow, that’s a good quote. I might even consider picking up his book if I get the chance (you know, after the semester’s over).

    It’s refreshing to hear that. I’m sure there are many athletes that feel that way, but it just doesn’t seem like it. I guess such an attitude isn’t flashy enough.

  47. I’m a big tennis fan and there are actually quite a few refreshingly nice and honest players at the top of the mens game right now. Particularly the Americans are good for candid interviews and honest perspective, partly because they’ve come to terms with never being able to surpass Federer. Federer himself is one of the most humple champions I’ve ever heard and even Nadal, in his broken english, usually gives a cliche free interview.

  48. Braves14, that was the effect I was going for, yes.

    Can you imagine how McEnroe or Connors would have (mis)behaved if they went into every tournament knowing that their finish was largely going to be determined by how long they could go before, having to play, and inevitably losing to, the best player ever?

  49. You know, all this presumption that Blake is going to lose is forcing me, FORCING me to put money on him. The great one was taken five by a guy barely in the top 50 earlier this tournament; maybe he’s not at his best.

  50. BTW, Federer might be the G.O.A.T., but it’s quite possible that Nadal is the second-best player ever. If these guys were American, they’d get statues built of them.

  51. I’m somewhat shocked tennis has taken control of the conversation – and this, after speaking in tongues and news of Heath Ledger’s death – but I’m not displeased. JoeyT, I’ll take your action. I’d bet on Federer on hard court before I bet on any other athlete, including Brady at home and in the playoffs.

  52. What with all the furrin writin’, this thread is “off the hook,” as the kids say.

    Re: the link to the excellent article about the ’93 race: I attended the game against SF where Gant lined a pitch off Dave Burba’s butt. That was the most exhilarating non-sexual, non-chemical experience I’ve ever had with 40-some thousand other people. I remember the bullpen had to pitch like six innings because the starter (Smoltz?) got knocked out early, and they shut Barry and the boys down.

    I like to think of that game as being the one that separated the teams on the last day of the season.

    Good times.

  53. Haha, I’ve been reading this blog for about a year now, and I havent seen a thread like this. Ahhhh, awesome.

  54. We aim to please.

    His name may look like a bad Scrabble hand, but Djokovic looks really good out there. He beat Federer (in Montreal, I think) and he might at least have a chance coming up.

    I would like to note that I know that “Djokovic” has eight letters and you only get seven in Scrabble. It’s a minor point but someone will bring it up.

  55. I dont think Nadal is second best of all time, or even really near it yet. He may get there considering his age and ability already but its too premature to even think about him having a place in history. I think Djokovic has a chance to be better than Nadal.

  56. and Mac, I can’t help but think you had me pegged for being the one to bring up Djokovic having more than 7 letters for scrabble…

    but!

    you could always use all 7 and attach it to another word already on the board.

  57. Nadal is awfully good. He can’t pile up the record Federer has, because he’s playing Federer. I have little doubt that Federer is better than Sampras (I saw a whole lot of Sampras, and he was great, but he was never this good) so I figure the only real competition for him is Laver.

  58. The number of active tennis players I can name:

    Maria Sharapova
    Roger Federer
    Rafael Nadal
    Venus and Serena Williams (they still play right?)

    That’s about all.

  59. Agree about Federer, he has way more shots than Sampras had. In fact, Federer has shots no one else has ever had. Sampras had a bigger serve but every other aspect of Federer’s game is better I think, except maybe net game, but Sampras played a serve and volley style.

    Federer’s ability to be second best in the world on clay while dominating all other surfaces proves to me he’s the best ever and definitely better than Sampras.

    Nadal just doesn’t have a big enough serve yet. And he relies on his forehand like Roddick does, he runs around the backhand. He’s superior because he is more athletic and and get to every ball, and never gives up on a point. When I watch Nadal facing break or set points I almost always am confident he will fend them off, more so even than with Federer.

  60. I am not sure I can name many more active pro tennis players right now.

    Andy Roddick, obviously. And the aforementioned Casey Blake.

    Justine Henin.

    That’s it off the top of my head.

  61. #123

    As are the other two semifinalists, Sharapova and Jankovic. Nobody’s beating Sharapova this week, by the way.

    Put me down for Federer as the greatest ever. Nadal’s not in the discussion about all-time greats until he wins something other than the French. To me, Djokovich is the more likely heir apparent, as he has a game that translates to more surfaces. He just needs to work on his stamina.

  62. Federer is probably the all time greatest, but don’t sell Sampras short. He had a big serve, but he had a pretty handy ground game too. It really was a matter of how consistent his backhand was. His forehand was killer, esp that crosscourt forehand on the run, when the other player seemed to have the rally won.

    Two of the best hardcourt matches I saw, both involved Sampras. Best in terms of excitement and quality of shotmaking. One was Kafelnikov v Sampras at the US in the second round. This was Yevgeny’s coming out party. Took Sampras to 5 sets, and lost due to exhaustion.
    Other was Sampras v Korda in the year end Champions tourney. Both players were done and playing on one leg pretty much in the last set, and making some absolutely fantastic shots.

  63. Tennis? WTF? Heath Ledger? Russian?
    I sure wish Wren would trade someone so that we could get back to good old baseball outrage.

  64. Thank you, Johnny!

    I was just about to say, this is the first time I’ve seen Tennis mentioned on this blog, like, ever. At least the first time that I can remember. :-)

  65. Best Thread Ever!

    Tennis? Federer is one for the ages, but it’s impossible to compare eras. I saw Laver play and I know he’d find a way to beat Roger. But not too often!

    I think pro basketball is the best illustration for how imperfect comparisons can be. Who could have more impact than Wilt? But Wilt said Oscar Robertson (triple doubles every game for a SEASON)was best, would always find a way to win.
    Yet Bobby Knight, whose seen ’em all, said Michael Jordan was best, no question.

    Who could really argue against MJ? I’m just glad so many people are noticing Federer this year while he’s playing great tennis.

  66. Sampras was great, but Federer is greater. Sampras’ backhand was his big weakness (being merely average-ish, often forcing him to play defensive slices). His serve was really top-notch, though, and it was the key to his game. He also would occasionally get tired or sick during matches.

    Federer has no weakness at all that I’ve ever seen. Serve isn’t quite as good as Sampras’, but his return and backhand are much better, which leads to many more breaks of opponent serves. If Federer had been playing against the competition Sampras had in France, I suspect he’d have already won 1 or 2 French Opens by now. Nadal looks tougher than the big clay court specialists of the 90s.

    Federer self-coached himself up to #1, so he’s clearly always thinking about his game and the sport, and seems to continue to work to make himself better. Calm and confident without being robotic, he’s a great tennis player to watch.

  67. Hard to compare eras in sports because of differences in rules/equipment. The big rackets that they use now have changed the game completely; very few, if any players, play the serve and volley game like Laver and McEnroe did because it’s hard to make a good enough shot that someone cannot pass. So they just stay back and slam it as hard as they can. Federer is probably better than Sampras but Sampras had a more interesting game (not to mention McEnroe who was a prick but a really great player).

    I like James Blake a lot and I do appreciate his sentiments but the point about McEnroe and Connors is that they would never have conceded that there was someone they couldn’t beat and that’s one reason why they got to the top. It’s sort of like Bobby Cox always talking about what a great season the Braves had after losing in the playoffs. Somehow, I think when you take that attitude, although it might be more mature emotionally, you are sort of settling for not winning.

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