May 9, 2011
At least once every few years, we see MLB Players make a run at Joe DiMaggio’s historic 56-game hitting streak. The most recent contestant in ‘Attempting to Break Unbreakable Records’ was Dodgers’ star, Andre Ethier. Ethier’s streak ended at 30 games this past weekend in a game against the New York Mets. In recent years, several other players including Albert Pujols, Ryan Zimmerman, Moises Alou, and Willy Taveras all reached 30. Chase Utley and Luis Castillo were so bold to make it to 35 and Jimmy Rollins and Paul Molitor even put together streaks of 38 and 39 respectively. But after that point, there have been considerably fewer players to challenge DiMaggio’s record.
The insurmountable evidence that exists as to why the record will not be broken is that it’s never even really approached. The last time someone even reached 40 was Pete Rose’s 44 in 1978 – and he’s the all-time career leader in hits, after all. As for 50? A grand total of zero players other than DiMaggio have eclipsed that mark.
Cero. Nada. None.
Next in line after Mr. Marilyn Monroe? Willie Keeler had 45 in the 1896 and 1897 seasons. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, Keeler’s Baltimore team was in the National League, some guy named William McKinley was President, and Babe Ruth was two years old.
So why would it be so difficult to break? Well, in addition to it being an absolutely incredible feat, there is a laundry list of reasons why today’s players have it tougher than DiMaggio did back in 1941. Cross-country flights, specialty relievers, improved pitching with the integration of baseball, more media – they all add up to the record being unapproachable.
Then, there’s the ‘invisible barrier of 30.’ For some reason, players fall apart once they reach that number. That’s when the media attention really starts to kick in and every at bat is scrutinized. There have been a total of 54 hit streaks of at least 30 games or more. In 20 of those times, nearly 40%, the streak has ended precisely at 30. In addition, ten more players only made it to 31. So, in actuality, DiMaggio’s record can be broken down into two parts: The first 30 games and the remaining 26. Hitting in the first 30 is difficult enough, but then, there’s the constant attention of each game and a player comes to realize … he’s only about halfway there.
In addition, one thing constantly gets overlooked when discussing the record: No one really gets a second crack at it. Ty Cobb, George Sisler, and Sam Rice are the only players to put together more than one streak of at least 30 games or more. All three played nearly 100 years ago and Rice (1930) was the last player to do it. This record isn’t similar to Maris’ home run record where we saw players make multiple runs at it. It’s basically a one-and-done situation.
Also, there’s the fact that hitting in that many consecutive games is somewhat a fluke by nature. Ted Williams, the last player to bat .400 and perhaps baseball’s greatest hitter of all-time, never even reached 30. Some of the best hitters in history have joined Williams in not even coming close – Rogers Hornsby, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Lou Gehrig, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Ichiroall failed to reach that mark. On the flipside, mediocre major leaguers such as Jerome Walton, Benito Santiago, and Sandy Alomar, Jr. did. You need the right combination of skill, luck, and even help from the game’s official scorer.
Baseball is a game where batting .300 (essentially, succeeding 30% of the time) is seen as a great accomplishment – which, by the way, is why hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. There aren’t many guarantees in life, but it’s almost a lock that ‘56’ will stand forever.
March 29, 2011
In just two days, the Major League Baseball season will begin with games that may or may not be played, depending on snow. If it seems like it was just a couple months ago that the World Series was finishing up in cold weather, it was. So who will be representing the American League in the Fall/Winter Classic in 2011?
The Orioles may finally be headed in the right direction. The O’s hired Buck Showalter to be the manager in the middle of last season and he immediately turned the team around. He led them to a 34-23 finish in 2010. Baltimore has added some quality veterans in the offseason which should provide some leadership for a young team. They should be better but it won’t be enough to win the toughest division in baseball.
The Red Sox won 89 games and missed the playoffs in 2010. They have a star-studded roster and will be in the playoff hunt all season. The additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez have the Red Sox as the favorite to win the division and the World Series.
The Yankees’ success in 2011 will depend on the health of their older stars like Jeter and A-Rod and the questions in the pitching staff. C.C. Sabathia and Mariano Riveria are as good as it gets, but questions surround the rest of the staff. Cliff Lee is back in Philadelphiaand Andy Pettitte is retired so the Yankees will have to rely on guys like Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and Ivan Nova. And if that doesn’t work out, they can always afford to make a deal.
The defending A.L. East champs look quite a bit different in 2011. Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Rafael Soriano and Matt Garza are out. Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are in. If Manny being Manny happens at the plate and not off the field, the Rays will be right in the mix with Boston and New York.
One thing is for sure. The Blue Jays will be the best team in Canada. They led the majors in home runs in 2010 and won 85 games. They may have been good enough to contend in another division, but not the A.L. East. No team would benefit more from realignment than Toronto.
The White Sox aren’t the superstars of the Yankees or Red Sox but they are solid at every position. What they can get from Jake Peavy will go a long way towards determining how they finish in the Central. The addition of Adam Dunn at DH will be a boost to the lineup as well.
They were bad in 2010. The roster hasn’t changed much. They are going to be bad in 2011. The misery continues for Cleveland fans.
The Tigers won 81 games last year. The additions of Joaquin Benoit, Victor Martinez and Brad Pennyoutweigh the losses of Jeremy Bonderman and Johnny Damon. If Miguel Cabrera can leave his off the field problems off the field and be the monster in the middle of that lineup, Detroit could steal the division title.
If you are a Kansas City fan, help is on the way. Next year. The Royals have the best farm system in the majors and should start getting reinforcements in the near future. They will be much better in the next couple years, but will struggle in 2011.
Minnesota won the A.L. Central in 2010 without Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan. If both players can come back healthy, the Twins will likely defend that title.
The Angels were a disappointment in 2010. They were also a disappointment in the offseason. They failed to sign any of the big free agents they wanted. They have been passed in the West and haven’t done anything about it.
The A’s have a strong young pitching staff. They play in a winnable division. The question is can they score? Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui will help. Will it be enough?
Seattle lost 101 times in 2010. They will be better. They almost have to be better. They have some great players like Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez. They have some young prospects with potential. But they will still finish last in the West.
Texas won the A.L. West and went to the World Series in 2010. They can score. And they added Adrian Beltre at third. Cliff Lee is gone and Michael Young has asked for a trade. If the Rangers can keep Young happy and Brandon Webb can get healthy, they have the horses to defend their division title.
July 28, 2008
By: Adam Van Dyke
This was supposed to be the season the Seattle Mariners turned it around. The addition of Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva to the pitching rotation seemed to be the only thing missing from a squad that was only one solid starting pitcher away from the post season last year. But as most of us know, sometimes things don’t always work out as you plan. There has been one bright spot on the Mariners roster this season. Just as he has done since he arrived in the big leagues, Ichiro continues to hit and display howitzer-type arm-strength in the outfield.
Considering what the Mariner’s brass shelled out for some players (who will go unmentioned) during the last few years in Seattle, Ichiro’s 17 million dollar a year salary seems like a bargain. All the guy does is hit over .300, win gold gloves, and scare opposing base runners whenever they are fortunate enough to reach base against the Mariner’s pitching staff (which has been often this year). To date, Ichiro has won an AL MVP, was named the AL Rookie of the Year, picked up a Silver Slugger award, and oh yeah, toss in a Gold Glove every year since 2001, his first in the Bigs. He also broke George Sisler’s “untouchable” single-season hit record in 2004 on his way to batting .372.
Many people don’t pay a lot of attention to Ichiro because he plays in Seattle and the Mariners have only been to the post season once since his first year with the team. But don’t overlook what he does in the field. He may only stand 5’11” and weigh 172 pounds, but he stands toe-to-toe with the best defensive outfielders of the past decade. Playing both right and center field, Ichiro has compiled a .996 fielding percentage while piling up 72 outfield assists and only 16 errors since 2001.
His accomplishments are nothing short of amazing and he should be given great credit for his focus on doing everything he can to help his team win despite its struggles this season. When things go as awry as they have for the Mariners this season, it isn’t uncommon for players to point fingers and lose sight of the ultimate goal: respecting the game and winning ballgames. Ichiro has demonstrated true professionalism during this season and don’t be surprised if this career .331 hitter raises his average even more before the season is done and adds his consecutive years with 200 or more hits to eight. Throw in another Gold Glove at the end of the season and what do you get? Just another typical year for Ichiro.
July 28, 2008
By Apryl DeLancey
Baseball is finally getting back into the “swing” of things after the All-Star Break. Yeah, that was one loooooong game! The historic match was the last to be played in the old Yankee Stadium and lasted a whopping four hours and fifty minutes. The American League eventually pulled it out with a 4-3 victory.
Fathead favorites in the All-Star Game included Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, David Ortiz, Grady Sizemore, Ichiro Suzuki, and Manny Ramirez. The temperature at the start of the game was a summertime 82 degrees and, for a while there, it looked like the Fathead crew was ready to heat things up even more. Sizemore managed a single and then stole second base (he was also in that exciting Home Run Derby).
The first four innings of the game were scoreless and the National League drew first blood with one run in the 5th and another in the 6th. The AL put up two runs in the 7th and each side scored one in the 9th. The game remained deadlocked until the 14th inning, when the AL was able to close out the contest. Overall, it was a contest that brought out the best in pitching and kept fans interested…if they liked long baseball games!
There was much chatter during the week about the relevance of the All-Star game. On one hand, the winner of the game gets home field advantage in the World Series for their division. Some don’t think this is very meaningful, especially since players run the risk of an injury in a game that does not directly affect their team outcome. Is the game worth it? Many enjoy the break but others find it to be a waste of time. What do you think? Is the All-Star Game really necessary?