The game of baseball is a game of records. Records, as they say, are made to be broken. Baseball has a few of those. Ruth’s 60 beget Maris’ 61 which beget McGwire’s 70. Some records are not records, like Ted Williams’ .406 average, which is better remembered than Rogers’ Hornsby’s .424.
Some say Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak will not be broken, but it will. How about Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders (nee Yankees), who won 41 games when TR was the prez?
Well, if broken records are your thing (and nobody is advocating a replay of Bill Veecks’ Disco Demolition Night), get your butts out to Pacific Bell Park tonight and see an attempt to break a 106-year old National League record by the Cincinnati Reds. They are tied with the current mark of 181 consecutive games without being shut out.
The American League, of course, is the home of the Yankees. Take a wild guess who holds the junior circuit (and Major League) mark of 308.
Yes, of course. The Bombers, 1931-33 edition. They had some guys named Ruth and Gehrig. The NL mark was set by Philadelphia in 1893-95. This was one year before The Babe was born. Connie Mack was a <I>player</I>. Philly really might still have been the City of Brotherly Love in those days. Ed Delahanty, who would fall from Niagara Falls in a drunken stupor a couple years later, hit .404 for the 78-53 Phillies, who finished fourth for Manager Arthur Irwin.
A 106-year old record is nothing to sneeze at. Some pretty fair country ball clubs have not knocked it off the shelves. Not the ’75 Big Red Machine, the Lumber Company in Steeltown, or anybody else in the league.
Livan Hernandez, who would deny being the inspiration for an Elton John ballad if asked, will be charged with the task of keeping those crooked lines from appearing on the visitor’s side of the scoreboard. These types of records are always fun to watch.
Remember Dick Dietz getting hit by Don Drysdale, forcing in a run to end Big D’s scoreless streak in 1968? Harry Wendelstedt called him back, saying the Giants’ catcher made no effort to avoid the spheroid, and Drysdale eventually broke Walter Johnson’s record of 56 straight shutout innings. 20 years later, the only way Orel Hershiser breaks that record is by throwing a 10-inning shutout in the final regular season game. Of course, San Diego had to pitch a shutout against the Dogs. They did, Bulldog did, and the record was his.
Pitching records are the best kind. They are about tension and build-up. Cincinnati barely kept the record alive Sunday at home when Ruben Rivera’s seventh inning home run was their only score in a 5-1 loss to New York. The Reds are struggling at 9-9.
Hernandez is the kind of dominant pitcher who could shut them down, and Dusty Baker’s staff is coming off an off day. He will use his middle relievers to set up Rob Nen not just to win but also to break the streak if he has a chance. This could be very enjoyable. Inning after inning, watching Hernandez work the Reds lineup. Pressure? This guy worked for Castro. What’s a century-old baseball record?
The Reds are the perfect team to set an ancient mark. They are the Missing Link of baseball. This team has almost as much history as the Louvre. They were the first mercenaries, going 76-0 in 1869, which was before the Indian Wars.
They won the only “fixed” World Series over the Black Sox in 1919. In the 1950s, during the height of the McCarthy Scare, somebody got the bright idea that calling them Reds might equate Frank Robinson and Ted Kluszewski with Joe Stalin and Chairman Mao, so they became the Red legs. After the world discovered McCarthy was a drunk they went back to calling them Reds, which did not stop Warren Beatty from making his paean to John Reed despite any confusion.
So there you have it. This is baseball season, a chance to soak in all the best nuances of the game, to see some history and accomplishment by a struggling team vs. a worthy opponent. This is what the diamond game is all about.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism