I had one heckuva blog post all ready to go at about 12:12 eastern time last night/this morning (midnight, in other words), when a combination of bad luck and my sorely lacking technical skills conspired to delete the post as well as my futile attempt to save it in this thing called “the cloud.”. Given the hour and my inability to retain thoughts all that much longer than it takes to type them into my trusty laptop, that one is history. Gone, goodbye.
However, I do remember the gist of how I had ended things right around 12:13 a.m. I had concluded the post with my list of the Five Unbreakable Records of Major League Baseball. As with everything associated with The Sports Attic, these are my own biased opinions, and I’m interested in any and all other records you may consider the equals of these five. Here they are:
- Cy Young’s 511 wins. This one isn’t even worth debating and should lead off everyone’s list. The bigger question today may be is there currently an active pitcher who will get to 300 wins? Or, will we see another 300-gamewinner in our lifetime? My answers to those two questions are “no” and “yes” (hoping for a long life, which I will surely need if I expect to be here for the next Knicks championship parade).
- Cal Ripken’s 2632 consecutive games played streak. No one approaches half of this record total ever again. And yes, “ever ” is a long time for sure, but no one will get halfway. Ever.
- Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak. I remember Pete Rose getting to 44 and it seemed like if anyone could handle the pressure and grind it was him. Nope. Today’s bullpen specialization makes this one impossible to break.
- Hack Wilson’s 191 RBI’s in 1930. This is like a video game number. And by the way, this record was always 190, but somehow in the late-1990’s MLB added another ribbie to the Hacker, taking his current total to 191. Nice to see that even Hack Wilson benefitted from inflated power numbers during the steroid era!
- Johnny Vänder Meer’s two consecutive no-hitters. This is somewhat of a trick stat (and also one of my favorites to dish out at cocktail parties if I can manage to steer the conversation to arcane baseball stats), as someone could come along one day and throw two no-no’s in a row, but that would only tie the record, not break it. I strongly believe it will never be equalled (“never” is a long time, too, by the way), but without a doubt no one comes along and breaks”Double No-Hit Johnny’s” mark with three no-hitters in a row.
I had stumbled upon the idea discussing MLB’s most unbreakable records after going through a favorite airplane exercise of mine, which is annualizing out early season stats to see what trends (or preposterous run rates) form at certain mileposts of the season. The 20-game mark is a good one, as there is enough critical mass to see a little of both, plus the math is pretty easy (the only kind of math I choose to engage in these days), as you just take the stats today and multiply by 8 to get roughly to that 160 game season total needed for comparison-sake.
So for example, Johnny Cueto (who won his second decision the other day) is currently on track for 16 wins for the Giants, possibly signaling a bounce back year for him. At the same time, Patrick Corbin is on track for 32 wins. Not only is that one preposterous, but coupled with his absurd comments in yesterday’s New York Post about wanting to be a Yankee one day so he can be part of a playoff team (huh?), immediately moved him to the front of my line of people to root against for the remainder of this baseball season.
Someone needs to tell Mr. Corbin that his Diamondbacks have the best record in the Senior Circuit (a few games better than his beloved Yanks, by the way) and were a playoff team last year. I can envision the Post being passed around the Arizona locker room as I type this with a whole lot of head shaking going on. He best keep up his Dizzy Dean impersonation circa 1934, as those kind of quotes don’t fly for a .500 pitcher (which, by the way, is what Corbin’s history tells us he is).
The stat that got me going down the road of unbreakable records using my “times 8” theory though, was seeing Didi Gregorious currently on track for 192 RBI’s. Preposterous and absurd? Absolutely and also the result of a scorching start by the guy who replaced Derek Jeter (and seems poised to extend the torture session Jeter annually inflicted upon Mets fans another 10 years or so). Which makes Hack Wilson’s 191 RBI record all the more impressive, as taking the hottest start in MLB this year, annualizing it out (with a slight boost, as the Bombers have actually played 21 games thus far in 2018) still only barely bests Wilson’s all-time mark.
But enough of that, because thinking about baseball’s unbreakable records took tonight’s new and improved blog in a new direction. If we turn our attention to the other major sports, what are their unbreakable marks, and do they matter to us fans as much as the MLB records do? My quick answer is sort of in certain instances, but generally much less so.
I love the history of baseball and how the statistics allow us to compare players of different eras with at least the semblance of a level playing field baseline to begin the debate. My disdain for those who were the main villains of the Steroid Era comes primarily from the statistical distortion it threw into this sacred historical perspective (that and the fact that somehow the worst offenders also seemed to be the biggest assholes in the game at the time — Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, A-Rod, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens. They messed up history, so hell yeah keep them out of the HOF as far as I’m concerned, even if I would let Rose and Shoeless Joe in tomorrow if given a vote). Topic for another post.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the two other major sports (remember, I’m sorry but just not capable of speaking intelligently on the NHL, but guessing Gretzky probably has some stats that would have made their way into this post if I were), and see what records achieve “unbreakable” status. We’ll begin with the NFL, because it’s easier.
- Sorry NFL fans — in this age of readjusting rules annually to drive whatever may impact television ratings most positively, you simply can’t put any record in the out of reach category. That is the short answer, but we did say five, soooo…
- As a kid when O.J. Simpson rushed for 2003 yards in only 14 games during the 1973 season I thought that would ever be equalled. Not only was it, but it was bested by great, but not iconic, backs like Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson (and even a “who’s that guy” named Jamal Lewis). Barry Sanders beat it, too, but he was iconic.
- Dan Marino’s 1984 season was the best I ever witnessed by a QB. He threw 48 touchdown passes before the rules were overwhelmingly stacked in the QB’s and receiver’s favor. And even if the guys that came along years later and topped him were true Mount Rushmore types (as an aside, my Mount Rushmore of all-time NFL QB’s are Brady, Manning, Unitas, Namath…uh, I mean, Montana), I’m not convinced someone like Marcus Mariota, a good not great QB, won’t have a season where the moon, stars, offensive rules changes and right offensive coordinator all align into a 55 TD season. Could happen.
- Emmit Smith’s career rushing record? C’mon. Barry Sanders would have blown by that if he hadn’t walked away when he did. Look for Saquon Barkley at the top of this list one day.
- Okay, I will throw this out there, but it is with high levels of trepidation. Jerry Rice caught 1549 balls for over 22,000 yards. Today those totals rank number one by a solid margin. Unbreakable? Maybe, but dangerous terrain trying to call any NFL stat that is forward-pass-related unbreakable in today’s NFL.
Okay, so “unbreakable” doesn’t really apply to the NFL. What about the NBA? This is really a Wilt Chamberlain discussion, as The Dipper posted such extreme numbers early in his career that most of his records will never be challenged, but still worth a look:
- We all have to immediately go to Wilt’s 100 point game (against the Knicks, of course, but no he wasn’t defended by Carmelo Anthony, or he would have gotten to at least 110). Is it unbreakable? Welllll…a brittle and old Kobe Bryant scored 60 in the final game of his career, didn’t he? Of all of Wilt’s records, this is the one I can’t say with 100 percent conviction won’t get broken. In today’s NBA, where stars are universally supported and promoted by the league, protected by the refs and idolized by the role players, is it too far fetched to imagine that LeBron might one day wake up and decide he wants to break Wilt’s single-game points record? So Bron posts his intentions on Twitter, informs the Cavs front office and coaches this is going to happen, and with enthusiastic support from both his teammates and opponents (none of whom would want to do anything to alienate The King and risk the chance to one day wave the towel for him at the end of the Cavs bench), goes out and scores exactly 101. Sorry, but could happen. SMH.
- In Wilt’s third year in Philly he averaged 50.4 points per game. Even Russ Westbrook can’t touch that one. Yes, unbreakable
- In Wilt’s second year in the league he averaged 27.2 rebounds per game. That one’s safe, too. And I don’t care how bad the league’s collective shooting percentage was in the early-’60’s, this one is mind boggling.
- And to finish this off, Wilt had 55 rebounds in a game in that same second season. Talk about bucking the whole Sophomore Jinx storyline. That record has zero risk of being broken.
- Despite those first four phenomenal records (three of which are unequivocally unbreakable), my personal favorite Wilt stat has nothing to do with points or rebounds. In 1961-62 he averaged 48.5 minutes per game. He played every minute in 79 of the 82 games that year. Add in overtime games and he actually averaged more than a full game played a night. Unreal.
If you are ever bored go to NBA.com and hit up the list of records Wilt holds. It just goes on, and on, and on…
Michael Jordan remains the greatest NBA player I’ve ever seen (footnote that I only caught the tail end of Chamberlain’s career), but Wilt’s stats are absolutely staggering.
So while I may not have been able to recapture last night’s blog now currently drifting aimlessly in cyberspace, this one gives you the core concepts — Five Unbreakable MLB Records, “Times 8” philosophy for looking at standings and box scores at the 20-game mark of the baseball season, root agains Patrick Corbin, Hack Wilson was an absolute beast — I think that about covers it.