7/16/41=56

7/16/41=56
When we think of records that seem to be unbreakable, one invariably always comes up. That would be the 56-game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio. On July 16, 1941, Joltin’ Joe extended his hitting streak to that magical number of 56 games…unbelievable. So unbelievable that in that same year, there was s song (Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio by Les Brown, sung by Betty Bonney) written about it. Since that time, there have been many noble tries to eclipse that mark, but in reality no one has really come close. I remember watching Pete Rose take a hitting streak to 44-games in 1978. It was enthralling stuff to a 14 year-old baseball infatuated teenager. My friends and I used to watch this event unfold on a daily basis, and we were disappointed when it ended in August 1st of that season.
Of course, this has got me thinking. What other MLB records are ‘untouchable’? Before McGuire / Sosa, it was thought that the home run records of Babe Ruth (60 in 154 games) or Roger Maris (61 in 162 games) was unbreakable. Well, WRONG!!! In the summer of 1998, Mark McGuire of the St. Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs gave us an unbelievable fireworks show, with BOTH of them eclipsing Ruth and Maris. In fact, between Mark and Sammy, they would surpass the 60 or 61 home run mark 5 more times. This would stand as the gold standard of slugging until 2001, when Barry Bonds hit 73 dingers. Of course, now I have to ask if the 73* mark will ever be broken…
Let’s give the pitchers some love also. The modern era (post-1900) record for strikeouts is 383, set in 1973 by one Nolan Ryan. A close second is the 382 K’s by Sandy Koufax in 1965. Randy ‘Big Unit’ Johnson came close in 2001 with 372, and there have been several other worthy mentions, but in my humble opinion I don’t see anyone breaking Ryan’s mark. As good as Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner are, and as good as I think Jacob deGrom may become, breaking Ryan’s record is a tall order.
And now on to Mount Olympus. Lou Gehrig was considered to be the Iron Man. His 2,130 straight games played was thought to be unbreakable, until Cal Ripken Jr. did just that on the night of September 6th, 1995. Ripken became the all-time Iron Man. Ripken would go on to set the new consecutive game record at 2,632. I also do not ever see this record falling.
Whenever I think of records and how they are considered untouchable, I am reminded of one Roger Bannister. You may have heard of him. Roger Bannister is the first human being to ever break the 4-minute mile. On May 4th, 1954, Bannister accomplished what many experts considered to be a ‘physical impossibility’. It was believed that the human pulmonary and respiratory systems were simply incapable of supporting such an effort, and that the human heart would just explode. The experts were wrong, and since that historic day, the sub 4-minute mile is almost routine.
Oh. My original point. On this day in 1941, Joe DiMaggio etched himself in the Mount Rushmore of baseball immortals with his 56-gamne hitting streak. Many have tried to equal it. All have failed. It is a record that I do not see ever being broken.

Joltin' Joe DiMaggio

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio

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MLB…PED versus HOF.

MLB…PED versus HOF
I was reading an article where a reader asked a pointed question about the topic of whether or not players either convicted or accused of PED use during the so-called ‘Steroid Era” should be allowed admittance to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame? The reader further asked that if a convicted PED user is granted admittance, what about a guy like Pete Rose who merely gambled on the results of the games he managed? Further still was the question of whether or not the BBWAA was punishing the PED users by denying them admittance? My first thought was that this person must have eaten their Wheaties that morning, because these were some very good questions! My second thought was that this issue has been beaten to death, resurrected, and beaten to death again. Why revisit it? My third thought was to ask myself if I wanted to revisit it here on ‘Blager’s Blog’? My answer is that I don’t want to break out the scalpel and dissect every possible angle and argument, both for and against. It has been rehashed so many times, and I really do not think that there is an end in sight for this subject. With that said, I do have a few thoughts that I would like to share…
First, there is the issue of Pete Rose. His accomplishments are a matter of record, and I don’t need to restate them. I know that he agreed to a lifetime ban when then MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti handed it down. I never believed that a lifetime ban was justified, and I still don’t. There is no evidence that Pete Rose’s gambling had any bearing on the outcome of any game. The gambling issue happened when he was a manager. They did not happen when he was a player, and that is what the BBWAA and the HOF itself sets as the criteria for either denial or admission. Now the lifetime ban stipulates that Rose has no involvement of any kind with MLB. However, MLB did find it in their hearts to allow Rose to participate in one of its’ on-field tributes, the 1999 All-Century Team festivities, when it suited the purposes of the League. Another case in point is that MLB is allowing Pete Rose to participate in the 2015 All-Star Game festivities at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Gee, a little hypocracy, anyone? I hope that the new commissioner Rob Manfred who replaces the outgoing Bud Selig on Sunday, January 25th 2015, overturns this ridiculous banishment, reinstates Rose, and that Rose can finally take his rightful place in Cooperstown.
The second question that I would like to tackle is whether or not the BBWAA is punishing the players of the ‘Steroid Era’ by simply not voting for any of them. Perhaps I should say that the BBWAA is not giving players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGuire enough of the vote to gain induction, while they can still offer up a ‘mea culpa and say that at least they got some votes. There were a few whispers going around that the Hall of Fame decreased the player eligibility window from 15 years to only 10 years, simply so that the ‘Steroid Era’ players would drop off the ballot in a shorter period of time. It is an interesting thought, is it not?
The last question that I have for today is that should an entire era of players and their accomplishments be simply expunged or ignored because they took an illegal substance? Should baseball’s All-Time Home Run King have to buy a ticket to get into the Hall of Fame? The same question goes for one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the game. Were there players who took illegal substances long before steroids, but are somehow glorified with a bust in Cooperstown? I submit that there are. When the whole steroid scandal broke across the baseball world, I was outraged, just as many others were. I believe that over the years, I have softened my stance. I think that the players who used were wrong for doing so, but I am no longer so sure that they should not be in the Hall of Fame. That will be an issue for others to decide, as I am not a voting member of the BBWAA.
My intent is not to have a debate over inclusion or exclusion. Again, this argument has a lot of miles on its’ tires. I just want to encourage some thought on the questions posed by the person who read the same article that I did. They are some good questions. They deserve some good answers. I hope that I helped…