Saturday, October 2, 2004

NIPPON!!! Cha-cha-cha!!

Congrats to Ichiro!!!

His new record is one of the most amazing feats I have seen. No, I don’t rate it with Mark McGwire chasing down Roger Maris or Barry Bonds eclipsing that mark a few years later. It definitely isn’t in the realm of Cal Ripken Jr’s Streak.

But, the fact that you can topple an 84 year record is something very special.

Coming into this season, only 20 times has anyone had at least 235 hits in a season. Only FIVE of those seasons took place after 1937. One of those five belonged to Ichiro [2001]…..which he had more hits in a season than anyone since 1930 [Bill Terry and Chuck Klein]. Ichiro has bested them all with his 259 [and counting] hit season of 2004. That broke a record set by George Sisler in 1920 when he played for the St. Louis Browns.

These numbers are absurd!! In baseball, records that were built in the early part of the 1900s tend to stay records. It was a different game then. That is like someone eclipsing Rogers Hornsby’s batting average record of .424 in 1924. The closest a modern player has gotten was Tony Gwynn in the strike shortened 1994 season where he hit .394. Or Babe Ruth’s total base record of 457 bases in 1921. Sammy Sosa had 425 total bases in 2001.…good enough for 7th on the all-time list. Nobody has even sniffed Hack Wilson’s RBI mark of 191 set way back in 1930. Man Ram netted 165 RBI back in 1999.

Jeff Bagwell is one of only two players in the top 20 in runs scored in a season that did it after 1937. The other was Ted Williams in 1949. Bagwell was still 25 back of Babe Ruth’s record of 177 runs scored in that magical 1921 season.

Some of those old timey numbers have fallen. Babe Ruth’s walk record fell to Barry Bonds THREE STRAIGHT YEARS!!! Babe’s mark of 170 walks in the 1923 season has been crushed by Bonds in 2001...the topped in 2002.…and topped again this year. Bonds, Todd Helton and Sammy Sosa have all come close to Ruth’s extra base hit record. Bonds’ slugging percentage numbers are up there with Ruth’s.

But, some Japanese guy who could never know who Sisler was [like any of us did] has come over here and shot down that record. He did it on a team that wasn’t even created until 57 years after he set the record. Since 1920, the world has seen some amazing things. But since then, no one has had more hits in a season than Sisler.

Until now. Congrats Ichiro!

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