56: Chasing a Streak

Sunday August 14, 2011

Fifty-six is just another number to any person. However, it means more than just a number in the minds of baseball fans and players.

Fifty-six is the number of consecutive games Yankees OF Joe DiMaggio got a hit. For some reason, the streak is unbeatable. Braves 2B Dan Uggla became the latest victim of the streak earlier today. His hitting streak stopped today at 33 games against the Cubs. Earlier this season, Dodgers OF Andre Ethier became the closest with a 30-game hit streak. His streak ended against the Mets. Why do today’s players fail while DiMaggio succeeded? A few factors play into not breaking the streak in present day baseball that might not have factored into DiMaggio’s time:

  1. Fielding: today’s fielders are poised and ready to rob hitters of a base hit at the least. They want to take the spotlight and get their 15 minutes of fame on ESPN and every other sports network.
  2. Pitching: today’s generation of pitchers want to shut down the opposing team by any means necessary. That means bringing back old pitches (the forkball) while inventing new ones (the gyro-ball). Plus, the strategy used by these pitchers play a factor in the hitter’s mind. It forces the hitter to play a guessing game and see what pitch will be thrown next.
  3. Media: we play a huge factor. We make this record like it’s a big deal, and it is. However, this could put added pressure on the hitter. Most players are not used to being spotlighted every hour of their careers. Fans also feed off the media and put added pressure on their players. These actions could result in a player losing concentration on his game.

These are only some factors that could play out during the chase for 56. The streak is harder than it looks. Statistically speaking, it should be easy. All a hitter has to do is get one hit in 56 or 57 games, which results in a .018 average in that span. But those are just statistics without the factors. The 56-game hitting streak is likely to stay for another long time. Who will break this seemingly unbreakable record? Whoever does will surely earn their place in baseball today.

Yours Truly,

Sebastian Maldonado

Copyrighted @ 2007

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