Friday, October 01, 2004
Ichiro (2004, 161 games played) -- 2xx hits
George Sisler (1920, 154 games played) -- 257 hits
Ichiro (2004, after 154 games) -- 251 hits
This isn't me trying to cheapen Ichiro's record or anything, this is just fact. Ichiro needed 159 games (played) to tie and break the record, and that was behind the pace of Sisler.
That said, what Rick Reilly has done with his Sports Illustrated article (I'd link but that requires an online subscription; Softy on KJR read off some article quotes which I'm going off of) is basically to take what Ichiro's done, drag it out to the barn, and blast it with a 12-gauge, all the while being juvenile in the process. A bin marked "SS" for "Stupid Stat"? Preposterous. There's pointing out the difference in amount of games, and then there's just plain hating, per se. I can't think of a more intellectual word to sum this up, so I'm going street; Reilly is being a hater. I don't know how else to put it. This might just be Reilly trying to ruffle some feathers and stuff, but sheesh. Furthermore, the online tease to the article is "[a]s Ichiro chases the hallowed hit record, join me in standing and saying, in unison, 'What a load of Bushido!!!' "
Ichiro didn't get the 257 hits in 154 games, sure. But this record has stood for 84 years. The only players to get 240 hits or more post-1930 are Ichiro himself (242 in 2001), Wade Boggs (240 in 1985), and Darin Erstad (240 in 2000). There haven't been many assaults on the record. As a total aside, my dad has wondered aloud on many occasions, "how many hits would Wade Boggs have had if he'd had Ichiro's speed?" The mind boggles.
The seven-game gap isn't the only difference when comparing the hit leaders. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you the game has changed a ton in 84 years -- how tightly the baseballs are woven, number of pitchers in a starting rotation, weightlifting, nutritional supplements, travel on road trips (trains versus planes), expansion, and the list goes on. Ichiro is more than likely the only player in our lifetime that will do this. Take solace in one fact, Mariner fans -- Ichiro broke an 84-year-old record tonight. The Boston Red Sox haven't won a World Series in 85 seasons and counting. Sorry, Sox fans, I had to. Of course, I've probably cursed the Mariners to never win the Series in my lifetime now.
So yeah, you can hate on this record and you can hate on Ichiro all you want. You're only cheating yourself.
I'll say something in a couple days about Edgar Martinez Drive as well as Edgar.