March 04, 2009

Let the Record Be Unbroken: Five opinions on what records will be difficult, or even impossible to break.

posted by justgary to general at 04:37 PM - 22 comments

I remember reading Stephen Jay Gould on statistics and baseball, and he referred to Di Maggio's 56 hit streak as an example of something far outside any expected result. Another essay of his also pointed out that modern day batters will never be able to hit .400 again.

The equivalent in cricket would be Bradman's career average of 99.94, which no-one has come close to in the last 60 years, for the same reasons.

posted by owlhouse at 05:01 PM on March 04, 2009

Hockey: Gretzky's career marks might someday be topped, but not by somebody surpassing 212 points in a season. Given how much stronger hockey players have become, I don't think a player, even Crosby or Ovechkin, will reach 160 points -- 2 points per game.

Baseball: I think the .400 mark will be reached someday, but having a consecutive-game hitting streak lasting two months? Highly unlikely.

Basketball: Unless they lengthen seasons, UCLA's 88-game winning streak and the Bulls' 72-victory season won't be touched.

posted by jjzucal at 06:26 PM on March 04, 2009

Michael Schumacher's 7 world titles. The sport was the least competitive, but had the most rules stability it had ever been, and the few that could beat him didn't have the hardware to challenge him most of the time.

Lewis may be seen as the new Senna. (He certainly has the arrogant wanker attitude going on). But he ain't winning 7 titles, no way.

posted by Drood at 07:01 PM on March 04, 2009

I agree with the Secretariat thing. He was so good in Kentucky, so very good in Maryland, then exploded into another dimension in the Belmont.

I expect that there will be a Triple Crown winner again at some point, but I don't expect to see a horse run in the Derby and Preakness and arrive at the Belmont, and then do what Secretariat did there. Regardless of whether that horse won the prior two races or not.

I think the 56 game hitting streak is possibly reachable but it would take freakish luck among other things. Rose did pretty good back in the late 70's. He got up into the 40's with his streak, and that was back when he was playing most of his games on that first generation turf, with super quick surfaces. You could punch a ball between two infielders easier, but bunts and ground balls were harder to run out because they got to the infielders more quickly. It was hard to slide because they minimized the amount of dirt they used in the infield.

There isn't that much overall pitching talent in either league today to the point where you would say that a really good hitter didn't have a shred of a chance.

I think it's going to be hard for a pitcher to come along and do what Denny McLain did in 1968: win 30 games. That mark (not a world record, just an achievement) doesn't get a lot of attention, but it's much harder to do now than when he did it. And it was very hard to do back then.

There are two "futility in the face of excellence" marks that may never be equalled.

1) John Schuerholz assembling highly talented Atlanta Braves teams year in and year out, only to see Bobby Cox manage them into oblivion in the postseason. One title to show for it.

2) John Thompson assembling highly talented NBA shovel-ready Georgetown teams year in and year out (including Mourning and Mutombo at the same time) only to coach them out of the NCAA tournament. One title to show for it.

posted by beaverboard at 07:56 PM on March 04, 2009

Pick one of the old school pitching records - complete games in a season, Cy Young's wins - and you've got a tougher mark than 56 or .400. Pitching is so fundamentally different in the modern game with closers/setup men/LOOGYs to take over and 5-man rotations that the opportunities just aren't there.

On hitting in 56 straight games: years ago I read an article (no idea where) breaking down how much help DiMaggio got from the scorers in the streak. The idea was that on 2-3 occasions friendly NY officials were very reluctant to hand out errors, keeping the streak alive, giving assistance that no player from today could every get when every game is broadcast and scrutinized. Hard to beat that.

Other contenders that get less attention: - Agostini's 15 motorcycle GP world championships (7 in a car? Ha!) - Bradman's 99.96 average (next highest credible challenger is only 60.97 and averaging over 50 for a career is HOF-equivalent) - Bobby Orr's +124 season (just like Gretkzy's points, the game has changed) - Emmitt Smith's 4,409 career rushing attempts (next best is Payton with 3,800) - Birgit Fischer, gold medals (in kayaking) in 6 different Olympics. - Margaret Court's 62 total Grand Slam titles (someone might catch her 24 singles titles but not the 62) - Julio Cesar Chavez with 88 straight wins, undefeated in 93 bouts

Damn there are some great champions out there.

posted by deflated at 08:28 PM on March 04, 2009

Bobby Jones winning the US Amateur, the US Open, the Amateur Championship and the Open Championship in one year.

Tiger's 1997 Masters winning score (270, -18) will never be broken unless Augusta National members have a change of heart and remove all the crappy additions of the last few years that have turned the place into just one more attritional US Open style venue.

Byron Nelson's 11 consecutive PGA Tour wins. No one's even going to get a sniff of that one.

Oh - and how much Gary Player annoys me. That one will stand for a while I suspect.

posted by JJ at 08:44 PM on March 04, 2009

Other contenders that get less attention: Bradman's 99.96 average


/points upward

posted by owlhouse at 09:34 PM on March 04, 2009

Wilt scoring 50.4 per game, 27.2 boards, . I just can't imagine anyone having such a physical advantage that you need to have in order to put up those kind of numbers. Even if the pace of the game gets back to where it was in the 60's I don't see anyone coming close to those marks.

posted by tron7 at 10:42 PM on March 04, 2009

Thirty wins is possible, if the pitcher goes 30-0 since that's about how many starts they now have. Steve Carlton and Ron Guidry came close, but with four-man rotations. Carlton could have had 30 if the Phillies had any semblance of a team in 1972. Because of the current five-man rotations, we probably won't see anyone passing Ryan's 383 strikeouts -- roughly 12 strikeouts per game. As for Wilt's numbers, maybe we'll see 50 points a game, maybe we'll see 27 boards a game, but not the two together -- and remember, he had to face Russell multiple times a season! That alone made his numbers special!

posted by jjzucal at 10:56 PM on March 04, 2009

Pistol pete mavarich, his records will never be broken for most points in a NCAA career. If the 3 point shot existed back then he would have averaged 60 points a game.Yes his dad was coach at LSU and gave him the green light to shoot any time. He was my idol as I grew up. There are many great feats today but another unbelievable feat was Lance Armstrong's 7 tour de france wins. 1 month of superhard daily races, this is a very tatical sport and it is amazing to do what he did.

posted by dandydan at 11:28 PM on March 04, 2009

Byron Nelson's 11 for sure.

Cy Young's 511 for sure.

Edwin Moses' 122 consecutive wins.

Tigers' 142 consecutive cuts. Tiger can't even do that anymore. Maybe. (speaking of which - winning 1 major on a broken leg)

Van der Meer's two consecutive no hitters.

That cricket thing is impressive. Very.

posted by bobfoot at 12:05 AM on March 05, 2009

Not only was Pistol Pete unconscious from outside, he was an outstanding ball handler. In today's basketball, he would have been a 30-point, 10-assist player. To those who are too young to have witnessed him, he was that good.

posted by jjzucal at 12:55 AM on March 05, 2009

Cal Ripken's sixteen year run.

posted by lawman6713 at 05:36 AM on March 05, 2009

In one respect, Wilt's record of never fouling out of an NBA game simply can't be broken because, well -- he never fouled out. Someone can match that, but the "never" part prohibits any more than a tie.

OTOH, the record could be considered broken if anyone plays more games than Wilt without fouling out.

posted by joaquim at 11:33 AM on March 05, 2009

Richard Petty winning 27 races in one season and 10 in a row. Not to mention 7 Daytona 500's. He also won 200 races.

Bill Elliott running 212.813 mph in qualifying at Talladega. With the advent of restrictor plates, this record will never be broken.

posted by dbt302 at 12:18 PM on March 05, 2009

How about the men's long jump -- 8.95 meters, 29 feet, 4 1/2 inches? Given that Bob Beamon set the mark in 1968, not topped until Michael Powell in 1991, and never since, have we reached the limit of human flight?

posted by jjzucal at 01:45 PM on March 05, 2009

I guess everyone has forgotten about Nolan Ryan's 7 no hitters... That won't be touched... Not with the hitters these days and the way pitching is handled... Starters only plan to go 6 or 7 these days and probably throw harder at the beginning expecting to be done by the 7th and let the bullpen specialists take over..

posted by bruce2ww at 03:56 PM on March 05, 2009

Bobby Orr, +124 in 1969/70 season.

posted by tommybiden at 04:30 PM on March 05, 2009

Owlhouse: Gotta keep throwing it out there or it get lost in the noise of all the oddball baseball facts.

Eddie Merckx, 1969 Tour de France: won all three jerseys - Green/sprinter, Polkadot/mountains and Yellow/overall - and beat the field by 18 minutes. No-one will ever dominate the Tdf like that. The Cannibal's 24 career Classics wins is pretty unobtainable, far tougher than Armstrong's 7 Yellow jerseys. Someone will find the next Indurain or Hinault and build a team around them to rack up wins; its too easy in a Grand Tour today to manage the race with a strong team to support the leader.

posted by deflated at 05:25 PM on March 05, 2009

Orr's number is scary given Gretzky's best season was a plus-98 in 1984-85.

I haven't seen this, but how about the five consecutive World Series titles for the 1949-53 Yankees? There are too many teams for one club to be that dominant, plus the winner has to endure three postseason rounds, not just the World Series. Winning back to back is an accomplishment we will rarely see; five in a row will be nearly impossible.

posted by jjzucal at 07:34 PM on March 05, 2009

Heather McKay, undefeated at squash from 1962 to 1981, including 16 British Open (then the world championship) titles in a row.

posted by owlhouse at 07:16 AM on March 06, 2009

How about the Boston Celtics 8 NBA Championships in a row (1959 - 1966). With free agency, the salary cap, and the number of teams, I don't think anyone will ever win 8 straight again.

posted by Howard_T at 03:46 PM on March 06, 2009

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