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William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Another thing I like about baseball is the way that its streaks and records connect us to the history of the game, and our own history. Sure Barry Bonds is chasing Ruth and Aaron, but that's long term stuff. For now, if he his a home run in his next game he will match the major league record for consecutive games with a homer. The record is shared by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly(1987) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993). It is pleasant to think about that, for just a moment. Thirty one years separate Long and Donnie Baseball, six between Mattingly and Junior, and eleven have passed since. Tells us something about the difficulty of hitting a home run in eight consecutive games, doesn't it? And it tells us a little about the intersection of talent and luck, too. Aaron never had a 50 home run season--, and he never hit a home run in eight consecutive games. Neither did Ruth. Willie Mays, who, I guess, is my vote for greatest all-time, holds the record for hitting a home run in every inning through 16-- one of my favorite bits of baseball trivia. The Say Hey Kid didn't hit a home run in eight consecutive games.

Over on the Mets side of the equation, Al Leiter's scoreless streak ended last night at 29 1/3, the longest by a Met since Dwight Gooden went for 31 in 1985. The Mets record, by the way, is 31 2/3, set by Jerry Koosman in '73. It's nice to be able to open the paper and think about being at Shea when Dr. K was at his peak. Thinking about Jerry Koosman and the '73 Mets is a much sunnier way to think about that time than thinking about Nixon and Kissinger, and everything else that was going on that summer. I never heard of Long before. His streak was over before I was born, but I was in the stands during Gooden's run, and I remember following Mattingly's streak in the Daily News, and although I can't say I remember Koosman's streak, I remember Koosman, who was great. I rode the A train into court, reading the sports pages, and feeling pretty good about life.

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