The 20-year rule
So, I made it to Las Vegas for the winter meetings, and I've already seen
The first thing they give you when you arrive at the winter meetings is a very large credential that you wear around your neck like it's an Olympic gold medal. This has always interested me because the winter meetings are not like other events ... you don't actually get to GO anywhere. Sure, if you're going to, say, the Olympics, of course you have to wear a credential around your neck; that's what will get you into the venue to see what you're trying to see.
But there's nothing to see at the winter meetings. Basically the job is all about standing in the hotel lobby and seeing baseball people you recognize and saying to them, "So, you hear anything?" I'm really not sure why you would need a special pass to do that. I think mostly we wear these passes so people can see us coming.
Anyway, in addition to giving us badges, they also give us this very official-looking three-ringed binder with the label:
One great thing it has in there is the "All-Time Leaders." I realize that this is easily found on
While looking over the Top 100 I was trying to determine which player had the most impressive career record in baseball, and I brought out what I like to call the "20-Year Rule." The rule goes like so: Anytime you want to demonstrate how impressive a career record is, you always divide that record by 20 years. For instance,
Bonds has hit 762 home runs -- that's like hitting 38 home runs every year for TWENTY CONSECUTIVE YEARS.
See how it works? So, in trying to determine the most amazing records, I pulled out the 20 Year Rule. And here's what I came up with:
Here are the Top 5 triples guys of all time:
1. Sam Crawford, 312
OK? Here are the Top 5 triples guys since 1940:
1. Stan Musial, 177
OK? And here are the Top 5 triples guys the last 25 years:
1. Brett Butler, 128
The triple may be, as so many claim, the most exciting play in baseball. But it has been slowly dying for 100 years.
Frankly, it's pretty ridiculous, considering all the changes, that Young's record is considered the official one. It would probably be more realistic to consider
I must admit that I'm not entirely sure why everyone is so quick to name Clemens or Maddux or Pedro as the greatest pitcher of all time and yet seem fairly unexcited by Unit's career. He won five Cy Young Awards and could have won two more at least. He's the greatest strikeout-per-nine-inning pitcher in baseball history. His career 137
His 10-year peak -- from 1995 through 2004 -- is almost identical to Pedro's, and I think Pedro over those 10 years is the greatest pitcher in baseball history. Look:
Everyone knows Unit was a great, great pitcher. But I still think he's probably underrated -- he has his claim as the best ever.
And then you go up to 28 saves, and obviously Hoffman has done it most often (13 times), followed by
Point is, it's hard to be even a DECENT closer for more than a decade or so. Maybe that's because, like a cornerback, you are being tested time after time, and there are only so many years your body can come through. Maybe it's because the closer is still so relatively new that there just hasn't been enough time for them to evolve. Whatever the reason, I suspect that Hoffman's record will last for a while (assuming Mariano, who's at 482, doesn't break it in the next couple years), but it would not surprise me if a few years down the road we have two or three pitchers challenging for it.*