EARLY IN Baseball's Most Unbreakable Feats, a DVD released this month by Major League Baseball Productions, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan recalls that when he broke into the big leagues in 1966, "the two records they said would never fall were Babe Ruth's home run record and Walter Johnson's strikeout record." As is often the case, "they" were wrong. Ruth's 714-homer record has now been passed twice, and Ryan made relatively short work of Johnson's mark of 3,509 K's, passing the Big Train in 1983 and finishing his career with 5,714 whiffs.
Many a barroom or bleachers debate has raged over which records are forever, but Feats takes its own angle on the topic. Hosted by Roger Clemens, it uses historical footage and interviews with Hall of Famers and current players to examine 10 accomplishments that may never be equaled: Ted Williams's .406 average, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Rickey Henderson's single-season and career steals marks and Cy Young's 511 career wins, to name four. The footage is compelling, but what sets Feats apart is the contributions it gets from active players. There's illuminating inside-the-game commentary—Devil Rays speedster Carl Crawford marvels at the beating Henderson (below) must have taken from all those headfirst slides—plus a poll of more than 160 active players, coaches and managers that ranks the 10 feats in order of unbreakability.
The results are surprising. Ryan's strikeout mark comes in as the second-most beatable record, and more active players think someone will outhit Pete Rose than think a team will win more than the five straight World Series the Yankees took from 1949 through '53.
By far the most admired feat is Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive games streak. Clemens is a revelation as well. Never known for a polished camera presence, he's a lively host and is reverent about the greats of the game—even those (Ryan, Young, Bob Gibson) whose marks he'd love to topple. Feats is an entertaining reminder of what Barry Bonds has made many forget: Even if legends are unreachable, chasing them can be fun.
July 29, 2007
AS MUCH fun as it is to watch elite athletes perform gracefully, it can sometimes be just as fun to watch them flounder. That's part of the charm of a pair of Adidas clips featuring Reggie Bush and David Beckham meeting for the first time and giving each other tips on their respective brands of football. (It's on YouTube as Beckham meets Bush—there's a six-minute version and a three-minute version with different takes.) Bush, who apparently doesn't spend much time hanging with placekickers, is clueless about which part of his foot to kick a ball with and needs Beckham's help to tie his soccer cleats. And as good as he is with his feet, Beckham proves to be awful with his arm. After Beckham's first pass attempt, Bush asks very sincerely, "You righthanded?" They take things seriously, and eventually they figure it out: Bush juggles a ball a few times, and Beckham, wearing full pads, jukes past Bush and catches a TD pass. As they leave, it's clear they've each learned a thing or two. Says Bush, "I've got a newfound respect for soccer."
HOLLYWOOD IS looking for two actors who can handle roles requiring drama chops as well as athleticism. Unfortunately for Leo and Brad, they also require four legs. Earlier this month Universal Pictures bought the rights to Buzz Bissinger's recent Vanity Fair article about 2006 Kentucky Derby champ Barbaro, with Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) set to direct.... Berg and the rest of his Lights crew have another casting decision to make—the show needs a female soccer coach. First on their wish list: Rosie O'Donnell. It's not so far-fetched. On her blog Rosie wrote, "I love the show. I hope it comes true." ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. digs Ludacris and rockers the Matthew Good Band, but he also has a soft spot for the classic stuff. On Aug. 13 Junior (above), who was turned on to Elvis Presley by his grandmother, will emcee a screening of Viva Las Vegas on the Graceland lawn as part of festivities to mark the 30th anniversary of Presley's death. "There's a powerful connection people have with the music they grow up with, and Elvis fits into that category with me," Earnhardt said.
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Many players surveyed said Williams's and DiMaggio's marks aresafe.