Sunday, June 6, 2010

Is anything really unbreakable?

A couple of things heading into the NBA and NHL finals this past week caught my eye, a couple of 'records' if you will. The first was that the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers franchises have won 32 of the 63 NBA titles. With the two playing each other, this will make it 33 of 64. They have won more than half the titles in the history of the sport. Written another way, the other 30 franchises combined have won fewer titles than the Celtics and Lakers. Talk about dynasties.

The other fun fact I realized was in the NHL. Marian Hossa has now made the Stanley Cup final three consecutive seasons...for three different teams. In the 2008 final, he was on the Penguins. During the off-season, he switched teams to the Red Wings, who made the 2009 final. He then switched teams again, this time to the Blackhawks, who are in the 2010 final. Extraordinary. He happened to be on the losing side of the first two trips, so we'll have to wait and see if the third time is a charm.

But anyways, these things got me thinking about records, especially individual player records, and how the word 'unbreakable' is tossed around so haphazardly. Besides Bruce Willis in that movie, I think it was called Die Hard 3, is anything really unbreakable? Sports channels always air those 'Top 10 unbreakable records' shows. Most of the time, I end up just being pissed afterwards at their idea of unbreakable.

They put Cal Ripken's consecutive games played record in the top 10 because no one can possibly break that. Well, they also put Lou Gehrig's record on those lists for 60 some odd years until Cal broke it. Doesn't that rule out this record as being unbreakable when it just changed hands within the past decade?

Derrick Thomas' record for 7 sacks in one game is often on the football shows as well. It's a fantastic record, no doubt. However, I get the feeling they add it to the lists to seem cool, putting a defensive stat up there. Is it really unbreakable? Thomas himself had another game where he had 6 sacks, and the people they interview spout off on how he could have had 9 or 10.

Rather than just complain, I thought I would make my own short list of records that actually won't be broken, taking just from the major sports. Oh, there are women's tennis records that are impossible to top? Who cares? In no particular order:

1) Fernando Tatis (MLB) - two grand slams in one inning. Good luck breaking that. I mean, it is technically possible for someone to tie him, no matter how unlikely, but to break it? Not going to happen.

2) Johnny Vander Meer (MLB) - two consecutive no-hitters thrown. Again, could it be tied? Well, no probably not, but I can't rule it out. Breaking it, on the other hand, by throwing three straight no-hitters, I think can be lumped into the category of unbreakable.

3) Cy Young (MLB) - (no, not the career wins) 749 career complete games. The wins total won't be approached either, but I think the complete games record is even better. To put it in some perspective, the active leader in complete games is Roy Halladay. He has 54 in 13 seasons. Being somewhat generous, and taking into account only a third of 2010 has passed and his early years he wasn't getting full work yet, lets give him 6 per full year pitched. To reach Cy, Halladay would have to pitch around 116 more seasons. At that point he would be about 149 years old. Now I'm no doctor, but this seems unlikely. Let's call Cy's record unbreakable.

4) Wilt Chamberlain (NBA) - take your pick. Much like Cy Young, Wilt can be given a few notches on the unbreakable records list. 100 points scored in one game. Over 27 rebounds per game for a full season. I think the best, however, is his points per game scored in one season at 50.3. He averaged more than 50 points a game, every game, for the entire year. The last season anyone was even within a baker's dozen of that was Jordan in '86-'87, when he ended the year at just over 37 points per game.

5) Otto Graham (NFL) - 10 consecutive championship game appearances. These were before the Super Bowl existed, and some before the NFL was established, but nevertheless, his record of reaching the professional football title game in 10 straight seasons is unreachable. (For good measure, Otto played one year of professional basketball during the streak, and made the championship there as well.) The only recent player that can even be considered close to this record is Jim Kelly. He made four straight Super Bowls, not even half way to Otto.

6) Dave Schultz (NHL) - 472 penalty minutes in one season. In an 82 game season, if a player were to receive a five minute major, every game, for the whole year, they would still fall well short of this record. In fact, second place on this list didn't even fare that well. No one in history has come within 60 minutes of Schultz's record. (I would have picked anything Wayne Gretzky did but this seemed more interesting. Wayne is called the Great One for a reason. I mean he has 970 more career points than any other player to ever lace up the skates.)

So, to answer my question from the title, yes. I would have thrown in Travis Henry's record of having 11 children with 10 different women, but I don't have sources to confirm that this has not been surpassed.

1 comment:

  1. Best article yet! This list deserves some publishing.