Did you know that 49.2% of all statistics are misleading? It's true. Take, for instance, Seattle Mariners leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki and his quest to break the 84year-old record of 257 hits in a season, set by George Sisler.
As Ichiro dramatically chases the hallowed mark with the games dwindling to a precious few, please join me in standing and saying, in unison, "What a load of Bushido!!!"
As of last Saturday the Mariners had played 154 games, the schedule Sisler had in 1920, and Ichiro was still seven hits short of breaking the record. End of story. Sorry. Enjoy the fishing season in Kobe. See you at spring training.
Al Simmons, Lefty O'Doul and Bill Terry came within a cross-eyed official scorer of Sisler's holy grail but ran out of games. So Ichiro gets eight free extra games? What's he, our millionth customer? Is he your kid sister and gets four strikes, too?
But do the TV stat boys tell you that? No. Do they mention that Ichiro has collected more singles than a skycap (44 more than Sisler at week's end)? No, because these guys are not into style points. They are gigageeks, grown males who love stats. In other words, they have not had sex since Kirstie Alley was a size 6.
We need a new stat notation: SS (Stupid Stat). Whenever a player gets a record that is misleading, corrupt and/or downright immoral, we simply add an ss to it. For instance:
John Salley is the only player in NBA history to win world championship rings with three different teams--Detroit, Chicago and L.A.ss Then, in four-point type, the footnote would read, SS--For the last two, Salley was on the floor less than the guy with the T-shirt bazooka.
Bernie Williams of the New York Yankees passed Mickey Mantle for alltime postseason home runs.ss (Please. In Mantle's day there was only one playoff round--the World Series. Williams has played 39 more postseason games than Mantle did. Get that stat outta here!)
Bruce Smith is the NFL's alltime sack leader.ss (No, Bruce Smith is the all-post-1982 sack leader, because that's the year the league started keeping track of the damn things. My favorite NFL player ever, Deacon Jones, used to get four or five sacks in a quarter--it's just that nobody was counting.)
The six biggest home run years in major league history have come in the last six years.ss (The balls, players and stadiums are all juiced.)
All of us aren't born with Spackle for brains. Don't give us alltime PGA money leaders. (Jack Nicklaus is 102nd, just behind Tom Byrum.) Give us alltime PGA tournament wins. (Nicklaus is second, behind Sam Snead.) Don't give us 1,000-yard rushing seasons. (My God, Kevan Barlow of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 1,000 yards last year, and he needs two forms of I.D. in his own kitchen.) Give us 100-yard-game rushers. (Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens led the NFL in 2003, with 12.)
Just because it appears on the ticker across the bottom of the screen doesn't make a stat worth typing. Only two teams held Michael Jordan to fewer than 25 points per game in his Chicago Bulls career: Toronto and Vancouver. Held? No, Jordan sat down because his team was ahead by 220 points. Lenny Wilkens is No. 1 among coaches in NBA wins. Yeah, and he's No. 1 in losses, too.
That's another notation we need to start sticking in the record books--PU (Propped-Up stat). Cal Ripken Jr. owns the major league record for consecutive games played.PU (Yeah, but in 1990 he hit .250. You think maybe a little pine time might've helped him and the Baltimore Orioles?)
A.C. Green holds the Ripken record in the NBA.PU (Yeah, except after he caught an elbow in the mouth and lost two teeth, he twice propped it up by coming off the bench and standing on the floor for about 10 seconds and then sitting down again. What are we trying to prove--that he can climb out of a hospital bed?)
Jerry Rice caught at least one pass in 274 straight games.PU(Yeah, wonderful, epic player--except that for a couple of years the Oakland Raiders propped up that streak like the guy in Weekend at Bernie's. Early in every game it was slant to Rice, step-back toss to Rice, one-yard buttonhook to Rice. And when the streak ended recently, the usually elegant Rice threw down his helmet in disgust--in a Raiders win.)
Michael Adams held the NBA record for most consecutive games making a three-point shot.PU (Unfortunately, Adams got so desperate to keep the streak alive, he was jacking up threes one step off the bus. No wonder a lot of these streaks come with another streak at no charge--a losing streak.)
I mean, if we're going to keep track of pointless stuff like that, then let's keep consecutive games with a flop (Vlade Divac). Consecutive plate appearances in which batter readjusted his wristbands, helmet, pants and groin after every freaking pitch (Nomar Garciaparra). Lockouts nobody noticed until six weeks after the season was supposed to have started (NHL).
Anyway, sorry, I had to rant. I'll see you next week, as usual.PU
As Ichiro chases the hallowed hit record, join me in standing and saying, in unison, "What a load of Bushido!!!"
PETER READ MILLER