It’s one thing to rank on the all-time top 10 hits list, with 3,316 hits over a 21-year career with one team. It’s quite another to still be active, still be playing for the New York Yankees and still be passing up more legends on that aforementioned hits list as Major League Baseball conducts your farewell tour. Welcome to the life of the soon-to-retire Derek Jeter, who needs only four hits to pass Hall of Fame third baseman Paul Molitor; 104 to pass Hall of Fame outfielder Carl Yastrzemski of the rival Boston Red Sox; 105, 120 and 199 hits to pass 19th and/or 20th century Hall of Famers Honus Wagner (he of all-time great shortstop fame), Cap Anson and Tris Speaker. The latter milestone may be out of reach this year, although the 39-yearold Jeter did get a league-leading 216 hits as recently as 2012, the eighth time the Yankee boy wonder cracked the 200 mark. And as for slots six-through-nine, those are definitely within a Yank’s grab. ELSA/GETTY IMAGES The Texas Rangers have big aspirations in 2014, but come Sept. 1, manager Ron Washington is going to have one heckuva speech ready for his troops as they come down the stretch run of the regular season. The gist is: When the Rangers went Advanced Metrics to the World Series in 2010 and 2011, they finished the season much stronger than they did in 2013. In 2010, the Rangers went 19-6 in September to qualify for the playoffs with 90 wins and eventually reach the World Series. In 2011, with more of a cushion, the Rangers went 15-12 in September, enough to set a franchise-record 96 victories while also reaching the World Series again. However, in 2013, complacency got the best of Texas, as the Rangers went 12-15, finished with 91 victories—one win shy of a wild-card berth. Everybody knows Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. It is called the unbreakable record. It has withstood 73 years worth of challenges, with Pete Rose’s 44-game streak in 1978 and Paul Molitor’s 39 foray in 1987 being the closest tests of time since the Yankee Clipper’s feat. But now that we live in a Moneyball age, where on-base percentage is appreciated more than batting average, shouldn’t we have the on-base record ingrained in the brain? If you are so inclined, know that “84” is watching you, with the watchful eye of its creator, Ted Williams, who got on base in 84 straight games from July 1 through Sept. 27, 1949. It was the year the Splendid Splinter led the league with a .490 on-base percentage, while producing a .343 batting average. It was also the year that Dom DiMaggio, Joe’s brother, had the longest hitting streak in baseball (34 straight games), while playing as Williams’ teammate for the Boston Red Sox. Oh! And for what it’s worth, Joe D. himself had a 74 game on-base streak surrounding that 56-game hitting streak of his. I digress. The point is, Williams’ record may be just as—if not moreso— unbreakable than DiMaggio’s. After all, in 64 years, Orlando Cabrera has come the closest to Teddy Ballgame’s 84, and even he was way short (63-game on-base streak in 2006), in comparison to the people chasing DiMaggio’s hit milestone. This is the millions of dollars the Oakland A’s are paying its players this season. The small-market team has only spent near this threshold once in the 21st century, mostly fielding a payroll of $60 million on average the past five seasons. Why the sudden change? If big-market teams are forced to come down slightly in salary in 2014, it only makes business and competitive sense for all other legit contenders to come up in payroll to narrow the gap thatmuchmore.
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