Currently Historic: This is not a columnby Jason Linden
July 19, 2012
Dear Currently Historic Reader,
I have to apologize to you. You see, there will be no column this week because my baseball soul has been wounded. This week, Joey Votto had knee surgery. The Reds are my favorite team, and this doesn't help their playoff chances, but it's more than that. Votto is my favorite baseball player in the world. I haven't loved a player like this since I was a kid. He was in the midst of an historic season.
And now it's gone. There will be no doubles record. Oh sure, he might come back and still lead the league in a few things, but so much of the thrill of tracking his numbers is gone. So, no, I won't be able to deliver a column this week, and that's a terrible shame because I got an email from one Tom Hanrahan this week letting me know that the Red Sox were on pace to break the team doubles record. The record is 376 and, if I were writing a column right now, I'd know they were on pace for 380. Such a fun and interesting record, but I could never mention it because it so reminds me of the record Votto will not break.
And boy, I had something else good planned for this week, too. I was going to write about Jim Thome with a little bit of depth. Thome, you know, is suddenly on a quest to break Reggie Jackson's all-time strikeout record. He now needs only 74 to get into the record books. The Orioles have 72 games to go, so if he plays everyday (or close to it) and strikes out at his usual pace, he could break the record or come up agonizingly short.
And you know, Thome had talked retirement, but he seems to be changing his mind. If he comes back in 2013, why, he could thoroughly destroy Jackson's record. What an interesting end to an interesting career that would be. Did you know, for instance, that despite all those homers, Thome has only lead the league once with 47 in 2003. Or, even more remarkably, he has never lead the league in RBI. In fact, the closest he's come is a third place finish with 131 in that same 2003 season. In fact, 2003 was the last time Thome led the league in any of the normal categories. That was nine years ago.
And yet, here he is, still putting up solid numbers for whoever will let him swing a bat. Jim Thome is extremely interesting. I just wish I could deliver a column to you this week. But you know how it is. I'm sure I'll be back on my feet. Eventually.
If I were writing a column this week, it really would serve as an excellent illustration of how hard it is do some of the things we've been tracking.
You see, R.A. Dickey is going to drop to more of a peripheral figure when I get back to writing. He doesn't look like any kind of decent bet to win 25 now and he's eighth in the league in ERA. I suppose we'll keep an eye on the strikeout contest because he's a knuckleballer and that would be neat. He's still tied for second, but there are a whole cluster of guys around him and he'll have to be at least a little lucky to come out on top.
You know what's another tough thing to write about this week? Adam Dunn. You know he used to play for the Reds, right? And the Reds are Joey Votto's team when his knee isn't being operated on. Hang on, I have to sob for a minute.
Okay, I'm good now. Anyway, I definitely couldn't stand to write about Dunn this week even though he continues to hit homers and walk and strikeout. He leads the majors in all three categories. He's now only seven homers from 400. He's 51 strikeouts away from 200. He's also on pace for 252 strikeouts this year, which would be a record.
Even more amazingly, he continues to record one of the three true outcomes in 62 percent of his at bats and is on pace for 434. I've I were writing the column this week, I'd seriously think about looking closely at Adam Dunn next week. He is such a unique player, after all.
And, as always, there are plenty of other interesting things to talk about that I would only have space to mention in brief if I weren't so full of grief today.
For instance, Alex Rodriguez is only four strikeouts away from 2,000. I expect he'll have hit that number before I get back to writing next week. He has 643 homers and needs 17 to catch Willie Mays. With 1,874 runs, A-Rod is still 12th all-time in runs. He's still eighth in RBI, but only four away from Ty Cobb at 1,938 and thus only 66 from 2,000.
Or I could talk about Rodriguez's teammate, Derek Jeter, who is now tied with Tris Speaker for the eighth most singles ever. He's still hanging in at 14th on the all-time hits list with a ways to go for 13th. With just one more run, he'll be tied for 16th in runs.
It's a shame I won't be able to mention the return of Ryan Howard this week, as he got right down to work and hit a homer to bring him to 287. Miguel Cabrera also did some work and is now just three away from 300.
You'd never think that the week I can't bear to write a column would be the week Bobby Abreu shifted out of statue mode and stole a base, but it was. He has 396 steals now. That's especially odd because Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins didn't do anything this week and still have 390 and 387 steals respectively.
Of course, there can't be progress everywhere, and it's doubtful you'll miss knowing that Todd Helton (567) and Bobby Abreu (565) hit no doubles and are still 22nd and 23rd all-time.
But, all in all, it's been an interesting week. Alas, my heart is broken and I can't stand to write about it. Feel free, dear reader, to inform me of any new historic discoveries in the comments below. I'm sure I'll muster the energy to look at them before next week's column. For now, I have to go crawl into bed, hold my Joey Votto bobblehead, and weep.
Jason has too many irons in the fire. He fancies himself a fiction writer and also writes about the Reds at Redleg Nation, books at Elephants for Bookends, and everything else at The Winesburg Eagle. Email him at winesburgeagle *at* gmail or follow him on Twitter @jasonlinden