- 05/10/2012, 02:57AM ET
Marlins Fan said 05/10, 02:57 AM
What is below fact and above conjecture; less than a reality but still very much real; worthless yet usually the only thing that matters to each one of us?
The answer is an opinion, and that's what I'm going to talk about today. My opinion, to be specific. And in my opinion the most impressive achievement of the 2012 sports year-to-date is Josh Hamilton's "four home run game".
A brief recap; this past Tuesday the Texas Rangers faced the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Josh Hamilton had a good game, to put it mildly.
Hamilton went 5-for-5 (with 8 RBI) on the day, launching a double along with four home runs. Hamilton finished the game with 18 total bases, good for the second-highest single game total bases tally in the history of Major League Baseball.
The single-game total of four home runs was also quite the accomplishment, as only 15 others have ever achieved an equally lofty single-game home run total in the long and storied history of the game. That's less guys than have pitched perfect games (21).
Hamilton had a once-in-a-lifetime kind of game; something that might not happen again for a really long time.
Bigalke said 05/11, 12:21 AM
I can appreciate your logic, Marlins. Hamilton indeed did have "a good game, to put it mildly." But it was one game, mind you. (His average for the 4 games against Baltimore? 8-for-15, with 6 homers... & 6 strikeouts. Impressive, but hardly the most impressive...)
So what is the most impressive achievement of 2012 to date? I'm going to have to go with [b]Mike Smith's 3-game shutout streak with the Coyotes riding the cusp of March/April, that vaulted his team from 4th in the Pacific & out of the playoffs to the division crown. Without Smith's late-season heroics, Phoenix wouldn't be playing in the franchise's first conf. final against LA...
Truth be told, another former Coyote, Brian Boucher, holds the record for consecutive shutout minutes in the modern era, set almost a decade ago at 5 games/332 minutes & change. But Smith was just so damn impressive because:
- He saved more shots (163) in his 193-minute shutout streak than Boucher (147) compiled in over 2 more contests.
- In the last of the 3 shutouts, Smith broke record for most saves in a single-game shutout (54).
Without Smith's historic run, we're watching another team in the conf. finals...
Marlins Fan said 05/11, 11:46 PM
Mike Smith's run of shutouts was pretty nice but it was hardly unprecedented.
As you said, Brian Boucher holds the modern record at over 5 straight games without giving up a goal, and a fellow by the name of Alec Connell holds the overall shutout record with over 461 minutes of continuous goal-stopping. In other words Connell managed to go 7 games plus without allowing a goal.
So while Smith's streak was impressive, it pales in comparison to streaks of years past.
That's the biggest difference in Hamilton's and Smith's achievements.
Hamilton's 5-for-5, 4 HR performance stands the test of time.
Hamilton finished the game with 18 total bases, which is just one off the all-time mark, set by Shawn Green back in 2002. Green went 6-for-6 in that game against the Milwaukee Brewers, finishing with 4 home runs, a double and a single.
Hamilton also hit four home runs and a double but never got a sixth at-bat, otherwise he may have joined or surpassed Green's 19 total bases game for the greatest single-game performance in the history of MLB. Lack of opportunity held him back.
Not so with Smith. Smith had the chance; he just couldn't make history.
Bigalke said 05/12, 01:18 AM
What's the real riddle here, Marlins? It isn't the difference between opinion and conjecture... it's the very definition of the word impressive.
Hamilton was impressive on a May day in a long season... what made Smith's accomplishment so much more impressive is:
A) The fact that he did it in 3 of the last 5 games of the season, proving clutch in crunch time? (Connell did it in January & February, & his streak involved 3 ties; Boucher did it in January. Neither's team won their division.)
B) The fact that he saved more shots in 3 games than Boucher did in his 5-game modern-day streak makes it all the more astounding. He saved 45+ shots per game during his 3+ games, including that modern-day record for most saves in a single shutout.
C) Smith standing on his head could very well be making history, due to the fact that his heroics largely led to Phoenix turning the Pacific on its head and stealing away the crown over the last 5 games.
D) All of the above.
Smith left a lasting impression in that he earned Phoenix to the opportunity to play its way to its 1st conf. final as a franchise. History is more than an individual, though an individual can effect history...
Marlins Fan said 05/12, 01:36 AM
Fair enough; context is certainly useful when evaluating one's achievements, and some may thinkI underestimated Smith's shutout streak just a bit.
However, context can also show why Hamilton's game was more impressive than Smith's streak. What I'm referrring to is the difference between winning a one-on-one battle and coming out on top in a team affair.
Putting it plainly, Hamilton's four home runs game was significantly more impressive than Smith's shutout streak because Hamilton accomplished the four home runs on his own.
In each of those four at-bats (and the fifth at-bat which provided the oh-so-forgettable double) Hamilton was on his own. Every pitch of each at-bat featured a one-on-one matchup of hitter vs. pitcher. Hamilton, on his own, won the matchup each time with great success. Unprecedented success, really, except for the Shawn Green incident.
Smith's streak was great but it wasn't just him.
Today's NHL features shot-blocking by non-goalies like I've never seen before. It's the Dead Puck Era 2.0. Teams today ask each and every player to sacrifice their body in order to block every shot against them.
Smith received plenty of help.
Bigalke said 05/12, 01:53 AM
Had any more shots made it through to Smith, he would've needed an oxygen tank for all the saves he had to make. Hamilton's greatness extended over 5 AB... Smith played every minute of those games for Phoenix, something none of his teammates had to do. He sustained perfection despite those teammates, who weren't laying down in front of shots for him, hence the high save total in just 3 perfect games.
You are talking about just one moment. With the launch of Hamilton's 2nd HR in the 3rd, Texas had put the game well out of Baltimore's reach. It was pure stat-chasing, a HR derby of sorts, when Hamilton belted the 3rd & 4th. The last was a particular meatball. Is this truly incredible, that a top-shelf hitter was able to get into a zone for one game? And had he belted just 2 HR, or 3, would it have made any difference in the result?
Smitty, on the other hand, was a journeyman before landing in Phoenix, and he has become a world-beater. His performances directly led his team to the playoffs. There they have a shot at history. Thus, for me, there has been no more incredible performance... unless you want to count Garrett McNamara's 78-foot wave. ;)
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