Joshua Prager, author of The Echoing Green, has a feature on Derek Jeter and Pete Rose’s all-time hit record today in the New York Times:
“The toughest thing about baseball is you don’t know why you’re doing — or not doing — this or that,” the player, Ichiro Suzuki, said.
Suzuki, a Yankees outfielder, had at that point amassed a combined 3,830 hits in Japan and the United States, a remarkable if unofficial total. But his annual hit total was set to decline for the third straight season. Was age to blame?
“It’s not that your physical body gains weight, but that your thinking gains weight,” said Suzuki, 38. He tightened a belt about a waist that had been 31 inches all his career and explained that expectation was a burden that only grew. The outside world always let you know when a milestone was in reach.
I also like this appreciation:
“I don’t think very many people understand how unique he is, as a hitter,” Bill James, the father of advanced baseball statistics, wrote in an e-mail. “At-bat after at-bat, he is able to hit the ball to right field NOT by swinging late, but by just clipping the inside of the baseball, hitting the ball off-center so that it flares off his bat to right field. Other people do it once in a while by accident, but I’ve never seen anybody other than Jeter do it constantly.”
I don’t think Jeter will catch Rose. Don’t think he’s that single(s)-minded. But it’s fun to consider, isn’t it?
[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]