Forget 50-0. Here are streaks worth remembering

by Gary Shelton on August 31, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays

Thursday, 3 a.m.

Jesse Owens once outran a horse.

Michael Phelps barely lost to a computer simulated shark.

Muhammad Ali once beat a pro wrestler. Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, an old guy whose arteries were hardening by the minute

And that's why I have trouble believing in Floyd Mayweather's 50-0 record.

Look, nothing against Mayweather, who has worked hard to be dislikeable. I know that at any time, he could have propped up another tomato can and beaten him to get to 50-0. Boxers puff up their records all the time.

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But what Mayweather did last week was win an exhibition match against a fighter who had never had a professional fight. The truth is that both of them ran a successful scam on the sporting fandom. Bully for them both. A couple of guys can get rich at the expense of fans.

And I get it. We want so badly to see something special that we will believe in 50-0 when it comes largely, as Ring Magazine has said of Mayweather, against “over-the-hill boxers.” Still, entertainment is the key. If the customers are happy, what is it to me? But, no, I don't have to act like this was the latest coming of a great sporting event.

You want to talk about great streaks?

Here a few of my favorites.

1. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak (1941). Here's why the streak is so impressive to me. When it started, the Yankees were  5 ½ games behind in the division race. When it ended, New Y or had a six-game lead. DiMaggio hit .408 during the streak, including hits off of  four future Hall of Famers. After the streak was ended, DiMaggio hit in 16 straight games, meaning he hit in 72 of 73 games.

2. UCLA men's basketball team. The Bruins won 88 straight games from 1971-1974. Winning national titles wasn't as hard then (UCLA won seven straight at one point) as it is with extra rounds in the tournament. But UCLA kept winning.

3. Wayne Gretzky's point streak. Gretzky scored a point in 51 straight games (plus the last 10 of the previous season). He had 61 goals and 92 assists in the streak.

4. Martina Navratilova at the net: Navratilove won 74 straight matches (including five tournaments) in 1984.

5. Cal Ripken, Jr, the Ironman: Ripken played in 2,632 straight games for Baltimore, setting a record for dependability that will last for a long time. Along the way, some critics got the idea that Ripken actually hurt his team by not getting his proper rest. Still, it was an incredible feat.

6. Oklahoma wins 47 straight. The Sooners won two national titles en route to its unbeaten streak from 1953-1957. Mount Union had two streaks that were longer, but they weren't playing the big boys.

7, Sugar Ray Robinson: Want a boxing streak that's better? How about Robinson, who was 124-1-2 at the start of his career.

8. UConn women, 111 in a row: This would be higher except that UConn simply doesn't have enough quality opponents. Remember, the Huskies had 90 straight earlier.

9. Christy Mathewson, 20 again. For a record 12 straight seasons, Mathewson won at least 20 games. That's even more than Cy Young, who had nine.

10. North Carolina women's soccer: The Tar Heels won 103 straight. They lost one, then won another 101 straight. That's 204 wins in 205 games.

11. Miami goes unbeaten: Okay, so they played a lousy schedule. But the Dolphins remain your only wire-to-wire undefeated champions of the modern era. Between Larry Csonka, the no-name defense and quarterback Bob Griese (who didn't throw) the team was undefeated. The Patriots went 18-1, but lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl.

12. Eric Gagne saves a lot of days: The save stat continues to be flawed, but Gagne went 83 games without blowing one. That's not bad.

13. Lance Armstrong, 7 Tour de France titles. Of course, it was all an illusion. The guy on the bike was riding with someone else's blood.

14. Seeing Green. The Boston Celtics won eight straight NBA titles.

15. Byron keeps winning: In 1945, Byron Nelson won 11 straight golf tournaments (and 18 overall). And he didn't need a driver with a head as big as his.

16. Swapping a little paint: In 1967, Richard Petty won 10 NASCAR races in a row. For the season, he won 23 times.

17. Bobby Orr, defender: Orr won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman eight consecutive seasons. Eight.

18. Glenn Hall in net: Former Detroit and Chicago goaltender Glenn Hall went 502 games – 551 if you count the playoffs — in goal. He played five seasons without a mask.

19. Drew Brees goes deep: Brees threw touchdowns in 54 straight games, breaking the old record of Johnny Unitas (47).

20. Michael Phelphs wins again: Phelps won medals in 21 straight events in the Olympis. Overall, he won gold in 23 of 30 events.

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