Can someone please explain the Troy Tulowitzki deal to me?

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At least from the Rockies’ perspective?

Tulowitzki is a great talent. If I were starting a team now he’d be on the short list of players who might be my first pick. He’s obviously loved in Colorado.  But a six year extension that starts in 2015? Really? What was motivating the Rockies to extend a guy who was under team control through 2014 already? Was the prospect of Todd Helton’s deal finally falling off the books in 2013 too scary to contemplate? “Quick! We need to find a way to spend an unreasonable chunk of our limited payroll on one player after 2013! Sign Tulo for a decade, stat!”

A lot can happen in four seasons. Ask Eric Chavez. There is a possibility that the extension portion of this deal is an albatross before it even kicks in.  And what about value for the length of the deal? Derek Jeter made a ten year contract work, but at least he was on the verge of free agency at the time. Todd Helton is proof positive — right in front of the Rockies’ noses — that a deal of that length can go sideways. Helton’s was originally a nine-year deal. It was pretty good four four years. It was serviceable for a fifth. Since then he has been a role player or worse, making so much money that it has limited the Rockies’ financial flexibility to go out and get other pieces.

The same could easily happen to Tulowitzki. Indeed, I’d say that odds favor it. The per-annum dollars themselves aren’t crazy, but that length and the timing is.  This isn’t as bad as Alex Rodriguez’s current deal, but unless the economics of the Colorado Rockies change fundamentally, it will eat up a larger percentage of team payroll each year than A-Rod’s deal ever did. What was pushing this onto the Rockies’ agenda?

Oh well, it’s not my money.  And hey, there’s a bright side: if mid-market teams are back to signing guys for a decade, I suppose that’s proof positive that the recession is truly over.

Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak ended 78 years ago today

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There’s nothing special about a 78-year anniversary. It’s not a round number or anything and we tend to like round numbers. But (a) I was reminded of this today; and (b) we have no idea if the Martians will have invaded and taken over the planet come 2021, so I feel like it’s best to run this now than wait for the 80th anniversary. Cool? Cool.

Anyway: on this day in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s still-unbroken and possibly unbreakable (see below) 56-game hitting streak came to end. The game took place in Cleveland in front of a staggering 67,468 fans. Not bad for a Thursday night. The way the streak ended, courtesy of an ESPN Classic post from Larry Scwartz back in 2003:

Third baseman Ken Keltner makes two outstanding plays, grabbing DiMaggio smashes down the line in the first and seventh innings and throwing him out at first base. In between these at-bats, left-hander Al Smith walks DiMaggio in the fourth.

The Yankee Clipper has one more chance to extend his streak when he bats in the eighth with the bases full against Jim Bagby, a young right-hander who just enters the game. DiMaggio hits the ball sharply, but shortstop Lou Boudreau plays a bad hop perfectly and turns the grounder into a double play.

Stuff happens.

To be clear: 56 may not be broken in my lifetime or yours. It’s obviously a SUPER difficult task to string together a hitting streak of considerable length. As we saw when guys like Pete Rose or Paul Molitor or whoever have come within spitting distance of DiMaggio’s record — long spitting distance — the pressure ramps up and it’s hard to do you job with a lot of pressure. Add in the fact that simple base hits are harder to come by in today’s game than they used to be due to prevalent hitting, pitching and defensive trends, and it’d be no shocker whatsoever if no one ever does it.

But I draw the line at “unbreakable,” simply because, as noted above, stuff does happen. And because there’s nothing structural preventing it from happening. It’s not like Cy Young’s 511 wins or something which fundamental changes in the game have made basically impossible. No one is going to win 26 games a year for 20 years straight or what have you. Heck, CC Sabathia is baseball’s current gray hair among pitchers and only has a few dozen more career starts than that. It’s just a different game.

Hitters do play in 150-160 games now, though, and the good ones do average more than one hit per game. Putting them in the right arrangement may never be likely, but doing so is only a matter of stars aligning, not breaking the fundamental rules of engagement. It could happen. Maybe. Because, unlike some other records, it did before under broadly similar circumstances.

OK, that aside, I’ll offer up my favorite and most maddening DiMaggio hitting streak fact.

During his streak, which lasted from May 15-July 17, DiMaggio went 91-of-223, which is a .408 average. Between April 15-September 28 (i.e. the whole dang season) Ted Williams hit .406. And when it was all said and done he was substantially better in virtually every other batting category as well.

Joe DiMaggio won the MVP Award.