One writer really, really hates Manny Ramirez

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There were all manner of reactions to the Athletics signing Manny Ramirez yesterday, but the one that stood out to me the most was the reaction — across multiple tweets — from Scott Miller of CBS Sports.com.

Miller is not at all pleased with the fact that Ramirez has a job now. And he has already decided how he’s going to cover the story:

Um, OK. I guess it’d be silly to actually go to Phoenix, see how Ramirez is doing with the A’s, how he’s getting on with the players and coaching staff, what he has to say about his past transgressions and future prospects and then write about that. Much more prudent to sharpen knives and be determined to rip everyone now. Saves time, you know.

Miller went on to say that we live in a “twisted world” because Ramirez has a job now while Johnny Damon doesn’t. When it was pointed out to him that Damon likely would have a job now too if he’d accept $500K to play, Miller said that “economics are a large part of the twisted world we live in.” He went on to call the signing “reprehensible” again in a later tweet.

When it was suggested that he was being unfair in judging the story beforehand, Miller said this:

So there it is: a national sportswriter’s coverage of a minor signing by a non-contender is going to be influenced by that writer’s scorned feelings. He gave Ramirez a chance, you see, and his generosity was not rewarded. So it’s time for “sharpening the knives” and “ripping” him and the organization which signed him.

Seems reasonable to me. Oy.

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.