Sunday, August 31, 2008

Perhaps it's a case of post-Olympic fatigue, but whatever the reason, the gold-medal beach volleyballers Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have had their 112-match winning streak snapped, in an Ohio tournament.

Friday, August 29, 2008

W.M. McEntire posted a message on the SABR members' e-mail discussion list, noting that the Cleveland Indians' current 10-game winning streak gives the team both 10-game losing and winning streaks this season (the losing streak occurred during late June and early July, whereas the more recent log of games is available here). According to McEntire, this is the 21st time since 1900 that a team has exhibited such a pattern.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A couple of major streakiness items from the Olympics:

The U.S. beach volleyball duo of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor won the gold medal for the second straight Olympiad. Overall, the pair has won 108 straight matches.

Another U.S. women's juggernaut, the softball squad, had its reign of three straight Olympic golds snapped by Japan. The gold-medalist pitcher, Yukiko Ueno, had quite a last two days. After pitching eight scoreless innings (seven innings is the regulation length) against the U.S. on Wednesday before losing in the ninth, Ueno came back later the same day to pitch all 12 innings of a 4-3 win over Australia. Then today, in a rematch with the Americans, she limited them to one run, the Japanese winning 3-1.

Given that Ueno gave up several runs during this stretch, I'm not sure we can say she always had the "Hot Arm," but I don't think anyone would dispute awarding her the title of the "Durable Arm!"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Chicago White Sox hit four homers in a row Thursday afternoon, in a 9-2 victory over Kansas City. Such a feat has been accomlished six times in MLB history. Interestingly, half of these occurrences have taken place between 2006-2008 and the other half between 1961-1964 (see the linked article for a chart listing all the teams and players involved).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baseball fans are still buzzing about Boston's 19-17 win over Texas last night, a game in which it looked like the Sox's 10-run first inning might go for naught. Obviously, several batters had big nights. The hottest hitter, though, appears to be the Rangers' Marlon Byrd who, according to this article, "went 5 for 6 and is 21 for 34 in his past eight games."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Trailing 10-11 early on against China, the U.S. women's Olympic basketball team closed out the first quarter on a 23-0 run (article, play-by-play sheet).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Deja vu, all over again. Similar to how he won the British Open last month, Padraig Harrington had the hot putter down the stretch to win the PGA Championship today.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Manny's being Manny!" intoned legendary L.A. Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully in this video, as the team's celebrated new acquisition Manny Ramirez belted a ball into the bleachers for a home run last weekend.

Ramirez's hot start in Dodger Blue has now continued on for several games. At the close of Wednesday night's play, according to this article, Manny "is batting .600 (12-for-20) with three homers and six RBIs in five games since joining the Dodgers."

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they've had to face St. Louis the last few nights, and the Cardinals have some hot-hitting sluggers at the moment, as well. Quoting from the same article:

[Ryan] Ludwick tied a franchise record with a homer in his fifth straight game, only four pitches after [Albert] Pujols' grand slam, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-6 on Wednesday...

Ludwick was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Pujols finished 4-for-4 with a walk, while insisting being on the same field as Manny Ramirez served as motivation.

Tuesday night, Ludwick had homered in the 11th inning to give the Cards a 6-4 win over the Dodgers.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

With Tiger Woods's absence from the golf scene due to injury, and other stories such as the upcoming Summer Olympics and the Brett Favre/Green Bay Packers saga garnering most of the sports media attention, relatively little has been made of the annual PGA Championship beginning tomorrow.

To the extent that commentators have addressed the PGA tournament, a good deal of the discussion has focused on how Phil Mickelson's career (in major touraments, at least) has turned on a dime, for the worse. What seemed to be a rise to greatness fell, just that quickly, into his being mired in mediocrity.

Having won the 2005 PGA and 2006 Master's, Mickelson appeared to be on the verge of making it three straight majors, as he neared the end of the '06 U.S. Open. However, as characterized by the Wikipedia, Mickelson ended up with: of the most memorable final hole collapses in major championship golf. Leading by a stroke with one hole to play, he chose to hit driver on the final (72nd) hole of the tournament, and hit it well left of the fairway... He decided to aggressively go for the green with his second shot rather than play it safe and pitch out into the fairway. His ball then hit a tree... He was unable to get up and down from there, resulting in double bogey and costing him any chance of winning the championship outright or getting into a playoff... and also ending his bid to join Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three consecutive professional majors...

Reflecting on his performance afterwards Mickelson admitted: "I still am in shock that I did that. I just can't believe I did that. I'm such an idiot".

In the nine majors he's played since then -- the '06 British Open and PGA, all four majors in '07, and this year's Master's, U.S. Open, and British Open -- he has finished in the top 15 only once (a tie for fifth in this year's Masters; see aforementioned Wikipedia link for his career finishes).

It's certainly tempting to say that Mickelson's collapse at the '06 U.S. Open threw his career into a tailspin, compared to how well he had been playing. Prolonged -- and unexpected -- slumps are not new for him, however. After recording three straight high finishes spanning 2001-2002 (second in the '01 PGA, third in the '02 Master's, and second in the '02 U.S. Open), he fell into the doldrums. Over his next six majors -- with the exception of a third in the '03 Masters -- his finishes were tie for 66th, tie for 34th, tie for 55th, tie for 59th, and tie for 23rd.

We'll see this weekend if "Lefty" can get back to contending for major titles again.