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Setting the Record

 

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All this talk about Albert Pujols and the records he’s setting got me thinking a little bit. Specifically, it got me wondering a little bit about which record I would want to set if I were a Major Leaguer.

At first I thought about the homerun record, which for a variety of reasons would be quite an interesting record to set. Let’s face it—there’s nothing greater than hitting a homerun in a game. The sheer beauty of it is just something to behold. I never hit a homerun in a game where I played, but always imagined I would.

Another reason why I initially thought of the homerun record is that I would like to finally settle the issue once and for all as to who legitimately owns the record. Personally, I do not consider Barry Bonds to be a legitimate heir to the record, as he both cheated with PEDs and more importantly, with his arm guards, which allowed him to crowd the plate with impunity, and prevented pitchers from pitching him inside. At some point, I would like to see that record held by someone who played the game cleanly, and so, why not someone like me?

But then, I thought about holding records at things I was good at. Why not the all-time record for hits? I had plenty of those in games, and it’s something that I loved to do. There’s something fun about consistently getting on base and pressuring the other team, so why not that record? Besides, setting that record would mean I had a long Major League career, one filled with many great moments and memories. Who wouldn’t want the 20+ years in the Major Leagues that it would take to set that record?

As I expanded my thoughts on this, I started to think about those records that are likely to stand for all time. Why not chase some of those and move the needle a bit further?

With the way the game is going, the greatest records that are likely to stand the test of time are mostly on the pitching side of the game. How will anyone ever break Cy Young’s record in wins or Nolan Ryan’s record for strikeouts? So, if we’re going after setting a record why not one that will last for the duration—a pitching record?

Pondering this thought more, I realized something: Baseball is the ultimate team sport, but ironically, fans pay the most attention to the individual accomplishments. More than any other sport, baseball requires efforts from the entire team to win a game. A hitter may go 5 for 5, but if the pitching messes up more, the team won’t win. The pitching can be spectacular—even throwing a no hitter—but, if the defense messes up, and the hitters are absent, the team will still lose (just ask Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo what it’s like to see that happen to them). Every time Albert Pujols came up to bat last night, fans everywhere had their cameras out to try and capture “the moment” but no one took a picture of the scoreboard at the end of the game which showed that the Angels won 2-1. Ultimately for me, as a fan, it’s the numbers on the scoreboard that matter more than the individual accomplishments.

So, what’s the point of setting an historic record if it doesn’t lead to anything productive for the team? I mean, would you really want to hold a Major League record if you never got to put your talents on display on the greatest stage? How frustrating would it be to set the homerun record or all-time hits record if it didn’t lead to anything greater? Individual talents are individual talents, but I’d rather be a part of something greater than myself. I specifically love baseball because of its focus on team, not in spite of it.

And then I had it. I figured out what record I would want if I were a Major Leaguer. If I could set any record as a Major League player, more than anything, I would want to hold the record for being the World Series MVP the most times in my career. Of course, as an Angels fan, I’d do it for the Angels, making the dream perfect.

Think about it—to win the World Series MVP, your team has to win the Series. And, you, as the player have to be pretty spectacular in the series to win the award. One doesn’t win this award for just one specific performance—one has to contribute substantially for the series. And, to make it to the World Series multiple time, and be a starter for all those series, you’d have to have a pretty special career. It might not be an exceptional career, but, it would most likely have to be a very good one.

Since I’m more prone to hitting, I would want to win that award for doing things at the plate, more than anything else. However, I’d want to be a complete player, so, I would like to be more than a DH. Maybe I went 10/24 with 4 walks, 2 homeruns, 11 runs scored, and 10 rbis. Throw in a walk—off hit, throwing a runner out at the plate, and that’s looking like a pretty sweet dream.

In the history of the World Series MVP award, only three players have ever won the award twice (Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Reggie Jackson). No one has ever won it three times. The odds of a player ever getting to the World Series are pretty slim, and even more so to get there multiple times. Just winning the award once is something incredible (Albert Pujols doesn’t even have one). Holding that record all to myself, with three career World Series MVP awards in an Angels uniform—now that is something that I would truly want.

So now, I open it up to you. If you could set any Major League Baseball record, what would it be? Why that one? I look forward to your answers.

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