Monday, September 27, 2010

Against Colorado on Saturday night, a game won by the Rockies 10-9, the San Francisco Giants' pitching staff saw its impressive run of 18 straight games with three or fewer runs allowed come to an end. According to this article, it was the third-longest streak of its kind in Major League Baseball history.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yesterday, the University of Missouri football team missed an extra point after successfully making 252 in a row, going back to 2005 (I assume this mark includes only kicked points-after-touchdown and not going for two, but I could be wrong). According to the linked article, "Missouri ended up 10 shy of the NCAA record set by Syracuse from 1978 to 1989..." A couple of points occur to me.

First, whereas Mizzou's streak involved all or parts of six seasons, Syracuse's took place during all or parts of 12 season. Apparently, the Tigers produced touchdowns a lot faster than did the Orange.

Second, an issue occasionally raised with regard to streaks is awareness on the part of individual athletes or teams that they have a long string of successful (or unsuccessful) performances going. Presumably, a team that has won 20 straight games, a baseball player who has gotten a hit in 50 consecutive games, or a basketball player who has made 70 straight free throws will know what's going on. Whether such awareness might increase the player or team's concentration, sense of pressure, or other psychological state becomes a key question.

On a streak such as made extra points, I'm not sure if the players involved even know about it. Success rates approach 100%, so the short kick through the uprights may well be taken for granted and not register in the minds of the kicker and others involved in the play (i.e., holder, snapper, linesmen). Also, long streaks of made extra points span multiple seasons, with multiple kickers involved (three for Missouri, seven for Syracuse). Any particular kicker, therefore, may only have contributed, say, 50 successful PATs to the streak, so the larger collective streak of over 250 again may not register with the current kicker. It should be noted, though, that a former Tiger kicker contributed 185 of the made PATs, out of what turned out to be the team's near-record 252. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm a little behind the curve on this development, but I wanted to write about it, nevertheless. From September 3-18, Colorado Rockies' shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit a total of 14 home runs in 15 games. Coinciding with Tulowitzki's barrage, the team won 13 out of 15. With 26 homers on the season thus far, Tulowitzki thus hit more in the 15-game stint than in the enire rest of the season. A trio of sports journalists recently discussed Tulowitzki's offensive outburst and the notion of sports streakiness, in general. In the process, they were kind enough to mention this website. An audio of the segment is available here. As I am wont to do, I made a graphic to illustrate what took place.

With the team winning as well, it looked like shades of 2007 for the Rockies. After Colorado's September 18 win over the L.A. Dodgers (and San Diego's late-August slide; here and here), the Rockies were within 1 game of the first-place Padres (with San Francisco also in the mix; standings tracker). The next day, however, the Rockies blew a 6-1 lead to the Dodgers, losing 7-6 in 11 innings. Colorado has not won since (with Tulowitzki homerless) and has fallen 4.5 games out of the lead, heading into its upcoming game tonight against the now first-place Giants.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seattle Mariners' outfielder Ichiro Suzuki extended his major-league record for most consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits to 10, with a single Thursday afternoon against Toronto. The longest such streak by anyone other than Ichiro is eight straight years, by Wee Willie Keeler from 1894-1901. Pete Rose had 10 season with 200 or more hits, but not in a row, whereas Ty Cobb had nine non-consecutive double-century seasons.

As seen in Ichiro's career statistics, he in fact has never recorded any fewer than 206 hits in a season (excluding the present one, which still has roughly two weeks remaining) since coming to the U.S. from Japan for the 2001 season. A few times, he has absolutely blown away the 200-hit mark, his best yearly totals reaching 262 (in 2004), 242 (in 2001), and 238 (in 2007).  According to Ichiro's Wikipedia page, in 1994, he "set a Japanese single-season record with 210 hits in 130 games, the first player ever to top 200 hits in one year."


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Penn State's women's volleyball winning streak has been halted at 109 matches by Stanford, in a three-game sweep at the Big Four tournament in Gainesville, Florida. The Nittany Lions, who have won the last three NCAA titles, last lost on September 15, 2007, also to Stanford.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The San Diego Padres' losing streak is now over. After a weekend sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies extended the Padres' skid to 10 games, San Diego finally got a win Monday night, 4-2 over the L.A. Dodgers.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The women's soccer team at Texas Tech, where I'm on the faculty, started the season with five consecutive shut-out wins (over Texas Christian, Texas State, Northwestern State, Rice, and Mississippi). With 90 minutes the standard duration for a soccer game, the Red Raiders had held their opponents scoreless for 450 minutes.

In a 2-0 loss to Notre Dame this afternoon, however, the Fighting Irish scored two quick goals approximately 24 minutes into the game (23:51 and 24:38; stats sheet). Thus, Texas Tech's shut-out streak is now over at 474 consecutive minutes. A game article from Texas Tech's athletic website is available here.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The San Diego Padres have been extremely effective this year at recovering from losses and preventing any serious skids from developing -- until now. Through August 25, with the exception of being swept by the L.A. Dodgers in a three-game series from May 14-16, the Padres had never lost more than two games in a row (game-by-game log).

Now, however, they have lost seven in a row, heading into tonight's game against Colorado. The Padres' lead over San Francisco in the National League West standings, which recently had been as much as 6.5 games, is now down to 3 (day-by-day standings tracker). San Diego's recent cold streak really stands out visually, as seen in the following graphic I created. You can click on the figure to enlarge it.

For three of the games in the Padres' current malaise, they faced one of the best teams in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies. However, the other four losses were to the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks. In a long season -- 162 games for each team in Major League Baseball -- fairly long streaks of winning and losing are virtually inevitable. The current slide, which could stretch even longer, really seems out of place with how the team has done thus far in the season, however.

(The ticket stub is from a game I attended, while in San Diego for the recent American Psychological Association convention.)