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The National Pastime Today - February 8, 2018

Happy Thursday everyone. The countdown is really now on: MLB teams are sending their stuff off to Arizona and Florida for Spring Training. The players will be following soon. We here at The National Pastime Museum are in the business of making connections between baseball's past and present. As is our Thursday custom, in TNP Today we link the links, providing a current story with a historical perspective piece. Today we've got nothing but questions. Happy reading!

February 8, 2018

No One Will Ever Hit .400 Again?

Alright, ESPN has brought up one of my favorite hypotheticals: which of baseball’s records are unbreakable? Certainly Ted Williams’ .400 is, as ESPN argues, a worthy candidate. But we’ve got a few others. How about Mel Ott? He led his team in HRs 18 years in a row. Top that! The New York Giants won 26 straight. And Bobby Richardson set several World Series marks that still stand. My point? While Ted’s hitting prowess will indeed be tough to top, there are some other records out there that may well prove to be just as timeless.

A Free Agent Training Camp?

Hmm. This is an intriguing idea. As the MLB Players Union are grumbling about possible collusion among MLB owners, one has to wonder what will happen if the glut of free agents isn’t clear here soon. A training camp for unattached players still seems unlikely at this point, but we can hope! It would be a fascinating experiment. So what’s the historical connection here you might ask? At the very least it’s a reminder that baseball’s free agency, hard won by Curt Flood and others, is part of an ongoing—still undecided—struggle between baseball players and baseball management.

Barry Bonds: Beloved?

So the Giants are retiring Barry Bonds number. This immediately makes me think of Pete Rose. Right away. Things get complicated when baseball fans and clubs want to remember flawed superstars. And no, I don’t think that retiring a number makes Barry Bonds somehow more beloved. No gambling isn’t the same as taking performance enhancing drugs. But this move does demonstrate that the Giants recognize that Bonds, steroids and all, made a tremendous impact on their franchise. Retiring his number makes sense.