FanDuel - WFBC

June 03, 2004

The Toughest Things to do in Sports.: The list is less generic than the one discussed previously here, but also more US-centric (and it takes itself less seriously). So, what was left out and what doesn't belong?

posted by Jugwine to general at 11:37 AM - 13 comments

Personally, I can't see why unassisted triple plays were included. Sure, they are rare, but it doesn't take as much raw talent to perform one, you just have to have a confluence of events: two runners on, a line drive to second, third or short, and the baserunners going with the pitch. When Randy Velarde pulled one off against the Yankees in 2000, I remember wondering to myself why it didn't happen more often. Instead, I'd put in some pitching feats: pitching a perfect game, striking out 20 batters or winning 30 in a season (in this day and age, anyway).

posted by Jugwine at 11:42 AM on June 03

I think this article's criterion for inclusion had to do with the odds of its happening -- without consideration of how big the dumb-luck factor is -- whereas the previous article had more to do with difficulty, or in some cases, with the difficulty of doing it at an elite level (that was a great thread, BTW). The two articles are interesting for different reasons; this one is a bit of a stats-weenie thing, but does get into the "why" of it all, explaining how it is that triple crown winners come along once in every six or seven blue moons. However, I don't really like its title. When I think about the "toughest things", I think more about degree of difficulty, not so much about unlikelihood. A high degree of difficulty does make an athletic feat more unlikely, but it's only one of many things that does so.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:55 AM on June 03

I think the fact that it is more of a stats-driven list makes it more compelling to me as a sports fan (or maybe just as a stats-weenie baseball fan). In the USA Today list, for example, running a marathon is number seven. I ran half a marathon myself last month but I'd never be able to come close to, say, hitting .200 in the major leagues. All said, though, the major difference between the two list is that this is a list of things that are difficult for professional athletes of their particular sport whereas the other list is a ranking of things that are difficult for anyone.

posted by Jugwine at 12:15 PM on June 03

In a league full of parody... You think the author really meant to use that word, or did he mean to use "parity"? And I think he missed on category: hockey. For starters, I would think that breaking the 200 points barrier in a single season is a hard thing for a player to do. Sure, it's been done 4 times in the history of the NHL, but by only one guy.

posted by NoMich at 12:44 PM on June 03

Hockey's tough to measure with pure numbers, though, since the developments of the sport's offence and defence tend to be staggered. You have your shutout records set in the 1930s and 40s; then the offence catches up and makes a 12-goal game the standard for thirty years, letting #99 pump out goals like souvenier keychain pucks; and then the defence catches up again, giving us a Stanley Cup final in which the team who scores first wins the game. All of the other "toughest" things listed are feasible. A 200-point season in the current NHL isn't. Of course, as mentioned in the article, a 56-game hitting streak in the majors is probably impossible with modern pitching systems. Hmm. Damn sports, always developing on us.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:51 PM on June 03

I still think natural hat-trick should be on the list. In today's game, anyway. Or maybe an empty-net goal by a goaltender.

posted by Samsonov14 at 03:30 PM on June 03

I still think natural hat-trick should be on the list. In today's game, anyway. I hate it when announcers call something a "natural hat-trick" when it isn't. The true natural hat-trick is the following: 3 goals by one player in one period with NO ONE ELSE (even on the other team) scoring. In this day and age, it's VERY difficult to pull off. But scoring three goals in a row for your team isn't the same thing but it's what the announcers have decided to call "natural". Boo on them! I think connecting on every single field-goal and extra point as an NFL kicker should DEFINITELY be up there on the "hard to do" list. And DiMaggio's hitting streak is impressive, but I think Glen Hall's consecutive games played streak (for an NHL goalie) is the true untouchable record.

posted by grum@work at 03:57 PM on June 03

I seem to recall Charles Barkley talking in an interview about how hitting a baseball, he thought, was the hardest thing to do in sports. He added that even his grandma could hit a few baskets in the NBA... But you know I bet his grandma is just a good basketball player. I have a few criteria in my head, all arbitrary to make basketball look really hard. One is the out-of-shape index. Baseball has a lot of out-of-shape guys. Football has a few. Basketball has almost none (Barkley was only out-of-shape in the end, and then it showed). Basketball is about the only sport, especially team sport, where if you are playing, you are PLAYING. The ball can't go to a part of the court that doesn't concern you (you don't just play offense or defense). Even though a play may not be designed for you to score, you likely still have a role in it and need to be ready to react to its outcome (perhaps rebound the ball or pass it). I think this is why basketball is an attractive sport to people in other sports (say, Tony Gonzalez) - when you play there is always something happening.

posted by BobbyC at 05:24 PM on June 03

Haha - Kings winning a Game 7, that's brutal. I think the baseball ones are good, particularly the hitting streak and .400 hitter. I guess the triple crown is just about as rare, but plenty of guys have flirted with it. Nobody has come within a sniff of Dimaggio's 56. My biggest quibble would be with the Olympics "7 gold medals". Swimming is the only sport where that could ever be accomplished. A super-human uber-athlete in track could conceivably compete in the 100, 200, 400, 4 x 100 relay, 4 x 400 relay, and long jump but that's a stretch (and only 6 anyway). I would like to have seen them explore the Olympic feats a bit more. How about a decathelete that wins 1 or more of the individual events as well? And 2,000 yard rushers are more commonplace now than they used to be - it seems like 1,000 yards is hardly a benchmark anymore.

posted by vito90 at 09:10 AM on June 04

I have a few criteria in my head, all arbitrary to make basketball look really hard. One is the out-of-shape index. Baseball has a lot of out-of-shape guys. Football has a few. Basketball has almost none (Barkley was only out-of-shape in the end, and then it showed). Basketball is a more physical game, baseball a more skilled one.

posted by justgary at 11:45 AM on June 04

I think the hardest thing to do in sports is timing a trip to the pisser so that A) you don't miss any action and B) the lines are short at the bathrooms and the beer line.

posted by corpse at 12:41 PM on June 04

Toughest thing to do: drink 78 beers in one cross-country flight. Only man ever to do it-- Wade Boggs.

posted by filthyboy at 01:31 PM on June 04

vito, Bonds would have at least one triple crown if he had people in front of him who got on base more and if he didn't get IW every time one of them managed it. Look at his BA and number of solo HRs.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:48 PM on June 04

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