Plain English with Derek Thompson - The Great Debate What's the Single Most Amazing Sports Statistic in U.S. History

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Today’s episode is about sports.

Yes, finally, an episode about sports on this ringer podcast network podcast.

If you don’t like sports, we’ll be back next week to talk about something that isn’t sports.


But if you do like sports, and if debating Sports, statistics, gives you a special thrill, you are going to love this episode to the best way, to explain what this pod is really about.

Is to probably just tell you, the simple story of how it came to be.

When I was a kid.

I was obsessed with sports.



I remember when I was eight or nine years old.

I went to a summer baseball camp in McLean, Virginia.

And most of the kids were like, you know, normal kids, who go to a baseball camp to learn how to play baseball.

That’s a normal thing to do.

I was not normal, my idea of a good time at baseball camp was sitting in the Dugout Fielding questions from the coaches about statistics and baseball history.


They’d be like, Derek who has the most strikeouts in a single season in MLB history, who has the most strikeouts in their career, who has the most It walks in their career and I would say the answer.

Those questions are Nolan.

Ryan, Nolan Ryan and Nolan Ryan.


So, a couple weeks ago.

I revisit I suppose the ethos of my eight or nine year old self.

And I tweet out to my followers.

What do you think is the most interesting, most impressive sport, statistic in American history?


And I got thousands, literally thousands of responses, and I’m going You then and I’m thinking this is so fun.

I should write an article about this.

But in order to do that, you’re under really be sort of quantitative about it.

I realized, I had to come up with a rule, a rule, a benchmark to compare the awesomeness of Statistics, the impressiveness of Statistics across Sports.


And the rule that I came up with is what I call the 50% test.

That is what sports records are at least 50%.

At greater than the relevant.

Second place, accomplishment that might sound a little confusing, but a quick example, I think will make it clear.


Take Wilt Chamberlain, Wilt, Chamberlain 100-point game in 1962.

That is legendary.

But Kobe Bryant in. 2006 scored 81 points, which means it would take 121 points in a game to passed the 50% test in this category.


So Chamberlain doesn’t make it into the club on that statistic, but I would argue that his Greatest feat is not just one game.

It is rather that Wilt scored 60 points on thirty two separate occasions.

He scored 60 points more times than every other basketball player in NBA history, combined.


Now that makes you a card-carrying member of the 50% Club.

So, I write this article, the 50% Club, the most impressive Sports statistics in basketball, and baseball, and football, and individual sports.

And I Tell my producer for this show Devin about it and she says, oh we got to have a podcast about this.


Like let’s grab one of the sports Potter’s from the ringer Network and they can debate this stuff with you.

So, I am thrilled to tell you that.

We got one of my favorite podcasters in the world.

And that man is Ryan riess.


Ryan hosts, the Rhinos, hello podcast.

And I don’t have much more to say about this episode, except I had a blast debating all of these stats from all of these sports with Ryan.


For an hour this week.

And if you are anything like me, if you love sports artistics, and if you find yourself, browsing football reference and basketball reference, at odd hours of the day, my friend, this episode is for you.

I’m Derek Thompson.

This is plain English.


Rogers cello, welcome to the podcast.

Thanks for having me man.

Fired for this me too.

It is really awesome to meet you.

I’ve been listening to you for years when Bill Simmons, be story.

Actually before we get started when Bill Simmons First called me to talk about doing a podcast for the ringer.

He was like, so what kind of the Pod do you want to do?


How do you see the organization of these depth of each episode?

That was like, well, of course, I would want it to be an interview podcast like you do Bill, but honestly, the one thing that I’m sure I want to do is that right who still has these cold opens that I love that he would like keeps it in his voice and then opens up a bit for other perspectives and I just love the way that you have just mastered the art of the cold open and I am doing my best week to week to emulate so I just wanted to kick it off by embarrassing.


You on the record.

I thought about giving you the I meant before we press record but I think it’s a more appropriate me to give it to you on the record.

Well, it probably took me about 17 years to nail it.

So, good luck.

I’ve been home for about 17 weeks.


Yeah, I’m Teddy wait too long.

It’s it, you know because I treat now the open of the podcast like the open of a radio show and I’ve said many times which gets some pushback from writers and anchors.

That the hardest thing to do is radio and ten times harder than that is solo Radio.


So I had kind of jumped around little solar radio, not so much and unless you’re really consistently doing it every day for a couple years.

It’s hard to figure out exactly what your voice isn’t how you want to close your monologues, and all that kind of stuff.

So now that you have a little bit more freedom and you can tweak things a little bit.


I feel good about it now, so I appreciate you saying that, but it definitely it shouldn’t take you as long.

It took me way too long.

I’ll do my best.

It’s good to have your guidance.

So you Ryan, you’re here to help me complete a side project that I’ve been working on for the last few.

Two weeks, which is to figure out the most impressive sport statistic in American history.


And just before we got on, I thought I should probably Define impressive both for you and for me and probably for the audience, I’m thinking of impressive as having two definitions or two components.

Number one the hardest to replicate Sports at istic in US history.


And number two the most important because some things are really hard to replicate but like they’re not actually that important and so I’m trying to find like the intersection of Difficult to replicate and really significant.

So I built out this huge list of u.s.

Ports accomplishments.

That surpass a totally arbitrary random threshold that I made up and that is my 50% test.


That is, if the accomplishment is, at least 50% greater than the next person in that relevant category, then congratulations, you are in the 50% club.

And so, I published this long list for the Atlantic of the 50% club members.

Includes Wilt, Chamberlain Nolan Ryan.


When Gretzky I thought What the hell?

Let’s window these down and try to figure out the most impressive sport, statistic in each sport.

And then hopefully of all time and who better to help me with that, then mr.

Cold open himself.

So are you ready to do this?



I’m ready.

I can’t wait to know what you know, like, I’m fired up to know what you’re going to throw out there and then, because I put down a couple of my own where I was like, is this worthy of it.

Is it mean too much to me?

Because some of these historically?

Like I can’t wait to get into it because some of them you just have to rule out as Impossible, like these things will not happen again.


So it’s almost like they’re not worth talking about because they’re just not approachable.

But go ahead.

You’re right.

Some of these were as we’re going to talk about.

Are they stand the test of time?

And others of them are punished by the test of time because they’re such products of their era.

Like we’re going to talk about like Sai Yeung in a second.


So young has like a thousand complete games.

It would take like a modern picture about 300 years to do that and in a way that’s it’s incredible that they did it, but they’re basically using pictures like thoroughbred horses in the No night, early 1900s and so it’s not no one’s ever going to do that again, and it’s partially because the sport was so different.


So, here’s how we’re gonna do this.

We’re going to go sport by sport football basketball, baseball individual.

I am going to give you Ryan a list of nominees for the most impressive statistic and you’re going to help me figure out the number one stat in each sport.

So I thought let’s start with football coming off the Super Bowl.


Plus I think is probably the easiest category because there really are only two, I think meaningful 50% club members.

And those are Jerry Rice.

And Tom Brady.

I tried to find more.

I looked at Saks interceptions career rushing stats.


In all those categories.

You’ve got a bunch of athletes that are clustered toward the top rice and Brady really stand out.

So first Jerry Rice the 50% Club stat is it, he has 2245 career receiving yards in the playoffs that is 50% more than any other player.


Probably my favorite.

Jerry Rice stat, receiving yards after 40 after turning.

Years old.

It’s only three players in NFL history that have caught a pass after turning 40.

Brett Favre.

Did it for - two yards.

Tom Brady did it for six yards?

Jerry Rice has two thousand five hundred and nine yards after turning 40.


Also hold the triple crown for receivers for career numbers.


Obviously the greatest receiver of all time.

Then he got Tom Brady, the goat we can rush through this.

The key 50% Club stat.

Is that basically if it’s a Tom Brady playoff stat, it’s in the 50% Club.


Playoff wins, Playa.

Touchdowns Super Bowl wins, no other quarterback has five.

He has seven big a Super Bowl comeback of all time.

It was 10 points and then Tom Brady came back from 20 points down against the Falcons.

So Jerry Rice.

Tom Brady, how do you determine the number one statistic in NFL history?


The playoffs stuff is really unfair, you know because it’s you look at this accomplishment, you go.


This is insane.

Like Brady played in 47 playoff games, which is more than twenty two franchises have So, every single playoff number, he’s going to own all the right stuff.


I went through last night, too.

And you go.


Is it a bit like Bernie Williams has all these postseason records?

That is completely different because the postseason in baseball has changed so many different times.

So, like, congrats to Bernie Williams, you had a million more opportunities.

So I looked up the rushing stuff to man.


And you know, Emmitt Smith’s at 18,000 355 yards and I thought, okay.

Well the way the game is played.

Do we look at that?


An unapproachable record and it may be the case.

I mean Mark Ingram’s deleting active guy at number 54, all time at 7000 almost 8,000 yards MN also beat Walter in like thirty six more games, but they’re still, that’s not like outer space.


It may be a different style of football running backs just aren’t using.

I can the same number carries, but it’s not impossible.

So I wouldn’t put it in possible.

I think the Jerry Rice stuff is stupid.

So I would actually probably lean.

Rice more than Brady because if we just went some of the more traditional career statistics is great as Brady’s.


Our rice is still I think what he’s number one in reception yards at 20 2895.

He’s five thousand and four hundred yards ahead of number two.

And so sure we pass a lot more and all this stuff.


But the gap between rice and the number two guy on some of these numbers that aren’t just playoff influenced.

Would have me.

Give rice the award here because Brady’s regular season.

Stuff is great, as it is isn’t as dominant to the number.

Two quarterback or won’t be moving forward.


Even with his longevity, as the playoff stuff is because as great as the playoff numbers, I think you understand.

The point is like nobody else.

Actually think it’s great.

You’re in those because you’re great, but no one else has had the opportunity to accumulate those meant that many numbers.

Yeah, his opportunities are also partly a product, the fact that he had arguably the best coach of all time.


And so it’s difficult to disentangle exactly how much responsibility that.

There, whereas with Jerry Rice, it’s funny.

I was prepared to debate you on this.

I had rice going in for the number one stat of all time.

In the NFL.

I thought you were going to say Tom Brady.

I do want to point this out.

My favorite Tom, Brady Staten.


This came from a Boston sports radio host, Alex Barth.

This is ridiculous.

The NFL record for career completions is 67.8%.

Tom, Brady has made the conference Championship 73.7% of the seasons.


He’s been the primary starter so.

Brady makes the conference Championship at a higher rate than any quarterback has ever completed passes.

That is stupid.

That that is, that is just insane.

It’s an amazing statistic, but I think at the end of the day for most impressive individual stat, I think the Gap.


The Jerry Rice has on Career receptions career yards, career touchdowns, and then all of the playoffs.

That’s on top of that.

I think he probably is the statistical, goat it, even if he is the overall go Yeah, it’s just it’s a Monumental Gap.


Every time you look at rice and the next guy, the reception’s is a little closer, but receiving touchdowns.

He’s at 197.

Randy Moss is number two of 156 t 0 who had an amazing career is at 153.

I mean, we’re talking about almost 50 more touchdowns than the guys behind him.


And I don’t, you know, that’s like there are gaps.

I mean, it’s kind of the Gretzky step that we’re teeing up here.

You start looking at the gap between the top guy.

The number ER, to, I went ahead with him.

I mean, if we’re going to do the Brady Conference Championship percentage thing, though to and the weird thing that’s helped with NFL history is that it’s been real because they rebranded and the merger and the Super Bowl.


A lot of the guys before that.

Don’t get enough love and for Otto Graham to make 10, straight Championship Games, 10 straight Seasons, he made the championship game because they’re not labeled as Super Bowls, you know for a very obvious reason he gets completely overlooked historically and we just Get the forward pass back then ago.


Like what the hell is this?

You know, it’s kind of like the Bob Cousy stuff that happens to him.

We’re like I get a Bob Cousy would have a hard time staying in front of Kyrie Irving, but you know, it was it was 1950 when he started so lay off.



Alright go we’re moving.

Jerry Rice to the finals.

Were to come back to him in just a second.


I’m gonna move on a basketball.

So in this category, there were so many different statistics that I picked on.

I’m sure you’ve got your own, I try to narrow it down to a top four and that meant cutting some of my favorite players.

So, number one.

That I had to cut LeBron James.


Maybe my favorite player in the NBA, but I couldn’t really find a meaningful statistic where he’s in the 50% club.

And I didn’t want to do this like complicated bespoke statistic, or I’m like the most games with 27 and 7 after turning 35, while Mercury is in retrograde.

Like, you can do it if you find enough little things but it’s just too complicated.


Another less second elimination.

That’s never going to win the category.

But this is just a fun as hell statistic that I was really happy to have Unearthed Nicole.

Yo, catch one, MVP after.

The Forty first pick in the NBA draft.

No other league MVP was ever drafted, lower than 15.


So no League MVP is ever been drafted in the 20s ever.

Been drafting the 30s and Nicole.

Yo, catch very well.

Might win consecutive Mbps as the 45th pick.

I think those are great.

But my top four for greatest, all-time most impressive, NBA statistics are the following three.


Number one, Curry’s three-point dominance.

Steph Curry. 22 career games with ten or more three, more three pointers.

No other player in NBA, has in the NBA has more than five.

Number two, Will Chamberlain, 100-point game is Iconic.

Kobe got pretty close with 80 81, but is most Standalone statistic, is that Wilt scored 60 points on thirty two separate occasions.


And that is more than every other basketball player in NBA history.

Combined 60 points on thirty two separate occasions.

Never three.

Bill Russell a straight championships 1959 in 1966.

Only three basketball.

James Minneapolis, Lakers Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers.


Only those three have ever won.

Three consecutive championships.

No one is one for.

Bill Russell won eight straight.

And finally, I don’t know exactly how to fit this in my 50% Club.

But Michael Jordan is 6 and 0 in the finals.

That’s not that might be 50% club membership and buy some token, but there’s a kind of perfection to that statistic that almost no other stats in sports history.


Has so I had to put six, you know, In my final four here, so Maya be a funnel for again.

Curry Will Bill Russell.


Do you have others?

You want to throw into the category?

And what’s your pick in this category?

No, I don’t actually think you pretty much nailed it.


I think the assist thing would be the one where people look at Stockton being.

I am 3,000 ahead of Jason Kidd.

Who’s number two, Chris Paul is great as his career has been, he still 5,000 behind Stockton.

So I do think that that’s one that kind of jumps out.

It’s just Nobody pays enough attention to it.


Stockton also leads steals by about 600 on Jason, Kidd 700, on Michael Jordan.

So he’s at 3200.

So there’s some Stockton numbers that are in there that are crazy and against longevity and playing every single game, and being the primary ball.

Handler, throwing it to the number two scorer of all time, where the Malone Stockton stats are incredible because of what they were with each other.


So, the curry part of it.

I’m the biggest fan ever, but it still feels so new.

And I’m not saying this is going to surpass him.

He’s best shoot ever seen.

He’s the best shooter in the history of the game.

I don’t really think it’s even debatable.

There could be some version of a guy who comes along that takes a million threes and maybe puts up, you know something that’s at least two scale of why don’t you know, it sounds ridiculous to say it out loud, but it’s still this part of the game is still so new.


I you know, I don’t know, I wouldn’t rule that part of it out.

If the Russell Championship is eight straight.

Is that kind of cancel out?

Odin’s mean that sounds Blasphemous, right?

I’m just throwing that back to, ya know.

This is something I didn’t include Jordan in my original article and I got screamed at left.


And right, like I didn’t include him precisely because of the Russell stat.

Russell did lose in the, in the finals, right?

He lost to st.


Yeah, so he doesn’t have a perfect record.

And so you could argue that there’s a that the Perfection of Jordans is its own special category that might shine brighter than Russell’s but joy, Dan wasn’t even in my original article.


So in my original article just going off of that.

It basically comes down to do you like wilts individual statistics, or do you like Russell’s Team statistics?

And this gets back Ryan to what you were saying earlier about the NFL stats.

That some of these statistics are more dependent on opportunity outside of individual contribution, more dependent on opportunity than others.


So it’s really about whether you want to go here.

I suppose with with individual dominance or just out of control team dominance.

You also have to have an understanding of whether you want to go back the history archives and watch some of these games and understand how different it was.


Because I think it’s fair to be deferential towards these previous eras and that, this is how the game was played.

And these are the guys that played in it, and you just just a broad brush, wipe them all out because they’re not as athletic as guys playing today.


That’s that’s unfair.

I always joke that I think Eddie House.


If you played in the 50s there, be statues Eddie House outside of every house in high school, basketball.

Read like if you just time-travel heady house, you just wouldn’t even know what to do with the guy.

They also Jerry.

West is always pointed this out.

You guys, you guys can carry the basketball today because we had to stay on top of the basketball, with the way we dribbled there, wasn’t this gather stuff.


I mean, we’ve invented a new way to travel on these some of these step back, like gathers to the side on three-point shots.

So even though everybody’s more athletic and all these different things.

There’s one thing that kind of stands out of the big Though the rebounding numbers are ridiculous because the way they bring the ball up and they’d shoot immediately, and guys weren’t as good at shooting shot selection was not as strict.


They just got out and ran they got out ran and they put up shots all over the place.

So you’ll look back at some of these great NBA players.

And then you start looking at the shooting percentage, you go.

What the hell happened here, which is why wilts almost 24,000 rebounds number one.


Look at some of the rebounding numbers.

These guys had for wilts career.

He averaged 23, a game Bill Russell.

Who’s number two at 21,000.

Plus I mean, we’re talking about the city, some of these guys have playoff game having 40 rebounds.

So yes, they were awesome and I want to be respectful but I also want to point out that some of this rebounding stuff that you’ll see it’s just never going to happen again.


It just look at go back and look at the shot attempts by season will also was taken.

I think 11 plus free throws a game on top of all this.

So when I look at some of the wilt stuff, there’s two that Out.

It’s the 100-point game.

And it’s averaging 50, point, four points per game in a season, over a full.


See that whole season.

That was his whole season.

So, yes, the game was different.


They got more shots up.

I think that impacts the rebounding stuff and you could say, oh, well, we’ll today when get okay fine, but you could still attempt to get 100 points to the game today.

And only one guy got to 80% of it.


There’s a great Brian windhorse article in ESPN from earlier this year where he was essentially celebrating.

NG the historical absurdness of Chamberlain’s 1961 1962 season, let me just read you from that article, quote Chamberlain averaged, 50 point four points per game.


That’s the highest ever and no one is close.


Jordan is the only other player besides Chamberland to average more than 37 Chamberlain.

Averaged thirty nine point five shots per game the highest ever.

And no one is closed.

No one else is averaged more than 30, another mark.


To stand forever is his forty, eight point five minutes per game average.

He was never substituted at that season.

He only missed eight minutes of one game after he was objected in the fourth quarter.

He averaged 48 minutes because more than 48 minutes because he played, Seven overtime games and quote.


It’s just ridiculous.

And to me.

The only thing that keeps Chamberlain’s 1962 season from sheer immortality, is that his team didn’t win the finals.

It’s because, again, he lost to Russell.

So, again, we find these two statistical Champions clashing against each other.


And yes, it was 60 years ago, but still, I feel like as long as we’re isolating, not that greatest athletes of all time.

Now, the greatest basketball players necessarily but the most impressive sport statistic.

It has to come down to either Chamberlain’s 1961 62 season or Russell’s eight straight.


A ship’s.

Well, you’re kind of asking me like what’s harder to do 11 championships in 13, Seasons or 50, a game, or 101 game, and I would just go.

If you got your gun to my head.

I just say, pull the trigger.

Like, there’s no, there’s no right, answer.

And both answers.

Also, you know, seem impossible to argue against her argue, for, in the face of facing one of these other ones who, when it comes down to Russell and will, I mean, there’s a whole another path we can go down where Russell clearly was wired the right way and will throughout his entire career had People questioning what his deal was.


And, you know some of those later Lakers years, you could read some of the storage to where it’s just kind of remind you, you know, as much as things change.

I’ll go back and read stuff and it’s hilarious.

How much, the way the coverage is in the 1960s.

Hell, it goes back to Ted Williams of Babe Ruth, and I’d read people’s like early hot takes columnist being like a.


Never gonna win with this guy.

It’s like 1924.

It’s crazy.

So, we actually kind of are very repetitive when it comes to stuff.

I mean the same things on any political history, so I don’t want to compare.

I don’t want to do this under the idea that okay, we’re comparing the two guys.

It’s just the two accomplishments and I don’t look no one, no one’s going to tell me that 11 and 13 is possible, but it still feels more possible than 100 points in a game is if you’re going to move one, Wilt stat to the finals of this exercise.


What is this is, what is the statistic that you want to move to the finals?

Is that the 100-point game?

It’s probably 50 a game.


What do you think?

I mean, you want to push back on that because like I said, when we’re doing this, we’re trying to put together the number one seeds and it’s only one force for.


There’s going to be one left off that.

It’s yeah, it was ridiculous leaving it off.

But hey, maybe it’s just the math in my head, where I go.

I think 50.4 a game over a full season is still harder than 100.

I think it is to look.

I’m going to get screamed at no matter what I bumped to the finals, like people have credible, emotional, attachments to the statistic that You know, their favorite moment of sports, their childhood their favorite time.


Like researching Sports statistics.

If you are, that kind of nerd to me, I made this commitment to the 50% test because I thought it was a great Benchmark to compare athletic accomplishments across boards.

And the number that passes that or gets closer to passing that for Wilt.


It is averaging. 50 point, four points per game.

When the highest sense, then is Michael Jordan going out of his mind in the late 1980s.

Going 37 points per game. 37 is Anywhere close to 50.

I feel pretty good.

Putting wilts, 50 points per game in the finals.


All right, we’re going to move on to baseball before we get to my final, for some last-second, eliminations, that I had to make I eliminated Rickey Henderson, stolen base record.

It’s awesome.

But I’m just not going to end up saying, the Rickey Henderson has the best statistic in baseball history.

You’ve got a bunch of stuff.


That sounds like it’s a tricky head because I noticed the Rickey Henderson.

I love him.

He’s great.

He’s great.

It’s just you’re not going to be the number one here.

I’m sorry.

It’s gonna be someone who hit a lot of home runs or struck out a lot of people.

That’s, that’s a bit of foreshadowing, do you?

Like a quick pitch for Ricky Henderson.


Just wanted the whole damn thing right now because we could do it his.

The stolen base stuff is out of control.

No, he’s it 1406 stolen bases.

He’s 468 had a number two.

So that’s what I was always looking for.

I was looking for.

What’s up?

What saying normal consumable stat that we still think is because we could get really weird.


Like I looked up bonds intentional walk record.

He was walking.

We’re getting there.

He all right.

So let me I don’t know.

Yeah, I don’t want to go Bond intentional walks.

We’re going to get very weird to find intentional walks.

Funny thing I Rickey Henderson, before we end the Rickey Henderson segment.

He set the single-season, record for stolen bases when he was 23, and then he played another 22 years and set the wrecker.


And led the League’s again in stolen bases, at the age of 39.

He led the league in stolen bases.

At the age of 39.

That is just absolutely insane.

Anyway, we are not putting Rickey Henderson into the finals of this category.

We talked about this, I young stuff. 511, career wins in 749, complete games.


That is amazing.

It’s hilarious.

It’s from an era of baseball that does not resemble the Sarah baseball at all, when P pictures for being used, like essentially indentured servants.

They would throw nine innings.

Go home.

Drink four.

Whiskey’s, ice the arm.

Come back the next day.

Throw another nine innings.

Very impressive.


It’s just nothing.

Like that’s going to happen again to really emotional records that I didn’t put into my top four.

But Ryan if you want to bump the man, I would probably allow it.

You’ve got ripken’s, 2632 consecutive games, and you’ve got Joe DiMaggio’s, 56-game hitting streak.


They’re both iconic.

The both potentially unbreakable, but there’s, but there are other people who got close in each category.

Obviously we have can edged out Lou Gehrig as for DiMaggio’s, 56, Pete Rose.

Fifth as a 44, game hit streak.


It’s a little closer than some of the other records were about to touch on.

So young, Ripken, DiMaggio are any of those records to you in the pantheon enough that you really want to continue to consider them for for Best in baseball history.

The winds thing is, you’re right, like we were sitting here talking about basketball and how different it is and how its evolved in the shot taking and making his change.


The pitching stuff is just dumb like I go back.

I used to go back and look at that stuff all the time.

It doesn’t even matter.

Ensign Young’s got 511 in the next guys in the 400s.

And no one else is about 400.

I looked up the active numbers.

Verlander has to turn 26 wins because he has a contract going to the next year.


That puts him at 17.

Nobody’s gonna win 300 games.

No, that’s right.

I mean, 5511 is a foreign language Ripken number.

No one wants to break, that record ever again.

No, modern athlete will go.

You know, what I want to do is play in Every Game.


So that one is disqualified because no one actually wants to break it.

I will say something really dumb about the mint DiMaggio Street.

I don’t know how my brain works when normally it is the math part of the argument.


And I’ve seen different presentations proving how ridiculous the streak is and how impossible it is.

I just can’t believe there haven’t been more people that have taken a swing at this thing that have challenged.

I don’t know why I feel that way because I know how hard it actually isn’t me, Tony Gwynn.


I looked it up 25 game hit streak.

That’s his longest, Tony Gwynn.

Maybe the best command in the batter’s box, but no one’s going to touch this one.

It’s been 80 years and what we got.

We got Willie Keeler, 45 games, Petros 44, Number Jimmy Rollins had one of the scope of two seasons in 05 and 06 at 38 games.


I remember being a kid and you know, turn it on.

Paul Molitor highlights being like, Oh my God, I got another hit.

I just could never believe that.

There wouldn’t be somebody who’s just has an unbelievable command, but now the game has changed so much that nobody’s really changing their approach with two strikes and that’s what all these guys did.

So this thing’s actually more untouchable now with all the emphasis on Lofton and everything else that we see.


I mean to strike the approach is not different at all, which I think is still kind of ridiculous times.

And also, Is why we have so many pictures putting up and saying numbers because guys doesn’t even care about making contact with two strikes.

They don’t want to change their approach.

So I have a hard time.

Eliminating it because it has been 80 years.


Despite everything that I just said, you know, Ty Cobb, it 3366 that batting average.

I don’t think anybody’s ever going to touch that again.

So now I’m really curious as to how what you got to.

So I’m not making an argument for until I know what the rest of your options were.



No, it’s so, I mean, once that, I heard from a lot of Boston fans, when I made a big deal about Joe, DiMaggio, hit streak, is that and I Check this out.

Ted Williams had a higher batting average over those 56 games.


Then Joe DiMaggio during the 56-game hitting streak, which is kind of just an incredible accomplishment within an accomplishment.

All right, so here, I mean you could argue.

That means he was more productive and they don’t even get me started about comparing Joe DiMaggio to Ted Williams.

Because honestly, if you go back and look at all the stuff, it’s not closed, but it’s still fifty six in a row.


That’s right, you know, so what are you gonna do?

Yeah, and that gets to That gets to another thing about statistics, which is that at the end of the day when we choose our number one, some of these are quirky and some of them are important, right?

Like getting one, single 56 games in a row and batting, you know, 250 over that 50 six-game stretch.


Is that what it was?

It wasn’t, it wasn’t exactly that.

I just want to make sure example, for example, that is quirky, but not significant winning a straight championships scoring, 50 points, a game like that, that is a level of significance above quirkiness.


Anyway, moving on.

These are My for big baseball stats too close.

Okay, Barry Bonds, early 2000s.


I don’t want bonds to win the category.

But here’s a brief reminder of what he did.

After turning 36 in 2001.

He broke the home run record in 2002.


He led the league in batting average on base percentage slugging percentage and total bases.

In 2003.

He won MVP for the third straight year and in 2004 people stopped pitching to him.

The previous nod bonds record for intentional walks was B5.


That’s Willie McCovey set in 1969.

Bonds walked 120 times in one year.

He basically tripled the intentional walk record in one year.

So bonds early 2000 numbers.

Yes, the clear.

Yes the steroids.

It’s still.


So outlandish.

Number two, and this is another tough thing because of the era of baseball, but you look at Babe, Ruth’s 1920s and the whole thing is just stupid.


He played seven thousand years ago.

The stats are still insane into different.

Years, he hit more home runs than any other team.


He had six years with 135 RBIs and 135 walks.

That’s more than all other players in major league history.

Once you start, you can’t stop his.

Entire 1920s is one.

It’s like Mount Kilimanjaro over at Serengeti of other players.

Number three, my favorite player.


When I was a kid, Nolan Ryan Ryan gets into the 50% club for his no-hitter record.

He has seven.

No one else has five Andy career, walks record hilariously.

He has 52 percent more career walks.

Over to Steve Carlton, but the entire career is just is this ridiculous.


He tied or set the career record for years.

Play total strikeouts strikeouts in the are wild pitches no-hitters one-hitters into hitters.

Finally Pedro Martinez in 2000 from a 50% cut perspective.

His era was 40% 49 percent lower the next Louis and baseball.


That was Kevin Brown.

I’m gonna count that in the 50% Club.

It’s the highest adjusted era ever in the middle of the steroid era.

I’m a Yankees.

Fan, I grew up in the 1990s, the huge Yankees fan, Pedro Martinez in the year 2000 is probably my vote for the most impressive Sports accomplishment.


It’s baseball accomplishment of my lifetime.

So there’s my top four, bonds Ruth.

Ryan Pedro.

Who else you got?

I can’t believe we’re this on the same page about Pedro.

I didn’t know that you were Pedro guy.

I’m not a page of a deer.

I’m a Derek Jeter guy.


I got into baseball in 1996 when there is a rookie from New York Yankees named Eric.

So I Hated Pedro, but hate forces you to pay attention to someone and I was paying very close attention in 99 2000.

And he said he was just on another planet and he was doing something that made no sense of it.


So that pager 2000 hit a 17-4 era.

The second highest or second.

I should say, second-best era in the American League.

So, forget the Kevin Brown part of it in the American League, the next best Tiara was Roger Clemens a 3.7.

So he was almost two full runs better than the next guy at the peak of the steroid.


Era, The League average ERA was over five and opponents.

Hit 167 against Pedro that year, which depending on what you look at some sorta, buhl’s.

It’s either the lowest ever in the history.


Think about this Pedro at the peak of the steroid era has arguably the lowest opponents batting average against there’s this other reliever that I think only pitched 20 Innings that technically qualifies who is slightly ahead of him.

In the opponents that you know, and then that I think there’s a whip number in there too.


So you’re right.

His adjusted era stuff is so off the charts that I always bring it up.

He’s the best picture I’ve ever seen.

I don’t want to hear about anybody else.

I just, I just don’t, I watched it every single time.

My schedule was around Pedro schedule because I was, you know, it’s Big.

Red Sox, fan back.

Then, I did a number of things that I would turn down for a chance of Pedro tickets, you know, guys in town and be like, now you’re Pedro’s pitching today.


Like, are you kidding me?

That’s what it was.

And I know as a Yankees fan, you’re probably like, what wasn’t All that intimidating.

And it’s very funny though.

Because if you think of Pedro, the Yankees figured him out better because they faced him so many times.

It was the same thing with a verify on the Red Sox side of it.

Like, when you keep getting to see, like they weren’t at superhero, lovers levels against each other the way you would think of.


So, for the regular season in the seasons around it.

I just don’t know if anyone cares about it just to dra enough to even put this in there.

That’s why I’m shocked.

You did.

I was going to bring it up.

Thinking there was no chance, it was going to be entered into this to me.

Impressive than the Nolan Ryan thing.


But again, that’s kind of the whole in Pedro’s game is that it’s not longevity.

So, if we’re going that one season, I love to keep it in.

I’d probably replace Nolan Ryan with the DiMaggio streak and the bonds part of it.

The funny thing is is with his attention to walks.

They kept walking him after he was done.


He wasn’t even a threat as much anymore.

And the rest of League still hadn’t figured out that maybe you can pitch to this guy a little bit more here and it’s funny that you don’t want to touch any of the Home Run stuff.

I’m going to go ahead.

And say Pedro and but I’m totally biased.

I am totally biased.

But lining up what he did in that year were, nobody could get anybody out and he was in the 17s.


I just don’t know if people care about, I think you get a lot of pushback from this.

Yeah, I there’s a part of me that wants to give this award to Babe Ruth, because Babe Ruth.

It’s not just that the statistics are remarkable.


It’s also that the statistics are important in a way that a lot of the other stats were talking about aren’t because his dominance pulled the game, right?

It was like it’s it was the Steph Curry effect on steroids.

He pulled the game toward an evolution that even with that Evolution no one’s actually defeated or or overcome some of the stuff he has.


I mean we could go into like, you know, No, oh, PS plus on-base plus slugging percentage adjusted for a competition and Stadium.

He has all sorts of Records there but he did stuff to change the game and dominant at the same time.


So there’s a part of me that wants to give it to Babe Ruth, but it’s really hard to get over what you’ve already pointed out in just a few minutes ago.

This sort of anti recency bias that the game has changed so much in basketball and baseball that it does his little bit of a disservice to award.


All for a game, that’s 100 years old.

And for that, I feel fine, giving it to Pedro Martinez.

I think it.

I think it’s the most, statistically unusual and impressive accomplishment of my lifetime in baseball.


I think it would.

I think it’s that special.

And I hate the guy as Yankees fan.

So I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t push back on Ruth.

Do I just didn’t know what the one specifically you were?

Because if you’re saying a cumulative thing here, we’re talking about somebody who completely changed the game.

In a way, very few people have ever done in their Sport and if you go from 1921 on, when he passes, Roger Connor for career home runs, he leads baseball in home, runs from 21 to 73 until Aaron passes him.


Just to like the dominance that he kept adding to his own record that in 21.

He’s already the all-time career home, run leader at 162 and it goes basically another five.

Kids, so, if you want to give me if it’s an overall thing, importance and all that kind of stuff, it’s hard to take, Pedro’s 2000 and say, okay, you know, it’s what Babe Ruth was from a, from a bigger picture, stepping back and looking at it.


So, I don’t know what the ruling here isn’t.


I defer to you, it’s your podcast.

So if you want to go Ruth, I’m not going to push back on it.

All right, I thought about this a bit.

This is this is not just about most impressive accomplishment.

It’s about most impressive statistic.

So even though I am going to give pager the more impressive accomplishment, this too.


Mystic that I think speaks loudest.

From this list is Babe, Ruth, hitting more home runs than any other team in two different years.

I think that captures the outlandish nests of the accomplishment, and predicts, everything that you just said, of course, the player who hit more home runs than every other team is going to in a matter of years break, the all-time record for home runs and set it for decades to come.


So I think for me that’s going to be that’s the statistic that I’m going to bump into into the All right.

We have one more category before we get to the finals of all finals, which is individual sports a couple necessary last minute, exclusions, Serena Williams, Nadal incredible.


The go to their respective Sports.

I I just don’t you, look at the records and they don’t, they’re not exceeding.

Someone like Steffi Graf or obviously Djokovic Federer by the kind of margins that a lot of these other stats are that leaves some Olympics records and also a golf record.


So Simone biles. 19 World Championship gold medals the most decorated gymnast in history.

That’s when entry Michael Phelps, twenty three gold medals.

Nobody else has 10 and then Tiger Woods.

It’s a little bit complicated to find golf statistics, that past the kind of threshold that I’m setting up, but this is just a wild accomplishment from 1997 to 2000, 13.


Tiger was a combined.

He’s 6-under par in major championships.

Number two was Steve.

Flesch finishing 251 Strokes behind him at 125 over par.

Finn, Mikaelson was third at one, Twenty Eight over par.


So that’s completely insane.


He’s the only player.

This is tiger in modern history to win all four major Awards in a row and the only player to win any major by 10 or more strokes.

And he did that twice in the 97 Masters and the 2000 US Open.

So To me, this category is really about Simone biles, the world championship gold, medals are obviously impressive.


But to me, this is really about Michael Phelps more than double in the total number of Olympic gold medals or Tiger Woods.

Just dominating in the late 90s and early 2000s.

So do you have other entrants into the individual category?

And how would you shake it out between tiger and Phelps?


I know for me.

It’s easier to consume the tiger number because the way you just laid it out.

You’re like, wait, everybody’s Over.

And he’s that many under, like, what else are we talking about?


Sometimes I’ll see what the Serena Williams argument like they’ll argue.



Well, she has this many championships in Jordan, only has six.

I’ll be like, okay, but if Jordan had a chance to win for rings every year, he would have more than six and that’s what we’re talking about with the slams in tennis.

And it’s the same thing with Metals, some people going to have a higher medal count because their discipline has so many more opportunities to metal.


So as absurd, as the biles numbers are and Phelps on top of it, it’s hard for me.

Put that in the context because they’re there in a sport would allows you to do far more.

This is my way more opportunities to go ahead and metal.

Even if you’re the all-time medal leader to begin with.


And I feel the same way about natal and Federer and Djokovic at some point.

Like you just if you had four NBA championships every year, Jordan would have 406.

I don’t know why this is that hard but I think sometimes people try to be different about it.

Although Serena’s longevity.


Hers is Absolutely ridiculous for as long as she’s gone in a sport that isn’t very forgiving.

So I would go with tiger because it’s there’s nothing else to compare it to their.

I mean, I got actually didn’t know that number how far away everybody else was from him.


So I would I would submit that one.

Yeah, I’m with you on that.

I’m going to tag her as well.

The Michael Phelps stuff is extraordinary.

The thing about tiger is that the amount of competition that exists within golf right now.

It’s just extraordinary.

And with some of these Olympic sports.


You get spit, you get specialization is, sometimes can win of the competition.

But Tigers out there.

Doing something that thousands and thousands millions of people around the world are trying to be the best dead and dominating at a level.

That’s unlike anything.

We’ve seen in this board.

So I think Tigers, 97a 2013 numbers are going to be are going to be my ticket to the finals.


I do want to call out.

This is not 50% Club worthy, but it’s going to be an amazing Disney movie One Day Bobby.

Demons, long jump in the 1968 Summer Olympics.

In Mexico City.

Did you come across this in your research?

Or yeah, I knew all about it.

I because we used to, I actually ran track in high school.


So cool.

People would go.

Do you know about this?

And it was always kind of cool.

The first time somebody would learn about Beeman, especially as we’ve seen again, everyone athletes have evolved or faster, you know, doing bigger things.

I shouldn’t say.

We Jesus.

Maybe I should say is the human race, but The every time I see somebody learn about the beam and jump for the first time, it’s like, wait, what?


It was after he was a hero for the first, you know what I mean?

So, go ahead.


Let me unpack those people who haven’t heard it.

So, 1968 Summer Olympics, Mexico City.

This is a period where new long jump records are typically set or exceeded by maybe one inch to half an inch every year.


So Bob Beamon enters the 1968 Summer Olympics and the all-time record is five feet for the long jump.

He didn’t beat that exist.

You record by one inch two inches.

Three inches would be quite a bit.

He beat it by 22 inches, the 22 inches to feet.


Basically, the jump was was so long that it was famously beyond the measuring equipment that was available to the Olympic judges and they had to pause the competition for several minutes to figure out what just happened.

And he was so shocked that when he learned that he had broken, the record by almost two feet.


He collapsed experience with doctors later described.

As a cataleptic seizure, he did recover and the jump itself is, I believe still an olympic record, but not an official world record, but breaking a record like this by essentially 11 times.


The amount.

You would expect the record to be broken.

Is just is just a fun fun, one off.

All right, let me, let me jump up to the finals and remind you, and myself and listeners where we are up to now.

Okay, so we went NFL first and decided that the winner.


ER, for NFL statistics would be Jerry Rice and his career numbers.


We went to the NBA and we awarded a tie between Russell’s eight consecutive championships and wilts.

Fifty point four points per game average in the 1961 1962 season, then we went into baseball and at the last minute I rested the award away from Pedro Martinez and gave it to Babe Ruth exceeding.


The Home Run totals of every other team and finally in the individual sports category.

We gave it to Tiger Woods for birdie.

Basically smashing everyone else between 1997 and 2013, in major championships.

In addition to those one, two, three, four.


We’re going to add a statistic that I bumped to the finals that got a bye in whatever tournament style organization this is.

And that is when Gretzky’s all-time assists numbers, Wayne Gretzky is, the NHL all-time leader in goals.


He is the all-time leader in assists.

This he is therefore the all-time leader in points which rewarded for both, but the crazy mind-bending thing is that Gretzky finished with so many assists that even if he never scored a goal in his entire NHL career, he would still be the.


NHL’s all-time leader in points.

That is insane when I learned it.

Maybe that’s just something that all hockey fans know, top of mine, but I did not realize that and that completely blew my mind.

So great.

Is in with a bullet to the finals.


Ryan, how do you parse this final esteemed category of American sports records, it’s Gretzky.

So I went into it trying to figure out a way that it wouldn’t be Gretzky and when I did it all over again, I laid it on Gretzky again.


So the thing I look at is this, he’s a two thousand eight hundred and fifty Seven career points.

You made a great point about taking out all the goals.

You still ahead of Jágr.

So yah.

Oscar’s it 1921 points.

So if you do some really basic math here, we’re talking, you know, maybe 67% of Wayne’s accomplishment Kareem.


Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leading scorer.

LeBron is going to pass them here.

A couple years, Kareem has 38 thousand plus points, Karl.

Malone was second and almost thirty seven thousand.

So if we looked at the Wayne Gretzky Gap to Yeager and overall points and apply that percentage to Malone and Kareem, it would basically be like taking Eleven thousand points away from Karl Malone.


And yet, he’d still be number two on the all-time scoring list and to be fair as we’ve talked about with football and the style of play and some of the early baseball stuff.

And then also the basketball on the rebounding numbers.

I’m sure some could argue, we’ll look at the all-time goal Seasons, you know Wayne’s get the most 92 and 81 and 82 season.


You got to dig here of edge can had 65 14 years ago, Stamkos had 60 10 years ago, just guys scored more goals back then.

But to Say that as if we have to re-examine with a different lens of Wayne did.

That’s so dismissive.


I don’t even like saying it as a caution to not say it.

So I don’t know how that one is top because it’s not Sai Yeung with five 11, you know, this isn’t it?

This isn’t it century ago, right prepping for World War one.

This is cars exist and they’re being driven on the roads.


Yeah, and I remember, you know, I’m more of a kid in the 80s and I remember it all.

Gym teacher.

We’re arguing about the Red Sox Yankees were in gym class and he goes, you guys have any idea what this Wayne Gretzky guys doing?

And at least for like, what is this me?

Because, you know, it’s like Dale Murphy having 80 home runs.


It’s like Jim Rice having this many RBI then the game, and yeah, whatever.

And so when you start putting it together that way is it.

Pressive is all the stuff is I don’t know that anyone has ever been as statistically dominant in a more modern era.

You’re right.


I thought we might disagree.

We did not confer before this, but you’re right.

And I think the reason we don’t disagree is that, I don’t know how a rational person looks at these statistics and it comes to any other conclusion, but Wayne Gretzky did is simply insane, Seth Wickersham from ESPN.


When I tweeted out my initial request for all the greatest sports records in history.

He shared this side with me, which I thought was really fun.

When Gretzky set the all-time single-season points record in 1986, he broke the previous record by 41% to do that.



Let’s say in football, a quarterback would have to beat the record of 54 by 41 percent that’s throwing seventy six, touchdown passes in a year.

That’s Josh Allen throwing seventy six, touchdown passes to match what Gretzky did in one year and then Gretzky’s career Excellence is really what propels him.


As you mentioned hitting home runs about it, would have to hit more.

Than 100 home runs to beat the current home run record.

By 41% These things aren’t going to happen and they’re not going to happen because there’s Wayne Gretzky and then there’s everybody else.

I’m with you.


Yeah, I think you said it perfectly Derek that you go.

I don’t know how a reasonable person looks at all this stuff and yet we can hear about goalie pad size and and different, you know, the lack of trap zone by the, by the devil’s, you know, and all this different stuff, but it wasn’t.


Like, you know, he was, he was riding a horse here while he’s playing his.

I still think it’s smart enough to not be dismissive, even if the air has changed I totally can actually claim.

I think it’s Wayne.

All right, you did it.

You helped me work through the entire statistical Corpus of American Sports history and it only took us 50 minutes Runners still.


Oh, thank you so much.

It’s been a pleasure having you in the Pod.

Thanks, plain English with Derek Thompson.

It’s produced by Devin manzi.

If you like what you hear, please follow rate and review us.

New episode drops on Tuesday.

Have a great weekend.