The Longest and Greatest Streaks - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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The Longest and Greatest Streaks

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Posted: Friday, February 17, 2017 12:45 am

   In this day and age, analytics rules sports, and as a result of that fans have increasingly become more and more obsessed with statistics and records. No matter if it’s a player record, driver record or a team record, the intrigue behind history being made is what entices us all.

   Some of the most interesting records in sports history are those involving streaks. Probably the most impressive streak in sports is the one that the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team is on right now. This past Monday, the team moved on to 25-0 overall on the season after a convincing 66-55 victory over University of South Carolina.

   Even more remarkable, however, is that the win for the Huskies was their 100 consecutive victory, an unprecedented milestone that dates back to the 2014-15 collegiate season. The extraordinary run is part of an NCAA record, which was previously also held by UConn, who won 90 games from 2008-11. In fact, the Huskies have gone on three streaks of at least 70 wins since 2000, which is outstanding for any program in any sport.

   The streaks that UConn has delivered over the past two decades certainly match up, or even surpass, the best-of-the-best that we have witnessed throughout sports history. In the baseball world, Joe DiMaggio went on a 56-game hitting streak in 1941, which broke Willie Keeler’s National League record of safely getting on base for 45 straight games. Since then, only Pete Rose has come close to the record after recording a hit in 44 consecutive games (1978).

Another great baseball streak was that of MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken. Over the course of 17 years with the Baltimore Orioles (1982-98), Ripken played in a MLB record 2,632 straight games. The record is 501 more than Lou Gehrig, who is No. 2 on the list with 2,130. Around the sports world, it was almost unthinkable that anyone could ever touch Gehrig’s iron streak until Ripken did so 56 years later in 1995.

   Other player hot streaks across sports include former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky. For Rice, his run was a special one, as he collected a reception in 274 consecutive games over the course of 19 years. Many believe that his feat will never be broken, as the next closest on the list is Marvin Harrison who had 190 straight games with a catch.

   As for Brees, his streak broke a record that stood for more than 50 years. In a game in October 2012, Brees passed Johnny Unitas’ record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. He would later extend that run to 54 games, which still sits as the most all time.

   Gretzky’s streak came with the Edmonton Oilers during the 1983-84 campaign, when he went 51 straight games scoring at least one point. Other than Mario Lemieux, who accumulated points in 46 consecutive games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, no other hockey player has ever hit a streak that is more than 30 games.

   In addition, sports has also seen teams go on elongated streaks. In the NBA, the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won a record 33 games in a row, which has been tested by both the Golden State Warriors (28) and Miami Heat (27) in recent years. The Boston Celtics put together eight consecutive NBA titles from 1959-67 as part of the “Bill Russell era.” Then in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins became the only team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with a perfect season during the 1972 campaign. And the New England Patriots reeled off 21 straight regular season and playoff wins from October 2003 to October 2004, which is the longest such run in NFL history.

   In NASCAR, there have been a myriad of monumental streaks, too. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the record for most consecutive wins during a season with 10. The accomplishment by Petty was reached during his most memorable campaign where he compiled 27 total victories in 1967. The next closest driver to match Petty is Bobby Allison who had five consecutive trips to Victory Lane in 1971. Most recently, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch each won three races in a row in 2015.

   As far as consecutive titles go, seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson holds the record with five consecutive championships (2006-10), all of which he celebrated right here at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Cale Yarborough is second on the list, having won three Cup Series trophies from 1976-78.

   For consecutive starts, NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon holds the record with 797 races, which accounts for every race he’s participated in the Cup Series as a full-time driver. His ability to sustain and compete in each race during his 23-year career is why he is nicknamed “Iron Man.” Gordon made the record his own in 2015, breaking Ricky Rudd’s mark of 788.

   Last season at the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway, 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch got a record of his own when he finished the race on the lead lap, making it 21 consecutive races in which he had done so. The feat was a NASCAR record that was previously held by Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished 20 straight races on the lead lap in 2012.

   In addition, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs currently has its own streak going, as a driver still in contention for the championship has won each of the last 11 playoff races. The run dates back to the 2015 Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway where Kyle Busch took home the coveted crown.

   Streaks like the one of the UConn Huskies and those in NASCAR are great for sports because they give fans one more thing to root for when watching a game or a race. We will pay attention to see what kind of streaks occur this year during the NASCAR season, as the season kicks off next Sunday, February 26 with the Daytona 500.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Feb. 17 & 20 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience

Feb. 18-19

Formula & Automobile Racing Association

Mar. 3

Fast Lance Friday Presented By The Ticket Clinic

Mar. 4-5

National Auto Sports Association

Mar. 11-12

Chin Motorsports Car Club

2017 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 18

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 19

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race

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