What’s most important about Zimmerman’s streak…

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…is that it reminds us how phenomenal Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak really was. Legendary reporter Art Spander has written a nice column for Real Clear Sports looking closely at Zimmerman’s streak, DiMaggio’s record, and how fans respond to these hitting achievements.

The best part is we may understand how good Ryan Zimmerman is going to be. The second-best part is we may again understand how good Joe DiMaggio was.

Zimmerman, the kid from the Washington Nationals, caught our attention there for a month. He hit in 30 consecutive games.

The streak ended Wednesday against the Giants. The streak ended with a standing ovation. From fans of the visiting team.

The streak ended with greater appreciation for Joe DiMaggio.

We don’t know much very about Joltin’ Joe these days. He came before ESPN and CNN and Twitter. He retired 58 years ago. But Ryan Zimmerman, age 24, knows all he needs to know about DiMaggio.

Watching from the press box Wednesday was 85-year-old Charlie Silveria, who grew up here, who as a 10-year-old watched DiMaggio, then with the San Francisco Seals, hit in a Pacific Coast League record 61 straight games in 1933.

Silveria joined Joe on the Yankees in the late 1940s and was Yogi Berra’s backup catcher. They talked about the old days. They didn’t talk much about streaks. “He was private,” reminded Silveria.

We never learned what DiMaggio thought of hitting in 56 straight major league games. We did learn what Ryan Zimmerman thought of hitting in 30.

Personally, I don’t think DiMaggio’s streak will ever be broken. When the Yankee Clipper hit for 56 straight games in 1941, the complexion of Major League Baseball was much different. Nowadays, hitters may face three or different pitchers in a game. When DiMaggio played, it was common that a team would only use one or two different pitchers. This makes it much harder on a hitter to make the proper adjustments after “studying” a pitcher from a previous at-bat. Even more so, rosters are much larger and contain many more pitchers than they did in the ’40s. Thus, it’s tougher for hitters to get a feel for pitchers over time since they really may not face them all that often in the grand scheme of things. On top of that, players are bigger babies than they were back when DiMaggio was around. Team management is so quick to act on a precautionary measure rather than have their guys man up and take the field. It’s also rare that a guy even plays 56 games in a row. I really like ballplayers like Zimmerman, Longoria, and Utley because they are multi-talented athletes that remind me of DiMaggio. Still, Joltin’ Joe was simply that much better than those guys. They just don’t make ’em like him anymore and even if they did, it would be hard for DiMaggio to eclipse his own record if he played in these times.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Ryan Zimmerman’s hitting streak reaches 29 games

There isn’t much positive news coming out of Washington these days when it comes to the Nationals…outside of Ryan Zimmerman’s now 29-game hit streak, that is.

Zimmerman went 4 for 5 with two homers for the Nationals, including a solo shot in the sixth off Johnson and a three-run shot in the ninth. He wasted no time extending the longest hitting streak in the Nationals’ brief history and the longest by a third baseman in a quarter-century when he slapped a first-inning single.

“He’s a big man. I’ve got legs and arms and everything coming at me,” Zimmerman said of Johnson. “His slider looks pretty good, just like it does on TV. I can see why he’s been so good.”
With his ninth-inning shot off the tin covering on the right-field arcade, Zimmerman improved to 48 for 126 (.381) since the streak began.

What’s rather impressive about Zimmerman is that he stands away from the plate, which leaves the outside corner exposed (or one would think). But Zimmerman is anticipating pitchers trying to work the outside corner and he’s just going with the pitch. He’s not trying to do too much with the pitch and he’s not trying to pull the ball like so many batters (on all levels) do. He’s seeing the ball incredibly well right now and the 3-run dinger he hit last night at AT&T Park was impressive given how high the ball must travel over the wall at that stadium.

He’s got a long way to go to catch Joe DiMaggio’s 56 games, but it’ll be fun to watch Zimmerman try to extend his streak on a nightly basis.

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