I still have vivid childhood memories of the great excitement garnered in Milwaukee by Paul Molitor's famous 39-game hitting streak. My family did not receive the morning paper at the time'and my dad did not believe in cable TV'and so in almost storybook fashion, I would awake each morning in eager anticipation of the note he would leave before work each day detailing how Molitor had done the night before. On certain nights I would actually stay up and watch the news with him, or overhear it from my parent's closed door as I pretended to sleep, but in most cases it was from this note I received my daily information.
I was also by no means alone in this almost obsession of No. 4's progress. Each day at recess, his performance the night before would undoubtedly lead the playground discussion. Sometimes a lucky kid would talk about being at the previous day's game and we all wondered if we would actually see Joltin' Joe's record of 61 finally fall.
I will of course, on the same note, never forget the morning I awoke to find a relatively short note telling me that Molitor had reached base only once the night before and that the umpire had ruled it an error. In other words, the streak was over. Paul Molitor had gone hitless for the first time in 40 games and so it was time to get back to our normal lives. I think I almost cried.
To be honest, I cannot remember how the Brewers performed during this run but judging by the fact that their star player was consistently getting on base on a nightly basis, I am guessing they did all right. In that respect I guess it is fitting that as one of the current Brewers' star players closes in on a legendary record it is one based on futility rather than utility.
Going into Tuesday night's game, shortstop Jose Hernandez was but one whiff away from breaking Bobby Bonds 32-year-old record for most strikeouts in a single season at 189. In chasing this record, Hernandez enters himself into a group of pretty esteemed company. Cecil Fielder, Jim Thome, Mo Vaughn and Mike Schmidt all at one point in their career challenged Bonds. Former Brewer slugger Rob Deer in fact currently holds the AL record for strikeouts with 186.
Manager Jerry Royster blasted Brewer fans last week for booing Hernandez every time he got on base. My jeers go to Royster. Milwaukee is currently battling it out with Tampa Bay and Detroit for the worst record in all of the Majors and this year's Brewers already promise to finish worse than any other Brewer team before them.
Hernandez's run for the record, as ironic or as wrong as it may be, at least gives fans a reason to be excited again.