I love sports. I enjoyed playing them more than watching them growing up. Anyone who watches sports has that one specific game moment that gives them chills anytime they see a video or hear the broadcasting. (Mine is the Chris Bosh rebound, then the kick-out to Ray Allen for the three to save the Heat and send the game into overtime.) Sports do something to the brain that I have a hard time finding other places. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we grew up in the era of greats. Most eras in sports have maybe two or three great players that are a cut above the rest. (Think Wilt Chamberlain, Wayne Gretzky, Tom Brady, and Michael Jordan. They are all absolute units in their eras which are the best of their respective eras.) I’m not trying to have a GOAT talk, but here’s my take on the craziest sports stats ever.
Greg Maddux’s Insane Ball Control
I love baseball. It’s tied with soccer as my favorite sport to watch. (I know, so exciting!) And every time I hear this Greg Maddux stat, my mind is blown. Greg Maddux faced 20,421 batters in his time in the league. Of those 20,000+ people, only 310 batters ever saw a 3-0 count. Of those 310 batters, 177 of them were intentional walks. If you aren’t a baseball fan, all those numbers mean jack to you. So let me break them down a little more for you. Essentially, Greg Maddux was in the league for 23 seasons, and in that whole time, only 0.006% of batters (excluding intentional walks) ever saw a 3-0 count. He is one of ten pitchers to have 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.
Wayne Gretzky Craziest Stat
I am by no means a hockey fan. (I’m from South Florida. Hockey isn’t a thing there.) But anytime I hear anything about the monster Wayne Gretzky, I’m always amazed I don’t hear more about him. (I might be too young, but no one talks about him like they do other old-era giants in other sports.) Wayne Gretzky is the NHL all-time points record holder with 2,857 career points, but that’s not the stat I want to talk about, though. It’s not that he is almost 1,000 points in the lead, either. No, the stat I want to highlight is that if you take away all of his goals, he would still be the all-time points leader with 1,963 assists. Wild.
Michael Phelps’ Best Record?
This is a no-brainer, right? We all watched the Beijing Olympics and Rio Olympics. We watched, we rooted, we celebrated, and we dominated in swimming thanks to this GOAT. But I don’t want to talk about his 23 Gold medals or all of his world records. The Michael Phelps stat I want to highlight is in golf. Michael Phelps holds the world record for the longest televised putt (159 feet). So while Phelps is unarguably the GOAT of swimming in the US, he also holds a world record and gold, which I find funny and cool.
Larry Fitzgerald Doesn’t Drop Balls
I am not a huge football fan. Ironically, I am the commissioner of my fantasy football league (which I won this year). Still, I don’t watch games except for the Super Bowl and the occasional Dolphins game with my uncle when I’m home for the holidays. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good football stat every once in a while, except for anything to do with Tom Brady or the Patriots. However, Larry Fitzgerald has a stat I only learned through a trivia night at a bar that dumbfounded me. Fitzgerald, who played wide receiver, has more tackles (41) than dropped passes (29) in his career. He dropped more people holding the ball than he dropped the actual ball. Talk about a man who mastered his craft and excelled at it.
Mariano Rivera Coldest To Ever Do It
I don’t want to write about this. I hate the Yankees. You might think I’m a Marlins fan, but I’m a Red Sox fan. (My Abuelo was a fan back in the day, and that’s who I grew up watching. He also watched some Cubs games, but mainly Red Sox.) But I must tip my hat to one of the best to ever do it. Mariano Rivera is one of the coldest pitchers to ever throw the ball. Rivera has a total of 96 postseason appearances on the mound, but only 11 earned runs given up. Again, since most people don’t care for baseball, let me put it in the way every baseball fan tells the stat. More people have been on the moon (12) than batters who have earned a run off of Mariano Rivera in the postseason.
I Love Sports
I love sports. Nothing brings a community together quite as sports do. I’m not from Philly, but I was so happy to watch them win the Super Bowl or Chicago after the Cubs beat the curse and won the World Series. Some people don’t get why sports are as popular as they are. My mom doesn’t understand why teams pay players like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi millions to kick a ball around a field. Some of my best memories are watching my team beat my friend’s team, win championships, or be in a bar surrounded by people wearing the same colors as me. The Qatar World Cup, according to FIFA, had 1.5 billion on the edge of their seats watching the greatest sports match ever. (It might be recency bias, but it was the best final anyone could have asked for.) Call it tribalism or dumb, but it brings hope and joy to those who enjoy sports worldwide.
And if you are into sports stats, Derek Thompson wrote a great piece on The Atlantic trying to figure out which sports stat reigns supreme. He also expands on this piece on one episode of his podcast, Plain English.