The Jimmy Rollins Conundrum

Figuring out what to do with all those steroid home run records is one thing. But what about Jimmy Rollins? It's a little odd, is it not, to be tracking one of the great all-time baseball records over the course of two seasons? The Phillies' shortstop had a 36-game hitting streak going into 2005 when he was faced with the most immovable of objects — the end of the regular season. Now as the 2006 season looms, Rollins prepares to mount up and continue his quest, just 20 games shy of Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game streak; long thought to be untouchable. The question is: If he hits in 21 straight to begin this season, should he be given the record? Apparently, there's two categories here: the single season record, and the overall record. Is the latter less prestigious? We don't think so, personally.

Actually, next up for Rollins on the hit list is Tommy Holmes of the Boston Braves, who hit in 37 straight games in 1945. Then Milwaukee's Paul Molitor, with 39 in 1987. Pete Rose and Willie Keeler are up there at 44 each, tied for second. Or are they? Keeler and Rose both played in the National League, but Keeler, who accomplished the feat in 1897, is listed as the league record holder. So, why is Rose not the co-record holder? Because Keeler had a hit in the last game of the 1896 season, and then 44 straight to begin 1897. So why, then, is his total not 45? As you see we are very confused. And this still doesn't take in possible problems such as:

The Bernie Mac scenario. What if Rollins, instead of waiting just through one off-season to pursue the record, took eight or nine years off? Could he come back in 2014 and go for it? Would anyone even remember?

The Take One For the Team scenario. What if Rollins is at, say, 43 straight, is hitless going into his last at-bat, and the Phillies need him to move a runner over to win the game? Does he swing away anyway?

The Pete Rose scenario. Is it cool to try and bunt your way on just to extend the streak? Rose did it a few times, but then, he may have had money riding on it.

The Mercy scenario. Say Rollins is at 55 straight. He's hitless going into his last at-bat in the ninth. You're a pitcher for the Cubs, and your team is winning 14-0. Do you groove one and let him hit it?

The Steve Bartman scenario. What if Rollins, at 55 straight, is hitless and lifts a foul popup which an opposing player is lining up to catch in foul territory near the stands in Philadelphia. Wouldn't it be every home fan's duty to try and interfere? What if a guy was in a position to do so, and did nothing? Steve Bartman in reverse!

30-Plus Game Hitting Streaks [Baseball Almanac]
Rollins Hit Streak Reaches 36 Games [Phillies.com]