Andre Ethier's hitting streak ended at 30 on Saturday when the Dodgers outfielder went hitless against the Mets. It was an impressive feat, and the longest such streak in two years. But it reached barely the halfway mark of Joe DiMaggio's record before it was halted.
Yes, DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak is long considered one of the untouchable records in baseball, if not all of sports. The same was said for Lou Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games played streak, but that was broken by Cal Ripken Jr., who now owns the record at 2,632, which probably is unbreakable. Baseball, a sport obsessed with records and statistics, has its share of these: Vince Coleman stole 50 bases in a row without being caught. Orel Hershiser threw 59 consecutive scoreless innings. Carl Hubbell won 24 straight decisions.
But other sports have their own (nearly) untouchable streaks: Brett Favre just saw his record of 297 consecutive games played end last season after finally succumbing to an ankle injury. A.C. Green played in 1,192 straight NBA games, something that probably won't be matched in this day and age when a potty mouth can earn you a suspension. Glenn Hall played 502 games in a row in goal – in their entirety – during the era of NHL's Original Six.
Streaks exist in individual sports as well. Novak Djokovic just defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Madrid Open, winning his 34th consecutive match. A title in the Rome Masters this week would put that streak at 39, within striking distance of Guillermo Vilas' record of 46 consecutive wins. But those streaks are dwarfed by the record in women's tennis, as Martina Navratilova rallied off 74 consecutive victories.
The decline of Tiger Woods likely put the pursuit of another elusive streak to bed, maybe for good. Byron Nelson's record of 11 consecutive PGA Tour victories has never been approached, let along surpassed. The closest anybody came was Woods, who won seven straight in 2006-07. The same can be said for Julio Cesar Chavez's 87 boxing victories. As dominant as Manny Pacquiao is, he's nowhere near that record. Floyd Mayweather Jr., who's never lost in his 41 professional bouts, won't get there, either, whether he fights Pacquiao or not.
We considered streaks of all stripes and all sports, and came up with a subjective list. Our streaks are not anachronisms – records that are no longer attainable because the practices have changed (such as Hall's). Players and athletes can still strive for the records on our list, and they do, though the task is gargantuan.
When and if anyone comes remotely close to any of these, they will have our rapt attention. So these are the top 10 unbreakable streaks in sports.
1. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak
2. Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,632 consecutive games played
3. Byron Nelson's 11 consecutive PGA Tour wins
4. Wayne Gretzky's 51 consecutive games with a point
5. Jerry Rice's 274 consecutive games with a reception
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