Top 10 Streaks in Sports By Difficulty

This post was suggested to me by Brookes and I think it’s stupendous. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching it. My biggest factor for judging difficulty was the feat of the streak and the level of competition.

Julio Cesar Chavez as a young boxer.

Julio Cesar Chavez as a young boxer.

10. Julio César Chávez 87 straight boxing victories
Floyd Mayweather is 41-0 and at the end of his career to give you an idea of how tough Julio Cesar Chavez was. Fighters today just don’t fight as often as Chavez did. Starting in 1980, he was fighting nearly once a month for the early stages of his career and still getting in the ring 6 times a year during the run. 13 years after he started he drew a fight to Pernell Whittaker. His career lasted 25 years and he won 107 fights. Arguments would be made to the quality of opponents but a 13 year run doesn’t happen overnight and boxing isn’t one of those non-contact sports.

Opposing teams did not want to see Eric Gagne in the 9th.

Opposing teams did not want to see Eric Gagne in the 9th.

9. Eric Gagne 84 consecutive saves
A tainted streak as Gagne admitted to using HGH but impressive none the less. He sported a .83 era, 14 K’s per 9, only gave up 3 homers, and inherited 23 runners and 0 scored. The next closest closer is Tom Gordon who had 54. Keep in mind that in the midst of Gagne’s streak of consecutive games saved, he has lost games after entering a tie contest — but those don’t count as blown saves (espn). Further reading on this streak can be found here.

Gretzky hoisting the cup on the Edmonton Oilers

Gretzky hoisting the cup on the Edmonton Oilers

8. Wayne Gretzky 51 consecutive games with a point
The Great One is oh so great that this record most likely will never be touched. Mario Lemieux holds second place with 46 games  followed by Wayne Gretzky again with 39. Mats Sundin holds 3rd place with 30 games. Gretzky averaged nearly three points a game during that stretch, with 61 goals and 92 assists for 153 points. When you are head and shoulders better than your competition it’s easy to accumulate a streak like this. This isn’t even putting the competition down, it’s saying how good Wayne Gretzky was. Averaging 3 points a game statistically makes this streak possible. However, no one else in hockey has ever done it for as long as Wayne.

John Wooden and Bill Walton- key components during the 88 game streak

John Wooden and Bill Walton- key components during the 88 game streak

7. UCLA Bruins 88 game win streak
John Wooden is possibly the most underrated coach of all-time. This is probably not true amongst basketball intelligentsia but the general public isn’t keen to UCLA basketball in the early 70’s. UCLA was the most dominant college team of all time when it comes to college hoops. Notre Dame gets the prestigious honor of being the team that ended UCLA’s streak in ’74 AND also beating them in ’71 to reset the streak. UCLA won 3 national championships during the run and 7 consecutive championships starting in ’67. Famous greats on these teams were Lew Alcinder and Bill Walton.

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Edwin Moses using his patented 13 steps through the 400 meter hurdles.

6. Edwin Moses 122 straight wins in 400m hurdles
Edwin didn’t lose a race from 1977 until 1987. He won 2 Olympic gold medals in the 400 meter hurdles at the 1976 Montreal games and 1984 Los Angeles. He still holds the 2nd fastest time in history in the 400m hurdles at 47.02. When he lost to fellow American Danny Harris, 21, said Moses, 31: “I ran a good race, and the guy that beat me is 10 years younger and ran the race of his life.” To set a record in 1983 and still have it be the 2nd best 32 years later shows how dominant Moses was during the stretch. It’s hard to lose when you are that much better than runners 30 years later.  Never getting tripped up by a hurdle too is noteworthy.

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The 71-72 Lakers anchored by Wilt the Stilt

5. L.A Lakers 33 game win streak
The 71-72 Lakers were led by Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. Wilt had shifted his game to defense, averaging 14.8 points — his first season of less than 20 a game — and 19.2 rebounds while West and Gail Goodrich drove L.A.’s attack from the backcourt.”(nba.com) The streak was broken by the Milwaukee Bucks who sported a roster of Kareem Abdul Jabar and the “Big O” Oscar Robertson. The Heat were the latest team to make a run at it peeling off 27 in the ’12-13 season led by Lebron.  33 games in game like basketball against professional competition is the definition of consistency.  Read more about the 71-72 Lakers.

joe-louis-sl-fea

Quite a few banners.

4. Detroit Red Wings 24 consecutive playoff appearances
A city with a hockey history that cannot be matched. For 24 straight seasons the Red Wings have made the playoffs. The next closest is 10 years by the San Jose Sharks. Pats on the back all around to management, players, and coaches. They have developed a winning culture that provided 24 years of success (soon to be 25 as they sit tied for 4th with 3 other teams) and 4 Stanley Cups. Greats include Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, and Niklas Lidstrom.

A long career awaited for Brett Favre

A long career awaited for Brett Favre

3. Brett Favre 321 consecutive starts (including playoffs)
For a QB in football to play for 18 straight years while not missing a game due to injury is unreal. Brett wasn’t the most mobile QB so he avoided taking collision like hits but football is a sport where every game you can get injured. I can’t even imagine how many times he played through broken fingers, twisted ankles, and bruised hips. Peyton Manning was the next closest QB with 208 that ended in ’11. Jeff Feagles holds the record for most consecutive games played with 352 but that’s no where near as impressive.

Joltin' Joe

Joltin’ Joe

2. Joe Dimaggio 56 game hit streak
To get a hit 1 time for every 3 at bats is considered being a great hitter. All it takes is one game in a very small sample size of at bats to have to start over again. Plus pressure starts building when you’re 0-3 at bat the final time with a 40 game hitting streak on the line. This man laughed in the face of pressure and rolled it out 56 games. He had 91 hits over those 56 games, batted .408 and struck out just five times. It should be noted that the streak would have went to 75 if Ken Keltner’s glove didn’t make two great catches. Pete Rose was next closest with 44. Jimmy Rollins was the last closest player with a 38 game hit streak in ’05-’06.

Cal Ripkin breaking Lou Gehrigs streak of 2130 games.

Cal Ripkin breaking Lou Gehrigs streak of 2130 games.

1. Cal Ripkin 2,632 consecutive games played
My top honor goes to the “Iron Man” Cal Ripkin besting Lou Gerhig’s consecutive game streak by 532 games. 16 straight years of playing baseball and never missing a game. No streak has the dedication as a man that Ripkin’s does and that’s why it’s the best. Time against man is a constant battle and to avoid injury or sickness for this much time shows more commitment to a sport than can be asked from any one man. He was incredibly talented to boot. Sure it’s baseball and not the most physically demanding sport but 16 years is 16 years and no other schedule asks as much from an athlete. Incredible.