Maddux spurs a numbers adventure

And now the best reader submissions from our ever-bulging in-box.

Originally Published: August 5, 2005
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

Here at Useless Info world headquarters, we never cease to be amazed at how astutely you folks in Reader Land have picked up on the essence of Uselessness.

TOTALLY USELESS
NL West is a mess
Top 10 Useless Nuggets
Top 5 Useless Reader Nuggets
We can tell because, at last check, we were about 1.9 trillion e-mails behind in keeping up with you.

But if you keep e-mailing, we promise to read and research as many as we can. And in the meantime, here's the latest burst of brilliance from some of our favorite Useless Info-maniacs:

Fifth Prize: Useless Mad-Doggery Dept.
We knew that Greg Maddux's 3,000th strikeout would inspire a barrage of Useless contributions. But nobody worked harder at it than loyal reader Jake Lauer, a man who knows the symmetry of 3's and 1's when he sees them.

Lauer reports that Maddux reached No. 3,000 by getting the third strike for the third out in the third inning. Against a hitter wearing No. 13 (Omar Vizquel). Which allowed No. 31 (Maddux) to become the third player to have 3,000 K's, 300 wins and fewer than 1,000 walks. And also made him the 13th pitcher with 3,000 K's.

And after all that, it's still hard to believe Maddux didn't go 1-for-3 at the plate that day.

Fourth Prize: Useless Streak-Stopping Info
Johnny Damon just finished streaking to within one game of the Red Sox's second 30-game hitting streak of the last half-century (Nomar Garciaparra in 1997 being the other). But the big news wasn't just the snapping of Damon's streak.

Just as big, loyal reader Paul Schwarz theorizes, was the team that stopped it.

That team was (who else?) the Devil Rays, owner of the highest ERA of any team in the major leagues.

Think teams like that stop streaks that long all the time? Think again.

The last time the staff with the highest ERA in the sport pulled the plug on a streak of 25 games or more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, was 1987 -- when Cleveland ended Paul Molitor's 39-gamer.

Third Prize: Useless Straight A's Dept.
It's shaping up to be a big year for the A's, says loyal reader Eric Orns. ... But wait. Not those A's.

Nope, this is the A's in the alphabet. Of the 12 men who have hit the most home runs in the major leagues this year, Orns reports, half of them have first names that begin with an "A": Andruw, Adam, Albert, Alex, Aramis and Alfonso.

But there's only one other guy whose name starts with an "A" in the top 70 -- A.J. Pierzynski, at No. 49. So go figure. Or don't go figure. Whatever, this is the kind of note that makes Useless Information the inspired, yet ridiculous, monster it has become.

Second Prize: Useless 18-Wheeler Info
If we ever establish a Useless Infomaniac Hall of Fame, Eric Orns would make it on the first ballot. And as proof, here's his second prize-winning submission -- a breakdown of last week's fascinating 18-inning game between the Blue Jays and Angels:

Angels Blue Jays

• The 18 hits in this game were the fewest hits in a game of at least 18 innings since Aug. 8, 1972. And this was the first 18-plus inning game in at least 30 years in which neither team even got 10 hits.

• One word you'll almost never hear applied to a 4-hour, 50-minute game is "quick." But hey, it's all relative. By 18-inning standards, this one zipped along like a sitcom. It was the shortest 18-or-more-inning game since June 11, 1985 (4:44, by Giants-Braves).

• So how does a game that long move along that (ahem) fast? It's easy when no one ever gets on base. There were two streaks of at least six consecutive 1-2-3 innings. One ran from the bottom of the first through the bottom of the third (six). The other ran from the ninth through 13th innings (10). Altogether, there were an amazing 22 1-2-3 innings.

• But wait. This gets even better. There was a quasi-perfect game buried inside this classic, twirled by nine different relievers. It started with the top of the ninth and ended, after 27 consecutive outs, with a 14th-inning walk of Jeff DaVanon by Toronto's Jason Frasor. And the hitters actually combined to go 0-for-35 before Orlando Cabrera finally singled in the 15th, for the first hit of extra innings by either team. Unreal.

• Finally, before the Blue Jays won this epic in the 18th, the only runs in this game consisted of a run by each team in the ninth. And that means the two teams matched runs for 17 consecutive innings. That's the most consecutive duplicate innings in a game that didn't end 1-0 in at least 30 years.

After all that, we're almost sorry we weren't there. ... Almost.

First Prize: Useless Extra-Basing Info
A.J. Burnett has gotten a lot of attention lately -- but not for his hitting. That, however, is where the Useless Information gang comes in.

A.J. Burnett
Burnett

Loyal reader Brent Nevers and his sons, Travis and Austin, are the same people who made this column earlier this year when they asked how bizarre it was that Burnett had two hits this year -- and both were triples.

Well, they're back, because Burnett now is up to four hits. And the weird thing about that, it seems to them, is: None of the four happens to be a single (two triples, a double and his latest blast, a home run against the Giants).

So while the rest of the world was wondering last month if Burnett was going to get traded, the Nevers family was wondering something else: Has anyone ever gotten as many as four hits in a season and had none of them be singles?

Well, yeah, as a matter of fact. But it's a short list.

Nearly 50 years ago, a pitcher named Dixie Howell got five hits for the White Sox, and stopped at first during none of them (a double, a triple, three homers). But that's the whole darned list.

Too bad Burnett couldn't get traded to some AL team to keep his place in offensive history intact. But now, he's just going to have to earn it.

Special Useless Ja(y)son-itis Report
Ever since our June item in which we mentioned that the Dodgers had become the first team in history to have a guy named Jason homer in three games in a row, we've been bombarded with more fun adventures in Ja(y)son-itis. Here are our three favorites:

Jason LaRue
LaRue

Jayson Werth
Werth

• Loyal reader Jeff Snider reports that in a July 25 Reds-Dodgers game, the Dodgers sent Jason Phillips, Jayson Werth and Jason Repko to the plate in a row, to bat against Jason Standridge, with Jason LaRue catching. That has to be a record.

• Loyal reader Brad Feige caught Jason-itis Fever July 4, when he saw Werth, Phillips, Jason Grabowski and Repko strike out in succession in the eighth and ninth innings -- another spectacular slice of Ja(y)son-mania.

• And then there was a July 14 Dodgers-Giants game in which loyal reader Todd Haney spotted still more Ja(y)son-esque history. The two teams combined to start six players named Ja(y)son in that game -- Werth, Grabowski, Repko, Phillips and the Giants' contribution to this demented feat, Jason Ellison and Jason Schmidt. The good news that one-third of the starters and two-thirds of the starting outfielders in this game were named Ja(y)son. The bad news was that the six of them combined to go 2-for-19, with six strikeouts.

If you find this sort of thing fascinating -- and don't be embarrassed to admit you do (we're proud of it) -- feel free to drop us a cyber-line at uselessinfodept@yahoo.com.

Trivia Answer
Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com