Unintentionally, I will be testing an old baseball tradition by writing this article. I’ve been postponing it for at least a few game precisely because I didn’t want to jinx it. This being Jackie Bradley’s torrid start to the 2016 season, in which he now has a 28-game hitting streak. Like any other accomplishment in baseball, (no-hitter, perfect game) you’re not supposed to talk about it. But when that accomplishment spans over a month, I think you’re given some leeway.
Bradley, after hitting a horrendous .196 in his first two seasons between the Sox and Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket has hit .412 during the streak. He now owns a .346 average on the year, trailing only teammate Xander Bogaerts (.349) in the American League.
Any time a hit streak reaches a number of this magnitude, it’s almost assured to be the longest in the major leagues. In my lifetime I can only remember Luis Castillo’s 2002 streak (35) while somehow forgetting about Jimmy Rollins’ 38-game streak. Who knows h0w much longer Bradley can keep it going, but as he has gone so have the Sox. To the best of my knowledge, that’s why it’s been so easy for Bradley’s streak to be possible, and for him to not feel pressure during it. In this year’s Sox lineup, between the top two averages in the AL and Ortiz cementing his legacy with what’s sure to be a monstrous year, it’s not a matter of if someone will have a big night but who. It’s Big Papi going 4-4 with a near cycle one night and Mookie Betts going 2-4 with a clutch home run the next.
This team is just clicking and the exuberance and swagger is something I haven’t seen since the 2013 team brought home another World Series. In that year, even in April, I saw enough to say to myself “This team is going to win it all.” And sure I could’ve been wrong, much like this year, but with pro sports teams filled with egos and me-first personas, it becomes harder and harder to see what you’re seeing now. Teammates getting along. Everyone happy for tonight’s star, knowing someone else will be tomorrow’s. Sacrificing for the betterment of the team. And most importantly, having a ton of fun. If you haven’t seen Bradley’s win celebration with outfielders Betts and Chris Young/Brock Holt, you need to. The ultimate picture-says-a-thousand-words scenario.
As for Bradley, he’s a mere six games away from breaking Dom Dimaggio’s team record. A little further away from the other Dimaggio but I don’t think he’s concerned. He’s got bigger things to worry about. Like winning another World Series for the city, and getting to experience his first.
Update: I took in the Sox game in person last night to see Jackie go 2-4 and extend the streak to 29. What a joyous occasion.