An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Feature Search

Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | July 28, 2009

The 10 most unbreakable records in sports(pt. 3)

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna Capital Flyer sports writer

Editor's Note: This article is the third of a five part series counting down the 10 most unbreakable records in sports from 10 to 1.

6. Nolan Ryan 5,714 career strikeouts - Here's a question for you: When someone says Nolan Ryan, what comes to mind? I'm not going to lie, I immediately think of his beat down of Robin Ventura (if you haven't seen it, I have one word for you: YouTube). Some might think of his blistering fastball. Others might just say, "Isn't that the old guy who used to be on the Advil commercials?" No matter what your favorite Nolan Ryan story is, what should never be forgotten is the incredible pitching career he had.

In addition to the career strikeout record, Ryan also holds several other extremely impressive records (seven career no hitters and 383 strikeouts in a single season - two records that also will never be broken), but I chose to go with his career strikeout mark because the numbers blew me away.

Baseball scribe Don Ehrke said it best when he put Ryan's 5,714 career strikeouts into perspective. Ehrke said that if a pitcher were to strike out 250 batters a year for 20 years he'd still be 714 short of Ryan's mark. Additionally, Ehrke pointed out that no pitcher has had 250 strikeouts in a season since 2004.

If you need further proof that the record will never be broken, take a look at who sits behind Ryan on the strikeouts list. That is Randy Johnson who, while still active, stands a staggering 800 strikeouts behind Ryan.

Young stud pitchers like Tim Lincecum or Felix Hernandez are certainly off to great starts to their respective careers, but in this age of pitch counts and deep bullpens, starters are throwing less and less innings which ultimately will prevent anyone from getting close to Ryan's 5,714 strikeouts.

5. Bruce Smith's 200 career sacks
- Would it surprise you to know that the average NFL career lasts about three and a half years? That's it. There are really bad sitcoms that last longer than that. The NFL players (excluding quarterbacks and kickers) that actually make it to their 30th birthdays and are still considered Pro Bowl caliber are few and far between. There is no better example of this than the defensive lineman position, which is the most grueling in football. Case in point, of the 12 defensive lineman who made the 2009 NFL Pro Bowl, only one was under 30.

Bruce Smith dominated for more than 15 years at a position where that's just not supposed to happen. He had to deal with constant double teams from tight ends or running backs, chop blocks and the birth of the "West Coast offense" which saw short quick passing (less time to get to the quarterback) become the new fad.

An NFL player would have to average 15 sacks a season for 13 seasons to get close to Smith's record of 200. That's never going to happen for two reasons.

The first being that Smith was truly an aberration. To stay that dominant for that long takes quite a deal of skill, but just a little luck as well. In the 15 year span from 1986-2000, Smith collected less than 10 sacks only twice. That kind of dominance spread over such a long time period without any major injuries is something young defensive lineman in the NFL nowadays can only dream of.

Secondly, the NFL the past few years has become a much tougher place for veterans to play into their late 30's. Nobody should dispute that Bruce Smith was in the twilight of his career when he played with the Redskins from 2000-2003. During that time he accumulated 29 sacks, which coincidentally gave him a nice little cushion over the #2 sack leader, Reggie White. If he was any other player, Smith most likely wouldn't have seen that playing time or even had that roster spot.

Teams are at their very core, a business and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to sign a guy in his late 30's to the veteran minimum of $860,000 when they can sign some kid right out of college who at least has some potential to grow, for a third of that cost.

The series will continue next week with #4 and #3.