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2009: The Year of The Cycle
**This is cross-posted from my Facebook account where it originally appeared. I know there are a few baseball fans here on LJ that are not in my network on FB and felt they might enjoy the article.**

Major League Baseball seems to create the mythology of eras for its fans. In recent years there has been the "juiced ball" era and sadly the juiced player era. For any one of these periods, it is the fans or analysts that declare the birth and death of an era, not the MLB organization or players. These are grass roots constructs generally built by someone looking into the statistics of a season or groups of season and noting some statistical differences that set the years apart from past performances.

To continue this trend, I am close to declaring 2009 The Cycle Season.

For those of you that may not follow baseball closely, a player is said to have "hit for the cycle" if he comes to the plate and hits a single, a double, a triple, and a homerun in the same game. Generally triples are an artifact of a speedy runner hitting a ball into a gap in the outfield while homeruns require the power to drive a ball out of the park. This means that most players that hit for the cycle are well-rounded players with the ability to demonstrate both speed and power. Not a common thing.

In fact, hitting for the cycle has only occurred 286 times in MLB, starting in 1882 when Curry Foley of the Buffalo Bisons put his name in the record books. That works out to 286 cycles in 128 seasons for an average of 2.23 cycles per season: slightly more common than the no-hitter which has an average of 1.91 occurrences per season. Looking at these numbers can make one appreciate the anticipation felt among the fans when a player comes to the plate late in a ballgame with 3/4 of a cycle completed. Everyone wants to see a bit of history, to share in a special moment.

Now, with all this said, why am I considering 2009 to be The Cycle Season? Already in the 2009 MLB season, with teams having completed 12 or fewer games, 3 players have hit for the cycle: Orlando Hudson of the Dodgers on 13 April, Ian Kinsler of the Rangers on 15 April, and Jason Kubel of the Twins on 17 April. That is 3 players hitting for the cycle in the span of 5 days! If we pretend that statistics works the way everyone else pretends they do (aka incorrectly), we would project that the 2009 season will average 1 cycle per 4 games of the season for a total of *drumroll* 40 cycles! Well, actually it came out to be 40.5 but I don't want to get crazy and set the expectations too high.

There it is folks, in black and white. The 2009 MLB season will be The Year of the Cycle, The Season of The Cycle, The Cycle Season, etc. Hitters will be accumulating Bi-cycles and tri-cycles. Some player will probably achieve a cycle with an inside-the-park home run causing it to be dubbed a motor-cycle. Announcers on ESPN and other sports networks will be finding new uses for cycle-related terms such as recycling or polycyclic(1).

So get the bandwagon rolling early and get these terms into your vocabulary now. Look cool in front of your sports fan buddies as you sit watching Sunday's Cubs vs Cardinals game explaining The Year of The Cycle that lies ahead.

1 - Well, polycyclic may be a bit too much to ask of sports commentators, but having studied both organic chemistry and mathematics where the term is used, I had to throw it in there.

This material is mine. Do not steal my words or ideas without permission.
Kelly Pendergraft


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