Congratulations to Ryan Howard, who accomplished something really rare Thursday night. He didn’t strike out. Honest!
For me, the applause for reaching 200 home runs faster — in terms of games played — than anyone in history is muted by the noise-pollution of his strikeouts.
I’m not a big fan of the modern all-or-nothing style. It’s not baseball; it’s over-the-line, a game we used to play on the beach, in flip-flops.
Howard smacked his 200th on Thursday in his 658th game, 48 fewer than Ralph Kiner, the previous record-holder, had taken to get there.
But what about the toll of the power journey? Howard has been rung up 795 times. At the time he hit his 200th, Kiner had fanned about 450 times.
And he was ashamed about the strikeouts, most of which came earlier in his career. Then he learned the strike zone. By 1949, the season before he reached No. 200, Kiner hit 54 home runs — and struck out 61 times.
That’s a slow month for Howard, with his 795 strikeouts, already more than Kiner had in his entire career. Kiner was punched out a total of 749 times.