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Marathon Runners, the .400 Season, and the Limits of the Possible

"Did you know I lead the league in batting average?"
"Did you know I lead the league in batting average?"

I'm not really a sports omnivore. I love baseball, I will occasionally flip on a basketball game (more often college than NBA), and if someone has a game or match on, I can develop a rooting interest in football, soccer or tennis for a few hours.

But every once in a while, something happens in sports that makes me stop and consider.

A 2:03 marathon is one of those things. The man averaged close to 13 mph for 2 hours on foot. His marathon speed tops my dash. Brandon might stand a better chance.

It makes me think of the marathon of a .400 season, and wonder again whether or not the feat is achievable by modern man.

When Ted Williams hit .400 for the Boston Red Sox, African Americans weren't allowed to play Major League Baseball. No player had yet considered crossing the Pacific to play, and Williams took most of his ABs against the same pitcher throughout the game. But, Williams didn't have video to pour over, didn't have the dynamically tapered modern bat, and didn't have fitness regiments (or enhancements).

At times I've thought that a .400 season would be unachievable, but I wonder. I think of how many walks Barry Bonds drew while serving as the only hitter in the Giants' offense. A .400 season would have to happen to a patient hitter with great contact skills, a slugger playing on a contender. The kind of player who teams will pitch around and who can wait for his pitch.

Apparently, the elite marathoners train at high altitudes to condition their muscles for the grueling run. It makes me wonder what the next (legal) innovation will be to help the hitters.