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Two Short of the Record, the Wait Begins for Garrett Wittels

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Where have you gone Robin Ventura?

Quirky FIU sophomore Garrett Wittels, who always chews the same bubble gum and has an uncle bring a Voodoo doll to games, hit safely in his 56th consecutive game when his team lost to Dartmouth earlier this month. The loss eliminated FIU from the NCAA tournament. Fortunately, the kid is a sophomore. He’s not even draft eligible yet, so he will definitely have a chance to take aim at the 58 game hit streak that Robin Ventura went on at Oklahoma State. And now he’ll wait for nine months to play the most notable game of his career – at which point he’ll continue to play the most notable game of his career until he fails to get a hit in one of them. Whether we remember him after that moment will probably depend on his professional success, but congrats to the kid for the impressive achievement.

Nerd Alert** A player who hits .417, gets exactly four at bats a game and plays against completely average pitchers in every game has a 0.103% chance (or 1 in 967) of reaching a 56 game hit streak. And that’s a very good hitter with some extremely generous assumptions. Players don’t always play average pitchers. Bad pitchers hurt batters’ chances by taking away at-bats with walks and hit by pitches. Good pitchers take hits away with strikeouts and easily fielded balls in play. It’s extremely unlikely and requires at least as much luck as skill (or in Wittels’ case, it may just take Voodoo magic). Garrett Wittels joined Into the Night with Tony Bruno to discuss his next game, superstitions, MLB hitting streaks, meeting Robin Ventura and Bryce Harper.

On how long he has to wait before his next game:

“I have to wait until next year until the season starts back up in February. But the biggest thing, the hardest thing for me is to turn on the TV and still seeing some college baseball going on right now and knowing we could still be playing and I could still be on my streak.”

On talking with Robin Ventura:

“He was a great guy. Our conversation went really well. He was pulling for me. He was really cool with everything. He was a great guy. Just to mentioned in the same sentence with that kind of guy is just so honored to me because he went on to have a big league career with a lot different teams. He said he would be really happy for me and it would be a great record… Most people talk about Mr. Ventura’s streak because it’s at the same level. It’s metal bats. A lot of people say that there is a big difference between wood and metal. I think if you can hit, you can hit.”

On his superstitions:

“There’s just many different superstitions that I have obtained throughout the whole streak. There’s many that started at the beginning of the year with just the stuff that I do before the game. And things have came on. Little by little, I just try to change it up.”

On why MLB players haven’t approached 56 games since DiMaggio:

“You never know. It’s all about someone getting really lucky. A hitting streak is a lot of luck and a lot of skill and a lot of everything. You definitely have to be lucky though.”

On if Bryce Harper is better than him:

“I don’t know. He went first overall. He must be pretty good.”

And on if he will think about the streak every day in the off-season:

“I’m going to think about it. I don’t think it’s going to be on an every day basis. But, especially when the fall stars, it’s going to have me hungry to go out there and get better every single day and better our team. Not only because of the hit streak, because that is going to end one day, but be ready to go towards the end of the year next year.”
Listen to Garrett Wittels on Into the Night with Tony Bruno.

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