I sat on my couch watching ESPN's First Take this morning, they had Tommy Smyth and Tim Kurkjian debating which Triple Crown is harder to accomplish, and of course Smyth being the horse guy took that triple crown and Kurkjian took the baseball one.
Which got me to thinking, "Which one is harder?"
There have been 11 horses to win the triple crown, but none since Affirmed in 1978, which came a year after Seattle Slew won it. Since then there have been 11 horses that have had the opportunity to capture the elusive feat, but all have failed. Real Quiet was the closest, losing by a nose in 1998. The next year, Charismatic led the Belmont on the final furlong but broke his leg and finished third. Since 2000, only three horses have entered the Belmont with a change at history, War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003, and Smarty Jones in 2004.
Baseball has seen 16 men walk away with the triple crown. Carl Yastrzemski was the last to win the honor back in 1967. He accomplished it while hitting .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs while playing for the Boston Red Sox. The last National League player to win it was Joe Medwick in 1937, while playing with the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .374 with 31 home runs and driving in 154.
Now, with all respect meant to Mr. Smyth, who I love and respect, Tommy is totally wrong on this one. The baseball triple is so much harder to win. Mainly because you have guys like Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, and Vlad Guerrero that are big home run threats and not guys that are going to hit for average. On the flip side, guys like Ichiro and Derek Jeter are guys that are going to hit for average more than power. Then there is the RBI category. That is the one part that is totally out of the players control. It all depends on whether or not the guys in front of them get on base and more importantly are in scoring position when the hitter get up to the plate. This single category is what will keep most baseball players short of the triple crown.
This year Big Brown has a very strong chance to win the triple crown and believe that he will. Josh Hamilton and Lance Berkman are in the bidding to end baseball's triple crown drought, but I believe that neither man will win the crown.