The Cleveland Indians are the biggest story in baseball with their incredible, 22-win run (an American League record and the best winning streak in 100 years), dating back to Aug. 24. That's just one way to streak in this sport, so let's go streaking through all the streaks of significance in the game's long and storied history. (Listed in chronological order from when the streaks first started.)
The winning streak
26 games: New York Giants, Sept. 7 to Sept. 30, 1916
The 1916 Giants were managed by the legendary John McGraw, whose New York teams won 18 straight in '04, 17 in '07, and 16 in '12. This run was a last-chance power drive, a desperate (and ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to make a late run at the NL pennant. That Giants team was simply strange. It started out 2-13, only to eventually erupt with a 17-game binge (all on the road) and, late in the year, this 26-game roll that occurred entirely at home. Alas, they finished in fourth.
In light of the Indians' ongoing run, there has been much discussion over whether this was, in fact, a winning streak. You'll see plenty of reference to the alleged "tie" after win No. 12, and debate over whether it ought to disqualify the Giants and leave the 2017 Indians with the "real" record of 22 (besting the 1935 Cubs, who won 21 straight). A little deeper explanation makes it more clear why this is the mark Elias Sports Bureau -- baseball's official records keeper -- considers to be the record.
The game in question was the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 18 that was suspended by rain after the eighth with the game tied, 1-1. Back then, suspended games weren't picked up and completed later like they are now. They were replayed completely (odd though it may be, that was the arrangement at the time). The supposed "tie" was actually replayed as part of a doubleheader the following day. So the Sept. 18 game was basically wiped from the record, and the Giants went on to win another 13 straight. What transpired on Sept. 18 wasn't really a "tie," then. It was just, well … it was nothing, officially. Same as it would be today if a game was wiped out by rain in the fourth.
"Maybe people get confused, because when I was a kid in hockey and football, tie games were acceptable outcomes," said Steve Hirdt, the executive vice president of Elias. "But a tie game was never an acceptable result of a baseball game. So this is a totally made-up, so-called controversy. I'm not even going to say it's a controversy. This is settled."
The bottom line is that it would be great if the Indians could get to 27 straight so that we never have to bother talking about the 1916 suspended game again. But 26 is the record.
The postseason winning streaks
12 games: Yankees (twice), Oct. 5, 1927 to Oct. 2, 1932 and Oct. 10, 1998 to Oct. 14, 1999; also: 14 straight World Series games, Oct. 22, 1996 to Oct. 22, 2000
Were you expecting a team other than the Bronx Bombers? The Babe Ruth-era installment came during championship runs in 1927, '28 and '32, and the Derek Jeter-led dynasty of the late '90s went unbeaten from Game 4 of the 1998 ALCS through a World Series sweep of the Padres and up until Game 3 of the following year's ALCS. The streak-snapping loss to the Red Sox didn't stop the Yanks from winning another six straight to take a second straight title. It's also worth noting that the Yankees won 14 straight World Series games, from 1996 (the final four games against the Braves) to 2000 (the first two against the Mets, before their crosstown rivals snapped the streak in Game 3; the Yanks still went on to win that Series in five). The postseason streak and the World Series streak, of course, had some overlap.
The hitting streak
56: Joe DiMaggio, May 15 to July 16, 1941
You know how many players have had a 20-game hitting streak this season? Zero. Whit Merrifield had a 19-gamer snapped in June, Jose Altuve had a 19-gamer snapped in July, and that's as close as anybody has come to Joe D. this year.
There are fundamental facts about today's game that make the already unobtainable DiMaggio mark even more of a pipe dream. When Jackie Bradley Jr. hit in an MLB-high 29 straight last season, he faced 69 pitchers. DiMaggio faced just 54 in nearly twice as many games. Combine the bullpen usage patterns with the shifts and the strikeout rates and the inherent increase in media attention, and 56 is pretty much unfathomable.
The championships streak
5: Yankees, 1949-53
There was a period of 27 years in the 1930s, '40s and '50s in which a New York team won the World Series 19 times. Simply incredible (and likely not something that would be sustainable today). The Yanks won five straight, six of seven, 12 of 18. Any way you slice it, it was the kind of dominance that inspires good theater and, eventually, bad hair metal.
The consecutive games played streak
2,632: Cal Ripken Jr., May 30, 1982 to Sept. 19, 1998
Knowing Ripken's streak-breaking moment was coming on Sept. 6, 1995, did nothing to distill the majesty of the moment. And the further we get from this streak, the more we can appreciate it. In a year in which MLB instituted the 10-day DL, players have been put on the shelf an average of 22 times per team. Sports in general have evolved to the point where rest management is considered a legitimate skillset.
Ripken's streak survived a badly twisted knee from a benches-clearing brawl, a broken nose from an All-Star photo shoot gone awry, the possibility of a replacement player taking his spot at short in 1995 and, generally, the physical toll of his position, particularly for someone so oversized. From June 1982 through September 1987, Ripken actually played 8,243 consecutive innings, breaking the obscure record set by George Pinkney of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in the 1800s.
The division titles streak
14: Braves, 1991-2005
A generation of Atlantans went through their school years and experienced nothing but the Braves finishing in first place. We can quibble with their second-place standing (they trailed the Expos by six games) when the 1994 strike hit, but there's no point in making assumptions about an ending that didn't exist. The bottom line is that the Braves built a well-oiled machine. It famously didn't hold up nearly as well in October (the division-rival Marlins won more titles in this timeframe than the Braves did), but it certainly held up to the grind of 162.
The Cy Young streaks
4: Greg Maddux, 1992-95, and Randy Johnson, 1999-2002
Maddux went a combined 75-29 with a 1.98 ERA, 202 ERA+ and 0.95 WHIP in 124 starts during his run. He garnered at least an 85-percent share of first-place votes each year, so he wasn't really challenged. The Big Unit went a combined 81-27 with a 2.48 ERA, 187 ERA+ and 1.04 WHIP in 140 appearances in his Cy streak. He had at least an 84-percent share of first-place votes in all four years.
The sheer mass of numbers and the personal parsing of those numbers by the various voting members of the BBWAA only add to the difficulty of winning four straight MVP or Cy Young Awards in the current climate.
The MVP streak
4: Barry Bonds, 2001-04
This very easily could have been five straight, because the argument for Bonds in 2000 was every bit as strong as it was for teammate Jeff Kent, who won the award. Anyway, Bonds slashed a ridiculous .349/.559/.809 with an average of 52 homers, 28 doubles and 110 RBIs in this four-season stretch. By pure numbers, he was quite clearly the National League MVP Award winner all four years. Of course, votes don't always come down to pure numbers, and by the end of this run, controversy and skepticism surrounded Bonds. It was around this time that Bonds relayed to the New York Times that his wife Liz had told him, "Just think how many MVPs you would have won if the people voting actually liked you." Bonds garnered first-place votes on 30 of 32 ballots in 2001, a perfect 32 of 32 in '02, 28 of 32 in '03 and 24 of 32 in '04, which was his final NL MVP Award year.
10 other streaks of note
Plate appearances with a hit: 12 -- Cubs' Johnny Kling in 1902, Tigers' Walt Dropo in '52
Games with an RBI: 17 -- Cubs' Ray Grimes in 1922
Games without a strikeout: 115 -- Indians' Joe Sewell in 1929
Pitcher wins: 24 -- Giants' Carl Hubbell, 1936-37
Games reaching base twice: 21 -- Red Sox's Ted Willliams in 1948 (notable here because the Reds' Joey Votto came one game shy of tying this streak in August)
Games reaching base: 84 -- Williams in 1949
All-Star Games: 25 -- Braves' Hank Aaron, 1955-75 (with multiple games played from '59-62)
Games with a home run: 8 -- Pirates' Dale Long in 1956, Yankees' Don Mattingly in '87, Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. in '93
Successful stolen-base attempts: 50 -- Cardinals' Vince Coleman, 1988-89
Scoreless innings pitched: 59 -- Dodgers' Orel Hershiser in 1988 (streak expands to 67 2/3 if '88 postseason and start of '89 is added)
Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.