Monday, March 25, 2013
Martin Brodeur Is a Beast: 666
In the Bible's last book, The Revelation of St. John the Divine -- sometimes shortened to "The Revelation of John," or just "The Revelation," but not "The Book of Revelations," as some dimwits call it -- Chapter 13, Verse 1 (13:1) has John of Patmos (a.k.a. St. John the Divine or St. John the Evangelist) give this account of a prophecy he had:
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is six hundred threescore and six.
Those of you familiar with Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address know that, in this case, "score" refers to 20. So, 666.
Historians have speculated that the number 666 actually did refer to a specific man, not the Devil himself, or his son, a.k.a. the Antichrist. The most common one is Nero, Emperor of Rome from AD 54 to 69, which would have been in the lifetime of John the Evangelist.
(Most people don't study Roman history, and know only one thing about Nero. It isn't true: Records that have survived the 1st Century AD show that he wasn't even in Rome when a nasty fire broke out in AD 65. They also show that fires like that frequently happened in Rome, and that there wasn't anything particularly notable about it. They were rebuilding after fires all the time. Also, while he could have played the lyre, and is cited as playing the lyre during the fire, there were no violins, so "Nero fiddles while Rome burns" is a metaphor, and not a reflection of a true story.)
Whatever John the Evangelist actually meant by 666, the number does not actually refer to the Devil.
As for the New Jersey Devils hockey team, the name refers to the Jersey Devil, a mythical creature that came out of the Pine Barrens region of South Jersey -- which is generally considered to be the fandom territory of Philadelphia. Now, I realize that former Flyer captain Eric Lindros may well think of former Devils captain Scott Stevens as a demon, but if the Jersey Devil were real, and cared about hockey, he would most likely be a Flyer fan.
So calling the hockey team "The New Jersey Devils," when the Meadowlands Arena (the club's first home) was 100 miles from the home of the mythical Jersey Devil, would be like calling a team in Scranton the Lehigh Valley Skyscrapers, or a team in Connecticut's capital the Hartford Pilgrims.
On Saturday night, the Devils beat the Florida Panthers, 2-1. It was the 666th career regular-season win as a goaltender for Martin Brodeur.
Keep in mind, the previous record was 551 by Patrick Roy. Before that, 447 by Terry Sawchuk. Ed Belfour (484) and Curtis Joseph (454) have also surpassed Sawchuk, but are now retired. Second on the active list, behind Brodeur, is Roberto Luongo, with 346. In other words, if Luongo, the former Islander now with the Vancouver Canucks, who is about to turn 34, wins another three hundred games, he'll still be twenty (or "onescore") behind Brodeur.
Here's Brodeur's totals:
Regular season wins: 666
Playoff wins: 113
International wins: 17
So, he's been in goal for 779 wins for his club, and 17 more for his country. Martin Brodeur has 796 wins.
Think about that: Within 2 weeks, he is likely to win his 800th game.
How many of us, in our lifetimes, will even see 800 games, in all major league sports combined?
To put this in perspective: From 1996 through 2012, the Yankees won 1,652 regular-season games, and another 97 in the postseason. So, in the Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera era, the Yankees have won 1,749 games. The Devils, playing half as many regular-season games, have won 779 just with Marty in goal, not counting games won by his backups. So if you double Marty's wins -- not that I would expect someone to play in goal for a hockey team nearly every day for 6 months -- it's Jeter 1,779, Brodeur 1,558.
I know, it doesn't work that way, but it gives you an idea. We think of Jeter as the ultimate winner in baseball, but here we have a player who has set shocking records in his sport, probably unbreakable unless there's a significant rule change.
And Brodeur's being doing it for longer. Jeter will be 39 in June. Brodeur will be 41 in May. Jeter is about to start his 19th major league season -- albeit on the Disabled List, most likely -- while Brodeur is in the home stretch of his 20th. Jeter has been in the postseason in 18 of his 19, Brodeur in 18 of his 20. Jeter has played more games in a Yankee uniform that anyone, 2,585, a record previously held by Mickey Mantle at 2,401; and he and Rivera are about to break Mantle's record for most seasons in a Yankee uniform; Brodeur has played more games in goal than anyone. Rivera has more saves than anyone, and it isn't even close; Brodeur has more shutouts than any hockey goalie, 120, far ahead of Sawchuk's old "record that can never be broken," 103.
No, Martin Brodeur is not the Devil. But he is a Beast. And now he has the number to prove it.