Wednesday’s Podcast: The Student-Athlete

As recent episodes of our new sports history podcast have touched on the history of the NCAA, debates over amateurism, and the role of sports in college admissions, we’ve talked a lot about student-athletes. So it seemed like it was high time we talked to a couple of actual student-athletes.

This week on The 252 we’re joined by Bethel University students Jana Roste (a senior math education/physical education double-major and slugging outfielder for the Royals’ softball team) and her younger brother Jaran (a sophomore accounting and business/political science double-major who is the Royals’ starting quarterback, after spending a redshirt freshman season with the University of Minnesota). They shared their stories of growing up playing multiple sports in a small city in western Minnesota, what it’s like to balance academic and athletic commitments in Division III, how sports connects to their faith as Christians, and how Jana is facing the end of her athletic career.

Jana Roste playing softball, Jaran Roste playing football Jana and Jaran in action – photos: Bethel University Athletic Department

In addition, we celebrated the career of Ichiro Suzuki, debated whether major league baseball could become a trans-Pacific enterprise, and checked in on our March Madness brackets.

As always, you can download or stream episodes of The 252 at Podbean, and follow us — with the rest of our Live from AC2nd podcasting colleagues — at Facebook.

Let me add a mea culpa here: on the fly, I strenuously insisted that Ichiro Suzuki was a vastly better player than Pete Rose… perhaps even comparable to the great (and horrible) Ty Cobb. A quick perusal of shows that the numbers don’t bear out either comparison. Here are those three players’ career totals if you start with their age 27 season (when Ichiro started his MLB career):

Years WAR Slash Line OPS+ Hits SB
Ty Cobb 1914-1928 87.6 .365/.441/.510 160 2589 444
Pete Rose 1968-1986 61.5 .305/.381/.408 120 3357 158
Ichiro Suzuki 2001-2019 59.4 .311/.355/.402 107 3089 509

Now, Ichiro’s performance clearly tailed off badly in the second half of his MLB career. But even if you look at the same measures from each player’s single best streak of five seasons from age 27 on, Ichiro is roughly similar to Rose… and both are still far behind Cobb (whose best seasons actually preceded his 27th birthday). I think Ichiro was clearly the best defender of the three, but I doubt fielding overcomes the other statistical differences.

Years WAR Slash Line OPS+ Hits SB
Ty Cobb 1915-1919 40.9 .377/.452/.516 187 986 281
Pete Rose 1972-1976 31.4 .314/.396/.425 133 1038 31
Ichiro Suzuki 2001-2005 29.9 .332/.377/.442 120 1130 190