"I'm from an older generation and not used to computer games," said Paradise. "I watched a friend do it a few times, and thought it looked like fun. It helped that it was free, too."
In an interesting twist of fate, Paradise's extended BTS success came after he survived a bit of a scare. While driving on May 14, he was essentially run off the road by another driver headed the wrong way.
Paradise managed to avoid a major crash, but he still was pretty shaken, and he forgot all about taking the time to make a BTS pick.
"I already had a four-game streak going at that point," he noted, "so my streak might have gone even longer if I had gotten around to doing a pick that day."
Paradise attempted to get back on the horse the following morning, which happened to be the 47th anniversary of the beginning of Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game streak. Had Paradise successfully selected a player that day, his streak would have eerily mirrored the one posted by Joltin' Joe.
His pick -- Hanley Ramirez -- did not play, so BTS history would have to wait another day. Still, Paradise was amazed by how closely the dates matched once his streak gained serious momentum.
"I thought it was a sign that I was on my way to something special," he said.
Paradise's method for choosing players throughout his run was pretty simple, although it came with a personal touch. Every morning, he woke up at around 5:30 or 6:00 to go through the pitching stats posted on the Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum main page. Then he drew on his experience as a former college baseball player. As Paradise described it, "If I felt I could get a hit off a pitcher, I chose an opposing hitter for that day."
Of course, as anybody who checked out the Beat the Streak Report would have noticed, Paradise also employed the tried-and-true method of picking the hottest hitter available. He selected switch-hitting thumpers Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman a combined 16 times during the course of his streak, which is hardly surprising;
Jones has been flirting with .400 for the entire season, and Berkman wasn't far behind until recently.
Paradise also kept his streak alive by successfully tabbing Ichiro Suzuki 11 times during his streak. The Seattle outfielder is regularly among the most popular Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum picks, as he receives plenty of at-bats from the leadoff spot, doesn't walk much and has the speed to beat out slow dribblers for hits.
Unfortunately, the 12th time turned out to be unlucky for Paradise. On July 4, Ichiro went hitless in his first three
at-bats before heading to the plate to face Detroit's Kenny Rogers a fourth time.
Up until that point, Paradise had all the faith in the world that Ichiro would come through for him. The Seattle speedster's
aforementioned abilities had something to do with it, but Paradise was also feeling good because his streak had rarely come down to a player's final at-bat. It happened once during the streak's infancy, with Lance Berkman, but most of his picks delivered the goods with an at-bat or two to go. Paradise figured he was more than due for some late-inning magic.
Alas, it wasn't to be for the soft-spoken woodworker, who saw his monumental run end and hopes for a $1 million jackpot dashed when Rogers plunked Ichiro with a pitch.
"Getting hit by a pitch was a huge disappointment," said Paradise. "The only consolation was that Grady Sizemore, my second choice, was pinch-hit for in his last at-bat. I guess it was not meant for spooky93 to break Joe D.'s hitting streak -- not yet, anyway!"
So it's back to the drawing board for Paradise, who will once again pour through the statistics and determine whether he can handle a particular pitcher's heater when making his pick.
Oh, and the screen name spooky93? It comes from Paradise's cat, Spooky, who was adopted sometime around Halloween in 1993.
With his feline pet providing some good luck, perhaps Paradise will enjoy nine lives of BTS success and reach magic No. 57 in one of his next lengthy streaks.