On Sunday, Aaron Brown was out cutting the grass when Dustin Pedroia recorded a single in the fifth inning. On Monday, he was working when he received a text message saying that Joey Votto had singled in the opening frame of the Reds' game against the Mets.
And each time, Brown inched a bit closer to a $5.6 million grand prize. Brown is the current Beat the Streak leader, and his season-high-tying streak of successful selections reached 43 with Votto's hit on Monday night. Michael Ray, 28, of Brenham, Texas, was the lone BTS player with a claim on a 2013 run that long before Brown tied him.
"It's pretty cool to be tied for the lead at 43; obviously, I would love to be at 44 by this time tomorrow night," Brown said in an email to MLB.com. "But it's been fun so far, although now it's getting tougher each day. ... But if it happens, that would be pretty cool. If not, nothing I can do about it. I realize one of the toughest things to do is hit a baseball, so I can't be mad if the guy I pick doesn't get a hit. If you were to watch me play when I was younger, I would have been a great example of that point."
Brown, a 30-year-old from Sterling Heights, Mich., is the director of school development for My Virtual Academy, an online schooling option for students in Grades 6-12. He also serves as an assistant baseball coach for Parkway Christian School.
In Beat the Streak, participants try to establish a virtual "hitting streak" by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with their run continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit in that game. Nobody has matched Joe DiMaggio's magic number of 56 from 1941, but an average of about three per season reach 40, and the record of 49 was set in 2007. So far this year, only two contestants have reached the 40-pick plateau.
If Brown can extend his streak to 57, he'll take home the $5.6 million grand prize. As of now, Brown said his only plan for the money would be paying off his student loans. But he's not getting that far ahead of himself just yet.
"It's all just luck and hoping that you picked the right matchup," Brown wrote via email. "I'm amazed that I'm sitting here at 43 straight and wouldn't be surprised if this ended before 57."
But so far, Brown's picks have been on the money. He said he picked Votto on Monday because the Reds slugger had good numbers against Mets starter Shaun Marcum, and on Sunday, Brown went against his preference to avoid picking Boston or New York players by going with Pedroia.
But mostly, Brown has relied on his hometown players, particularly reigning American League Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder has kept Brown's streak alive on six occasions, and outfielder Torii Hunter came through during his one and only opportunity. But Cabrera is the one responsible for 18 of Brown's 43 picks.
"Miggy is amazing! His work ethic is tremendous, and he is the best hitter in the game," Brown said. "His transition to third base after Prince arrived has been remarkable, and the city of Detroit just loves his attitude and effort. I think the best thing about his game is that he's always smiling and having fun. He realizes that he is playing a game and enjoys being out there every day.
"We have tried to teach our players that this year -- to go out and have fun -- but it's not an easy thing to coach. Some guys take the game too serious, which just makes what Miguel is doing that more amazing. Yes, I do think that he could win a second Triple Crown. He is just that good. Best player of this generation."
Will Brown lean on Cabrera again come Tuesday to take the 2013 lead with a 44-game streak? Time will tell. And if the last two days have been any indication, someone might have to tell Brown if and when his pick's first hit lands safely.