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04/02/10 9:00 AM ET

$3M Beat the Streak begins 10th season

Top prize yet to be claimed by contestants

In March 2001, MLB.com, then in its infancy, introduced MLB.com Beat the Streak.

Designed as a game that required a mere 15 seconds a day to play, Beat the Streak invited fans to pick the one player they believed would collect a hit every day, with the goal of building a streak that would topple the 56-game run put together by Joe DiMaggio in 1941.

At that point, iPods, YouTube and Facebook did not yet exist. The Diamondbacks were getting ready to roll behind the dominant 1-2 pitching punch of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, who would carry the club to a World Series championship over a Yankees team that was led by Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.

Like that quartet of Yankees, Beat the Streak not only survived, but thrived in subsequent seasons. In its 10th year of existence, the game's grand prize is being raised to $3 million, a number that matches the combined value of the top prizes from 2001-09.

A big reason for Beat the Streak's enduring success is the minimal time commitment involved. As advertised, it takes only 15 seconds to log on, check out the pitching matchups and select a player for the day, a major benefit for those trying to find a balance between the work, family and activities in their lives.

The escalating top prize also has raised the interest of fans along the way. In that first season, it was announced that the first participant to compile a 57-game streak would win a trip to the 2002 National Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend. In subsequent years, that prize evolved into two season tickets for the team of choice, then a cash payout that started at $10,000 in 2004 and skyrocketed to $1.5 million in '09.

Longest BTS streaks
Since BTS play began, 28 contestants have compiled streaks of at least 40 games.
User Year Games
Mike Karatzia 2007 49
Bob Paradise 2008 48
Jonathan Afanador 2007 46
Andrew Pattock 2007 45
Tanner Nielsen 2009 45
Joe Grant 2007 44
toenail2010 2007 44
Mark Gray 2005 43
Curt Jacquot 2007 43
Mike Hamman 2009 43
Tony Deceanne 2005 42
Dick Goulet 2009 42
Brian Anderson 2007 41
Robert Moore 2007 41
jtfluet5 2008 41
Eric Dodson 2009 41
jagzrule77 2009 41
phadrus74 2009 41
tshalterman 2009 41
Ken D'Introno 2004 40
John Quinlan 2005 40
Brian Perry 2006 40
Reid Choroszy 2007 40
smashed3006 2007 40
Kevin Gilkenson 2007 40
Joshua Kyle Rivard 2007 40
GBaby 2009 40
enronshorttrader 2009 40

This year, the stakes have been raised again, with a jackpot of $3 million set to be awarded to the participant who successfully gets a hit for 57 consecutive days.

No one has reached that magic number through nine years of BTS play, though several fans have come close. The all-time mark is 49 games, set by New Jersey resident Mike Karatzia in 2007. Utah State University student Tanner Nielsen topped the field in 2009 with his 45-game run, tied for the fourth-longest streak of all time. He was one of nine fans to reach the 40-game plateau last year, and one of 28 in the game's history.

Those numbers represent both the inherent simplicity and difficulty of Beat the Streak. With most starting position players expected to earn four or five at-bats per game, the laws of mathematics indicate that it shouldn't be hard to find someone capable of collecting at least one hit on a given day.

However, the odds become steeper when it comes to stringing together a streak that reaches 20, then 25, then 30 games. Sometimes, even a monster masher such as Albert Pujols will go 0-for-4 against a pitcher he normally rips. At other times, a hot hitter will simply be shut down by an overpowering performance from an unheralded rookie.

Indeed, the human factor has proven to be the great equalizer when it comes to beating the streak. It's a factor that causes its share of frustration but ultimately keeps the game interesting and challenging. And one of these years, a BTS user will find fortune smiling upon him or her and ride that wave all the way to a titanic prize.

Fans of the BTS format also may enjoy Home Run Beat the Streak, in which the goal is to pick one player every day to hit a home run. The user who logs the longest home run streak of at least 11 games wins a $10,000 prize.

Similarly, MLB.com Survivor follows the same streak-building formula, only this time, the focus is on picking one team to win every day. The magic number for Survivor is 37, with a $10,000 prize and a trip to the 2011 All-Star Game to be awarded to the first fan to reach that mark.

Regardless of whether you're a hardcore fantasy type or a casual baseball follower with a busy life, there's always time for BTS. While times have changed since it was first rolled out in 2001, two things have remained constant: It still requires only 15 seconds to play. And the world is still waiting for someone to go on that magical run and finally Beat the Streak.

Tim Ott is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.