Archive for September, 2006

The Stink of Losing

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Last season the Brewers strained to reach the year above .500, each late September game was marked with the Brewers TV announcers tracking the games being played in hope that the record of consecutive losing seasons would end.

Alas, they fell short and landed just at .500, they still were not a winning team, they stunk. The hope of extinguishing the stink of years of losing is easier said then done, and from what I gather it can provide a TV production crew with an easy storyline to pursue in the waning days of another mediocre season.

Yeah, I said mediocre. As in what the Reds, Pirates and Brewers have been churning out the past few seasons, mediocre seasons marked with exceptional performances here and there, but mostly a big box of stink with a bow on it.

But what is the real stink of losing?

The game has many heroes and many dynasties and as we examined earlier this season every object in the game often has a doppelganger, a shadow to the part that soaks up the sunshine. This of course means that some teams have had little cause to celebrate over the years, nor have they hoisted trophies and danced in the rain of ticker tape on sunny afternoons or waved their arms from topless sedans with their pretty wives. They didn’t cash checks that enhanced their meager or generous salaries and they never got to speak about the wonders of playing for the biggest prize of all.

They are the teams that sat on the outside at the seasons end, they were the teams that produced legends of ineptitude that virtually poured out of their dugouts and became the quarry of the dynasties we were weaned on as we learned about the game.

They were the stinkers, and chances are good that your team was once one of them too. Let’s take a look at them. In this breakdown we’ll assign each level of stink with a star rating, as in one star, two star, etc. Except we are going to skip the One Star Rating. Conside rthat as minor, like Stuckeys is to dining.

One of the rules of the study is that you have to have 5 seasons of sub .500 seasons to get past the one star ratings, a .500 record will not break the string, but it can not start a string either. Another rule is expansion teams are allowed a 10 year grace period, thus no Mets or Senators Version 2.0 until 1973 and 1972 .

To kick it off we’ll run through what I term the “Two Star Stink” that would be any run of losing seasons that goes from 5-7 years. It’s the most common run of bad teams or bad luck, and it’s the bottom floor entrance into the realm of the 2-5 Star stink, and the infamy that tags along with it, so lets go there starting with the deadball era

** Two Star Stink

St. Louis Browns
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YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1909  7th     61   89  .407   36
1910  8th     47  107  .305   57
1911  8th     45  107  .296   56.5
1912  7th     53  101  .344   53
1913  8th     57   96  .373   39
1914  5th     71   82  .464   28.5
1915  6th     63   91  .409   39.5

1916  5th     79   75  .513   12

Here’s the Browns players with the best OPS vs the league in that span, 500 PA’s minimum, note the ones you’ve heard about.

OPS                          DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE
Frank LaPorte              .080     .792     .711
Tilly Walker               .074     .742     .668
Del Pratt                  .067     .746     .679
Burt Shotton               .030     .716     .686
Ivan Howard                .030     .697     .667
Gus Williams               .023     .702     .679
George Stone               .019     .656     .637
Art Griggs                 .007     .643     .637
Danny Hoffman             -.005     .641     .645
Jimmy Austin              -.033     .655     .688

Need I go on?

Branch Rickey once saved this bunch too, they turned their back on him.

Oops!

Cincinnati Reds
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1910  5th     75   79  .487   29
1911  6th     70   83  .458   29
1912  4th     75   78  .490   29
1913  7th     64   89  .418   37.5
1914  8th     60   94  .390   34.5
1915  7th     71   83  .461   20
1916  T7th    60   93  .392   33.5

1917  4th     78   76  .506   20

The Reds were a shoestring outfit in the teens; they lost their manager after the 1911 season, and went through a succession of managers (O’Day, Tinker. Herzog) before they acquired Mathewson to run the team in July of 1916. During this time they did manage to open up a new ballpark and the employ the first Cuban ballplayer in MLB history. However they were not able to get above .500 for 7 straight years.

Brooklyn Dodgers
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YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1933  6th     65   88  .425   26.5
1934  6th     71   81  .467   23.5
1935  5th     70   83  .458   29.5
1936  7th     67   87  .435   25
1937  6th     62   91  .405   33.5
1938  7th     69   80  .463   18.5
1939  3rd     84   69  .549   12.5

1940  2nd     88   65  .575   12

Brooklyn? Is Brooklyn still in the league?

1933-1939
ERA                        DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE
Giants                     0.40     3.46     3.86
Cubs                       0.35     3.52     3.86
Pirates                    0.16     3.71     3.86
Braves                     0.12     3.74     3.86
Cardinals                  0.08     3.78     3.86
Reds                       -.01     3.87     3.86
Dodgers                    -.17     4.03     3.86
Phillies                   -.95     4.81     3.86

The above is the NL’s ERA vs the league for the span of the Dodgers stink.

Below are the Dodgers position players who accrued the most at bats during the span.

AT BATS                     AB      RC/G
Joe Stripp                 2033     -.63
Lonny Frey                 1664     0.30
Cookie Lavagetto           1577     0.70
Buddy Hassett              1526     -.07
Sam Leslie                 1430     1.29
Babe Phelps                1380     1.58
Tony Cuccinello            1373     -.20
Jim Bucher                 1307    -1.31
Buzz Boyle                 1285     0.43
Jimmy Jordan               1273    -2.09

Stink is often the result of the lack of quality on both sides of the ball.

Senators
---------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1937  6th     73   80  .477   28.5
1938  5th     75   76  .497   23.5
1939  6th     65   87  .428   41.5
1940  7th     64   90  .416   26
1941  T6th    70   84  .455   31
1942  7th     62   89  .411   39.5

1943  2nd     84   69  .549   13.5

1946  4th     76   78  .494   28
1947  7th     64   90  .416   33
1948  7th     56   97  .366   40
1949  8th     50  104  .325   47
1950  5th     67   87  .435   31
1951  7th     62   92  .403   36

1952  5th     78   76  .506   17

The demise of the Senators franchise was a direct result of long time ownership that was rooted in a part of the game that was vanishing not having the foresight or the means to create a vast minor league system to exploit. The Senators instead farmed Cuba at a time that it had only been looked at by a few teams. This however didn’t save them from turning together two streaks of six seasons of stink from 1937-1952. This sort of run was partially a result of wartime baseball and old time baseball and it certainly led to the departure west later on.

Boston Braves
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YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1939  7th     63   88  .417   32.5
1940  7th     65   87  .428   34.5
1941  7th     62   92  .403   38
1942  7th     59   89  .399   44
1943  6th     68   85  .444   36.5
1944  6th     65   89  .422   40
1945  6th     67   85  .441   30

1946  4th     81   72  .529   15.5

The first 4 1/2 years of this debacle were managed by Casey Stengel, who later went on to become a genius in the 50’s. On his young rookie Bama Rowell, Casey said… “He has everything to learn.” To compound his misery Casey was struck by a car before the opening of the 1943 season and broke his leg.

Cubs
---------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1940  5th     75   79  .487   25.5
1941  6th     70   84  .455   30
1942  6th     68   86  .442   38
1943  5th     74   79  .484   30.5
1944  4th     75   79  .487   30

1945  1st     98   56  .636   +3

Barely sneaking in to this group is the Cubs from 1940-1944, in that span they finished near the league average in pitching and hitting; only 2 of their stinkers had winning percentages below .484.

Chicago White Sox
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YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1944  7th     71   83  .461   18
1945  6th     71   78  .477   15
1946  5th     74   80  .481   30
1947  6th     70   84  .455   27
1948  8th     51  101  .336   44.5
1949  6th     63   91  .409   34
1950  6th     60   94  .390   38

1951  4th     81   73  .526   17
OPS                         DIFF   PLAYER   LEAGUE     AB
Minnie Minoso              .176     .917     .741      516
Eddie Robinson             .117     .875     .759      992
Wally Moses                .062     .760     .698     1272
Johnny Dickshot            .057     .750     .692      648
Luke Appling               .050     .788     .738     2260
Tony Cuccinello            .042     .734     .692      532
Gus Zernial                .040     .815     .775      760
Guy Curtright              .019     .715     .696      577
Taffy Wright               .008     .739     .731     1278
Thurman Tucker            -.003     .708     .712     1138

Jimmy Dickshot?

I ain’t going there.

Cleveland Indians
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YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1960  4th     76   78  .494   21
1961  5th     78   83  .484   30.5
1962  6th     80   82  .494   16
1963  T5th    79   83  .488   25.5
1964  T6th    79   83  .488   20

1965  5th     87   75  .537   15

Trade The Rock, hire Gabe Paul and watch your window open and shut quickly. They like the aforementioned Cubs weren’t “horrible” but they didn’t win more then they lost.

Do you remember these Indians?

1960-1966
AT BATS                     AB      RC/G
Tito Francona              2527     0.47
Woodie Held                2131     0.65
John Romano                1891     1.01
Max Alvis                  1638     0.23
Vic Davalillo              1452     0.12
Bubba Phillips             1412    -1.41
Willie Kirkland            1371     -.42
Leon Wagner                1158     1.39
Vic Power                  1143     -.90
Fred Whitfield             1107     0.67
Philadelphia Phillies
--------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1968  T7th    76   86  .469   21
1969  5th     63   99  .389   37
1970  5th     73   88  .453   15.5
1971  6th     67   95  .414   30
1972  6th     59   97  .378   37.5
1973  6th     71   91  .438   11.5
1974  3rd     80   82  .494    8

1975  2nd     86   76  .531    6.5

The Phillies always seem to find their way onto the list, this particular run was the transition from the Richie Allen Phillies to the Mike Schmidt Phillies, bridging the gap was Deron Johnson, not much of a bridge.

California Angels
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1972  5th     75   80  .484   18
1973  4th     79   83  .488   15
1974  6th     68   94  .420   22
1975  6th     72   89  .447   25.5
1976  T4th    76   86  .469   14
1977  5th     74   88  .457   28

1978  T2nd    87   75  .537    5

With the Ten-year grace period behind them the Los Angels/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim dove into the fray. To kick it off they traded Jim Fregosi for Nolan Ryan. The franchise could not produce hitters, this is evidenced by the list below.

AT BATS                     AB      RC/G
Dave Chalk                 2004     -.80
Lee Stanton                1794     -.31
Jerry Remy                 1646     -.89
Bob Oliver                 1412     -.25
Mickey Rivers              1370     0.46
Bruce Bochte               1137     0.08
Sandy Alomar Sr.           1134    -1.24
Bobby Bonds                 970     1.07
Frank Robinson              961     2.09
Vada Pinson                 950     -.25

The bottom 3 represents chasing glory days and the top represents bad choices for offense from the organization, it took the free agent market to pull them out of the abyss.

Indians
--------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1969  6th     62   99  .385   46.5
1970  5th     76   86  .469   32
1971  6th     60  102  .370   43
1972  5th     72   84  .462   14
1973  6th     71   91  .438   26
1974  4th     77   85  .475   14
1975  4th     79   80  .497   15.5

1976  4th     81   78  .509   15.5

These are the Indians of my youth, Fosse, Manning, Duffy, Chambliss and Nettles. However the Team ERA was 3.91 and the leagues during that time was 3.51. The above is a major reason why there are still Reds fans in the northern part of Ohio.

Houston Astros
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YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1974  4th     81   81  .500   21
1975  6th     64   97  .398   43.5
1976  3rd     80   82  .494   22
1977  3rd     81   81  .500   17
1978  5th     74   88  .457   21

1979  2nd     89   73  .549    1.5

More youth fodder here, the mere mention of Enos Cabell used to elicit giggles from me an my friends. I mean seriously…. Wilbur Howard? Roger Metzger? BTW Take a long look at this table, it’s the only one with the Astros name in it. They have become a pretty consistent team as far as avoiding the stink.

NY Mets
--------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1977  6th     64   98  .395   37
1978  6th     66   96  .407   24
1979  6th     63   99  .389   35
1980  5th     67   95  .414   24
1981  5th     17   34  .333   15
1981  4th     24   28  .462    5.5
1982  6th     65   97  .401   27
1983  6th     68   94  .420   22

1984  2nd     90   72  .556    6.5

The Mets in the late 70’s were the Mets of my grandmother, who kept her channel on WWOR and rooted unabashly for Lee Mazilli and booed Joel Youngblood. Four straight season of 90 losses or more, that’s some serious stink.

Atlanta Braves
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YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1975  5th     67   94  .416   40.5
1976  6th     70   92  .432   32
1977  6th     61  101  .377   37
1978  6th     69   93  .426   26
1979  6th     66   94  .413   23.5

1980  4th     81   80  .503   11

Do you remember when Ted was manager? Or Andy Messersmith was number 17 because that was what channel TBS could be found on in the days of UHF? If you remember this then you remember this bad run of Braves teams, it was the era of The Love Boat and What’s Happening and instead of Sex and The City and Family Guy on TBS you had Braves baseball and Don Knotts grasping for his one bullet. Good times, good times.

Cleveland Indians
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1981  5th     26   27  .491    5
1982  T6th    78   84  .481   17
1983  7th     70   92  .432   28
1984  6th     75   87  .463   29
1985  7th     60  102  .370   39.5

1986  5th     84   78  .519   11.5

Mini Stink All Indians All the Time!!!

AT BATS                    AB      RC/G
Andre Thornton             2371     1.03
Mike Hargrove              2018     0.45
Julio Franco               1854     -.59
Toby Harrah                1489     1.68
Pat Tabler                 1307     0.09
Brett Butler               1193     0.91
George Vukovich            1183     -.46
Rick Manning               1116     -.32
Brook Jacoby               1045     -.28
Ron Hassey                 1003     -.56

This was the team that Julio Franco came up with.

Oakland A's
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1982  5th     68   94  .420   25
1983  4th     74   88  .457   25
1984  4th     77   85  .475    7
1985  T4th    77   85  .475   14
1986  T3rd    76   86  .469   16
1987  3rd     81   81  .500    4

1988  1st    104   58  .642  +13

Billy Ball imploded about the same time I arrived in the Bay Area, the Giants were managed by Frank Robinson and across the Bay Jackie Moore managed the A’s, and then Steve Boros… you know, the guy with the computer. Then LaRussa came to town, but early in the eighties it was Davis, Rickey and Murph…oh and some older guys too.

33 and older on A’s from 1982-1987

AT BATS                     AB      RC/G
Dave Kingman               1702     -.23
Bruce Bochte               1300     0.02
Davey Lopes                1174     0.08
Dusty Baker                 585     -.03
Joe Morgan                  365     0.17
Reggie Jackson              336     -.81
Jeff Newman                 251    -2.38
Fred Stanley                228    -2.13
Cliff Johnson               214     -.25
Joe Rudi                    193     -.98
Steve Henderson             140    -1.40
Jim Essian                  136     -.30
Ron Cey                     104     -.24
Jim Spencer                 101    -3.01
Jeff Burroughs               71     -.35
Twins
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1982  5th     68   94  .420   25
1983  4th     74   88  .457   25
1984  4th     77   85  .475    7
1985  T4th    77   85  .475   14
1986  T3rd    76   86  .469   16
1987  3rd     81   81  .500    4
1988  1st    104   58  .642  +13

What can you say about the Twins? They are a wonder, they and the old Senators (their forbearers) have compiled a mess of streaky losing seasons over the ages, often they dance around .500 up un the Minnesota area. The size of their market will always be an issue and with this issue can come the rebuilding stage and piggy backing on that is often the stink of losing. The Twins seem to shake it off quite well.

Atlanta Braves
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1984  T2nd    80   82  .494   12
1985  5th     66   96  .407   29
1986  6th     72   89  .447   23.5
1987  5th     69   92  .429   20.5
1988  6th     54  106  .338   39.5
1989  6th     63   97  .394   28
1990  6th     65   97  .401   26

1991  1st     94   68  .580   +1     NL CHAMPIONS

Well the Braves are perhaps (with the Phillies) one of the most maligned teams when it comes to the stink. They tend to have been through it all and this particular one possessed 5 seasons with 90 or more losses. Of course that fact is now dwarfed by the shadow of the fading Braves dynasty that lumbers in the southland today.

Indians
--------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1987  7th     61  101  .377   37
1988  6th     78   84  .481   11
1989  6th     73   89  .451   16
1990  4th     77   85  .475   11
1991  7th     57  105  .352   34
1992  T4th    76   86  .469   20
1993  6th     76   86  .469   19

1994  2nd     66   47  .584    1

More Indians, a short breather in 1985 was followed a 7 year run of mediocrity. Including two 100-loss seasons. From 1985-1991 the Indians lost 100 games 3 times, once more then they had in the team history prior to 1985.

Phillies
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1994  4th     54   61  .470   20.5
1995  T2nd    69   75  .479   21
1996  5th     67   95  .414   29
1997  5th     68   94  .420   33
1998  3rd     75   87  .463   31
1999  3rd     77   85  .475   26
2000  5th     65   97  .401   30

2001  2nd     86   76  .531    2

Get to know the Phillies; they tend to pop up on the list from time to time. This run of stink is nothing in Phillie history. However it’s funny to note that in MLB biggest hitting year (1930 -.790 OPS) the Phillies were 3rd in runs with 944 and in the second biggest year (2000 -.782 OPS) the Phillies were dead last with 708. In 1930 they lost 102 games and in 2000 they lost 97. No luck for Phillie fans in those big hitting years, just grief.

Oakland A's
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB
1993  7th     68   94  .420   26
1994  2nd     51   63  .447    1
1995  4th     67   77  .465   11.5
1996  3rd     78   84  .481   12
1997  4th     65   97  .401   25
1998  4th     74   88  .457   14

1999  2nd     87   75  .537    8

Out with the old, in with the new, Beane and company came about around the time Tony and Big Mac decided they wanted out. The post strike atmosphere was tough in Oakland, Geronimo Berroa was probably the 2nd best player on the team during that span. In 1997 Steve Karsay was 3-12 and Mike Mohler was 1-10… and then there was Ariel Prieto

Expos
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1997  4th     78   84  .481   23
1998  4th     65   97  .401   41
1999  4th     68   94  .420   35
2000  4th     67   95  .414   28
2001  5th     68   94  .420   20

2002  2nd     83   79  .512   19

The baseball strike killed one team, and it was the Montreal Expos, 4 season of 90 losses and backroom deals brought them to where they are today, in a bad stadium losing 90 games… whoopee.

Padres
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE
1999  4th     74   88  .457   26
2000  5th     76   86  .469   21
2001  4th     79   83  .488   13
2002  5th     66   96  .407   32
2003  5th     64   98  .395   36.5

2004  3rd     87   75  .537    6

470 runs below the league in this time frame, Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin were the only two Padres with more then 50 Home Runs in those five seasons combined.

Reds
----------------------------------
YEAR  PLACE   W    L   PCT   GB    TITLE

2001  5th     66   96  .407   27
2002  3rd     78   84  .481   19
2003  5th     69   93  .426   19
2004  4th     76   86  .469   29
2005  5th     73   89  .451   27

Heading for number six? Looks that way, holding the Reds hand on the trip is some of he franchises worst pitching in a history of sub par pitching. It’s a factor that has been ignored, broken and abused in Cincinnati since they built Goat Run in the late 40’s. Offense is the team’s bread and butter, but poor pitching has been making the butter rancid.

Next the Three Star Stinkers – 8-10 Losing Seasons in a row.

Deja Vu – “Chicks Dig The Long Ball”

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Quite the scene in LA last night, of course I did my best Dodger fan impression and turned the game off when the Padres took a 4 run lead in the top of the ninth. The next inning and a half proved to be a slice of history that has only occurred 3 times prior in the long history of the game.

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