Friday, September 30, 2011

Cities with 2 Sports Championships at Once

The first date will be that of the 2nd team to win it, and the second date will be that of either team giving up their title. It's been done 20 times... well, maybe 25. If either the Milwaukee Brewers (joining with the reigning NFL Champion Green Bay Packers) or the Texas Rangers (joining with the reigning NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks) win the World Series, they will make it 21 (or 26):

Cleveland, sort of, December 1920 to October 1921: The Cleveland Indians won the 1920 World Series, and the Akron Pros won the first Championship of the American Professional Football Association, which became the NFL in 1922.

New York, December 1927 to December 1928: The New York Yankees won the 1927 and 1928 World Series, the New York Giants won the 1927 NFL Championship, and the New York Rangers won the 1928 Stanley Cup. Which means the Yankees and Rangers were champions at the same time from April 1928 to April 1929.

Boston, sort of, April to October 1929: The Rhode Island-based Providence Steam Roller (for some reason, it was never the plural "Rollers") won the 1928 NFL Championship, and the Boston Bruins won the 1929 Stanley Cup. As many times as the Bruins and Celtics have reached their sport's finals, they have never both won in the same year, although they have won in back-to-back years (Celtics in '69, Bruins in '70).

New York, April 1933 to April 1934: The Rangers won the 1933 Stanley Cup, and the baseball version of the New York Giants won the 1933 World Series.

Chicago, April to December 1934: The Chicago Bears won the 1933 NFL Championship, the first official NFL Championship Game (previous titles were awarded to teams with the best record at the end of the season), and the Chicago Blackhawks won the 1934 Stanley Cup.

Detroit, December 1935 to October 1936: The Detroit Tigers won the 1935 World Series, the Detroit Lions won the 1935 NFL Championship, and the Detroit Red Wings won the 1936 Stanley Cup.

New York, December 1938 to December 1939: The Yankees won the 1938 and 1939 World Series, and the Giants won the 1938 NFL Championship.

New York, April to October 1940: The Yankees won the 1939 World Series, and the Rangers won the 1940 Stanley Cup. The Giants could not defend their NFL Championship, losing the Championship Game in 1939, or else this would have been another threesome.

Detroit, December 1952 to April 1953: The Red Wings won the 1952 Stanley Cup, and the
Lions won the 1952 and 1953 NFL Championship.

Detroit, April to December 1954: The Lions won the 1952 and 1953 NFL Championship, though lost the Championship Game in 1954; and the Red Wings won the 1954 and 1955 Stanley Cups.

New York, December 1956 to October 1957: The Yankees won the 1956 World Series, and the Giants won the 1956 NFL Championship.

New York, October 1969 to January 1970: The New York Jets won Super Bowl III in 1969, and the New York Mets won the 1969 World Series.

New York, May to October 1970: The Mets won the 1969 World Series, and the New York Knicks won the 1970 NBA Title. However, by the time the Knicks won, the Jets had already been dethroned for 4 months, so while this was 3 titles in a short span for New York, it was not 3 titles at once.

Baltimore, January to October 1971: The Baltimore Orioles won the 1970 World Series, and the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V in 1971.

San Francisco, specifically Oakland, May to October 1975: The Oakland Athletics won the 1974 World Series (and 1972 and 1973), and the Golden State Warriors won the 1975 NBA Title. The Oakland Raiders couldn't quite make it 3 at once, but they did win Super Bowl XI in 1977.

Pittsburgh, October 1979 to October 1980: The Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XIII in 1979 and Super Bowl XIV in 1980, and the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1979 World Series.

Los Angeles, June to October 1982: The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 1981 World Series, and the Los Angeles Lakers won the 1982 NBA Title.

New York, January to October 1987: The Mets won the 1986 World Series, and the Giants won Super Bowl XXI in 1987.

Los Angeles, October 1988 to June 1989: The Lakers won the 1987 and 1988 NBA Titles, and the Dodgers won the 1988 World SEries.

San Francisco, sort of, October 1989 to October 1990: The San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 and Super Bowl XXIV in 1990, and the Oakland Athletics won the 1989 World Series, against the San Francisco Giants.

New York, sort of, June 2000 to June 2001: The Yankees won the 1999 and 2000 World Series, and the New Jersey Devils won the 2000 Stanley Cup.

Los Angeles, sort of, October 2002 to June 2003: The Lakers won the 2000, 2001 and 2002 NBA Titles, and the team then known as the Anaheim Angels won the 2002 World Series.

Boston, October 2004 to October 2005: The New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 and Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, and the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. We now have reason to believe all of these titles are tainted.

Boston, June to October 2008: The Red Sox won the 2007 World Series (tainted), and the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Title (without cheating... as far as we know). In spite of the Celtics' 17 Titles, this is the only time they and another New England team won in the same 12-month period.

Pittsburgh, June 2009 to February 2010: The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, and the Pittsburgh Penguins won the 2009 Stanley Cup.

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New York (5 times), Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, New York, and, sort of, Cleveland and San Francisco are the only metro areas to hold the MLB and NFL titles at the same time. If you count the Grey Cup, the championship of the Canadian Football League, then Toronto, with the Argonauts winning in November 1991 and the Blue Jays winning in October 1992, held 2 titles for a matter of days in the fall of 1992.

Los Angeles (twice, and, sort of, a 3rd time), New York, Boston and San Francisco (through Oakland) are the only metro areas to hold the MLB and NBA titles at the same time.

New York is the only city to hold the MLB and NHL titles at the same time.

No city has ever held the NFL and NBA titles at the same time.

Detroit (3 times), New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and, sort of, Boston are the only metro areas to hold the NFL and NHL titles at the same time. If you count the Grey Cup, then Toronto has done it 6 times, from December 1914 to March 1915, from March to December 1922, from December 1942 to April 1943, from December 1945 to April 1946, from April 1947 to November 1948, and from April to November 1951; Montreal 4 times, from December 1931 to April 1932, November 1944 to April 1945, May to November 1971, and November 1977 to November 1978; Edmonton once from November 1987 to November 1988; and Ottawa once from April to December 1927.

New York, from the Rangers' Cup in April 1928 to the Giants surrendering the NFL Championship in December; and Detroit, from the Wings' Cup in April 1936 to the Tigers' surrendering the American League Pennant in October; are the only cities to hold 3 titles at once. No city has held 3 titles since the debut of the NBA in 1946.

No city has ever held all 4 titles at once. Only 7 metro areas have won all 4 titles at all: New York (achieving it with the 1970 Knicks), Philadelphia (1974 Flyers), Detroit (1989 Pistons), Chicago (1991 Bulls), Boston (2001-02 Patriots) and, sort of, Los Angeles (2007 Anaheim Ducks). Pittsburgh has won an ABA Title (1968 Pipers), but hasn't had an NBA team since the league's first season, 1946-47. Miami, St. Louis and Washington have won all but the Stanley Cup. Toronto has won 13 Stanley Cups, 2 World Series, and 18 Grey Cups, but never an NBA Title.

My Postseason Preferences

Here, I rank the teams in the baseball postseason as to how much I'd like them to win the World Series:

1. New York Yankees. Easy guess: There is no sports team I have loved longer or more.

2. Philadelphia Phillies. Granted, I wouldn't want them to beat the Yankees in the Series, but, living just 66 miles from Citizens Bank Park (43 miles from Yankee Stadium II, 47 miles from Citi Field), they are almost a local team. We do have a lot of Philadelphia-teams fans in Central Jersey. And they have suffered enough, even with the Phils' recent success. (The Eagles and Flyers still choke, and the 76ers have been a mess for years.) Plus, nearly as much as Yankee Title 28, Phillies Title 3 would piss off Met fans to no end, especially since the Mets have won just 2 (though in far less time on the field than the Phils).

3. Milwaukee Brewers. Although the Brewers gave the Yankees a lot of trouble while they were both in the AL East, especially from 1978 to 1988, I have a soft spot for this team, in the National League since 1998. I don't know why. I was treated very well on my visit to Milwaukee in 1999, including a Brewers game. (They beat the Padres, with Jim Abbott notching his 86th career win -- he would win only one more.)

Of all these teams, the Brewers have the weakest postseason record: Counting this season, it's Yankees 50, Cardinals 26, Phillies 14, Tigers 13, Rangers 5, Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 4 (and that's if you count split-season 1981), Rays 3 (and they've only been around for 14 seasons). Only 3 teams have gone longer without winning a Pennant (29 years): The Pittsburgh Pirates (32), the combined Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise (42), and the Chicago Cubs (66). Aside from the San Diego Padres (42) and the combined "new" Washington Senators/Texas Rangers franchise (51), no team has gone longer without winning a World Series (42). Counting the Milwaukee Braves' 1957 title (44), no city currently in MLB has gone longer without winning a World Series except Washington (87, and they didn't even have a team for 33 of those seasons).

Plus, it would give the people of Wisconsin a rare chance to hold both the NFL and MLB Championships at the same time, something only 5 teams have done: Detroit in 1935, Baltimore in 1971, Pittsburgh in 1979, Boston in 2004, and New York 5 times, most recently in 1987. (Cleveland and Akron sort of in 1920, and in the Bay Area, the 49ers and A's in 1989.)

4. Detroit Tigers. In spite of the 2006 American League Division Series loss, I have no ill will toward this club. True, it's the team of Ty Cobb, but it's also the team of Mickey Cochrane, South Jersey-born Hall-of-Famer Goose Goslin, New Yorker and Jewish sports icon Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, TramWhit (the double-play combo of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker), Jack Morris, and Mr. Ernie Harwell. Seriously, if it can't be the Yankees, who would you prefer to win the AL Pennant: The Tigers, the Strangers, or the Strays?

5. St. Louis Cardinals. I have no love for this team, and it ticks me off to hear their fans call their city "the best baseball town in America." Oh really? The Cardinals averaged 38,196 fans per game. The Yankees averaged 45,107 (2nd, slightly, to the Phils' 45,440), and the Mets, in a horrible year for them, averaged 30,108. If St. Louis had 2 teams (as they did from 1902, when the Browns arrived, until 1953, after which they moved to become the Baltimore Orioles), would that team have averaged 37,019, to match the combined New York total of 75,215? Plus, owner Bill DeWitt Jr. -- son and namesake of the Browns' longtime GM -- is a major Republican donor. Big, big reason to root against the Cards.

6. Tampa Bay Rays. I'm not happy that they seemed to be threatening the Yankees' place as AL East Champions, winning the Pennant in 2008 and the Division again in 2010. But now, the Rays are the team that shocked the Red Sox, which gives them some credit in my eyes. And, yes, what they've done with next to no payroll and a crummy stadium is remarkable.

But... their average home attendance was 18,878, ahead (and that, just barely) of only the Oakland Athletics, who are terrible at the moment and also have an inadequate stadium. At least the A's can argue they're only the 2nd-most popular team in their metropolitan area, behind the now-dethroned World Champion San Francisco Giants. What's the Rays' excuse? The enormous popularity of the nearby Marlins? Nope, the Fish averaged only slightly more this season, 19,007, and the Dolphins' stadium (which the renamed Miami Marlins are now abandoning for a park on the site of the Orange Bowl to open next April) is 253 miles away -- a 5-hour drive counting a rest stop.

To put it another way: 7 (nearly 8) NHL teams, 9 NBA teams, and even 6 Major League Soccer teams are averaging more fans per game than Tampa Bay, which is not only doing well on the field, but was billed as a baseball-mad area for years before they got their team in 1998! Tampa Bay has proven that it doesn't deserve a Major League Baseball team!

7. Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2001 World Series was terribly disappointing for me, but not heartbreaking like it was for a lot of Yankee Fans. I saw the nice side of it, as some good guys finally got their World Series rings after a long time: Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez, Tony Womack.

In the 10 years since, we've learned the following: Johnson is a bastard who helped ruin 2 Yankee seasons (putting up the 2 most useless 17-win seasons in the history of Yankee pitching), Schilling is a publicity-hungry braggart who delights in acting like an ass and probably used steroids; Williams was caught using them; Gonzalez almost certainly used them (he wasn't a bad player but that season was an outlier for him, on a Brady Anderson scale); and Womack, in his one season as a Yankee (2004), was a malcontent. Besides, Arizona is a hotbed for political crackpottery, and has voted for a Democratic candidate for President only once (Bill Clinton in 1996) since 1948 (Harry Truman).

8. Texas Rangers. I don't care what the sport is: Dallas Sucks. Oil. Banks. Political extremists. That ridiculous TV show. And that's before we get to sports. Okay, I like the Mavericks, but that's because of Mark Cuban, a real maverick if ever there was one. Other than that, the Rangers, the Stars, FC Dallas, SMU, and especially the Cowboys... Dallas sucks! And by the way, Nolan Ryan was incredibly overrated.

Most Yankee Wins in a Season

Counting only the regular season. Note that the Yankees were in an 8-team American League from 1903 to 1960, a 10-team AL from 1961 to 1968, a 6-team AL Eastern Division from 1969 to 1976, a 7-team AL East from 1977 to 1993, and a 5-time AL East since 1994; that the 1972, 1981, 1994 and 1995 seasons were shortened by strikes; and that the 1918 season was shortened by World War I:

1 1998 114 1st in AL East Won World Series
2 1927 110 1st in AL Won World Series
3 1961 109 1st in AL Won World Series
4 1932 107 1st in AL Won World Series
5 1939 106 1st in AL Won World Series
6 1963 104 1st in AL Lost World Series
7 2009 103 1st in AL East Won World Series
8 2002 103 1st in AL East Lost Division Series
9 1980 103 1st in AL East Lost Championship Series
10 1954 103 2nd in AL
11 1942 103 1st in AL Lost World Series
12 1937 102 1st in AL Won World Series
13 1936 102 1st in AL Won World Series
14 2004 101 1st in AL East Lost Championship Series
15 2003 101 1st in AL East Lost World Series
16 1941 101 1st in AL Won World Series
17 1928 101 1st in AL Won World Series
18 1978 100 1st in AL East Won World Series
19 1977 100 1st in AL East Won World Series
20 1964 99 1st in AL Lost World Series
21 1953 99 1st in AL Won World Series
22 1938 99 1st in AL Won World Series
23 1999 98 1st in AL East Won World Series
24 1957 98 1st in AL Lost World Series
25 1951 98 1st in AL Won World Series
26 1950 98 1st in AL Won World Series
27 1943 98 1st in AL Won World Series
28 1923 98 1st in AL Won World Series
29 1921 98 1st in AL Lost World Series
30 2011 97 1st in AL East To be determined
31 2006 97 1st in AL East Lost Division Series
32 1985 97 2nd in AL East
33 1976 97 1st in AL East Lost World Series
34 1960 97 1st in AL Lost World Series
35 1956 97 1st in AL Won World Series
36 1949 97 1st in AL Won World Series
37 1947 97 1st in AL Won World Series
38 1997 96 2nd in AL East Lost Division Series
39 1962 96 1st in AL Won World Series
40 1955 96 1st in AL Lost World Series
41 2010 95 2nd in AL East Lost Championship Series
42 2005 95 1st in AL East Lost Division Series
43 2001 95 1st in AL East Lost World Series
44 1952 95 1st in AL Won World Series
45 1920 95 3rd in AL
46 2007 94 2nd in AL East Lost Division Series
47 1948 94 3rd in AL
48 1934 94 2nd in AL
49 1931 94 2nd in AL
50 1922 94 1st in AL Lost World Series
51 1970 93 2nd in AL East
52 1996 92 1st in AL East Won World Series
53 1958 92 1st in AL Won World Series
54 1904 92 2nd in AL
55 1983 91 3rd in AL
56 1933 91 2nd in AL
57 1926 91 1st in AL Lost World Series
58 1986 90 2nd in AL East
59 1906 90 2nd in AL
60 2008 89 3rd in AL East
61 1987 89 4th in AL East
62 1979 89 4th in AL East
63 1974 89 2nd in AL East
64 1935 89 2nd in AL
65 1924 89 2nd in AL
66 1993 88 2nd in AL East
67 1940 88 3rd in AL
68 1929 88 2nd in AL
69 1910 88 2nd in AL
70 2000 87 1st in AL East Won World Series
71 1984 87 3rd in AL East
72 1946 87 3rd in AL
73 1930 86 3rd in AL
74 1988 85 5th in AL East
75 1975 83 3rd in AL East
76 1968 83 5th in AL
77 1944 83 3rd in AL
78 1971 82 4th in AL East
79 1945 81 4th in AL
80 1973 80 4th in AL East
81 1969 80 5th in AL East
82 1919 80 3rd in AL
83 1916 80 4th in AL
84 1995 79 2nd in AL East Lost AL Division Series Strike-shortened
85 1982 79 5th in AL East
86 1972 79 4th in AL East Strike-shortened
87 1959 79 3rd in AL
88 1965 77 6th in AL
89 1992 76 4th in AL East
90 1911 76 6th in AL
91 1989 74 5th in AL East
92 1909 74 5th in AL
93 1967 72 9th in AL
94 1903 72 4th in AL
95 1991 71 5th in AL East
96 1917 71 6th in AL
97 1905 71 6th in AL
98 1994 70 1st in AL East No Postseason held Strike-shortened
99 1966 70 10th in AL
100 1914 70 6th in AL
101 1907 70 5th in AL
102 1925 69 7th in AL
103 1915 69 5th in AL
104 1990 67 7th in AL East
105 1918 60 4th in AL War-shortened
106 1981 59 1st in AL East Lost World Series Strike-shortened
107 1913 57 7th in AL
108 1908 51 8th in AL
109 1912 50 8th in AL

Notes:

1998: Yanks set AL record for wins, broken by 2001 Seattle Mariners, whom Yanks beat in ALCS. Of course, most wins by a team managed by Joe Torre, and the most wins in the Derek Jeter/Mariano Rivera era.

1927: Yanks set AL record for wins. Also highest win total in the era of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

1932: Most wins by a team managed by Joe McCarthy.

1939: Most wins by a team in the Joe DiMaggio era, despite Lou Gehrig having to retire early in the season.

1963: Most wins by a Yankee team that failed to win the World Series.

1980: Most wins by an AL team that failed to win a Pennant in the post-1969 Divisional Play era, broken by the 2001 Mariners, and matched by both the Yankees and the Oakland Athletics in 2002. In the NL, from 1969 onward, the 1993 San Francisco Giants won 103 but lost the NL West to the Atlanta Braves (104).

1954: Only team ever managed by Casey Stengel to win at least 100 games, but the cleveland Indians won 111 to break the AL record. Most wins by any team in the Mickey Mantle era. Also most wins by an AL team not to reach the postseason; the National League record is 104 by the 1909 Chicago Cubs (the Pittsburgh Pirates won 110) and the 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers (the St. Louis Cardinals won 106). Had there been Divisional Play at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL East and the Indians the AL West.

1978: Finished tied with the Boston Red Sox at 99 wins, won PLayoff.

1985: Only 2 Divisions at the time, and no Wild Cards. That same season, the Mets won 98. Had the current setup been in place, the Cardinals would have won the NL Central, the Mets would have won the NL East, and the Yankees would have been the AL Wild Card. Since 1985, only the aforementioned '93 Giants have won 97 or more games without making the Playoffs. The 1999 Cincinnati Reds won 96 and tied with the Mets for the NL Wild Card, and lost a one-game Playoff.

1920: Had there been Divisional Play at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL East and the Indians the AL West.

1934: Had there been Divisional Play at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL East and the Detroit Tigers the AL West.

1970: Had the current setup been in place at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL Wild Card. This was their best performance in the CBS, Murcer/Stottlemyre, post-Mantle, pre-Steinbrenner era. A 93-win season is good, but they finished 15 games behind the Baltimore Orioles.

1996: It really is hard to believe that the team that launched the Torre/Jeter/Rivera Dynasty won "only" 92 games. Baseball is a funny game: In 1967, the Red Sox won 92, and won a legendary Pennant; in 1964, the Phillies won 92, and finished 2nd and are remembered as a legendary choke; in 1980, the Phillies won 91, and won their 1st World Series.

1986: Had the current setup been in place at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL Wild Card.

1906: Had there been Divisional Play at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL East and the Chicago White Sox the AL West.

2008: This remains the only season since the Strike year of 1994 that the Yankees have not been in the postseason.

1974: Had the current setup been in place at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL Wild Card.

1935: Had there been Divisional Play at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL East and the Tigers the AL West.

1993: Had the current setup been in place at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL Wild Card.

1940: Had there been Divisional Play at the time, the Yankees would have won the AL East and the Tigers the AL West.

2000: Fewest games won by the Yankees in a full 154- or 162-game season and still finished 1st. Also fewest games won in the Torre/Jeter/Rivera era.

1946: Worst performance in the Joe DiMaggio era. Won fewer games in 1944 and '45, but DiMaggio was in the Army Air Force both years.

1995: At their pace, over a full 162 games, the Yankees would have won 89 games.

1972: At their pace, over a full 162 games, the Yankees would have won 82 games.

1959: Worst performance in the Mickey Mantle era.

1994: At their pace, over a full 162 games, the Yankees would have won 102 games.

1966: Yanks' only last-place finish between 1912 and 1990.

1925: Worst performance in the Babe Ruth era. Lou Gehrig's 1st season as a regular, and worst performance in his era as well.

1990: Yanks' only last-place finish since 1966.

1918: At their pace, over a full 154 games, the Yankees would have won 71 games.

1981: At their pace, over a full 162 games, the Yankees would have won 86 games, but would not have finished 1st overall in the AL East. As they were in 1st when the Strike hit, they were declared 1st-half champions, and thus had nothing to play for in the 2nd half, so maybe they would have won more than 86 over a full season. At any rate, they beat the 2nd-half champion Milwaukee Brewers in the Playoffs.

1908 and 1912: Only times the Yankees have lost 100 or more games in a season.

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Now, counting postseason wins:

1 1998 125 Won World Series
2 1927 114 Won World Series
3 2009 114 Won World Series
4 1961 113 Won World Series
5 1932 111 Won World Series
6 1939 110 Won World Series
7 2003 110 Lost World Series
8 1999 109 Won World Series
9 2004 107 Lost Championship Series
10 1978 107 Won World Series
11 1977 107 Won World Series
12 1937 106 Won World Series
13 1936 106 Won World Series
14 1941 105 Won World Series
15 1928 105 Won World Series
16 2001 105 Lost World Series
17 1963 104 Lost World Series
18 2002 104 Lost Division Series
19 1942 104 Lost World Series
20 1980 103 Lost Championship Series
21 1954 103
22 1953 103 Won World Series
23 1938 103 Won World Series
24 1996 103 Won World Series
25 1964 102 Lost World Series
26 1951 102 Won World Series
27 1950 102 Won World Series
28 1943 102 Won World Series
29 1923 102 Won World Series
30 1957 101 Lost World Series
31 1921 101 Lost World Series
32 1956 101 Won World Series
33 1949 101 Won World Series
34 1947 101 Won World Series
35 1976 100 Lost World Series
36 1960 100 Lost World Series
37 1962 100 Won World Series
38 2010 100 Lost Championship Series
39 1955 99 Lost World Series
40 1952 99 Won World Series
41 2006 98 Lost Division Series
42 1997 98 Lost Division Series
43 2000 98 Won World Series
44 2011 97 To be determined
45 1985 97
46 2005 97 Lost Division Series
47 1958 96 Won World Series
48 1920 95
49 2007 95 Lost Division Series
50 1948 94
51 1934 94
52 1931 94
53 1922 94 Lost World Series
54 1926 94 Lost World Series
55 1970 93
56 1904 92
57 1983 91
58 1933 91
59 1986 90
60 1906 90
61 2008 89
62 1987 89
63 1979 89
64 1974 89
65 1935 89
66 1924 89
67 1993 88
68 1940 88
69 1929 88
70 1910 88
71 1984 87
72 1946 87
73 1930 86
74 1988 85
75 1975 83
76 1968 83
77 1944 83
78 1971 82
79 1945 81
80 1995 81 Lost AL Division Series Strike-shortened season
81 1973 80
82 1969 80
83 1919 80
84 1916 80
85 1982 79
86 1972 79 Strike-shortened season
87 1959 79
88 1965 77
89 1992 76
90 1911 76
91 1989 74
92 1909 74
93 1967 72
94 1903 72
95 1991 71
96 1917 71
97 1905 71
98 1994 70 No Postseason held Strike-shortened season
99 1966 70
100 1914 70
101 1907 70
102 1925 69
103 1915 69
104 1990 67
105 1981 67 Lost World Series Strike-shortened season
106 1918 60 War-shortened season
107 1913 57
108 1908 51
109 1912 50

Go Ahead and Rip Michael Vick

Here's my take on Michael Vick.

Legally, he has paid his debt to society. He has the right to try to show that he has mended his ways. And he has the right to try to participate in his former line of work.

But the fact that he whines about getting hit hard, when his line of work is that of professional football player, shows that he remains a bully, who can dish it out but can't take it.

He deserves whatever scorn he is getting.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29: 1954, The Catch; 2011, The Choke

On September 29, 1954, in Game 1 of the World Series, Willie Mays made the most famous defensive play in the history of sports.

It preserved a 2-2 tie, and the New York Giants went on to win 5-2 in the bottom of the 10th, when, with Willie on 1st, Dusty Rhodes pinch-hit and hit a home run down the right-field line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayrzg8RFHe4&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLD52C280271DCACA4

I had to include the official highlight film for all of Game 1, as the only YouTube stuff under the name "Dusty Rhodes" are of some idiot who calls himself a "professional wrestler."

Some game: Vic Wertz hits the ball 440 feet (that wall was 450 from home plate, not 460 like it's often been said), and it's a long out; Dusty Rhodes hits the ball 260 feet, and it's a home run.

Anyway, the Giants went on to sweep the Indians. It took until 2010 for the Giants, now in San Francisco, to win another. The Indians still haven't won one since 1948.

Mays, left fielder Monte Irvin, shortstop Alvin Dark, and right fielder Don Mueller (a.k.a. "Mandrake the Magician") are the only Giants players from this game who are still alive; third baseman Al Rosen, right fielder Dave Philley (who, in case you're wondering, did play for the Philadelphia Phillies), first baseman Bill Glynn and pinch-runner Rudy Regalado survive from the Indians.

Willie has said that even before the ball got to him, he was thinking about the throw. This was a 23-year-old guy... although not in his first World Series.

The best ones never look like they're working hard, even though they are. A pair of later San Francisco sports legends, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, were the same way.

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So... on this September 29, 2011, what's the big news in baseball?

Well, it ain't the World Series, that's for damn sure. But it does involve eligibility for this season's World Series, as the full 162 games have been played.

The New York Yankees will play the Detroit Tigers in one of the American League Division Series; the Texas Rangers will play the Tampa Bay Rays in the other.

The Philadelphia Phillies will play the St. Louis Cardinals in one of the National League Division Series; the Milwaukee Brewers will play the Arizona Diamondbacks in the other.

The Atlanta Braves were supposed to get the NL Wild Card, but they choked. Do I care? Yeah, a little. Dumb rednecks and their annoying Tomahawk Chop.

But the Boston Red Sox...

In my next post, I'm going to rank the biggest baseball collapses of all time. That this Red Sox collapse has just happened, and hasn't had the time to sink in, may not rank it all that high (or low, depending on how you look at it).

But it was one hell of a choke.

*

In order for the choke to be completed, one of three things had to happen: Either both the Red Sox and the Rays had to win last night, thus forcing a one-game Playoff that the Rays could win; both the Red Sox and the Rays had to lose last night, thus forcing a Playoff; or the Rays had to win and the Red Sox had to lose, making a Playoff unnecessary.

The Yankees did their part to screw over their old enemies by tanking the last 3 games of the regular season.

How do I know Yankee manager Joe Girardi tanked this one? Here's the lineup he started with:

1. SS Derek Jeter
2. CF Curtis Granderson
3. 1B Mark Teixeira
4. DH Robinson Cano
5. RF Nick Swisher
6. LF Andruw Jones
7. C Jesus Montero
8. 2B Eduardo Nunez
9. 3B Brandon Laird

And here's the lineup Girardi ended the game with:

1. 2B Ramiro Pena
2. LF Greg Golson
3. 3B Eric Chavez
4. DH Jorge Posada
5. RF Chris Dickerson
6. CF Brett Gardner
7. C Austin Romine
8. SS Eduardo Nunez
9. 1B Brandon Laird

A team that's trying to win does not have Eduardo Nunez or Brandon Laird in the lineup. Does not pinch-hit Ramiro Pena for Derek Jeter. Does not pinch-hit Greg Golson for Curtis Granderson. Does not pinch-hit Chris Dickerson for Nick Swisher. Doesnot pinch-hit Austin Romine for, well, anybody. Not in 2011, anyway.

A team that's trying to win might use 11 pitchers. But Dustin Betances, making his major league debut, only went 2 innings -- both scoreless -- before Girardi pulled him. Why? Was he not pitching well? He was.

George Kontos got the first 2 outs in the 3rd. Aaron Laffey finished it and the 4th. Phil Hughes pitched the 5th. Raul Valdes the 6th. A.J. Burnett, Andrew Brackman, and Boone Logan each got an out in the 7th.

It didn't seem to matter: It was 7-0 Yankees going into the bottom of the 8th, thanks in part to Teixeira hitting his 38th and 39th home runs of the season, and Jones hitting his 13th.

But, as John Sterling is always reminding us, "You can't predict baseball." (He didn't preface it last night with, "You know, Suzyn... " Because Suzyn Waldman, who is Jewish, was not working last night, due to it being Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Instead, Tampa native Tino Martinez was in the WCBS booth with Sterling.) And what happened next made me wonder if Sterling was having flashbacks to a game he did for the Atlanta Braves' station WSB on July 4, 1985, when the Braves and the Mets went 19 innings, enduring 2 rain delays, and ended at 3:55 AM, following multiple ejections and a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 18th by the last man the Braves had on their roster, relief pitcher Rick Camp, who came into the game batting .067 for his career.

Sterling told his broadcast partner, the late Ernie Johnson Sr., "I'll tell you, Ernie, if he hits one out, that certifies this game as the nuttiest in the history of baseball." Camp hit it out, and Sterling said, "That certifies this game as the wildest, the wackiest, most improbable in history!"

Last night's Yanks-Rays game might be another contender. This game meant absolutely nothing to the Yankees -- unless they truly wanted to screw over the Red Sox, which I would understand completely and even encourage. It meant everything to the Rays.

It seemed to mean everything to the Rays' fans, too. And they got a bigger crowd for this game than they did for the 1st 2 games of this series: 29,518. Only about 10,000 empty seats. (In the next few days, I'm going to have to do a piece on baseball attendance, including each team's per-game home attendance, and also that figure divided by wins, so we can see if the way they played was sufficiently supported.)

Logan, as he has done so many times this season, imploded in the 8th, and Luis Ayala struggled to stop the bleeding. When it was over, it had gone from 7-0 Yanks to 7-6 Yanks.

In the bottom of the 9th, Girardi had just 4 pitchers remaining. One was Mariano Rivera. Another was David Robertson. No reason at all to use either one, because, as has been said a jillion times, this game meant absolutely nothing to the Yankees, so why risk your 2 most valuable relievers -- maybe your 2 most valuable players, period?

That left Cory Wade and Scott Proctor. Wade got the first 2 outs, but allowed a game-tying home run, juuuust inside the foul pole, to Dan Johnson, only his 2nd homer of the season.

Girardi brought in the execrable Proctor, who, somehow, got the last out in the 9th. The 10th, the 11th, and the top half of the 12th passed without incident.

In the bottom of the 12th, Proctor faced Evan Longoria, who had already homered in the 8th. Boom. Screamer down the left-field line. Like Johnson's, it was just barely over the fence, and just barely fair. But, in baseball, there's no style points. This ain't figure skating, and this ain't gymnastics. There's no penalty for "just barely." There's no credit for "almost." As Yoda would say, "There is only do, or do not."

Final score: Rays 8, Yankees 7. WP: Jake McGee (5-2). LP: Proctor (2-6).

The Rays still had a chance at the Playoffs.

*

The Rays still had a chance at the Playoffs because the Red Sox' game, in Baltimore against the Orioles, was as yet unresolved, in a rain delay, with the Sox leading 3-2 in the 7th.

Play was resumed -- under the circumstances, with this game having a direct effect on the Playoff race, there was no way they were simply going to call it and make it official -- and the Sox held their 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 9th. On the mound was their closer, their big-mouthed fireballer, Jonathan Papelbon.

He struck out Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds. One more out, and the Sox would be guaranteed a Game 163 -- if not, as yet, a Game 164.

But Papelbum gave up a double to Chris Davis, who was then replaced by pinch-runner Kyle Hudson. Tying run on 2nd. Winning run at the plate.

He gave up another double, to Nolan Reimold. Game tied. Winning run on 2nd.

Robert Andino up. Base hit, single to left. Reimold scored.

Final score: Orioles 4, Red Sox 3.

The Orioles, who had just won their 69th game of the season against 93 losses, in a season in which they had expected to make a serious run at the Playoffs, celebrated as if they had clinched.

The Red Sox slunk off the field like the losers and bums that they are.

*

So the Playoffs will begin tomorrow night, with the Yankees, but not with the Boston Red Scum.

And any Red Sox fan who still mentions 2004 can kiss my Pinstriped ass. You cheated. You lied about it. It was proven. And we've won a World Series since the new rules came into effect, you haven't.

Again, the Yankees are the title contenders, the Sox are the chokers.

As God intended it.

Or, as Hank Steinbrenner might say, the universe has been restored to order.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28: 2011, Game 162; 1955, Jackie Was Out

September 28, 1955, the old Yankee Stadium: Except for the war-shortened season of 1918, this was the earliest the World Series has ever been played. The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 1, 6-5.

What everyone remembers is that, late in the game, Jackie Robinson stole home plate. He was ruled safe. Yogi Berra was catching for the Yankees, and he ripped off his mask and started arguing with home plate umpire Bill Summers, a native of Harrison, New Jersey and, oddly, an American League umpire giving a call that favored the National League runner.

Here's the clip. You make the call: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XY-XshGhMU

This is from the official World Series highlight film. The announcer is Lew Fonseca, a former big-leaguer who produced these official films for the baseball establishment, not yet officially known as "Major League Baseball."

Summers died in 1966, so we can't ask him if he thinks he got the call right. Robinson died in 1972, so we can't ask him if he thinks he got away with it. But Yogi is still alive, and, for the last 56 years, he has insisted that Jackie was out. Whitey Ford, pitching for the Yankees at the time, has always agreed with Yogi.

Before he died, Phil Rizzuto said he had the best view of the play from playing shortstop, and Jackie was safe. Whitey didn't like that, so he looked it up: The Scooter HAD started the game at short, but by the time of the steal, Jerry Coleman was at short. The Scooter blew it! Casey had pinch-hit for him, with Eddie... Robinson.

Some people think that steal gave the Dodgers the spark they needed to finally win the World Series after 7 that they lost -- the last 5 of them to the Yankees. (And you think the Buffalo Bills and their fans were frustrated? Lucky for the Dodgers, there was no 24-hour ESPN in the Fifties!) But the Dodgers lost that game, and Game 2 also. What really turned them around was getting back into their Ebbets Field bandbox, in front of their wacky fans, and getting a home run from Roy Campanella and a complete-game victory from Johnny Podres, who would also shut the Yankees out in Game 7.

Not to begrudge Brooklyn their one and only World Series victory, but Mickey Mantle was hurt, and didn't play in Game 7. That doesn't mean the Yankees would have won if Mickey had played, but he did homer off Podres in Game 3, which could make you think.

Only two men who played in that game for the Dodgers is still alive. One is their starting pitcher, Jefferson, New Jersey native Don Newcombe, who went 20-5 that season and hit 7 home runs. (The only other pitchers to win at least 20 games and hit at least 7 home runs in a season? Wes Ferrell, with the Cleveland Indians in 1931 and the Boston Red Sox in 1935, and Don Drysdale with the Los Angeles edition of the Dodgers in 1965.) The other was their 2nd baseman. No, not Jackie: He played 3rd base that day, as he usually did from 1953 to the end of his career in 1956. The Dodger 2nd baseman that day was... Don Zimmer.

The surviving Yankees from that game are Yogi, Whitey, Coleman, and Irv Noren, who filled in for Mickey in center.

*

Fast-forward to September 28, 2011. Today is the last day of the MLB regular season. Here's how the Playoffs are shaping up:

* The Yankees, having won the AL Eastern Division and clinched the best record in the AL, have the top seed in the AL Playoffs.

* The Texas Rangers, having won the AL Western Division, currently have the 2nd seed.

* The Tigers, having won the AL Central Division, have the 3rd seed, 1 game behind the Rangers. Almost certainly, the Tigers will play the Yankees in the AL Division Series, with the Yankees having the home-field advantage. The Yankees would play the Wild Card winner if it had not come out of the East, but it will. But who?

* The Red Sox, who beat the Baltimore Orioles last night, and the Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the Yankees last night, are still tied for the Wild Card. Whichever team wins it will face the Rangers, who will have HFA, in the ALDS.

* If the Red Sox and Rays both win tonight, or both lose tonight, they will finish tied, and there will be a one-game Playoff to decide the Wild Card, and, since the Rays have the better head-to-head record, it will be played in St. Petersburg tomorrow night.

* The Philadelphia Phillies, having won the NL East and clinched the best record in the NL, have the top seed in the NL Playoffs. (The Phils have won 101 games, tying a franchise record. They can break that record tonight, although the city record is still the 107 wins by the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics.)

* The Milwaukee Brewers, having won the NL Central, currently have the 2nd seed.

* The Arizona Diamondbacks, having won the NL West, currently have the 3rd seed, 1 game behind the Brewers.

* The Atlanta Braves, who seemed to have the NL Wild Card sown up, have fallen into a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals going into Game 162.

* Since the Braves are in the NL East, if they win the Wild Card, coming from the same Division as the Phils, they will play the Brewers, who will have HFA.

* Since the Cards are in the NL Central, if they win the Wild Card, they will play the team with the best record in the NL, the Phils, with the Phils having HFA.

* If the Braves and Cards both win tonight, or both lose tonight, they will finish tied, and there will be a one-game Playoff to decide the Wild Card, and, since the Cards have the better head-to-head record, it will be played in St. Louis tomorrow night.

*

As for Game 161: The Rays did their part, beating the Yankees 5-3 last night. Bartolo Colon pitched well into the 6th (a good sign for the Yankees' postseason hopes), but Rafael Soriano blew it in the 7th, giving up 3 Tampa runs. This made him the losing pitcher (2-3). Jeremy Hellickson pitched fairly well for the Rays, but the winning pitcher was Jake McGee (4-2). Kyle Farnsworth -- yes, THAT Kyle Farnsworth -- picked up his 25th save.

Attendance at this do-or-die game for the Rays was 22,820. That's home fans and visiting fans combined. The Red Sox and Orioles didn't do much better: 22,123. Where are those supposedly well-traveled Red Sox fans? Stupid Chowdaheads. Or maybe it was 17,123 Sox fans, and only 5,000 O's fans. At any rate, the combined total of 44,943 would have filled The Trop, and overflowed Fenway, but not filled Yankee Stadium II.

So, Game 162:

* David Price (12-13, 3.35) starts for the Rays. As of 10:30 AM, Joe Girardi had not yet selected a starting pitcher for the Yankees. He may end up going with "starter-by-committee," so as not to tax his regular starters' arms. This could have the effect of the Rays doing what they had to do: Sweeping this series, thus giving them a guarantee of a Game 163 -- if not, yet, one of a Game 164. (EDIT: Dellin Betances has been named the starter, and thus will make his major league debut.)

* Jon Lester (15-9, 3.49, but rocked by the Yankees in his last start) goes for the Red Sox. Alfredo Simon (4-9, 4.85) goes for Baltimore. This matchup certainly favors the Sox.

It sure looks like a one-game Playoff is necessary. As a young franchise, the Rays have never been in one. The Sox have been in 2, 1948 (lost at home to Cleveland) and 1978 (lost at home to the Yankees).

Joe DiMaggio once said, "I'd like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee."

There's a Facebook page titled, "I'd like to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee Fan!"

I'd like to thank the Good Lord for NOT making me a Red Sox fan. I couldn't take it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Submitted For My Approval

Last night, on WABC-Channel 7's Eyewitness News, they were joking about the last 3 games of the American League season being The Twilight Zone.

I can hear Rod Serling now:



Submitted for your approval: The New York Yankees, having already won 97 of their first 159 games, now playing a team which, if it wins, would hurt the Yankees' ancient rivals, the Boston Red Sox, who are engaged in one of the epic collapses of baseball history. Yankee losses to the Tampa Bay club would benefit, perhaps not the Yankees themselves, but Yankee Fans, who, nearly as much as they enjoy seeing the Yankees win, enjoy seeing the Red Sox lose. These are baseball games being played, not in Tropicana Field or at Camden Yards... but in the Twilight Zone.

Or, to put it another way... Rod Serling has an explanation for this bullshit, but if you're a Red Sox fan, you wouldn't want to hear it.

*

Last night, despite Robinson Cano's 28th home run, the Yankees lost to the Rays, 5-2. WP: James Shields (16-12). SV: Kyle Farnsworth (24 -- Kyle Farnsworth has 24 saves/ Wow, this really is the Twilight Zone!). LP: Hector Noesi (2-2).

On WCBS, John Sterling was commenting on how the Rays' fans were into it, and that this was a rarity for them. Well, attendance at The Trop was 18,772. I've seen more people at Red Bulls games. So they ain't that into it.

Meanwhile, on the docks of the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, the Red Sox made it 17 of their last 22. Josh "Super Punk" Beckett was fine until the 6th, but the Orioles struck for 4 runs in that inning, and won, 6-3.

Attendance was 21,786. In other words, the 2 games combined had an attendance that wouldn't completely fill either stadium. Not only that, but I'll bet the majority of the fans that showed up in St. Petersburg, and the majority of fans showing up in Baltimore, were rooting for the visiting teams. Like Yankee Fans, Red Sox fans travel well. Also, there are a lot of ex-New Yorkers in Florida, and some New Englanders who work in some capacity for the federal government may have come up from Washington to Baltimore.

*

Essentially, it comes down to this: One team must better the other over the next 2 nights. If either team goes 0-2, the other must go at least 1-1. If either goes 1-1, the other must go 2-0. If they finish tied, the 1st tiebreaker is the ultimate tiebreaker: A head-to-head single-game Playoff.

There have been 5 such games in AL history, and the Red Sox have been involved in 2 of them. This is not a good omen for them:

October 3, 1948: The AL race was nearly a 3-way tie. The Red Sox and Cleveland Indians finished 1 game ahead of the Yankees, but the Indians went into Fenway Park and shocked the Sox, 8-3, and went on to win the World Series -- still the last won by the franchise.

October 2, 1978: Also known as the Bucky Dent Game or the Boston Tie Party. The Sox led the Milwaukee Brewers by 9 1/2 games and the Yankees by 14 on July 20. As late as September 1, they still led the Yankees by 6 1/2. And they blew it, in large part to the "Boston Massacre" series, a 4-game Yankee sweep in Fenway that left the teams tied on September 10. The Yankees built to a 3 1/2-game lead on September 16, after taking 2 of 3 from the Sox at the original Yankee Stadium, before the Sox salvaged the finale and ended up winning 12 of their last 14, including their last 8, to force the tie. But the Yankees won it, 5-4, on home runs by Bucky Blessed Dent and Reggie Jackson, and went on to win the World Series.

The others: 1995, the California Angels blew a huge AL West lead and lost a Playoff to the Seattle Mariners, and didn't even get the Wild Card; 2008, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox went down to the wire in the AL Central and the White Sox won; and 2009, the Detroit Tigers blew a bit of a lead in the AL Central and lost a Playoff to the Twins.

(EDIT: I originally had 2006, rather than 2009, listed as when the Tigers blew a huge AL Central lead and lost to the Twins, but still qualified as the Wild Card and won the Pennant. As one of my readers pointed out, that collapse was completed without the aid of a one-game Playoff. It's strange how I remember 1978 far better than I remember 2009, even though the Yankees also won the World Series in that season.)

A one-game Playoff to decide whether their 2011 season is at least a partial success, or a spectacular failure? I don't think the Red Sox or their fans want that situation.

Do I care what The Scum or their Chowdahead fans want? No way. They can go... to the Twilight Zone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVSRm80WzZk&feature=related

In case you're wondering, there was a baseball-themed episode of The Twilight Zone: "The Mighty Casey," airing on June 17, 1960, about a pitcher who gets disqualified because he's a robot, and is then given an "artificial heart" so he qualifies as "human," but won't pitch anymore because he's afraid of hurting batters with his great speed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mighty_Casey

Rod Serling was from Binghamton, New York, which, in his youth, was home to an Eastern League (Double-A) team called the Binghamton Triplets, a Yankee farm team for most of their existence and winners of 10 Pennants between 1929 and 1967. They were known as the Triplets for much the same reason that the Minnesota team was named the Twins after the "Twin Cities": The "Triple Cities" were Binghamton, Endicott, and the city where their ballpark actually was, Johnson City.

Since 1992, Binghamton has been home to another Eastern League team, the Binghamton Mets, or the B-Mets. Of course, a farm club of the Flushing ballclub. Talk about a team in a twilight zone. A dimension of sight and sound, but, considering the Mets' history, not exactly one of mind!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Yankees Almost Bury Red Sox -- Almost

The Yankees had just about wrapped up home-field advantage through both rounds of the American League Playoffs, and really didn't have much to play for going into this past weekend's series with the Red Sox.

What they did have to play for was sending a message to The Scum -- and possibly to keep them on track to turn what had been a massive lead into missing the postseason entirely. The Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays had the chance to turn the 2011 Red Sox into not just the 1978 Red Sox, but the 2007 Mets.

The Friday night game was rained out and rescheduled for last night. The Saturday game was a message, all right: "The steroids ain't workin' for ya anymore."

With 1 out in the bottom of the 2nd, the Yankees made the following happen:

* Robinson Cano singled to left.
* Nick Swisher walked.
* Andruw Jones hit a grounder to deep short that prevented a play, an infield single to load the bases.
* Jesus Montero singled to left fielder, scoring Cano and keeping the bases loaded.
* Russell Martin, who said the other day that he hates the Red Sox, dunked a single to left, in front of Carl Crawford, the guy the Rays weren't willing to pay to re-sign, and the Yankees weren't willing to sign, keeping Brett Gardner in left and Curtis Granderson in center, but the Red Sox did give him big money, and was hitting over .330 in June, but is now hitting .258. Anyway, Martin's blooper scored Swish and Jones.
* Derek Jeter finished it off with a home run, his 6th of the season. Not as dramatic as the one he hit for his 3,000th career hit, but it scored Montero and Martin ahead of him.

Yankees 6, Red Sox 0. It ended 9-1.

9-1! We beat The Scum, 9-1! We beat The Scum, 9-1! We beat The Scum, 9-1!

WP: Freddy Garcia (12-8), with 6 shutout innings. LP: Jon Lester (15-9), who has been a rock for the Red Sox all year long and usually pitches well against the Yankees. Not this time!

*

The regularly-scheduled Sunday game could have been ugly. For the Red Sox, 45-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield started. We will always remember how Wakefield's knuckler drove the Yankees crazy in Games 1 and 4 of the 2003 AL Championship Series, but in the bottom of the 11th of Game 7, he gave up the Pennant-winning home run to Aaron Blessed Boone. For the Yankees, A.J. Burnett was starting. In 3 seasons, A.J. had never been the winning pitcher in a game against the Red Sox. For a lot of us, it didn't matter than Wakefield is old enough to have seen the Red Sox play in the 1967 World Series (if not to remember it): We were afraid "Bad A.J." was going to show up again.

But "Good A.J." showed up. Did he ever! He pitched into the 8th, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Jacoby Ellsbury got 3 hits, including 2 home runs off Burnett, and 2 RBIs... and that was half of Boston's hits and all of their runs. When A.J. left, he got a standing ovation from a crowd that realizes, no matter how bad this season and last have been, if you beat The Scum, you deserve our thanks. David Robertson went the rest of the way for Burnett (11-11).

As for Wakefield (7-8), he only got through the 4th. Jorge Posada hit his 14th homer of the season, Jeter got 3 hits including an RBI double, and the Yanks won, 6-2, to take the series, and continue Boston's slide: They had now lost 18 out of 23.

6-2! We beat The Scum, 6-2! We beat The Scum, 6-2! We beat The Scum, 6-2!

*

The nightcap was a different story. And it shouldn't have been. You've heard the old saying, "Baseball is a game of inches." In the bottom of the 1st, Mark Teixeira missed a home run by, literally, an inch: The ball bounced off the top of the fence and came down -- shades of the 2000 World Series against The Other Team -- scoring 2 runs, and when Teix tried for 3rd, the ball had come back to Sox catcher and Captain Jason Varitek, who proved for once and for all that he needs to retire, but throwing the ball not to 3rd baseman Jed Lowrie, but into left field. Teix scored, and the Yankees had hung 3 runs on Sox starter John Lackey before Lackey had even registered an out.

It's games like this that make John Sterling turn to his WCBS broadcast partner Suzyn Waldman and say, "You know, Suzyn, you can't predict baseball." Well, when it's Yankees vs. Red Sox, the one thing you can predict is that the game will be unpredictable.

Ivan Nova was pretty good until the 6th, but he left in the 7th with the Yanks trailing 4-3. The Sox bullpen almost completely shut the Yanks down after that 1st-inning Teix sequence. The Yanks tied it in the 7th, and had a man on 2nd with 1 out, and then bases loaded with 2 out, in the bottom of the 9th.

Austin Romine was due up. Jeter (3,088 career hits and batting .300 with 61 RBIs this season), Martin (17 homers and 64 RBIs this season), Jones (419 career home runs), and, uh, Alex Rodriguez (2,774 career hits, 629 of them home runs), were available to pinch-hit.

Instead, manager Joe Girardi made the first of two mind-numbingly stupid mistakes, and let Romine, with his .399 OPS and his 8 OPS+ (making him 92 percent lesser than the average hitter), bat against Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon with the bases loaded and 2 out in the bottom of the 9th of a tie game. He struck out swinging.

Jesus Montero singled to lead off the bottom of the 12th. The Yankees didn't get the run home.

In the 13th, the Yankees had men on 1st and 2nd with 1 out, and 2nd and 3rd with 2 out. They didn't get the winning run home.

Aaron Laffey got the first Sox batter of the top of the 14th out. It was then that Girardi made the second mind-numbingly stupid mistakes. He removed Laffey -- after getting an out, mind you -- and put in... wait for it...

SCOTT PROCTOR!



Goose Gossage demands an explanation for this bullshit! So do I! So does Lisa Swan of Subway Squawkers! (Check the link to the right.)

What did Proctor do? What does Proctor usually do? He screwed up!

* He gave up a single to Darnell McDonald. Apparently, he thought McDonald deserved a break today, and did it all for him.
* He walked Marco Scutaro.
* He got the man with the longest surname in MLB history, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, to fly out, thus earning himself what Johnny Carson used to call "sympathy applause."
* He gave up a home run to Jacoby Ellsbury, who seems to be on a one-man crusade to succeed David Ortiz (or fill in for Kevin Youkilis) as the Sox batter who pisses off Yankee Fans the most.

And who batted for the Yankees in the bottom of the 14th? Montero, Ramiro Pena, and Romine. Two rookies and a guy who hits like he's still a rookie. They went meekly down.

Red Sox 7, Yankees 4. WP: Franklin Morales (1-2). SV: Felix Doubront (1). LP: Proctor (2-5).

Proctor! Proctor! Give ya the news! I got a... bad case of hating you!

*

So, here's how things stand in the AL:

* The Yankees have clinched the best record, and home-field advantage in the Division Series and, if they win that, in the AL Championship Series.

* The Texas Rangers are 1 game ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd seed.

* In spite of their unbelievable (unless you're familiar with Sox history) nosedive, the Red Sox are still a game ahead of the Rays for the Wild Card. The Sox play the Baltimore Orioles in the last 3 games of the regular season, while the Rays host the Yankees.

Therefore, the Sox can win the Wild Card if...

* They sweep all 3 from the O's, regardless of what the Rays do.

* They win 2 out of 3 from the O's, and the Rays lose a game to the Yankees.

* They win only 1 from the O's, but the Rays lose 2 to the Yankees.

* The Rays get swept by the Yankees, regardless of what the Sox do.

It is still possible for the Rays (and even, with a miracle, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) to win the AL Wild Card; and for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the National League Wild Card. But, if the current MLB standings hold after the last 3 games...

* The Yankees will have home-field advantage over the Tigers in the AL Division Series.

* The Rangers will have HFA over the Red Sox in the other ALDS.

* The Philadelphia Phillies will have HFA over the Arizona Diamondbacks in one NL Division Series.

* The Milwaukee Brewers will have HFA over the Atlanta Braves in the other NLDS.

* If the Yankees and Phillies win their DS, they would have HFA over any of the other teams in their League.

* The Rangers would have HFA in the ALCS if they beat the Red Sox and the Tigers beat the Yankees.

* The Brewers would have HFA in the NLCS if they beat the Braves and the D-backs beat the Phils.

* The Tigers can only have HFA in any series if they beat the Yankees and the Red Sox beat the Rangers.

* The D-backs can only have HFA in any series if they beat the Phils and the Braves beat the Brewers.

At this point, I'm thinking the Red Sox will still win the AL Wild Card.

Unless...

Unless Joe Girardi decides to tank these games in St. Petersburg, and let the Rays win. He's done it before: Having secured at least the Wild Card last season, he seemed not to care about the AL East Title and HFA, and the Yankees blew a chance to win that, and paid for it by not having HFA in the ALCS against the Rangers. Would Girardi start guys like Pena, Romine, Eduardo Nunez and rookie pitchers, and continue to bring Proctor and Boone Logan in as relievers, just to "give them a chance"?

If he does that, and the Red Sox make the Playoffs anyway, then he should be relieved of his duties after the World Series, no matter what.

Yeah, with my luck, the Steinbrenner brothers will bring Don Mattingly back. Did anybody notice that the Los Angeles Dodgers were nowhere near Playoff contention this season? This was the 22nd season in which Don Mattingly was in uniform, in one capacity or another, for one Major League Baseball team or another, and it was the 22nd season in which his team failed to win a Pennant. The Curse of Donnie Baseball lives.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy 50th Anniversary, EBHS Football

September 23, 1961, 50 years ago today: A football game was played at Walter B. Overholt Jr. Stadium in Carteret, New Jersey.

Overholt was a Carteret native and a Carteret High School graduate, who was killed in World War II.

The stadium, the only high school football stadium in Central New Jersey with an overhanging roof, still stands, and Carteret has had its moments. When I was at East Brunswick High School in the mid-1980s, they couldn't buy a win. They were absolutely atrocious.

Within a few years, they had rebuilt, and were in the Central Jersey Group II Playoffs nearly every season, including a few Championships. Overholt Stadium became such a tough place to play, it was nicknamed The Pit. The Ramblers' games against such old rivals as South River, New Brunswick, Highland Park, Metuchen, and Perth Amboy, the team they've played every Thanksgiving (or shortly thereafter due to inclement weather) since 1927, became massive events.

On Septmeber 23, 1961, Carteret was in Group III, and they hosted East Brunswick, which had opened 3 years earlier, on September 8, 1958, with grades 6 through 9, and now had 9 through 12, and was playing its first ever varsity football game, also as a Group III school. By 1964, EB would be in the largest enrollment classification, Group IV, and has been there ever since.

As far as I know, no film survives of this game. The photographs that survive show the EB Bears, despite being the visiting team, in solid green jerseys with plain white helmets and rudimentary facemasks, while host Carteret wore all white except for their blue helmets.

Despite the lack of experience, EB won 7-0. The account in the Daily Home News -- one of 2 papers that would later form the current Middlesex County newspaper, the Home News Tribune -- the only scoring game in the last 4 minutes, as EB quarterback Bill Gruver led a long drive that he capped himself with a dive over the goal line on a quarterback sneak, and then he finished the job by converting the extra point.

After a week off, EB played its first home game, beating Middlesex, then another relatively new school, 32-0, on the spot now occupied by the rebuilt baseball field. Not until 1965 would EB open the stadium that would, in 1973, be renamed Jay Doyle Field, after the school's first athletic director, first football coach and first wrestling coach, who died at the end of the previous year, just 41 -- eek, the same age I am now.

EB played only 8 games in that first season, instead of what was then the 9-game standard for New Jersey high school football, splitting them, 4-4. After beating the Ramblers and Blue Jays, they then hosted Bridgewater and lost to the Golden Falcons (now the Panthers), went to Highland Park and lost to the Owls, hosted Union County power Union and lost to the Farmers, visiting neighboring South River and lost to the Rams, hosted Piscataway and beat the Chiefs (yes, as a brand-knew school we beat PISS-cataway -- of course, they were relatively new, too), and closed the season by visiting neighboring Sayreville and beating the Bombers.

And, 475 games later, we are scheduled to play John P. Stevens High School of Edison, at Doyle Field, although the rain may push that game back to tomorrow or Sunday.

Since 1961, we have won 12 Conference Championships, made the State Playoffs 11 times, and won 4 Central Jersey Group IV Championships: 1966, 1972, 2004 and 2009.

This season, we are already 0-2, having lost to the Monroe Falcons at home and the Edison Eagles on the road. The Playoffs look unlikely, and as long as we're in the Greater Middlesex Conference, Red Division with Piscataway, a Conference Championship looks unlikely. And this EB-Stevens matchup certainly won't carry with it the Playoff and Conference implications that the matchups of the late 1970s and all through the 1980s did.

But, presuming we're dry, it could be fun. GO BIG GREEN! And Happy Anniversary to DA BEARS!

Concerned About Colon as Sox Arrive, 61 in '61 Anniversary

Quick run-through of last night: In a game that was all but meaningless for the Yankees, but desperate for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rays jumped on Bartolo Colon (8-10), scoring 3 runs in the 1st, 2 in the 2nd, 2 in the 3rd, knocking him out, then jumping on Scott Proctor (big surprise) for 4 5 in the 4th, and 1 in the 5th.

32251. That ZIP Code is not in service. If it were, it would be in Jacksonville, Florida, in the Rays' territory.

The Yanks' bullpen calmed down after that, and Andruw Jones hit his 12th home run of the season. But the 13-0 Rays lead was too much to overcome, and the Yankees lost, 15-8.

Once again, it was a pitcher they'd never seen before that beat them, Matt Moore, a 22-year-old lefthander from Fort Walton, Florida, on the Gulf Coast and closer to Atlanta than to Tampa Bay, making his major league debut (1-0). Was that smart, Rays? Needing a win to keep your Playoff hopes alive, and sending a debutante onto the mound at Yankee Stadium? It worked.

Colon got off to a great start to this season, but got hurt and hasn't been all that good since coming back. I'm getting concerned.

*

So here's how things stand: The Yankees have clinched the American League Eastern Division, and their Magic Number to clinch home-field advantage all the way through the AL Playoffs is 2: Any number of Yankee wins and Detroit Tiger losses, and any number of Yankee wins and Texas Ranger losses, adding up to 2, and the Yanks will do it. They have 95 wins. Since all 3 teams have 6 games left, a 96th win is the most that either the Tigers or Rangers could get this season.

The Red Sox lead the Rays by 2 games for the Wild Card, and the Angels, who have snuck back in, by 3. The Angels' elimination number is 4, the Rays' is 5.

The pitching matchup for this Yanks-Sox series, meaningful for them but not really for us, is as follows:

Tonight at 7, weather permitting, on YES: Freddy Garcia vs. Jon Lester.

Tomorrow at 4, on Fox: A.J. Burnett (who is not 45 but sometimes pitches like it) vs. Tim Wakefield (who is 45 and sometimes pitches like it).

Sunday at 1, on YES: Ivan Nova vs. a pitcher to be determined. (EDIT: May be Erik Bedard.)

Sounds to me like the Sox have a fair chance in the Garcia-Lester matchup, and in the Burnett-Wakefield matchup, but I wouldn't bet on them beating Nova.

This would give the Sox 90 wins -- far below the 100+ that some dimwits were predicting for them -- with 3 to play in Baltimore against the Orioles. If the Sox can't take 2 out of 3 there, they don't deserve to be in the Playoffs.

(Well, they don't deserve to be in the Playoffs, anyway, but that's a whole other thing.)

Anyway, if they take 2 out of 3 from us (possible, since it's not a do-or-die series for us, and it would hardly be a message for us), and take 2 out of 3 in Baltimore, that would give them 92 wins. This would make it impossible for the Angels to catch them, and the Rays would have to win all their remaining games in order to force a Playoff for the Wild Card.

I saw on NESN's website that, in spite of an atrocious last 50 games or so, the Sox still have an 87 percent chance of winning the Wild Card. That's 7 out of 8.

Still, they do, in terms of style, resemble the 2007 and 2010 Wild Card-winning Yankees more than the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox who cheated their way to World Championships. And regardless of whether they end up playing the Tigers or the Rangers in the Division Series, they would have to be considered underdogs.

*

Tomorrow's game will feature a pregame ceremony, originally scheduled for tonight but already postponed due to the weather (as tonight's game might also be), honoring the 50th Anniversary of the single-season home run record, Roger Maris hitting 61 in '61.

Guests will includ Roger's widow, Pat Maris, and former teammates Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Moose Skowron, Bobby Richardson and Bob Cerv. Also on hand will be Sal Durante, the then-19-year-old truck driver who caught Maris' 61st home run. The group will be introduced as part of a pregame ceremony that will also include a video tribute and the Yankees Foundation presenting a donation to the Roger Maris Cancer Center in Roger's hometown of Fargo, North Dakota.

I hope Billy Crystal, who directed the film 61* about the home run chase; Barry Pepper, who played Roger in that movie; Thomas Jane, who played Mickey Mantle; a representative of Mickey's family; Andy Strasberg, who has made a name for himself as Roger's biggest fan and a protector of his legacy; and Tom Clavin and Danny Peary, authors of the fine book Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero, will also be there.

Great book. Not just a great baseball book, but a great biography of a decent but strange man and the work he did -- which happened to be professional baseball.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Postseason Appearances By MLB Teams

Now, here's a list of all postseason appearances by current MLB teams -- presuming, of course, that the Red Sox and Braves don't choke away their seemingly safe Wild Card berths. It does not include 1994, even for those teams that "finished" 1st, but it does include Wild Card berths, lost Playoffs for Pennants and/or Division Titles, the split-season of 1981, and 19th Century Pennants:

1. New York Yankees, 50: 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011.

2. St. Louis Cardinals, 26: 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888 (American Association Pennants under the name St. Louis Browns), 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009.

3. Boston Red Sox, 24: 1903, 1904 (although the Giants chickened out of playing them in the World Series), 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1946, 1948 (that Playoff counts, the last 2 games against the Yankees in '49 do not), 1967, 1975, 1978 (the Bucky Dent Game, a.k.a. the Boston Tie Party), 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011. As you can see, no team has benefited more from the Wild Card than the Sox, and that would be true even if they hadn't won their way to the whole thing in 2004 (cough-steroids-cough).

4. Chicago Cubs, 23: 1876, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, 1886 (each of these NL Pennants was won under the name of the Chicago White Stockings), 1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, 1945, 1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008.

5. Atlanta Braves, 18: 1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011. (Plus the 1872, '73, '74 and '75 National Association Pennants as the Boston Red Stockings; the 1877 and '78 NL Pennants as the Boston Red Stockings; the 1883, '91, '92, '93, '97 and '98 Pennants as the Boston Beaneaters; the 1914 and '48 Pennants as the Boston Braves; and the 1957 and '58 Pennants, and '59 Playoff that they lost to the Dodgers, as the Milwaukee Braves. The Atlanta Crackers won Southern Association Pennants in 1907, '09, '13, '17, '19, '25, '35, '38, '46, '54, '56, '57 and '60, and an International League Pennant in 1962.)

6. Los Angeles Dodgers, 18: 1959, 1962 (lost Playoff to Giants, just like in New York in 1951), 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1980 (lost NL West Playoff to Astros), 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2008, 2009. (Plus the 1889 American Association Pennant and the 1890 NL Pennant as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms -- don't ask -- the 1899 and 1900 Pennants as the Brooklyn Superbas, the 1916 and '20 Pennants as the Brooklyn Robins, and the 1941, '47, '49, '52, '53, '55 and '56 Pennants, and the lost Pennant Playoffs of 1946 and '51, as the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Pacific Coast League equivalent of the Dodgers, the Hollywood Stars, won Pennants in 1929, '30, '49, '52 and '53.)

7. Pittsburgh Pirates, 16: 1901, 1902, 1903, 1909, 1925, 1927, 1960, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1992. This does not count the 1939 Playoff that they lost to the New York Knights on Roy Hobbs' walkoff home run. That was just a movie.

8. Oakland Athletics, 15: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006. (Plus the 1902, '05, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14, '29, '30 and '31 Pennants as the Philadelphia Athletics. The Oakland Oaks won Pacific Coast League Pennants in 1912, '27, '48, '50 and '54.)

9. Cincinnati Reds, 15: 1882, 1919, 1939, 1940, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990, 1995, 1999 (Wild Card play-in game, lost to Mets), 2010.

10. Philadelphia Phillies, 14: 1915, 1950, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1993, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.

11. Detroit Tigers, 13: 1907, 1908, 1909, 1934, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1968, 1972, 1984, 1987, 2006, 2011.

12. Minnesota Twins, 11: 1965, 1969, 1970, 1987, 1991, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010. (Plus the 1924, '25 and '33 Pennants as the Washington Senators. The Minneapolis Millers won American Association Pennants in 1896, 1910, '11, '12, '15, '32, '35, '55, '58 and '59. The St. Paul Saints won AA Pennants in 1924 and '48.)

13. Chicago White Sox, 11: 1901, 1906, 1917, 1919, 1959, 1983, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2008.

14. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 11: 1979, 1982, 1986, 1995 (lost Playoff to Seattle after blowing big AL West lead), 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009. (The original Los Angeles Angels won Pacific Coast League Pennants in 1903, '05, '07, '08, '16, '18, '21, '26, '33, '34, '47 and '56.)

15. Cleveland Indians, 10: 1920, 1948, 1954, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007.

16. Baltimore Orioles, 10: 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1996, 1997. (Plus the 1944 Pennant as the St. Louis Browns. The original Baltimore Orioles won NL Pennants in 1894, '95 and '96. The Triple-A team of the same name won International Leauge Pennants in 1908, '19, '20, '21, '22, '23, '24, '25, '44 and '50.)

17. San Francisco Giants, 9: 1962, 1971, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2010. (Plus Pennants as the New York Giants in 1888, '89, 1904, '05, '11, '12, '13, '17, '21, '22, '23, '24, '33, '36, '37, '51 and '54, and a lost Playoff in 1908. The San Francisco Seals won Pacific Coast League Pennants in 1909, '15, '17, '22, '23, '25, '28, '31, '35, '43, '44, '45, '46 and '57, their last season.)

18. Houston Astros, 9: 1980, 1981, 1986, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005. (The Houston Buffaloes won Texas League Pennants in 1928, '31, '40, '47, '51, '54, '56 and '57.)

19. Kansas City Royals, 7: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985. (The Kansas City Blues won American Association Pennants in 1888, '90, '98, 1901, '18, '23, '29, '38, '52 and '53.)

20. New York Mets, 7: 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000, 2006.

21. Texas Rangers, 5: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011. (The Dallas Submarines won Texas League Pennants in 1917 and '18, the Dallas Steers in 1926 and '92, the Dallas Rebels in 1941 and '46, and the Dallas Eagles in 1953. The Fort Worth Panthers won TL Pennants in 1920, '21, '22, '23, '24, '25 and '30, then became the Fort Worth Cats and won Pennants in 1937, '39 and '48.)

22. Arizona Diamondbacks, 5: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011. (The Phoenix Giants, later the Phoenix Firebirds, won Pacific Coast League Pennants in 1958 and '77.)

23. San Diego Padres, 5: 1984, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006. (The original San Diego Padres won Pacific Coast League Pennants in 1937, '62, '64 and '67.)

24. Toronto Blue Jays, 5: 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993. (The Toronto Maple Leafs, for whom the hockey team was later named, won International League Pennants in 1902, '12, '17, '18, '26, '34, '60, '65 and '66.)

25. Seattle Mariners, 4: 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001. (The Seattle Indians, later renamed the Seattle Rainiers and the Seattle Angels, won Pacific Coast League Pennants in 1924, '40, '41, '42, '51, '55 and '66. Various teams from nearby Tacoma have won them in 1961, '69 and '78.)

26. Milwaukee Brewers, 4: 1981, 1982, 2007, 2011. (The original Milwaukee Brewers won American Association Pennants in 1913, '14, '36, '43, '44, '45, '47, '51 and '52, including their last 2 seasons of play.)

27. Tampa Bay Rays, 2: 2008, 2010. (Prior to the arrival of the then-Devil Rays in 1998, Florida State League Pennants were won by Tampa teams in 1920, '25, '57, '61 and '94; and by St. Petersburg teams in 1922, '58, '59, '67, '73, '75, '86 and '97.)

28. Florida Marlins, 2: 1997, 2003. (Prior to the arrival of the Marlins in 1993, Florida State League Pennants were won by Miami teams in 1969, '70, '71, '72 and '78, and by the Fort Lauderdale Yankees in 1962, '64, '65, '80, '82, '84 and '87.)

29. Colorado Rockies, 1: 2007. (The Denver Bears won American Association Pennants in 1923, '29, '57, '71, '76, '77, '81, and '83, and in 1991 as the Denver Zephyrs.)

30. Washington Nationals, none. (1981 as Montreal Expos. The Montreal Royals won International League Pennants in 1898, 1935, '41, '45, '46, '48, '51, '52, '53, '55 and '58.)

Division Titles Won By MLB Teams

This will be 2 separate lists: From the post-1969 Divisional Play Era onward, and overall.

However, only 1st-place finishes from their current metropolitan area will count, i.e. a team moving from Manhattan to Queens, like the Mets, would have their Manhattan titles, had they won any, counted; but a team moving from Manhattan to San Francisco, like the Giants, will only have their titles in the latter location counted.

If a team won a Pennant as its League's Wild Card winner, without winning their Division, I have included that as well, albeit with an asterisk. I have not, however, put asterisks on titles that smell fishy, i.e. won with steroids.

Finally, I have included those teams that were in 1st place on August 12, 1994, when the Strike hit. Major League Baseball does not officially recognize these Division Titles, but, let's be honest: The teams in question WERE in 1st place when the regular season came to an end, however dubious. But teams that won titles in either half of the strike-forced split season of 1981 are not included here, unless they then won the "Division Series" between the two half-seasonal winners. In other words, by defeating the 2nd-half-winning Milwaukee Brewers, the 1st-half-winning Yankees are included, but the Brewers are not.

1. New York Yankees, 18: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981 (won split-season Division Series), 1994 (led AL East when Strike hit), 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011. All of these in the American League Eastern Division. Note that while the Yankees have won the AL's Wild Card 4 times, they have never won the Pennant in the Divisional Play Era unless they first won the AL East, which they have won more times than any other team.

2. Atlanta Braves, 16: 1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993 (last in National League Western, moved to NL Eastern), 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005. They are now tied with the Phillies for most NL East titles won.

3. Oakland Athletics, 14: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1981 (won split-season Division Series), 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006. All in the AL West, which they have won more times than any team.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers, 12: 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981 (won split-season Division Series), 1983, 1985, 1988, 1994 (in 1st when Strike hit), 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009. All in the NL West, which they have won more times than any team.

5. Philadelphia Phillies, 11: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1993, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. All in the NL East, which they have now won as many times as the Braves to share the lead.

6. Minnesota Twins, 10: 1969, 1970, 1987, 1991 (in the AL West, moved to AL Central), 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010. They and the Cleveland Indians share the distinction of having won the AL Central more than any other team.

7. Cincinnati Reds, 10: 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990 (in NL West, moved to NL Central), 1994 (in 1st when Strike hit), 1995, 2010. Although they have won more Division Titles than any NL Central team, they have not won more NL Central Titles than any other team. It should also be noted that the Reds had the best overall record in baseball in 1981, but because they did not finish first in either half, they did not make the Playoffs.

8. St. Louis Cardinals, 9: 1982, 1985, 1987 (in the NL East, moved to NL Central), 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009. They have won more NL Central Titles than any other team. They had the best overall record in the NL East in 1981, but didn't finish 1st in either half, so didn't make the Playoffs.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates, 9: 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1992. All of these titles were won in the NL East. They have never won one since moving to the NL Central, making them and the Kansas City Royals the only pre-1993 team not to have won a Division Title in their current Division. For that reason, I have ranked them behind the Cardinals.

10. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 10: 1979, 1982, 1986, 2002 (won World Series as Wild Card winner), 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009. All in the AL West. They are ranked behind the Cardinals and Pirates because of that Wild Card Pennant.

11. Baltimore Orioles, 8: 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1997. All in the AL East. It took the Yankees until 1999 to surpass the O's as the all-time top team in the AL East.

12. San Francisco Giants, 8: 1971, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2000, 2002 (won Pennant as NL Wild Card winner), 2003, 2010. All in the NL West. I have ranked them behind the O's because of that Wild Card Pennant, although it's interesting that the 2 teams that wear orange and black are tied with each other.

13. Cleveland Indians, 7: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007. All in the AL Central, which they and the Twins have won more than any other team. The Indians never won the AL East while they were in it. I rank them ahead of the next 2 entries because they've never needed a Wild Card.

14. Boston Red Sox, 7: 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 2004 (won World Series as steroid-aided Wild Card), 2007 (cough-steroids-cough). All in the AL East.

15. Houston Astros, 7: 1980, 1986 (in NL West, moved to NL Central), 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005 (won Pennant as Wild Card winner). Since the Red Sox and Astros both have 1 Wild Card entry here, I've ranked the Sox ahead due to more Pennants.

16. Chicago Cubs, 6: 1984, 1989 (in NL East, moved to NL Central), 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008.

17. Kansas City Royals, 6: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1985. All in the AL West. They have not won a Division Title since moving to the AL Central. For that reason, I have ranked them behind the Cubs.

18. New York Mets, 6: 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2000 (won Pennant as Wild Card winner), 2006. All in the NL East. I have ranked them behind the Royals due to that Wild Card Pennant.

19. Chicago White Sox, 6: 1983, 1993 (in AL West, moved to AL Central), 1994 (in 1st when the Strike hit), 2000, 2005, 2008. I have ranked them behind the Mets because of the 1994 issue.

20. Texas Rangers, 6: 1994 (in 1st when Strike hit), 1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011. All in AL West. So why have I ranked the Rangers behind the White Sox? Partly because of steroids, partly because of Dallas, partly because of Bush.

21. Arizona Diamondbacks, 5: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011. All in NL West.

22. San Diego Padres, 5: 1984, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006. All in NL West. I've ranked them behind the D'backs due to most recent titles.

23. Toronto Blue Jays, 5: 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993. All in AL East. I've ranked them behind the Padres due to most recent titles.

24. Detroit Tigers, 5: 1972, 1984, 1987 (in AL East, moved to AL Central), 2006 (won Pennant as Wild Card winner), 2011.

25. Seattle Mariners, 3: 1995, 1997, 2001. All in AL West.

26. Milwaukee Brewers, 2: 1982 (AL East), 2011 (NL Central). They haven't actually clinched yet, but they will, and when they do, they will become the first MLB team to win Division Titles in both Leagues. They did win a half-season title in 1981, but lost to the Yankees in the Playoffs.

27. Tampa Bay Rays, 2: 2008, 2010. Both in the AL East.

28. Florida Marlins, 2: 1997, 2003 -- both times winning the World Series as NL Wild Card winners, having finished behind the Braves in NL East.

29. Colorado Rockies, 1: 2007 (won NL Pennant as Wild Card winner). They have never actually won the NL West.

30. Washington Nationals, none. The only current MLB team never to have made the Playoffs, although that stands to reason as they are, sort of, the newest. But even as the Montreal Expos, they never won an officially-recognized Division Title in a full 162-game season. They won a split-season title in 1981, beat the Phillies in a Division Series, and then lost the Pennant to the Dodgers. In 1994, they had the best record in all of baseball when the Strike hit, and didn't get to play in the postseason. Throughout their history, in Montreal and Washington, they have always played in the NL East, debuting in 1969, the first year of Divisional Play.

*

Now, here's the list that counts 1st-place finishes from the pre-1969, single-division era:

1. New York Yankees, 47: 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011.

2. St. Louis Cardinals, 25: 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009.

3. Chicago Cubs, 22: 1876, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, 1886, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, 1945, 1984, 1989, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008. See what a difference counting ALL titles can make?

4. Los Angeles Dodgers, 16: 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009. I've ranked them and the Pirates ahead of the Braves because of the 4 Pennants won without needing to finish 1st only in your Division, instead of your entire League. And I've ranked the Dodgers ahead of the Pirates because of the 1962 tie for 1st with the Giants, who then beat the Dodgers in a Playoff. This does not count their Brooklyn Pennants.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates, 16: 1901, 1902, 1903, 1909, 1925, 1927, 1960, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1992.

6. Atlanta Braves, 16: 1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005. This does not count their Boston and Milwaukee Pennants.

7. Boston Red Sox, 15: 1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 2004, 2007.

8. Cincinnati Reds, 15: 1882, 1919, 1939, 1940, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990, 1994, 1995, 2010.

9. Oakland Athletics, 14: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006. This does not count their Philadelphia Pennants. They won no Pennants, or even had a winning season, while they played in Kansas City.

10. Philadelphia Phillies, 13: 1915, 1950, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1993, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.

11. Detroit Tigers, 13: 1907, 1908, 1909, 1934, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1968, 1972, 1984, 1987, 2006, 2011.

12. Minnesota Twins, 11: 1965, 1969, 1970, 1987, 1991, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010. This does not count their Washington Pennants.

13. Chicago White Sox, 11: 1901, 1906, 1917, 1919, 1959, 1983, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2008.

14. Cleveland Indians, 10: 1920, 1948, 1954, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007.

15. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 10: 1979, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009.

16. Baltimore Orioles, 9: 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1997. This does not count their St. Louis Pennant.

17. San Francisco Giants, 9: 1962, 1971, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2010. This does not count their New York Pennants.

18. Houston Astros, 7: 1980, 1986, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005.

19. Kansas City Royals, 6: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1985.

20. New York Mets, 6: 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2000, 2006.

21. Texas Rangers, 6: 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011. They never won a Pennant, or even came close to 1st place, as the "new" Washington Senators.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks, 5: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011.

23. San Diego Padres, 5: 1984, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006.

24. Toronto Blue Jays, 5: 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993.

25. Seattle Mariners, 3: 1995, 1997, 2001.

26. Milwaukee Brewers, 2: 1982, 2011.

27. Tampa Bay Rays, 2: 2008, 2010.

28. Florida Marlins, 2: 1997, 2003.

29. Colorado Rockies, 1: 2007.

30. Washington Nationals, none.

*

Finally, here's the list that counts ALL 1st-place finishes, including those of moved teams in their previous cities/metro areas:

1. New York Yankees, 47: 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011.

2. Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, 32: 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1883, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1897, 1898, 1914, 1948, 1957, 1958, 1969, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.

3. Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, 29: 1889, 1890, 1899, 1900, 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1994, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009.

4. New York/San Francisco Giants, 26: 1888, 1889, 1904, 1905, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1917, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1951, 1954, 1962, 1971, 1987, 1989, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2010.

5. St. Louis Cardinals, 25: 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009.

6. Philadelphia/Oakland Athletics, 23: 1902, 1905, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006.

7. Chicago Cubs, 22: 1876, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1885, 1886, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, 1945, 1984, 1989, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates, 16: 1901, 1902, 1903, 1909, 1925, 1927, 1960, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1992.

9. Boston Red Sox, 15: 1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 2004, 2007.

10. Cincinnati Reds, 15: 1882, 1919, 1939, 1940, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990, 1994, 1995, 2010.

11. Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins, 14: 1924, 1925, 1933, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1987, 1991, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010.

12. Philadelphia Phillies, 13: 1915, 1950, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1993, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.

13. Detroit Tigers, 13: 1907, 1908, 1909, 1934, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1968, 1972, 1984, 1987, 2006, 2011.

14. Chicago White Sox, 11: 1901, 1906, 1917, 1919, 1959, 1983, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2008.

15. Cleveland Indians, 10: 1920, 1948, 1954, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007.

16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 10: 1979, 1982, 1986, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009.

17. St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles, 10: 1944, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1997.

18. Houston Astros, 7: 1980, 1986, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005.

19. Kansas City Royals, 6: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1985.

20. New York Mets, 6: 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 2000, 2006.

21. Washington Senators/Texas Rangers, 6: 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks, 5: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011.

23. San Diego Padres, 5: 1984, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006.

24. Toronto Blue Jays, 5: 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993.

25. Seattle Mariners, 3: 1995, 1997, 2001.

26. Milwaukee Brewers, 2: 1982, 2011.

27. Tampa Bay Rays, 2: 2008, 2010.

28. Florida Marlins, 2: 1997, 2003.

29. Colorado Rockies, 1: 2007.

30. Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, none.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yankees Clinch 47th 1st Place Finish

The Red Sox lost to the Orioles. The next Yankee win meant winning the American League Eastern Division.

CC Sabathia took the mound against Jeremy Hellickson, and we had a Yankee Doodle Dandy of a pitchers' duel. CC got into a little jam in the top of the 2nd, but got out of it; in the bottom of the 2nd, Robinson Cano went the other way to hit his 27th home run of the season, and put the Yankees up, 1-0.

The Yanks loaded the bases in the bottom of the 4th, but only scored 1 run, on a double-play groundout. 2-0. In the top of the 5th, ex-Yankee backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, of all people, took CC deep to make it 2-1. In the top of the 7th, CC gave up another homer, to Sean Rodriguez. Who? Who cares. It was tied 2-2.

It stayed that way into the top of the 8th, and Joe Girardi, who almost never lets a pitcher go too long -- including the workhorse CC -- let CC throw 127 pitches. Old enough to remember such Yankee pitchers as Catfish Hunter and Ron Guidry, it ticks me off to think of 127 pitches being considered an anomaly.

David Robertson came in with 1 out and the bases loaded. How does 1 pitch for 2 outs sound to you? It sounded good to Cano, to Eduardo Nunez (playing shortstop as Derek Jeter was given the night off) to Mark Teixeira, 4-6-3, end of threat.

Bottom of the 8th. The Yankees load the bases with 2 out. Tampa manager Joe Maddon makes about a dozen pitching changes, or so it seems. And Girardi sends the aging but oh-so-experienced Jorge Posada in to pinch-hit for the dazzling but not-quite-tested rookie Jesus Montero.

Base hit to right field. 4-2 Yankees. The Stadium erupts. He gets Johnny Damon to pop up to short, 1 out. He gets Dan Johnson to ground to 2nd, 2 out. He allows a single to the not-exactly-mighty Casey Kotchman, but fans Matt Joyce to end it.

Ballgame over! American League Eastern Division over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!

Holy Cow!

How about that!

WP: Robertson (4-0). LP: McGee (3-2). SV: Soriano (2).

This is the 47th time the Yankees have finished a season in first place, the 16th time in the post-1969 Divisional Play Era.

Oh, by the way: Thank you, Orioles. And eat it, Sox!

*

Jeter hits 3082 DONE
Rivera saves 603 DONE
A-Rod homers 629 134
A-Rod hits 2772 228
Magic Number for Playoffs DONE
Magic Number for Division DONE
Magic Number for Best Record in AL 4