Sunday, July 15, 2007

Baseball

1. The Philadelphia Phillies just lost their 10,000th game in franchise history, the first team to reach that dubious milestone. You can check out teams' all-time records here on the BaseballReference.com site. The Braves, who've been the best team in the National League over the past 15 years, are second on the all-time loss list with 9,681.

Although the New York Yankees, predictably enough, have the best overall winning percentage at .567, the American League has only been around since 1901, so the older National League franchises have played more games. The team with the most all-time wins, then, (10,151) is the Giants, who didn't add to their total this weekend, getting swept by the Dodgers at home as Barry Bonds went 0-for-12 in the series. The Cubs, who have been around since 1876 and were actually pretty good the first few decades of their existence, are second with 9,946.

Here's a trivia question for you, though: What's the only expansion franchise (i.e., one that came into existence sometime within the past 100 years) with an overall winning record? Nope, it's not any of the two-time World Series champion teams, the Mets, Blue Jays, or Marlins. It's the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hold a slim 777-774 margin after their loss today. The two others that are closest are the Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays, who are 18 and 46 games, respectively, under .500 after play today.

The worst overall record for an existing franchise, of course, is held by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who've been awful since their inception. In their best season to date, they finished 3 games above last place, 21 games below .500.

Another neat thing about that page is that you can check out all the defunct franchises from the 1800s, like the Cleveland Spiders, Ward's Wonders of Brooklyn, the Worcester Ruby Legs, and the St. Paul Apostles, who lasted for all of 8 games in 1884.

2. The Baseball Crank ranks what he considers to be the most impressive records in baseball. It's a good list. On numerous occasions in the past I've seen lazy sportswriters talk about the "most unbreakable" records and then name things like Joe DiMaggio's hit streak or Ripken's consecutive games streak. Those are both difficult and impressive things to do, but there's no reason why somebody else couldn't do them again.

But there's no way anybody's going to beat Cy Young's 511 career wins, and his 749 career complete games are 631 more than the active leader, Roger Clemens, has. Nobody pitches as much as they did 100 years ago, and nobody gets even remotely close to completing as many games. It's just not going to happen. Nobody's going to beat Sam Crawford's career triples mark, either. I think Mr. Crank has a better idea by just throwing out the "most unbreakable" metric and going with "most impressive," instead.

3 Comments:

At Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 10:37:00 PM PDT, Blogger Theodore said...

Somewhat lost in this is that it's not clear that the Phillies aren't the "same" franchise as Worcester -- in which case, the 10,000th loss already happened a while ago. In the 19th century, the term "franchise" held its original meaning, and the meaning we usually use it else where in English -- a right to participate. It's only in the 20th century in North American sports it became synonymous with a particular management entity.

Also worth noting: the oldest professional sports organizations in the US are the Cubs and the Braves -- though the Cubs took a couple years off because of a nasty little fire in their hometown. The Cincinnati Reds like to put the phrase "1869 -- first professional baseball team" on the top of their official press notes and letterhead, but the current organization has zero connection to the famous 1869-1870 team.

Despite about 10 extra years, the Phillies got to 10,000 first, no matter how you count, because they've consistently sucked for over a century. The Cubs were strong for close to 70 years, from the 1870s through WWII; the Braves, though they were weak through most of their time in Boston, have of course been a great team for the last almost 20 years. The Phillies, though, have been consistently mediocre throughout.

 
At Sunday, July 15, 2007 at 11:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger Adam Villani said...

Yeah, the Phillies have been kind of okay for a while, but they've been through some truly awful stretches in their history. They had only a single winning season over the 31-year stretch from 1918 to 1948, and finished in last place (in an 8-team league) more than half of the time (16 years) in those years. Ouch. Then, there was that historic collapse in 1964.

The cross-town (or, at least, cross-locker room, as the Phils moved into the same park in 1938) Athletics had some awful years in Philadelphia, too. They were kind of like the Florida Marlins of their day; two times they won championships only to be dismantled by cost-cutting management. They finished last seven years in a row from 1915 - 1921, and then were in the cellar nine of the 12 years from 1935 from 1946.

No wonder Philadelphia sports fans are so ornery.

 
At Tuesday, July 24, 2007 at 12:50:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Victor said...

I think the St. Paul Apostles were disbanded on the road to Altoona when they all abandoned baseball and resolved henceforth to know nothing while they were there except football.

 

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