Monumental Major League Collapses

Friday, September 30, 2011

Monumental Major League Collapses

It won't provide much solace to fans of the Atlanta Braves or the Boston Red Sox, but their late season swooms, losing respective leads of 10½ games to St. Louis and nine games to Tampa Bay, are just the most recent in a long list of nightmare collapses.

In just my lifetime, there's been:

  • 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers: the reigning National League pennant-winners led the Cardinals by 9½ games on August 15 when St. Louis went on a 43-9 tear to finish two games up. The Dodgers had even won their final eight games.
  • 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers: with a 13½-game lead on August 11, the Dodgers played .500 while the Giants went 39-8 to help fashion two baseball cliches: "the Miracle of Coogan's Bluff" and "the Shot Heard 'Round The World," about which too much has already been written!
  • 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers: up by four games with two weeks to play, their best offensive team since moving West stopped hitting and lost six of its last seven games to force another best-of-three playoff with the Giants with identical results as 11 years earlier.
  • 1964 Philadelphia Phillies: up 6½ games with 12 to play, they lost 10 straight just as the St. Louis Cardinals went on a winning streak, and wound up in a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for second place, one game out.
  • 1969 Chicago Cubs: with a 9½ game in mid-August, they lost 14 of their last 20 games to be over-taken by the "Miracle Mets" in the first year of Division play.

(Common to four of the previous five teams was Leo Durocher, manager of the '42 Dodgers, the '51 Giants and the '69 Cubs, and Third Base Coach on the '62 Dodgers.)

  • 1978 Boston Red Sox: a fabled fade finished off by the celebrated Bucky Dent home run. Boston had held a 14-game lead over the Yankees in July and a 7½ game lead with 32 to play, but New York got hot and forced a one-game playoff in famed Fenway Park.
  • 1987 Toronto Blue Jays: lost their final seven games after holding a 3½-game lead in the American League East with only seven to play. The Tigers won the title by two games.
  • 1993 San Francisco Giants: surren­dered a 10-game lead in July to Atlanta and were knocked out on the final days of the season when the Dodgers beat them 12-1.
  • 1995 California Angels: Lost nine straight and 27 of its last 39 games to blow an 11½ game lead in mid-August.
  • 2007 New York Mets: Held a seven-game lead with 17 remaining; lost six of their final seven and were over-taken by their nemesis Phillies and finished two games out.
  • 2009 Detroit Tigers: Up three games with four to play, lost in a one-game playoff to the Minnesota Twins who won 10 of their last 13 to pull even.

Yes, all the foregoing were for League or Division leads, and the Braves and Red Sox flops were for the Wild Card in their Leagues.

But remember as late as September 1st, even after a loss to the Yankees, Boston with a 83-53 won-lost record still had the best record in the American League.

Then the wheels came off and some in Red Sox Nation feared that the awful "Curse of the Bambino" had been reinstated.


1. EastEnd68 said...

This year's curse was Crawford.

You are sooooooooo right! Who would be insane enough to sign Carl Crawford, a mildly above average outfielder in seven years with Tampa Bay, to a seven-year, $142 million contract? Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein who, when he bought into the carefully leaked disinformation that the Yankees' Brian Cashman was trying to sign the free agent, utterly lost his mind!

That's worst that the Washinton Nationals' contemporaneous seven-year, $126 million contract with Jayson Werth who had a marginally better 2011 season than Crawford.

I don't know who represents Crawford, but Werth is in Scott Boras' stable along with Adrian Beltré, A-Rod and J.D. Drew. He's a cut-throat snake! I wouldn't deal with him if he had Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax as clients!

2. Hampton West said...

The interesting thing about the Giants collapse in 1993 is that the still won over 100 games, something like 101 or 102, and were not in the playoffs because the Braves had one more! This led to the wild card that we know today.

Yeah, they won 103 games that season... but guess what?! It was the Dodgers that drove a stake in their orange-and-black heart in the final game of the season, 12-1, as Piazza hit two homers and knocked in four runs, and Karros, Mondesi and Cory Snyder drove in two more apiece. Remember it like it was yesterday!

3. Hampton West said...

Watched the last two Giant-Dodger games of the season - both games in Los Angeles and it was the Dodgers last home stand of 2011. Dean, I don't know what the announced attendance was but I can tell you the place was pretty empty for both games. Was nice to hear Vin Scully announcing though, the guy is still great.

The "official" numbers for the final two games against the Giants at Chavez Ravine (56,000+ capacity) were 32,334 and 37,560, very poor for even Wednesday and Thursday games for a team which averaged over 46,000 per game over the past five seasons.

Lotta factors: the owners' u-g-l-y divorce mess, an opening day incidence of intra-fan violence usually reserved for a city like Philadelphia and two teams that were out of contention.

Scully is remarkable, and I still love to listen to him... I catch the occasional error he never used to make, but at age 83, I given him a pass 'cause he's just that good!

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