As I have done at various times during the season, I have updated friends and co-workers on a club that no one really wants to be a part of. I refer to the 100-loss club. A dubious achievement and a monument to failure (at least 100 of them…). Just as winning is a team effort, so too is losing, and to drop 100 games is truly a remarkable team achievement! So here we go…
As of this morning, there were 10 teams that could still mathematically join The Club. They are (in no significant order…) The Mets, Marlins, Brewers, Cubs, Padres, Giants, Twins, White Sox, Mariners, and Astros are all on cusp of membership. There are three teams (Mariners, Mets, and Padres), that are sitting on 62 wins right now. One more victory, and then they can burn their membership application. The Twins and Giants have 61 wins, and only need to win two more games to get over the 100-loss doldrums.
Now, imagine this. The City of Chicago… The land of Al Capone and deep-dish pizza, has TWO teams that could conceivably lose 100 games! It could happen, because the White Sox (56 wins), and the Cubs (58 wins) are both potential members of The Club. I don’t think that this will happen, because the Cubs would have to close things out with a 4-20 record, and the White Sox would to go 6-19 down the stretch to accomplish the feat. While not impossible, it would be difficult for them to end the season on that poor of a downslide. Does anyone remember the song ‘The Night Chicago Died’ by Paper Lace?
With the exception of the Marlins and Astros, I don’t realistically think that any of the other teams that I mentioned will be joining The Club.
Before this season began, a few of us were talking about the teams that would be bad this season. And not just bad, we are talking about ‘historically bad’. We are talking about 1962 New York Mets bad…
That Mets team finished with the bottom of the cesspool 40-120/.250/ 60.5 GB. It was the 5th worst record all time (the absolute worst record belongs to 1899 Cleveland Spiders…20-134/.130/ 84 GB).
Picture the headlines in the Miami Herald…”We are NO ONE!, or in the Houston Chronicle, “Houston, we have a BIG problem…”, if the Marlins and Astros really do manage to lose 100 games.
I am not going to ask any questions or draw any conclusions about parity, competitive balance, free agency, PEDs, the rain-in-Spain, or anything else. I am just simply going to sit back, and marvel at the delightful badness of these two teams, and the abysmal possibilities. This got me thinking about other sports. In the NFL, when we think of ‘bad’, we think of the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who with their hilarious but beleaguered head coach John McKay, and those ‘so awful that they are cool’ Orange Dreamsicle uniforms, posted a 0-14 record. The Detroit Lions of 2008, after posting a perfect 4-0 preseason, beat the Bucs record went a truly abysmal 0-16, and set the NFL standard for futility. The National Hockey League is not immune to this. The Washington Capitals, in their inaugural season of 1974-75, posted an 8-67-5 record. And what about basketball? The all-time worst record in NBA belongs to the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, who will probably never find a litter-box deep enough to bury their 7-59 record.
There are many such categories of bad. The worst car ever? There are many contenders for that crown. Worst movie? That is a matter of opinion. Worst hamburger, fried chicken, cellphone, TV, moustache wax?….these are all subjective, with no real definition of what is ‘worst’. Won-Loss records in sports? THAT is concrete. They are facts. The records are not subject to interpretation. A win is a win and a loss is a loss. Any argument in sports involving the relative badness or goodness of a team can be settled with, ‘what’s their record?’. This however leads us to a slippery slope that I am not prepared to slide down at this time. I am referring to the relative importance of a Win-Loss record of a pitcher. That is a SABR-metric discussion for another day, but it will be a good conversation.
So for now, do not shed a tear for the ‘success challenged’. By their failures, they actually leave a dubious legacy. When you thought about the question that I posed earlier about the worst team in NFL history, you probably didn’t have to think for more than a second or two to know the answer. Just about every baseball fan knows the record of the 1962 New York Mets. It would seem to be easier to remember achievement, whether dubious or distinct, than it is to remember middle-of-the-road, vanilla, mediocrity.