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Holy Cow, Yankees in First!
2005-07-18 21:27
by Mike Carminati

The Yankees slid into first tonight behind a wild Tanyon Sturtze-led 11-10 win over the Rangers as former Yankee-Lou Piniella and his lowly Devil Rays knocked the Red Sox out of the top berth, 3-1. (It seems apropos that the evil of the unrestrained arrogance that is the Red Sox should be eclipsed at a time that, hopefully, the same thing happens to the evil represented by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. OK, off the soapbox.)

As I was "watching" the end of the game—I say "watching" in quotes since the YES video feed was lost so I was witnessing the worst of all possible worlds, a pseudo-YES radio broadcast on TV, oy!—as I listened to the end of the game, I thought about the low winning percentage for all three of the leading clubs in the AL East. I looked it up and the Yankees lead with a .549 winning percentage followed the O's and Sox at .543. In the NL West, you have the Padres leading a sub-pat pack with just a .538 winning percentage. Throw in two dogfights in the NL East and AL West, and you could get a bunch of sub-.550 division winners.

That made me wonder how often that happens. I know the '73 Mets won barely more than they lost, but they were an aberration, right? Here are all the sub-.550 teams to finish number one in their division or league for any full season (i.e., let's ignore the strike-shortened 1994 season):

New York Mets19738279.509
Houston Astros19978478.519
Kansas City Royals19848478.519
Minnesota Twins19878577.525
Cleveland Indians19978675.534
New York Yankees20008774.540
Los Angeles Dodgers19957866.542
Atlanta Braves20018874.543
Boston Red Sox19908874.543
California Angels19798874.543
Chicago Cubs20038874.543
Pittsburgh Pirates19748874.543
St. Louis Cardinals19968874.543
Texas Rangers19988874.543
Seattle Mariners19957966.545
Atlanta Braves19828973.549
Boston Red Sox19888973.549
Cleveland Indians19988973.549
Pittsburgh Pirates19708973.549
Toronto Blue Jays19898973.549

In both leagues, the wild card leaders hover at around .550. There have been just three sub-.550 clubs that have won the wild card:

Colorado Rockies19957767.535
Baltimore Orioles19968874.543
New York Yankees19957965.549

With so many teams seemingly constructed to win in the 85- to 90-win range, I guess it comes as no surprise. Heck, the perennially 86-game-winning Phils are still in contention. The difference may be that 86 wins bring a wild card slot this year.

2005-07-19 07:59:19
1.   PhillyJ
"Heck, the perennially 86-game-winning Phils are still in contention. The difference may be that 86 wins bring a wild card slot this year."

...and the Phils run out Myers, Lieber and Lidle and dismissed in 4...Ed Wade keeps his job. There is no justice for Phils fans.

2005-07-19 08:15:52
2.   Schteeve
This sure smells like parity to me. I wonder if Bud checks the standings. Maybe he's on a golf course somewhere with O.J. hunting down the steroids, I haven't heard much about competitive imbalance from him this year.
2005-07-19 08:32:49
3.   Mike Carminati
Competitive Imbalance is a red herring that the owners use in CBA negotiations. Wait until the end of this season, when MLB gears up for next year's CBA fight, you'll hear it more often than you see the cast of That '70s Show in the stands for FOX broadcasts.
2005-07-19 09:24:42
4.   dbt
I think you're just seeing the effects, to a certain extent, of some of the dogs of the last 5 years finally playing halfway decent. Milwaukee, Detroit, heck even Toronto. Who knows. Plus perennial good teams like the Yanks are stinking up the joint. My guess is that it's just temporary.
2005-07-19 09:54:21
5.   Mike Carminati

Psst, confidentially, it's all temporary. Just like Graham Parker said, we all "need temporary beauty, even though it might be love in vain."

2005-07-19 11:19:28
6.   Xeifrank
Could it be with all the games against teams in your own division, that the AL East teams could be just beating up on each other. Or no one team dominating their divisional play?
vr, Xei
2005-07-19 12:05:23
7.   Schteeve
DBT in order to acheive parity some teams need to get better and some teams need to get worse. Which is what you are claiming is happening.

And nothing lasts forever, even cold Randy Johnson meatballs.

2005-07-20 05:20:44
8.   PhillyJ
Mike, I believe Graham Parker also wrote of being a Phils fan and Ed Wade:

"Is it a Russian conspiracy or is it just idiocy - this is a Chinese burn.
I've got a dinasour for a representative, its got a small brain and refuses to learn."

I say he does nothing for the next 11 days - not sure if this is a bad thing, however given his penchant for getting cleaned.

2005-07-20 14:41:23
9.   QueenV
The YES video feed was lost because of those TV blackout restrictions. The alternate game showing on ESPN ended, so ESPN decided to show the last inning of the Yankee game. I discovered this on a hunch, but it would have been nice if they made some kind of notice on YES.

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