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Loss For Words
2007-07-11 11:27
by Mike Carminati

If you didn't like lat night's All-Star Game, you are just not a baseball fan.

The game abounded with weird bounces and odd caroms. It boasted purportedly the event's first ever inside-the-park home run, by the game MVP Ichiro Suzuki. It ended with a rally that brought the NL within one run with the bases loaded and two outs. Of course, it was a Phillie (Aaron Rowand) who flied out to end the game, but how often do you find yourself at the edge of your seat at the end of a (relatively) meaningless exhibition game? I ever watched the inane Jeannie Zalasko interview of Ichiro by proxy, i.e., via a translator.

They had me before "Hello". The pre-game stuff with Willie Mays, who appeared to be wearing eight to ten layers of sports paraphernalia, being paraded around the ballpark throwing balls to the crowd, I eat that stuff up like a kid in a candy store. They even made that old curmudgeon Ted Williams seem nice and avuncular with a similar event many years ago. Prior to that the snarky Williams was revered but pretty much hated everywhere even in Boston (I lived up there at the time). After that All-Star game he resonated cuteness akin to an ewok with the American public.

Anyway, when we left off the Phils won a game in Colorado to end the first half as they were seemingly destined to do so, at .500. Some time this week or next, the Phillies will not be able to slake the groundskeeper gods by helping the local crew lay down the tarp during a rain delay and will lose a ball game.

It will, of course, mark their much anticipated ten thousandth loss. The Phils will then become the first team to reach this dubious distinction.

And I say…So what?

What does such a "record" say about the team? Does it make them the worst in sport? Uh, no, no other sport has played nearly as many games or had the history of baseball. The NFL plays just a tenth the games and wasn't formed until 1920 (as the American Professional Football Association). The NBA has franchises that date back to the Forties prior to the merger of the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League which birthed the current-day league, and they play about half as many games. The NHL dates back to 1917 and also plays about half the games that baseball does.

So maybe it says they are the worst in baseball, right? Well, no. To compete with the Phils you would have to have a franchise that started in the nineteenth century and the AL didn't become a major league until 1901, which leaves out half the teams. Consider also that half of the 16 NL clubs originated as expansion teams dating no farther back then 1962.

That leaves eight teams, the NL's original eight. So when the Phils reach this new record, it will say that they were the worst of the original eight. OK, I can live with that, but it seems like much ado about not a whole not. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the sport could probably tell you that.

Below is a breakdown by decade of the teams with the most losses in baseball. The Phils don't register in the top five until after almost forty years as a franchise, in the 1920s. However, the set up residence there for the next three decades sealing their fate. Even though they haven't made the playoffs since 1993, their best decade since the 1910s is the current one.

1Cincinnati Reds104158
2Brooklyn Atlantics50140
3New York Mutuals151122
4Chicago Cubs154110
NAPhiladelphia Phillies00
1Baltimore Orioles403519
2Louisville Colonels432510
3Pittsburgh Pirates418504
4Atlanta Braves575497
5Detroit Wolverines426437
6Philadelphia Phillies390424
1St. Louis Cardinals563816
2Louisville Colonels561810
3Washington Senators454788
4Pittsburgh Pirates649723
5Cleveland Spiders677692
10Philadelphia Phillies743629
1St. Louis Cardinals580888
2Atlanta Braves587877
3Minnesota Twins480833
4Los Angeles Dodgers649809
5Cincinnati Reds705769
6Philadelphia Phillies709752
1Baltimore Orioles597892
2St. Louis Cardinals652830
3Atlanta Braves666815
4Los Angeles Dodgers696787
5New York Yankees701780
11Philadelphia Phillies762717
1Philadelphia Phillies566962
2Boston Red Sox595938
3Atlanta Braves603928
4Chicago White Sox731804
5Detroit Tigers760778
1Baltimore Orioles578951
2Philadelphia Phillies581943
3Cincinnati Reds664866
4Chicago White Sox678841
5Atlanta Braves700829
1Philadelphia Phillies584951
2Oakland Athletics638898
3Minnesota Twins677858
4Baltimore Orioles698833
5Chicago White Sox707820
1Pittsburgh Pirates616923
2Oakland Athletics624915
3Baltimore Orioles632905
4Minnesota Twins640898
5Chicago Cubs672866
8Philadelphia Phillies767773
1Oakland Athletics686922
2Chicago Cubs735868
3Boston Red Sox764845
4Texas Rangers607844
5Philadelphia Phillies759843
1San Diego Padres667942
2Atlanta Braves725883
3Milwaukee Brewers738873
4Cleveland Indians737866
5Washington Nationals748862
15Philadelphia Phillies812801
1Seattle Mariners673893
2Cleveland Indians710849
3Atlanta Braves712845
4Texas Rangers720839
5Minnesota Twins733833
13Philadelphia Phillies783780
1Detroit Tigers702852
2Minnesota Twins718833
3Kansas City Royals725825
4Philadelphia Phillies732823
5Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim738817
1Tampa Bay Devil Rays481737
2Kansas City Royals501721
3Pittsburgh Pirates524696
4Detroit Tigers533686
5Baltimore Orioles535685
17Philadelphia Phillies620601

This is basically a team that has had very few peaks and ones that were not that high while suffering through many abysmally deep and long valleys. Tell me something I don't already know.

The Phils are not the worst team in the majors. Here are the up-to-date standings, worst to best for all active clubs. The Phils rank fifth even with their decades of futility:

Tampa Bay Devil Rays9.519982007613929.39864.5397.79
San Diego Padres38.51969200728303286.46373.5185.35
Colorado Rockies14.51993200710691224.46673.7284.41
Texas Rangers46.51961200734543939.46774.2884.71
Philadelphia Phillies124.51883200788089999.46870.7580.31
Milwaukee Brewers38.51969200728853226.47274.9483.79
Seattle Mariners30.51977200722762544.47274.6283.41
Florida Marlins14.51993200710831207.47374.6983.24
Baltimore Orioles106.51901200778508628.47673.7181.01
New York Mets45.51962200734563781.47875.9683.10
Minnesota Twins106.51901200779298557.48174.4580.35
Washington Nationals38.51969200729433167.48276.4482.26
Oakland Athletics106.51901200780078456.48675.1879.40
Kansas City Royals38.51969200729723133.48777.1981.38
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim46.51961200736493761.49278.4780.88
Toronto Blue Jays30.51977200723882434.49578.3079.80
Houston Astros45.51962200736183633.49979.5279.85
Atlanta Braves136.51871200798849741.50472.4171.36
Arizona Diamondbacks9.519982007775773.50181.5881.37
Chicago White Sox106.51901200783398139.50678.3076.42
Detroit Tigers106.51901200783688151.50778.5776.54
Pittsburgh Pirates125.51882200795969339.50776.4674.41
Cincinnati Reds125.51882200796369338.50876.7874.41
Cleveland Indians106.51901200784328066.51179.1775.74
Chicago Cubs134.518712007100219502.51374.5170.65
Boston Red Sox106.51901200784977994.51579.7875.06
St. Louis Cardinals125.51882200798059156.51778.1372.96
Los Angeles Dodgers123.51884200798438932.52479.7072.32
San Francisco Giants124.518832007101518681.53981.5369.73
New York Yankees106.51901200793317137.56787.6267.01

To put this in perspective, here are the sixteen teams that would exceed 10,000 losses had they played as many seasons as the Phils (124.5):

Franchise#YrsFirstLastWLPCTW/YrL/YrActive? W-Proj L-Proj
Buffalo Bisons1189018903696.27336.0096.00N 4,482 11,952
Tampa Bay Devil Rays9.519982007613929.39864.5397.79Y 7,588 11,480
Kansas City Cowboys1188618863091.24830.0091.00N 3,735 11,330
Baltimore Terrapins219141915131177.42565.5088.50N 8,155 11,018
Washington Senators918911899454788.36650.4487.56N 6,280 10,901
Kansas City Cowboys21888188998171.36449.0085.50N 6,101 10,645
San Diego Padres38.51969200728303286.46373.5185.35Y 8,993 10,503
Washington Nationals418861889163337.32640.7584.25N 5,073 10,489
Texas Rangers46.51961200734543939.46774.2884.71Y 9,146 10,412
Indianapolis Hoosiers318871889146249.37048.6783.00N 6,059 10,334
Milwaukee Brewers38.51969200728853226.47274.9483.79Y 9,171 10,306
New York Mets45.51962200734563781.47875.9683.10Y 9,325 10,239
Seattle Mariners30.51977200722762544.47274.6283.41Y 9,091 10,238
Colorado Rockies14.51993200710691224.46673.7284.41Y 8,801 10,132
Washington Nationals38.51969200729433167.48276.4482.26Y 9,401 10,073
Baltimore Orioles106.51901200778508628.47673.7181.01Y 9,132 10,029

To further illustrate how the Phils are doomed by their pre-Whiz kid failings, here are the breakdowns for all active franchises before and after 1950:

Before 1950:

FranchiseWLPCTYrsFirst Last
Atlanta Braves51205420.4867918711949
Philadelphia Phillies43355378.4466718831949
Cincinnati Reds49294953.4996818821949
St. Louis Cardinals50644814.5136818821949
Los Angeles Dodgers48704801.5046618841949
Pittsburgh Pirates51864666.5266818821949
Chicago Cubs57694672.5537718711949
San Francisco Giants54084322.5566718831949
Baltimore Orioles32344166.4374919011949
Minnesota Twins35103885.4754919011949
Oakland Athletics35753789.4854919011949
Chicago White Sox36583732.4954919011949
Boston Red Sox37023694.5014919011949
Cleveland Indians38493567.5194919011949
Detroit Tigers38853535.5244919011949
New York Yankees41713216.5654919011949

After 1950:

FranchiseWLPCTYrsFirst Last
Chicago Cubs42084787.4685719502006
Minnesota Twins43744629.4865719502006
Pittsburgh Pirates43704625.4865719502006
Oakland Athletics43884623.4875719502006
Detroit Tigers44314582.4925719502006
Philadelphia Phillies44294577.4925719502006
Cleveland Indians45314463.5045719502006
Baltimore Orioles45784413.5095719502006
Chicago White Sox46424360.5165719502006
Cincinnati Reds46714333.5195719502006
San Francisco Giants47054311.5225719502006
St. Louis Cardinals47014297.5225719502006
Atlanta Braves47174279.5245719502006
Boston Red Sox47424266.5265719502006
Los Angeles Dodgers49244091.5465719502006
Texas Rangers34163889.4684619612006
New York Yankees51183878.5695719502006
New York Mets34083742.4774519622006
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim35963726.4914619612006
Houston Astros35793583.5004519622006
San Diego Padres27813248.4613819692006
Milwaukee Brewers28363187.4713819692006
Washington Nationals29073115.4833819692006
Kansas City Royals29343083.4883819692006
Seattle Mariners22272508.4703019772006
Toronto Blue Jays23452390.4953019772006
Colorado Rockies10251180.4651419932006
Florida Marlins10411160.4731419932006
Tampa Bay Devil Rays579876.398919982006
Arizona Diamondbacks728730.499919982006

Even though it is organized baseball second city (after NYC), Philly's baseball image is further besmirched by some of the lesser A's teams from a Connie Mack housecleaning. Here are the most losses by city all time (actually through 2006):

New YorkNY236187120061916216104.54381.1968.24
St. LouisMO186187520061361713997.49373.2175.25

Philadelphia still comes in no worse than 12th on the all-time losing, rather than winning, percentage (for cities with at least five seasons):

Tampa-St. PetersburgFL919982006579876.39864.3397.33
Kansas CityMO571884200640554788.45971.1484.00
San DiegoCA381969200627813248.46173.1885.47

Oddly, two teams, the Giants and Cubs, are already over 10,000 wins and yet I don't remember all that much hoopla surrounding that achievement for either teams. The Dodgers should reach the milestone some time next year and the Cards soon after. Here are the original 16 ranked by wins:

San Francisco Giants124.518832007101518681.53981.5369.73
Chicago Cubs134.518712007100219502.51374.5170.65
Atlanta Braves136.51871200798849741.50472.4171.36
Los Angeles Dodgers123.51884200798438932.52479.7072.32
St. Louis Cardinals125.51882200798059156.51778.1372.96
Cincinnati Reds125.51882200796369338.50876.7874.41
Pittsburgh Pirates125.51882200795969339.50776.4674.41
New York Yankees106.51901200793317137.56787.6267.01
Philadelphia Phillies124.51883200788089999.46870.7580.31
Boston Red Sox106.51901200784977994.51579.7875.06
Cleveland Indians106.51901200784328066.51179.1775.74
Detroit Tigers106.51901200783688151.50778.5776.54
Chicago White Sox106.51901200783398139.50678.3076.42
Oakland Athletics106.51901200780078456.48675.1879.40
Minnesota Twins106.51901200779298557.48174.4580.35
Baltimore Orioles106.51901200778508628.47673.7181.01

The Cubs 10K win came June 3 in a 10-1 win at Wrigley over the Braves. The Giants reached 10K on July 14, 2005 when, appropriately, they beat the Dodgers 4-2 in LA.

2007-07-14 21:55:58
1.   Scott de B
Actually, the Cubs started play in 1876, not 1861. They have 9945 wins as a franchise.
2007-07-16 08:12:27
2.   64cardinals
Didn't see any mention of the St Louis Browns in there. Interesting, if light of the fact that they have been ridiculed for years about being one of the worst franchises ever. Just another example of how reality never matches impression.
2007-07-16 18:19:09
3.   Mike Carminati

For the old Browns, look under the Baltimore Orioles. They are the same franchise.

Scott de B,

The Cubs started as the White Stockings in the National Association in 1871. They took two years off for the Great Chicago Fire. Returned in 1874 and moved on to the NL in 1876. They have over 10000 wins as a team.

2007-07-17 13:40:42
4.   64cardinals
My mistake. Until 1954, they were the St Louis Browns. Listing them as the Orioles before them is an insult to the entire city of St. Louis.

And I always love hearing Baltimore fans piss and moan about Irsay and the Colts being "stolen" by another city after they did the same thing.

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