Re-Opening Day has arrived from Down Under, a time for faith and hope and optimism across the country, the seamheads tell us. Me? I view the start of the major league baseball season through 3-D glasses – Doubt, Despair, Depression – the day that all but a few chosen ones are eliminated from World Series contention.
My serious baseball friends think I’m crazy. All three of them.
Bucky assures me the playing field in Major League Baseball has never been more level than it is today.
Space Man says baseball doesn’t need a stinkin’ salary cap, that money has absolutely nothing to do with success and failure between the white lines.
Forever upbeat, El Guapo claims baseball’s future is so bright that he has to wear shades. (When I accused him of stealing that line, he blamed Ryan Braun’s urine collector.)
Now here’s what I tell them . . .
Since 1994, when the major league players walked out on the season, the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals have won the same number of World Series championships. Zippo. (Oh, so that’s what Bucky meant about an even field . . .)
If I had taken the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals to win the last 19 World Series and given them the other 26 teams, I would have won 12 times. (Space Man didn’t say anything about the baseball gods being so stingy with baseball smarts.)
Since the start of the Truman Administration (1945), the woebegone Cleveland Browns have won four more NFL championships than the Indians have won World Series titles. (El Guapo is a longtime Tribe fan. (Could this be why he wears sunglasses?)
The Tigers have raised as many World Series banners in the last 45 years as they have $292-million contracts (one) on their payroll right now. In that span, they had a run of 12 sub-.500 finishes in a row.
As we all know, few franchises have been more consistent than the Milwaukee-Atlanta Braves in recent decades. Except that, in the last 57 years, they’ve had one World Series victory parade.
In 45 years of existence, the Padres have never won a World Series championship. They got there twice and won one game. Or as their late broadcaster Jerry Coleman might say, “The Padres swing and miss and foul it back!”
In their 52 years, the Astros have had two different nicknames in two different leagues but nary a World Series flag. In their only Fall Classic appearance, they were swept in four games.
In their 45-year history, the Seattle Pilots-Milwaukee Brewers played (and lost) in the World Series one time. In the last 32 years, they won exactly one postseason game. (2008 NLDS, Game 3: Brewers 3, Phillies 1.)
In the last 31 years, the Orioles did not make a single World Series trip. But I bet at least one of them did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.
Since Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and the Swingin’ A’s took part in three consecutive World Series three decades ago, Team Moneyball hasn’t won a playoff series. That covers 23 seasons.
In the last 25 years, the Royals watched the playoffs on television if they watched them at all. Until last season, they finished above .500 once in the previous 18 years – and they had an 83-79 record when they did it.
The Mariners have yet to get whiff of the World Series since they opened for business. That was six presidents ago.
The Rockies have yet to win a World Series game, but give ’em some time. They’ve been at it only 22 years.
Since comedian Jim Carrey was born (1962), the Washington Senators II-Texas Rangers franchise has one postseason victory on its resume. But that’s not funny, is it?
Schottzie passed away in 1991, one year after the Reds won their last World Series, but the late mascot hasn’t missed anything. The team has a 2-11 playoff record since then.
When the Pirates last raised the Jolly Roger in late October, reserve catcher Manny Sanguillen was 35 years old. He turned 70 last week.
The Rays have one World Series appearance to their credit, not bad for a 17-year-old franchise. If ever do win it all, their fan will be absolutely beside himself.
In 42 years of existence, the Montreal Expos-Washington Nationals franchise has two postseason victories. Both took place in the 1981 NLCS, its only postseason appearance.
North of the border, Blue Jays supporters have waited 21 long years for a playoff game. Would you believe the Maple Leafs have played 118 of them in that span?
Not long ago, the Twins were the model for mid-market franchises. They haven’t played in a World Series in 23 years. In that period, they have a 3-19 record in the postseason. The Yankees outsmarted them nine times alone.
Since 1919, the White Sox have fixed as many World Series as they’ve won. The number is one.
Meanwhile, when the cuddly Cubs won their last World Series some 106 years ago, zippers, pop-up toasters and crossword puzzles hadn’t been invented yet. To understand the enormity of the achievement, consider this: If a new expansion team failed to win it all from now until 2120, it would only match the record.
Another Cubbie fun fact: The one and only time they were above .500 under current ownership was three years ago. It lasted about 3 1/2 hours when they lost the second game of a doubleheader.
I asked my baseball friends whether all of this was a coincidence or I might be on to something here. El Guapo removed his sunglasses, uncharacteristically speechless, mouth agape. Bucky and Space Man mumbled a few words then took off in a hurry. Something about a guy named Bud and used cars.