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JUNE 21, 2004
Braves & Brewers Just the Beginning?
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

To date, the Milwaukee Brewers have been playing better than .500 baseball this season.  How significant is this?  Actually, in the world of baseball trends, it is pretty big news.  If the Brew Crew can manage to finish the 2004 season with a winning record, it will be the first time since 1992 that they will have avoided a losing season.  This 11 year drought is the longest current 'losing streak' in baseball - with the Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates tied at that mark.  See the following chart where LWS is "Last Winning Season" and YLWS is "Years since Last Winning Season":

Team

LWS YLWS

Brewers

1992 11

Pirates

1992 11

Tigers

1993 10

Devil Rays

NA 6

Orioles

1997 6

Padres

1998 5

Rangers

1999 4

Reds

2000 3

Rockies

2000 3

Indians

2001 2

Mets

2001 2

Angels

2002 1

All other teams

2003 0

AVG 3.13

Many like to refer to the "long suffering" fans of the Red Sox and Cubs.  However, in terms of 'recent' long suffering, the Brewers, Pirates, and Tigers loyal followers deserve much more sympathy than anyone else.  Think of the 20 year-old fan in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Detroit who began following baseball at the age of ten.  They have never witnessed their team having a winning season - ever.  Ouch.

Worse for the Pirates and Tigers fans, this season (so far), their teams have not been playing well.  Both these teams should be on this leader (or should it be 'loser'?) board again next season.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have never had a winning season in their history.  As of this moment, they are only two games under .500 for 2004.  Will we see Devil Ray history made this year?  Why not?  Lou Piniella has these Rays flying high at the moment.  It is possible that Tampa could win 82 games this season.  That is something worth watching closely this year.

The Baltimore Orioles, tied with Tampa Bay with six consecutive losing seasons, have an uphill battle this year to avoid making it seven in a row.  They are currently in last place in the American League East and 9 games under .500.

The San Diego Padres, at this writing, are exactly at .500 for the 2004 season with 34 wins as well as 34 losses.  They, like the Devil Rays, have an good chance at escaping this list after this season.

On the flipside of "long suffering," you often year about the "spoiled" fans of the New York Yankees - since the Yankees, it seems, always have a good team.  How true is that in terms of 'recent' history?  See the following chart where LLS is "Last Losing Season" and YLLS is "Years since Last Losing Season":

Team

LLS YLLS

Braves

1990 13

Yankees

1992 11

Giants

1996 7

Red Sox

1997 6

A's

1998 5

Diamondbacks

1998 5

Cardinals

1999 4

Dodgers

1999 4

Mariners

1999 4

White Sox

1999 4

Astros

2000 3

Phillies

2000 3

Twins

2000 3

Expos

2001 2

Blue Jays

2002 1

Cubs

2002 1

Marlins

2002 1

Royals

2002 1

All other teams

2003 0

AVG 3.60

It is true.  The Yankees have been winning for a long time - compared to other current teams.  And, after the 2004 season, they may become the leaders in terms of having a 'winning streak' as, to date, the Braves are on pace for their first losing season since 1990.

The Giants, Red Sox and A's (based on play to date) appear to be in good position to keep their winning streaks going and remain on this leader board for another year.  The Arizona Diamondbacks, on the other hand, look to be in trouble.  The D-backs had a losing season in their first year and then never had another one - fashioning 5 winning seasons in a row.  It is doubtful that they will tack on #6 in 2004. 

Perhaps the most interesting thing to consider on these runs is "Who will be the streakers if we were to look back in the year 2017?"

Just as we looked at 1990 through 2003 here, during the period 2004 through 2017, which teams will be the consistent winners and which will be the long suffering losers? That question is anyone's guess at this junction.

Or, will baseball's hope of parity become full reality by that time and will we not see streaking teams, both good and bad, come 2017?  The scrawling on this scorecard is doubtful that there will ever come a time in baseball where some teams do not have rolls of winning and stretches of losing.  Teams will always have runs where they win three or four years in a row.  And, teams will always have periods of time where they lose for three or four years in row. But, streaks of eleven years (or more) in a row?  Those just may become extinct.  Again, this season alone, the Brewers and Braves may see streaks end.  Can the Yankees, Pirates and Tigers be far behind?

These may just be special days.  Enjoy the marvel of the Braves and Yankees excellence now.  And, do not lose sight of the perpetual futility of the of Brewers, Pirates and Tigers.  We may never see the likes of these five franchise's streaks again.


Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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