Big Collapses in MLB (1964-2011) + NYY And TEX Are in The Playoffs But May Choke Away Divisions
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
In case you may have missed the standings of late, the Yankees and Rangers are in danger of choking away the AL East and AL West. If MLB had decided to not infiltrate this year’s extra Wild Card playoff birth, we could have been in line for another monumental collapse. Both of the Yankees and Rangers held sizable leads in their respective divisions over the Athletics and Orioles heading into the second half of the year. Now it has come down to Game 162 for each club to decide the divisions. If the perennial playoff teams of TEX and NYY end up losing their divisions, they still will have a playoff game against each other on Friday to see who moves on to the ALDS.
If you are a Yankees fan, you have to be elated the Raul Ibanez pulled a rabbit out of his hat last night, with a 2 run HR to tie the game vs the Red Sox-and then he won it with a single in the 12th. If the Yankees can win today versus the Red Sox, they will clinch the AL East division and best record in the American League. It is nice to have your own fate in your hands, but really it should not have come down to this. On July.18, the Yankees had a 10 game lead over the Orioles and were looking to cruise for the rest of the year. Ever since that day, the Orioles have ridden 16 straight extra inning wins to post a 46-24 (.657) stretch in which they have pulled to within 1 game of the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees have gone 37-33 (.529) in that same stretch. So it all comes down to the Yankees have a magic number of one. If New York wins, they clinch the division, if they lose and the Orioles lose, they win the division. If they lose and the Orioles win, it will force a one-game playoff Thursday in Baltimore in which the winner takes the AL East and the loser would play the AL West loser in the Wild Card Game Friday. The winner of the AL East will play the winner of the Wild Card game.
Only a week ago, The Rangers beat the A’s in the first game of a four game series, while building a 5 game lead on Oakland with each of them having 8 games left each, including 5 versus each other. The A’s have since won 4 of the last 5 versus their AL West counterpart, sandwiched between a 3 game sweep over the Seattle Mariners, while the Rangers lost 2 out of 3 versus the Angels in their sandwich games. Like the Yankees, it should not have come down to this for Texas. Back at the end of June, the Rangers sported a 13 game lead over of the Bay Area club. The A’s have rattled off a 56-26 record in their last 82 games (while Texas has gone 43-39) in order to erase the deficit. Now it all boils down to a winner take all in the season finale at o.co Coliseum in Alameda, CA today. The winner takes the division crown and will face the Detroit Tigers Comerica Park to start the playoffs on Sunday. The Loser will play against the loser of the AL East between Baltimore or New York on Friday and then if they win, they would then play the winner of the AL East in the ALDS.
Lets take a quick look at some historical collapses:
1964: The Philadelphia Phillies held a 6.5 games lead on the St.Louis Cardinals for the National League Pennant as late as the 150 game mark. So what happened? The Phillies lost 10 straight games while the Cardinals went 8-2 between games 150-160 -to take over the NL Lead and ultimately win the Pennant. The Cardinals would later beat the vaunted New York Yankees in the World Series.
1969: The Chicago Cubs enjoyed a 10 game lead on the New York Mets on the date of Aug.14/1969. From there, the ‘Miracle Mets’ played .800 baseball and wound up turning the 10 game deficit into an 8 game lead by the season’s end. The Mets had won 100 games that year to win the National League Pennant. They would go onto win the World Series versus the Baltimore Orioles.
1978: The Boston Red Sox rolled out of the gate to a 62-28 start in 1978, while the Yankees only posted 48 wins in their first 90 games. In the next 62 games, the Red Sox then went 28-34, while their bitter rival clubbed their way to a 44-18 record and take a 2 game lead on the Red Sox. Incredibly, Boston won their last 8 games to tie the Yankees on the last day of the season and force a playoff game. However, Bucky Dent hit a go-ahead Homer at Fenway Park and Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage held down the fort to eliminate the Red Sox to complete the Yankees incredible second half comeback. The Yankees went onto to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
1987: While it wasn’t a huge collapse in the terms of a games lead (3.5), the Toronto Blue Jays lost their last 7 games and a pivotal last weekend series to the Detroit Tigers. The Blue Jays had established a 7 game winning streak before commencing the collapse. I will write a future blog on this classic collapse. It will focus on an incredible 3 game series that was held one week before the final weekend. There were incredible extra inning games, heroics in teams last at-bats and many great pitching and hitting performances. The Tigers would end up losing to the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS that year.
2007: The New York Mets. With 17 games left to play, the Mets held a 7 game lead and lost the division to the Phillies. The Mets went 5-12 to end the year, while the Phillies accrued a 13-4 record including several wins versus their NL East Rivals. The Phillies would succumb in the Playoffs to a red-hot Colorado Rockies team (via sweep) in the NLDS round.
2011: The Atlanta Braves held a 9 game playoff lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the Wild Card Spot on Sept.1/2011. They proceeded to end their season 8-18, while the Cardinals went 18-9-to wrestle the final playoff spot in the NL on the last day of the season. The Red Sox also had a big lead over the Tampa Bay Rays of 10 games on Sept.1/2011 and were leading the AL East. The biggest beer and chicken bender ensued onto a record of 7-19 in the final month, while the Rays went 18-8 to claim the Wild Card and the Yankees easily surpassed them for the AL East Title. (The only thing that makes this collapse greater for this Yankees fan is) Boston has parlayed their terrible finish in 2011, to the tune of a 69-92 record this year and last place in the AL East!
While a Rangers or Yankees divisional loss could be eradicated by getting back into the ALDS round and possibly a chance to win the World Series, it would be considered an ultimate ‘choke’ job if either of them loses the Wild Card play in Game, should it come to that.
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Posted on October 3, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2012 MLB playoffs, AL East, AL West, American league, Atlanta Braves, baltimore orioles, boston redsox, bucky dent, chicago cubs, Chuck Booth. fastest 30 ballgames, detroit tigers, fenway park, goose gossage, minnesota twins, national league, new york mets, new york yankees, oakland athletics, philadelphia phillies, raul ibanez, ron guidry, seattle mariners, st louis cardinals, tampa bay rays, texas rangers, toronto blue jays, twitter @chuckbooth3024, yankee stadium. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.