Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Royal Flush -- Down The Baseball Drain

When I was old enough to know about such things, and appreciate them, I figured that one of the records in baseball that would never be approached was the New York Mets’ 40-120 record of 1962. Never, did I think, could any major league team in this day and age of watered down baseball and free agency manage to lose ¾ of the games they play for an entire 162-game schedule.

Of course, the 2003 Tigers proved me wrong -- it was not only possible, but it took a 5-1 streak at the end of the year to keep the Tigers from the embarrassment of matching those 120 defeats. Obviously not having learned my lesson, I again reasoned that the ’03 Tigers were absolutely the last of their breed; no way could anything remotely like 43-119 ever occur again on a major league diamond.

Now along comes the 2005 Kansas City Royals.

The Royals have lost 16 in a row. Their record has tumbled to 38-79. You might look at the 38 wins and say, "Hey, they only have to win a handful between now and the end of the season -- more than a month away -- to beat the Tigers of 2003." Sure, that’s true -- but CAN they win even a handful of games between now and then?

First, who knows how long this current losing streak can stretch? It’s been 30 years, but even our own Tigers of 1975 were able to put together an impressive 19-game losing string. And the Royals might be mouse enough to break that by the end of the week. Even if they win tonight, though, that would put them at 39-79. They’d have to simply go 5-39 to have a record one game better than the Tigers’ 43-119 mark of ‘03. Simple, correct? But when you’re going as bad as the Royals are going currently, and it’s the dog days of August, it doesn’t take much to go off on another horrid losing streak.

Granted, KC will probably get it together enough to win several more than 43; the odds are still on their side, as awful a team as they are. But it’s becoming more and more possible, with every morale-deflating loss, that the Royals will have to get "hot" in September and play, say, .333 ball, to keep the national media away from Kauffman Stadium, and Jay Leno off their backs.

I have to admit, there is a sadistic bone or two in my body that hopes the Royals keep stumbling long enough to make September interesting, from a futility perspective. After all, with the Tigers out of the running again, what else is there to do, when it comes to the National Pastime?

By the way, the Royals manager is Buddy Bell, who suffered through a 53-109 year as Tigers skipper in 1996. On that team was pitcher Jose Lima, who is a starter for this year’s Royals.Now they’re together again, in another muck of stenchy baseball.

I guess it’s best to keep those two separated.

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