HJE pater noster TJ forwarded me an email he sent to Phil Rogers after Phil posted this piece of garbage over the weekend and wrote, “With the Pirates’ 20-year losing streak finally over, it’s time to turn our national attention to the Royals, who last went to the playoffs in 1985. Their 28-year streak without a postseason trip is the longest drought in the history of MLB and longer than any in the NFL, NBA or NHL.” Today is Phil’s last day at the Tribune, presumably because of this very article. He’s heading to MLB.com, so I guess I’m NOT going to buy MLB.tv next year. Presumably, OUR GOOD FRIEND Paul Sullivan will get Phil’s gig, which is nice, because Chicago’s national baseball coverage will no longer be hilariously inept. Anyhow, I’ll let TJ speak for himself (and us ALL):
You mentioned the Royals’ 28-season postseason drought is the longest in the history of Major League Baseball. Not true. Not even close.
**The 1995 Cleveland Indians ended a 41-year drought.
** The 1984 Chicago Cubs ended a 39-year drought.
** The 1959 White Sox ended a 40-year drought.
** The 1944 St. Louis Browns ended a 43-year drought that started when they were the Milwaukee Brewers
** In 1971, Vida Blue took the mound for Charlie Finley’s Oakland Athletics against Dave McNally’s Orioles. It was the Athletics’ first postseason game since Connie Mack wrote out a lineup card that had Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons and Jimmy Foxx in the middle of the lineup in Game 7 of the 1931 World Series.
** The 1950 Phillies’ World Series team was only the Phils’ second first place team in history. The first was in 1915, giving them 35 seasons between postseason appearances. The Phillies began play in 1883, so if you want to count that, that’s a 32-year gap.
** The Pirates’ 21-year streak is nothing compared with the 33 years it took for Mazeroski, Clemente and Vern Law to exact revenge on the Yankees for the 1927 World Series loss.
** The 1948 Boston Braves might have prayed for rain when it wasn’t Spahn or Sain, but they might have also thanked Spahn and Sain for not sucking like 34 years of Braves teams had after their 1914 World Series win.
** The 1965 Minnesota Twins ended a 32-year streak, started when they were the Washington Senators
** The 1981 Montreal Expos maybe should have beaten the Dodgers (Rick Monday saves America again!), and the franchise would not return to the postseason again until 2012 (I know it’s hard to jog your memory that long). That was 31 years.
** And finally, Another Washington team started another ignominious streak in 1961 when they entered the American League as an expansion team. The Washington Senators’ futility lasted from 1961 and followed them to a place probably unknown to you, Arlington, TX. Not until 1996 did the Rangers introduce postseason baseball to North Texas.
Oh, and by the way, Washington Senator/Senator/National fans went from 1934-1960, 1961-1971 and 2005-2011 without seeing playoff baseball.
I read your column this evening, and stopped the shaking of my head and laughing as I normally do when I read your columns when I got to the sentence in question, and stood up and said. “That’s not true! Cubs! Indians! White Sox! Browns! Phillies! Senators! Nats!” I then did a little research and confirmed that my first guesses were correct. And I unearthed a few more.
So, you’re a national baseball writer for the Tribune. You got so wrapped up in the fact that the Royals have not won a World Series since Otis Wilson and Richard Dent were aced out by Prince for a Grammy, that you forgot about these easy-to-overlook footnotes of history:
** The two teams that play in the city for whose largest newspaper you write.
** A team that broke a long drought last year, when you were still (unfortunately) national baseball writer.
** One of the most memorable teams of the 1990s, and one of the rivals of one of the teams that plays in the city for whose largest newspaper you write.
** Definitely the most colorful (literally and figuratively) team of the 1970s, whose owner hails from the metropolitan area for whose largest newspaper you write. (The front end of that drought was only managed by Connie Mack; maybe Brad Biggs can call Neill Armstrong the winningest coach in Bears history, and omit Lovie, Jauron, Ditka and a easily forgotten George Halas).. Oh, and it was another &^%!#&!^* Kansas City baseball team!
** A team that plays in your hometown. Was it a big deal when the Rangers went to the playoffs? Oh, that’s right. It was Cowboys season.
** Five other franchises.
So yes, the Royals’ drought places them barely in the top 40 percentile of the league. And their streak just surpassed the Red Sox 1918-1946 streak. The Royals don’t have the longest drought post-division play, whether you measure it as the drought continuing into division play or starting only after the beginning of division play. In case you were wondering, I am here to help:
Longest postseason drought by franchise since formation of AL in 1901:
1. Milwaukee Brewers I/St. Louis Browns: 43 (1901-1944)
2. Cleveland Indians: 41 (1954-1995)
3(tie) Chicago White Sox: 40 (1919-1959)**
3(tie) Philadelphia/K.C./Oakland A’s: 40 (1931-1971)
5. Chicago Cubs: 39 (1945-1984)
6(tie) Philadelphia Phillies: 35 (1915-1980)
6(tie) Washington Senators II/Texas Rangers: 35 (1961-1996)
8. Boston Braves: 34 (1914-1948)
9. Pittsburgh Pirates: 33 (1927-1960)
10. Washington Senators I/Minnesota Twins: 32 (1933-1965)
11. Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals: 31 (1981-2012)
12. Kansas City Royals: 28 (and counting) (1985- )
13. Boston Red Sox: 28 (1918-1946)
14. Milwaukee Brewers II: 26 (1982-2008)
15. St. Louis Cardinals: 25 (1901-1926)
16. Detroit Tigers: 23 (1945-1968)
17(tie). Cincinnati Reds: 21 (1940-1961)
17(tie). Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers: 21 (1901-1922)
19. Toronto Blue Jays: 20 and counting (1993-)
20. Baltimore Orioles I/N.Y. Highlanders/Yankees: 20 (1901-1921)
21(tie) Los Angeles/California Angels: 18 (1961-1979)
21(tie) Seattle Mariners: 18 (1977-1995)
21(tie). Houston Colt .45s/Astros: 18 (1962-1980)
24. San Franciso Giants: 16 (1971-1987)
25. San Diego Padres: 15 (1969-1984)
26. New York Mets: 13 (1973-1986)
27. Colorado Rockies: 12 (1995-2007)
28. Florida/Miami Marlins: 10 and counting (2003-)
29. Tampa Bay Devil Rays/Rays: 10 (1998-2008)
30. Arizona Diamondbacks: 5 (2002-2007)
** The drought could be considered 42 years between postseasons in which said participant was trying to win rather than permanently shame the game of baseball.
Phil, the point of this exercise is to demonstrate the importance of double checking your facts. Who told you it was the longest postseason drought? Were there any qualifiers? Did you stop and say, “Gee, the Cubs went from World War II to 1984 without making it to the World Series, and I even wrote a book about Ernie Banks and his 19 years with the Cubs without going to the World Series, and maybe I should, you know, look it up?”
LOOK IT UP, CHECK IT OUT, VERIFY are the things reporters do. It’s sort of like running out a ground ball or a pop up. Scratch that. It’s sort of like touching every base upon hitting a home run. You do it, or people wonder how the hell you made it to the Big Leagues if you cannot even be bothered to do that.
I think I just hired you as my Hire Jim Essian campaign manager, TJ.