Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Only 9,999 More Until The Next Party

As many of you have probably heard by now, The Philadelphia Phillies became the first American sports team to lose 10,000 games on Sunday night. They got started on the next 10,000 the next night. Tim Shenk sent me the following quote that one Philly Phan had on his sign: "I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work." -Thomas Edison

To honor my beloved Phils, I dedicated my radio show last night to baseball songs. I tried to record it, but all plans failed. So it goes. Anyway, there are some pretty good songs that I found and had never heard of before. I figured I should let y'all know about some great ones.

In no particular order, here are some excellent baseball tunes:
o Centerfield, John Fogerty
o The Cheap Seats, Alabama
o A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request, Steve Goodman
o Lefty, Chuck Brodsky <--From Philly (In fact, check out his whole album, The Baseball Ballads.)
o Willie, Mickey, and The Duke (Talkin' Baseball), Terry Cashman

I also found these baseball tunes, but they aren't as famous for a reason:
o The Kid From Spavinaw, Tom Russell
o Catfish, Bob Dylan
o Night Game, Paul Simon

I should also mention that you can find an ancient (1908) recording of Take Me Out To The Ballgame here sung by Edward Meeker. This version includes the verses that many don't know exist.

I also collected an enormity of suckage stats. For those of you interested in those sorts of things, I've decided to post them here. These are data that I collected primarily from Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and the great, great I guess there are probably more than most of you care about, so read at your own discretion.

- Seth

Inaugural Season
The Phillies—the longest, continuous name in American professional sports history.

Philadelphia Phillies (1884–present) [Why, oh why‽]
Philadelphia Quakers (1883-1889)
(Also referred to as "Blue Jays" 1943-1945 despite formal name remaining "Phillies")

They played their first game on May 1, 1883, against the Providence Grays. Of course, the Quakers lost 4-3 to Old Hoss Radbourn and started 0-8. They went on to lose 81 of 98 games in their inaugural season. The team's 17.3 winning percentage is still the worst in franchise history.

Sunday, July 15, 2007. Loss No. 10,000 came when Albert Pujols hit two of the St. Louis Cardinals' six homers in a 10-2 rout.

The 1964 season started quite auspiciously. There was a perfect game by Jim Bunning on Father’s Day, a home run by Johnny Callison to win the All-Star Game, and with 12 games remaining in the season the Phillies held a 6½-game lead on the Cincinnati Reds. The Phils appeared to be in control of the National League, so much so that TV Guide went to press with a World Series preview that featured a photo of Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium.

Then: Sept. 21, 1964 -- Chico Ruiz stole home (Frank Robinson at plate) to give Cincinnati a 1-0 victory. The loss was the Phillies' first of seven consecutive home games.

The crucial series came when the now second-place Phillies traveled to St. Louis to play the Cardinals after their losing home stand. They dropped the first game of the series to Bob Gibson (whose ERA of 1.12 in 1968 is major league best in the Live Ball Era) by a 5-1 score, their eighth loss in a row, dropping them to third place. The Cardinals would sweep the three-game set and assume first place for good.

To start the second year at Veterans Stadium, on April 17, 1972, a hang-gliding daredevil named Kiteman was hired to ski down a ramp at and soar to home plate, where he would deliver the first ball of the home season. First, Kiteman panicked and froze. Then he caught a gust of unfortunate wind, clipped rows of seats, crashed into the railing of the upper deck and tossed the ball into the Phillies’ bullpen — about 400 feet from its intended destination.

Bill Giles, the Phillies’ chairman, wrote in his autobiography, “I was just relieved that he was alive ... generally speaking, a dead body is not a good omen for the start of a baseball season.”

He was right, for the Phillies were the worst team in baseball that year, but newly acquired Steve Carlton won nearly half their games (27 of 59 the team's wins). Is that a stat that we should be proud of?

During the team's tenure at Baker Bowl during the 1920s, an outfield wall advertisement stated, "All the Phillies use Lifebuoy". A graffiti artist sneaked into Baker Bowl and wrote on that ad, "And they still stink!" (Lifebuoy being a brand of deodorant soap). Variations of the joke were also employed by detractors of other losing teams.

After loss 5,518, first baseman, Whitey Lockman of the New York Giants said, "I wouldn't getting hit by a regular bottle, but when they break the tops off before throwing them, that's just too much!"

Approaching loss 9,500 in 2000. Fans slashed manager Terry Francona's tires on fan appreciation day.

After 6,333 in 1961, Pitcher Frank Sullivan, "Go out of the plane in twos and threes. That way, they can't get us all at once, they're selling rocks at a dollar a pail."

In January 2005, an irate Phillies fan was convicted of 79 charges related to fraud, identity theft, and computer hacking. According to the F.B.I., the fan had hacked into computers in seven states, collected e-mail addresses and fired off rants that were supposedly sent from local sportswriters. In court, the fan's lawyer said his client was obsessive, perhaps even psychotic, but not an intentional lawbreaker, and meant only to say that the Phillies stunk.

During an August 17, 1957 game, Richie (Whitey) Ashburn hit a foul ball into the stands that struck spectator Alice Roth, wife of Philadelphia Bulletin sports editor Earl Roth, breaking her nose. When play resumed, Ashburn fouled off another ball that struck Roth while she was being carried off in a stretcher.

From 1919 through 1947 (39 seasons), the Phillies finished last a total of 17 times and next to last seven times.

From 1938 through 1942, the team lost between 103 and 111 (of 154) games each season. The staff ace in those inglorious days, Hugh Mulcahy, was nicknamed Losing Pitcher, because those words so often attended his name in the box score.

The team had a combined earned run average of 6.71 in 1930.

Manager Gene Mauch took over during the 1960 season, but the team's record only got worse, bottoming out at 47-107 in 1961, a season that also included a (still standing) modern major-league record 23-game losing streak.

They are one of only four MLB teams with only one World Series championship, with the 1985 Kansas City Royals, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, and 2002 then-Anaheim Angels being the other three. Those three teams have been around for only a combined 98 years, relative to the Phillies 125.

Of the sixteen original American and National League teams (i.e, those in existence prior to the 1961-1962 expansion of the two leagues), the Phillies were the last team to win their first World Series.

Other Whiners
Chicago Cubs, not close at 9,425 losses.
World Series titles (2) 1908 • 1907
NL Pennants (16)

Red Sox
World Series titles (6) 2004 • 1918 • 1916 • 1915
1912 • 1903
AL Pennants (11)

Curse of Billy Penn
The Curse of William Penn is an alleged curse, sometimes used to explain the failure of professional sports teams based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to win championships since the March 1987 addition of the One Liberty Place skyscraper, which exceeded the height of William Penn's statue atop Philadelphia City Hall. Since then, no Philadelphia major sports team (baseball, football, basketball, or hockey) has won a league championship. The last professional team to win a championship was the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1983 NBA Finals, when they swept the Los Angeles Lakers in four games.

On 10,000 Losses: A Poll
o 1.6 per cent claimed to be upset.
o 12.7 per cent said they were embarrassed.
o 54.1 per cent checked "Glad to be done with it. Enough already."
o 31.6 per cent said "Ready to start working on the next 10,000."

Good Things (a couple)
They haven't lost 100 games since 1961, and they won the NL East three straight years from 1976-78 behind Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Larry Bowa.

Of the fifteen players who have hit four home runs in one game, three were Phillies (more than any other team):
Ed Delahanty on July 13, 1896 at West Side Park in Chicago.
Chuck Klein on July 10, 1936 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
Mike Schmidt on April 17, 1976 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Dan Casey, a left-handed pitcher for the Phillies in the late 1880s, maintained until his death in 1943 that he was the doomed hitter portrayed in the poem “Casey at the Bat.”

Casey at the Bat, subtitled A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888, is a poem on the subject of baseball, written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer. It was first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888, but was popularized by DeWolf Hopper in many vaudeville performances. The character of Casey proved so popular in the American imagination that the library of Congress assigned him a first and middle name and a birth and death date; all books about the poem and single volume versions of the poem published in the U.S. should include the subject heading "Casey, Brian Kavanagh, 1859-1946 Poetry.

o The Phillies also have the dishonorable distinction of having had two owners banned from baseball for life. Horace Fogel was barred after the 1912 season, when he complained that umpires favored the New York Giants and called the pennant race “crooked.”

o In 1943, William Cox was banned after betting on his team, which reflected not only on Cox’s lack of integrity, but also on his lack of gambling acumen, considering the Phillies lost 90 games that season, after losing more than 100 games in each of the previous five seasons.

o John Dowd documented Rose's gambling activities and delivered a summary of his findings in the so-called Dowd Report. It documented his bets on 52 Reds games in 1987, but "no evidence was discovered that Rose bet against the Reds."

Unrelated Scum-Bucket News: George Steinbrenner
Steinbrenner's connection to U.S. President Richard Nixon: he was indicted on 14 criminal counts on April 5, 1974, then pled guilty to making illegal contributions to Nixon's re-election campaign and obstruction of justice on August 23. Steinbrenner was personally fined $15,000, while his firm was assessed $20,000 for the offense. On November 27, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended him for two years, but later reduced that amount to nine months, with Steinbrenner returning to the Yankees in 1976. U.S. President Ronald Reagan pardoned Steinbrenner on January 19, 1989, in one of the final acts of his presidency. This proved for once and for all what we have all long suspected: The Yankees and Republicans are in cahoots.

More Sucky Stats
Overall stats:
124 total seasons
72 losing seasons
3 .500 seasons
49 winning seasons
Overall postseason record: 22-35 (.386)

14 straight losing seasons (1918-1931) where the Phils went 786-1310 for a outstanding .375 winning percentage
16 straight losing seasons(1933-1948) where the Phils went 888-2443 even more incredible .266 winning percentage
For those keeping score, the Phils managed ONE winning season between 1918-1948!
Current World Series drought: 26 seasons

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