Saturday, October 9, 2010

My take on the Playoffs

The first round of the Playoffs is well under way and may well wrap up this weekend. Three of the four series have one of the teams up 2 games to none in the best-of-five.

The Twins historically do poorly against the Yankees - epecially in the playoffs. This year is no exception, as Minnesota dropped the first two at home. The Rays also dropped the first two at home to Texas. The Phillies won the first two at home. The Giants and Braves are the only exception.

So here are some tidbits about the playoff teams. (I'm not going to bother with the Yankees.)

~The Rays have never won the World Series, but they got there in 2008 and lost to the Phillies. In their first ten years they finished in last place 9 times. They lost 100 games or more 3 times. The big change in 2008 that supposedly turned their fortunes around was dropping the word "Devil" from their name.

~The state of Texas has never had a World Series champion. The Astros are 0 for 1 in 48 seasons. The Rangers have never won a pennant. The franchise dates back to 1961 and prior to this year they've had only one playoff win (1996).

~The Twins won in 1987 and again in 1991. Before that the last championship for the franchise was in 1924.

~The Rangers and Twins share a uinque history: both teams used to be the Washington Senators. The famous line was, "Washington: first in war, first in peace, last in the American League." It was equally true for both versions of the Senators.

~The Reds last won in 1990. They won back-to-back championships in the 70's, beating the Red Sox in 7 games in '75 and sweeping the Yankees the following year. Prior to that they hadn't won since 1940. In the 1950's the Reds changed their name to the Redlegs because they thought Reds made them sound like Commies. Originally they were known as the Cincinnati Red Stockings, but the team folded for several years in the 1870's. What happened? In 1871 the very first professional league, the National Association of Base Ball Teams, was founded. The Red Stockings were a charter team, but the manager and half of the players decided they'd rather play in Boston, so they took off and moved the franchise in time for Opening Day. The team originally known as the Boston Red Stockings is the longest continuously-running franchise in all of pro sports. So what happened to them?

~The Braves is what happened to them. In 1876 the National Association gave way to the National League as we know it today. The Boston Red Stockings were a charter team, but Cincinnati put a new team on the field, using the old name Red Stockings. The Boston folks decided that the name duplication wasn't a good idea, and since Cincy had used it first they changed their name to the Beaneaters. Then to the Doves (that really threw some fear into the opposing teams), then to the Braves, then the Bees, then back to the Braves. The American League came along in 1901 and one of the charter teams was the Red Sox, who wound up outdrawing the Braves every single year. In 1953 the Braves finally gave up and moved to Milwaukee, where their AAA team played. That move was good for a while, but attendance dropped off and in 1966 they moved again, this time to Atlanta. In the 90's they suddenly became a good team and they've won their division almost every year for the last couple of decades. They're the only team to win the World Series playing in three different cities: Boston (1914), Milwaukee (1957) and Atlanta (1995). They also lost it playing in three cities: Boston (1948), Milwaukee (1958), and Atlanta (1991,1992,1996,1999).

~The Giants have been to the World Series three times in San Francisco: 1962, 1989 and 2002, and lost all three. In the '62 Series a guy named Jack Sanford, from my hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts, one-hit the Yankees. The franchise last won as the New York Giants in 1954. Fifty-six years ago. They beat the Cleveland Indians, who last won in 1948. The only team to go longer than the Giants and Indians without winning is, of course, the Cubs, now at 65 years without a World Series appearance and 102 years and counting without a win.

~The Phillies. (I'm rooting for them.) The Phillies, originally known as the Worcester Rubylegs, moved to the City of Brotherly Love in 1882 and took 99 years to win their first championship. They won game 1 of the 1915 Series, then went 65 years before winning another playoff game. They finally won in 1980 and again in 2008. A couple of years ago they set a professional sports all-time record by losing their 10,000th game. Philly, a city with a lotta-lotta culture, is where they boo Santa Claus and cheer bad landings at the airport. They have terriffic fans and a great ballpark. How can you not root for them?

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