MLB At A Loss To Explain Epic Losers
It’s always exciting to be watching history. Once-in-a-lifetime performances. A show so notable you’ll tell your grandkids, “I saw them play.”
The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens. The 1972 Miami Dolphins. The 2017 Golden State Warriors. The 2019 Detroit Tigers.
The wha’? The Detroit Tigers? What’s that all about?
To paraphrase announcer Brent Musberger, “You are looking live at immortality!” The Tigers stand on the verge of baseball ignominy. With just two weeks left in the MLB season they are going to join a select club of losers in the post- WW II era , struggling to win 50 games.
Recall the 1962 New York Mets— the lead standard in futility— won 40 games (losing 120) in their first MLB season. The 2003 Tigers, another blot on baseball history, won 43 and lost 119. The 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates lost 112 games (in a 154-game schedule). Even the 1988 Baltimore Orioles— who lost 21 straight games to start the season— still ended up with 54 wins.
These Tigers sit at just 46 wins after the weekend. They’re also in line to be the first MLB team in the modern era not to win 30 games at home in a season. The Tigers sit at 22 wins at Comerica Park. They’re a better on the road— and they stink there with just 24 wins! They feature a sparkling -313 run differential.
They’ve lost 16 straight games against division opponent
s Cleveland. Their 567 runs scored is 101 fewer than anyone else in the American League. Spencer Turnbull, who leads the majors with 15 losses, is 0-12 in 16 starts since beating Atlanta on May 31.
Okay, the Tigers say, we’re giving young guys a chance to play. Indeed they have, dumping their few fungible assets like Nick Castellanos in give-away trades during the season. So let’s list all the young players who’ve made a leap forward under this regime.
(Jeopardy music plays here). Yeah, there is no Vladdy Guerrero Jr., no Cavan Biggio, no Bo Bichette in Detroit. Hell, there are no Bo Biggios, Just a lot of guys who’ve learned how to lose, and lose a lot, wearing the old English D for Dreadful on their jersey. (Maybe salary hostage Miggy Cabrera is teaching them the finer points of avoiding child support?)
So heads will roll, right? In the midst of this carnage, Tigers ownership gave GM Al Avila a three-year contract extension. Manager Ron Gardenhire is expected back. But then, we told you at the start of the season that Detroit was eliminated from the postseason by the seventh-inning stretch of Opening Day.
The Tigers implosion has given cover to some other wretched MLB souls. While the Blue Jays started out like a dumpster fire they have rallied modestly since throwing their entire farm system on the field. Guerrero, Biggio and Bichette have given hope, But just three years after their magic playoff run, Toronto is going to lose 95 games— minimum.
The Baltimore Orioles were in lockstep with the Tigers until recently, but even they couldn’t match Detroit’s brutal pace. The O’s will surpass the Mets’ famous record, but just barely. The sight of an overpaid Chris Davis still getting ABs with a line that reads .174/ 10 HRs/ 34 RBIs is head shaking. During an August loss to the Yankees, Davis had to be physically restrained from going after Orioles manager Brandon Hyde.
Seattle was 18-15 on May 1. Since then they’ve lost 75 games and traded away several top players. The Kansas City Royals will have to go all-in to nudge the 60-win mark. But they simply can’t match the Tigers’ 50 games behind the division leading Indians.
Things aren’t as dark in the National League where only those perennial incompetents, the Miami Marlins, are posting another stinker. Derek Jeter’s hobby farm sits at just 54 wins— 45 games behind the division leading Atlanta Braves. Although the total second-half collapse of the Colorado Rockies is worth noting . They were 30-27 on June 1. As of today they’re 67-88.
This is not a good look for MLB. But with no salary floor, the floor isn’t the limit. As we told you in April, “it’s not that MLB has hit the skids financially. The average MLB team was worth $1.645 B in 2018, seven percent more than in 2017. The Yankees are worth an estimated $3.7 B. Even mid-rank teams such as the Blue Jays are valued over the billion mark.
While it can’t command national TV rights like the NFL, MLB’s social-media presence and regional deals are still substantial. And with gambling industry income now flowing in a number of states that will only get better.”
What is annoying is when large markets act like small markets. And you know who you are, Toronto Blue Jays. The Rogers-owned club has a captive audience of 37 million Canadians, is the fourth largest urban market in MLB and yet it pretends that it’s Kansas City. Sorry, no money to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox!
The question for the Tigers and their brothers in awfulness is can they reward fans with a bounce-back? The Tigers made the 2006 World Series after the 2003 disaster cruise. But only two teams a year can make the Series. And if the Tigers, Jays, Royals, Marlins and Orioles aren’t substantially better within two years MLB is going to have a problem on its hands.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com . He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also a best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available on brucedowbigginbooks.ca.