History Lesson


I know I tend to go on a bit about Twitter, but you can pick up some great nuggets of info that way. Case in point was reading a tweet from Joel Luckhaupt (hat tip) during last night’s Reds excruciating loss.

His tweet was as such…

Time for the history lesson…

1973 New York Mets

After the first 110 games of that ’73 season, the were 50-60 and were in 6th place in the then NL East. And they sat 9.5 games back in the division. What makes this climb even more amazing is that in August, the Mets managed to climb only one spot and began September in 5th place. Even more telling of how great the Mets played down the stretch was that on August 17th, they were 13 games under .500 with a 53-66 record. For the reaminder of the regular season, the Mets went 29-13 (.690) to win the division by 1.5 games. The Mets won their division with an 82-79 record.

What is heartbreaking to Reds fans was the fact that the Mets defeated the Reds 3-2 in the NLCS noted mostly for the dust up between Pete Rose and Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson. The Mets won that pivotal third game, 9-2. The Mets comeback season would lose steam as they would lose in the World Series to the Oakland A’s, their second of three in a row for Charlie Finley’s boys.

1978 New York Yankees

At the 110 game landmark, the Yanks had a pretty darn good record of 61-49. Problem was they were 8.5 games back and in 3rd place in the AL East. One of the teams ahead of them was the rival Boston Red Sox. While the ’78 one-game playoff against the Red Sox and the Bucky “F’n” Dent homer was memorable, it’s a game that did not even have to happen. The Yankees took sole possession of first place on September 13 with 19 games left, but it all came down to the last game of the regular season…

The Yankees were hosting the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe began the day 29.5 games behind the Yankees, but Jeff Torborg’s guys refused to let the Pinstripes take the game to win the division. Instead, Cleveland clobbered Catfish Hunter over 1.2 innings of work for a 9-2 victory, thus forcing the infamous game between New York and Boston.

The Yankees would win the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second consecutive season.

1995 Seattle Mariners

The M’s were 55-55 after playing their 110th game, resting in 3rd place in the “new” AL West. In a strange twist of irony, the Mariners were in the same boat as the ’78 Yankees only needing to win its final game of the regular season in order to win their division. Actually, the M’s went into the last series of the season with a 2 game lead and were facing the Texas Rangers with having to win 3 of the 4 games to secure the division. The M’s split that series (including game #162) and were forced into a one game playoff against the California Angels. Seattle prevailed 9-2 in game #163.

What most people remember about the ’95 Mariners is that in this first season of expanded playoffs and three divisions in each league, the Mariners overcame an 0-2 deficit against the New York Yankees in the ALDS. And who can forget the sight of Ken Griffey, Jr. sliding across home plate to score the series-clinching run. The Mariners would lose in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians, 4 games to 2.

2006 Minnesota Twins

After game #110, the Twins were 65-45, but were still 9.5 games back in the AL Central to the first place Detroit Tigers and were also behind the second place Chicago White Sox. What makes the Twins comeback a little more amazing is that until the last day of the season, they never owned sole possession of first place. Even more remarkable was the Minnesota was once 8 games below .500 (25-33 on June 7). It took a pair of eight-game winning streak and the addition of an eleven-game winning streak to get toward the top of the division.

If the Twins had tied with the Tigers, the Tigers would have been granted the AL Central title based on the tiebreaker of Detroit having won the regular season series. Instead, the Tigers were swept by the Kansas City Royals (who had amassed 100 losses) in their final three games while the Twins managed one win against the White Sox to secure the division title.

The Twins would be swept in the ALDS by the Oakland A’s.

So what does this mean for the Reds? It’s not impossible, but pretty darned close. The Reds are in fourth place, 7.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. They also have the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates to climb over in order to win the division. It isn’t too far fetched to say they must win the division to make the postseason.

Another, and last, point here. Since divisional play began in 1969, there have been a total of 216 teams make the playoffs and these are the only four to overcome the obstacles in which the Reds face.

Insurmountable odds they are…