How the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies Compare to MLB's 10 Latest 'Bust' Teams
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Five straight National League East titles, three megastar aces returning—the Phillies were ticketed everywhere to get back to the postseason. No, they probably were not going to win 102 games again, but with a second wild card in play, it seemed nearly impossible that a team of this pedigree could lose its way.
Well, their recent three-game win streak brought them all the way back to...40-51, 13 games out of the division lead and four games out of fourth place in the division. That tempting second wild card? Ten games away.
You can call this season anything you like. I am calling it a bust.
The Phillies have a lot of company in decimating the hopes of fanbases. Meet the devastating bust teams of the past decade.
2011: Minnesota Twins
Cute shampoo commercials anyway, Joe.
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The two-time defending American League Central champions finished in last place in the American League Central division with a record of 63-99.
Twins fans and fantasy owners alike suffered through prolonged, mysterious injuries to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and Joe Nathan could not regain his effectiveness after missing the 2010 season. Francisco Liriano was perhaps the biggest disappointment, going from 14-10 with a 3.62 earned run average and 201 strikeouts to a losing record and an ERA over five.
2010: Los Angeles Dodgers
Joe Torre felt the pain too.
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The Dodgers came into 2010 with the lofty expectations that follow consecutive trips to the National League Championship Series.
Unfortunately for Hollywood's Dodgers, their season was much less "Field of Dreams" than "The War of the Roses."
The gross, nasty and ultimately not that interesting divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt cast a pall over the entire season. As the front office continued to unravel, the Dodgers' fortunes followed, as they fell from 49-39 on June 11 all the way to 80-82 at the end of the season.
2009: Tampa Bay Rays
The second album is always tougher than the smash hit it follows.
Tampa Bay entered 2009 with a shiny new pennant to hang limply from the ceiling of Tropicana Field and visions of a championship.
Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and Jason Bartlett had great years, but the Pat Burrell signing did not work out, and Gabe Gross and Dioner Navarro effectively went AWOL while still collecting their checks and playing every fourth day.
The Rays were .500 (73-73) on September 16, and the finishing kick to 84-78 was not enough to make the playoffs.
2008: New York Mets
Shea Goodbye, indeed. Even The Kid couldn't save them.
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Hot off the heels of the worst end to a season in contending-team history—more on that in a moment—the Mets once again sprinted out to the front of the pack as the bell sounded for the final lap. With 17 games to go, the Mets had a 3.5-game lead over those Philadelphia Phillies.
They couldn’t do it again, could they? And how!
7-10 to finish it up, with the last indignity coming on the final day of the season. The Mets trotted out Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and (no, say it ain’t so) WILLIE MAYS to ceremonially close Shea Stadium.
The Mets obliged perfectly by losing 4-2 to…that’s right, the Marlins, i.e., the same team that had broken their backs a season before. “It is fun. I’m not going to lie to you,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said that day. Right on, Fredi. Right on.
Oh, and the Phillies went on to win the World Series in 2008. I know you know that, I just like writing it.
2007: New York Mets
How can you not miss Willie Randolph managing the Mets? It's better than your archrival being married to an adjudicated incompetent.
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It was epic.
The Mets led the Phillies by seven games on September 12. After some backsliding, the Mets entered the final week of the season with a lead of two and a half games and a seven-game homestand (!) against the nothing-to-play-for Washington Nationals, the in-town-for-a-rainout-makeup St. Louis Cardinals and the completely-finished Florida Marlins.
They went 1-6.
Even the one win was costly: the Mets ran it up on the Marlins on the second-to-last day of the season, 13-0, and engaged in some premature jocularity in the dugout.
This was not lost on the Marlins’ best player, Hanley Ramirez, who was playing with a very sore hand. Asked if he would pass on the season finale to avoid risking injury, Ramirez replied: “I don’t care if it’s broke. I’m gonna play tomorrow.” Then he said something like “(screw) everyone on the Mets, I’m going to kick their asses.”
The next day, Ramirez walked to lead off the first inning against Tom Glavine, who then proceeded to give up seven runs while getting only one out in the inning. Glavine’s line for the day was: 7 R, 7 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 36 pitches.
And, of course, the loss, and the worst late-season collapse in baseball history.
2006: Atlanta Braves
The last man standing from the once-great rotation, in 2006.
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Maybe this is a bit unfair, but after 14 straight division titles, to have it end with a 79-83 wheeze-out into third place in the division...that's just not getting it done.
Chipper Jones and Brian McCann were special players in 2006, but conversely this was the year that the league figured out Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur.
John Smoltz won 16 games at age 39(!), but when the last three of your starting rotation is Chuck James, John Thomson and a platoon of Horacio Ramirez and Kyle Davies, well, the wins just don't pile up the way they did when it was Smoltz/Glavine/Maddux/Avery.
2005: Kansas City Royals
Thankless times for Mike Sweeney, All-Star in 2005 on a bad team.
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We move away from acknowledging the teams that had high hopes to recognize a team that just stunk. The 2005 Kansas City Royals lost 106 games, and looking at the roster, they did it on merit.
Poor Mike Sweeney was stuck hitting .300 with 21 home runs and 39 doubles on a team whose next-best offensive threat was Emil Brown. Who? Exactly.
Not until you peek at the rotation, though, do you appreciate the fullness of the horror. Some 21-year-old named Zack Greinke got tossed out there to lose seventeen games. Jose Lima lost 16, and the legendary Runelvys Hernandez contributed 14 more L's. Pretty sad.
2004: Arizona Diamondbacks
Looking old/tired in this shot. Fitting.
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Of course, at least the Royals had the excuse of having been pretty terrible for a while. The 2001 Diamondbacks toppled the mighty New York Yankees dynasty!
A mere three seasons later, the D'backs gave up 111 games like a smaller inmate gives up packs of cigarettes.
By 2004, Luis Gonzalez was slowing down (draw your own conclusions) and Steve Finley at 39 years of age was doing the same.
Randy Johnson, at 40 years old, admirably soldiered on for 16 wins, but Brandon Webb (7-16) had not emerged yet and Curt Schilling—you may have heard—was in Boston.
2003: Boston Red Sox
Swing and a drive....
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Speaking of Boston, you can say all you like that a season that ends in the American League Championship Series cannot possibly be a bust.
I have two words in response: Aaron Boone.
2002: Detroit Tigers
A Bobby Higginson sighting!
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Wrapping up this feature, we have the 2002 Detroit Tigers. Losers of 106 games, tied with the then-Devil Rays for last place in all of baseball.
Which is totally understandable, you know, but for the fact that the Devil Rays came into existence in 1998 and the Tigers have been playing baseball since 1901.
Just to underline the sorry state of the Motor City Kitties, baseball division and to prove that 2002 was no fluke, the Tigers lost an astounding 119 games in 2003.