Top 10 September Collapses in MLB History
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The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays are living the high life these days. Of course, when teams enjoy a September comeback there is always the flip side. The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were looking really good coming into September, but have fallen on hard times. As I write this, they are coming into the last day of the season tied for the wild card in the National and American League respectively.
The Braves are 9-16 in September. The Cardinals are the best team in the National League in September. The combination has the Cardinals on the verge of the playoffs. The Red Sox would qualify as more of a collapse than the Braves with their 6-19 record. Yet, where will these horrible finishes finish among the all-time worst?
10. 1914 New York Giants
Christy Mathewson was near the end in 1914
Oh, don't we all remember those days? Seriously though, the distance in time is really the main reason this finishes tenth in history. Fortunately for the Giants, people think of the surge of the Boston Braves more than the failure of the Giants. Still, the Giants were the class of the National League in the 1910s. The Braves would not compete against them for a few decades.
9. 2009 Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera's drinking problem first reared its ugly head in 2009.
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8. 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
Sandy Koufax was so good that people forget the Dodgers actually didn't win in 1962.
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Funny how time heals most wounds. The Dodgers were known for Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. Add in Maury Wills and you would think that they won the World Series. Unfortunately, the Giants actually won, but oh well.
7. 1987 Toronto Blue Jays
The 1980s Blue Jays were the best team that never saw postseason play.
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The Blue Jays were loaded in the 1980s, but for some reason they couldn't break through the glass ceiling. In 1987, George Bell was a monster, but they couldn't close the deal at the end. Still, this hardly qualifies as a tremendous collapse. They were 19-9 in September, but lost the last three games of the season. At 96-66, they were a poster child for the wild card.
6. 2007 New York Mets
2007 may have been the beginning of the end for the current nucleus of Mets.
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2007 was really the beginning of a shift in power in the NL East. The Phillies always seemed to be coming up short and the Mets were the big kid on the mountain. 2007 changed that. The Phillies haven't lost a division since and the Mets are in pyramid scheme hell. In 2007 they were .500 for the month of September, so using the word collapse might be overblown.
5. 1964 Phillies
A stunning collapse but far back in the memory banks.
The 1964 Phillies fade might be the most extreme in history. While there have been books written about it, it doesn't have the same long-term appeal as some other notable failures. I suppose that is something most Phillies fans are thankful for.
4. 1995 Anaheim Angels
The Angels went through a lot of pain until they won the World Series.
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The Angels finished the season 24-34 in the last two months. That isn't historic by itself, but the beneficiary may have saved their franchise. The Kingdome was falling apart in Seattle, so the Mariners wanted a new stadium. Advancing to the ALCS helped big time. It's not often that your failure saves another team.
3. 1969 Chicago Cubs
How might have history changed for Ron Santo had the Cubs won in 1969?
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They finished the year 9-18. If they had even played .500 ball we might be talking about Ron Santo in the Hall of Fame and Steve Bartman might be able to show his face in Chicago. On the flip side, the Amazing Mets was a terrific story and helped vault that franchise into the mainstream.
2. 1978 Boston Red sox
He may be a Ray now, but Don Zimmer might always be defined as the losing manager in 1978.
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Bucky "Bleepin" Dent. 1978 was a complex race that can hardly be defined as a choke job. Yes, the Red Sox blew a huge lead, but they also won the last several games to force the playoff. Then, a light-hitting shortstop changed history, continuing a half century of pain for Red Sox fans.
1. 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers
Don Newcombe was a stand out on all of those Dodgers teams.
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"The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant the Giants win the pennant." It is likely that no one will ever hit a more famous home run than the home run hit by Bobby Thomson to win the 1951 pennant. The Dodgers and Giants were bitter rivals and they have just finished one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history.
The Dodgers played .500 ball down the stretch even including the three game playoff. The Giants were just out of their minds. Fortunately, we remember more about the Giants than we do the Dodgers that year. Eventually, they would break through themselves and challenge the Yankees for baseball supremacy.