MLB: Bartman and a Brief History of Scapegoats
This week, baseball has been all about Boston and Bartman.
It has been all about collapses and scapegoats.
It has been all about who fans blame for their team not making the playoffs, choking in the playoffs, and who should be really be blamed for their team's "failures."
The ESPN film on Bartman proved that even though scapegoating may be illogical, it has been going on for a long time. Once a team loses its last game, the fans have to find somebody to blame.
But besides Bartman and Buckner, who were the biggest scapegoats in baseball history? Here is a brief look at the history of scapegoating in baseball.
1951 Brooklyn Dodgers: Ralph Branca
Ralph Branca is the scapegoat for the Brooklyn Dodgers' 1951 collapse.
Branca is known as the scapegoat because he gave up the "Shot Heard 'Round The World" to Bobby Thomson.
This came after a historic collapse (this team had a 99.7 percent chance of making the playoffs entering September), and it happened during an action packed three-game playoff.
Branca was 1-5 in September of 1951 and 0-2 in October.
1962 LA Dodgers: Ed Roebuck
The 1962 season was the Los Angeles Dodgers' first season in the "state of the art" Dodgers stadium (now it is known as the "I wonder who will get it in the divorce?" Dodgers Stadium.)
Anyway the scapegoat for the Dodgers collapse (they had a 98.1 percent chance of getting into the playoffs entering September and lost in the third game of a tiebreaker to the San Francisco Giants) is Ed Roebuck.
Roebuck was the losing pitcher in the third game, and the Dodgers gave up four runs in the ninth inning to blow the game.
1964 Philadelphia Phillies- Johnny Callison
A big reason for the collapse of the 1964 Phillies was the team's poor play against St. Louis.
The team finished only one game behind St. Louis, but went an abymsal 5-13 against the Cardinals.
Johnny Callison played in all 18 of these games and batted only .261, which is pretty mediocre considering he finished second in the MVP voting for the 1964 season.
1967 Boston Red Sox: Jim Lonborg
The curse lives! After a last place season, the 1967 Red Sox shocked the world by winning the AL Pennant and reaching the 1967 World Series
The Sox forced a seventh game, but ended up losing the game at Fenway Park. The scapegoat for this game has to be starting pitcher Jim Lonborg.
The Cardinals were able to score off wild pitches and walks, and Lonborg ended up giving up four big runs. The Sox were never able to recover.
1969 Chicago Cubs: Leo Durocher
The 1969 Cubs were known as "the most celebrated second place team in the history of baseball."
The Cubs finished in second place because of a dismal September, where they went 8-17 and ended up eight games behind the New York Mets.
Most Cubs fans blame a black cat walking across the field on Sept. 9 for ruining the team's chances this season. After research, though, I found out that this cat had no at bats, no pitches and did not manage any of the Cubs' 17 September losses.
The real scapegoat, or scapecat, for the 1969 Cubs was Leo Durocher. Durocher played his top eight players everyday and used a short rotation, and this eventually wore the Cubs out.
1973 LA Dodgers- Al Downing
The 1973 Dodgers went 12-14 in the month of September. A big part of the Dodgers' collapse was their 7-11 record against the Houston Astros.
Al Downing had an 0-3 record and an ERA over five against the Houston Astros. If Downing wins three of his five starts, then the Dodgers go to the playoffs.
1974 Red Sox: Leadoff Hitting
The 1974 Red Sox went 11-18 in the month of September, and the Sox spent 87 days in first.
A big reason for this collapse was the Red Sox' lack of production from the leadoff position. The leadoff hitters on Boston only hit .239 for the season (had an even lower average in September) and had an OBP of only .305.
1978 Red Sox: Mike Torrez
The 1978 Red Sox had a 14-game lead over the New York Yankees on July 18.
But by Sept. 10, the New York Yankees had caught the Red Sox, and the Red Sox collapse became known as "The Boston Massacre."
Even though the Red Sox blew the 14-game lead, they rallied and forced a one game playoff against the Yankees.
The biggest play of this playoff game was a three run home run by Bucky Dent off of Mike Torrez. If Torrez does not give up this home run, the Sox might have had a chance to make the playoffs.
1983 Atlanta Braves: Lack of Hitting
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
The 1983 Atlanta Braves spent 68 days in first place and had a six and a half game lead in the NL West on August 13th.
But the Braves went 11-16 in September and ended up blowing this six and a half game lead in the division to the LA Dodgers.
The Braves finished with a 7-11 record against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a big reason for this is a lack of hitting. The Braves had a 3.00 ERA against the Dodgers, so a lot of blame is placed on the Braves' poor power hitting against the Dodgers.
1984 Chicago Cubs: Leon Durham
The 1984 Chicago Cubs blew a 2-0 lead in the NLCS to the San Diego Padres.
In the fifth game of this series, the Cubs gave up four runs in the seventh inning and ended up losing the game 6-3.
A big part of this seventh inning collapse was a key error by Leon Durham. Durham's error energized the Padres and was a big reason they ended up scoring four runs in the inning
1986 Red Sox: Bill Buckner
Buckner. Thank God he caught that baby on "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
1993 San Francisco Giants: Salomon Torres
The 1993 San Francisco Giants won 103 games, spent 152 days in first place, had a core of Bonds, Clark, Williams and Swift and won 33 games by over five runs, but somehow still did not make the playoffs.
A big reason why the Giants did not make the playoffs was an eight game losing streak from Sept. 7 to Sept. 15.
This stretch included two key losses by rookie pitcher Salomon Torres.
If Torres wins one of these games, the Giants regain their momentum and have a better chance to make the postseason. Or if Torres does not pitch in these games because of his inexperience, the Giants probably make the playoffs and have a good chance of winning the World Series.
1995 California Angels: Pitching
The 1995 California Angels had an 11-game division lead in the middle of August, were 26 games over .500 on Aug. 15, and going into September, had a 99.5 percent chance of making it into the playoffs.
But the Angels, of course, ended up not making the playoffs not only because of a 10-16 September, but because of a nine-game losing streak from Aug. 25 to Sept. 3 that started the Angels' free fall (The Angels also had another nine game losing streak from Sept. 13 to Sept. 23.).
During this first nine game losing streak, the Angels gave up about 8.1 runs a game. The pitching staff is one of the big reasons for the Angels 1995 collapse.
2003 Chicago Cubs: Bartman
Bartman. The man, the headphones, the turtleneck, the legend.
2003 Red Sox: Grady Little
In the B.F. era (before Francona), the Red Sox used to have a manager named Grady Little.
In Game 7 of the ALCS, Grady Little had a "little" too much faith in Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez. A fatigued Martinez ended up giving up three runs in the eighth inning, and it was clear that Little made a bad decision.
The Yankees ended up winning the game on basketball great Aaron Boone's homerun in the 11th inning.
2007 Mets: Pitching
The 2007 New York Mets blew a seven-game NL East lead in 17 days.
The key part of the Mets' collapse was when they got swept by the Washington Nationals (September 24-26) and gave the Phillies a chance to win the division.
The Mets had a three game lead in the division going into the series against the Nationals, but after three straight losses, the Mets were tied with the streaking Phillies.
In these three games against the Nationals, the Mets' pitching staff gave up 13 runs, 10 runs and nine runs.
2009 Tigers: Timely Hitting
The Tigers had a seven game lead in the AL Central on Sept. 6, were 48-39 during the first half of the season, won 28 one-run games and still found a way to miss the playoffs.
A big reason that the Tigers missed the playoffs was a five game losing streak from Sept. 8 to Sept. 12.
These losses can be blamed on a lack of timely hitting from the leadoff position. The Tigers barely got anyone on base and were terrible with RISP in these games. If they had some timely hitting in these games, the Tigers might just have made the playoffs