Cryin’ shame: Worst September collapses in MLB history
Cryin' shame: Worst September collapses in MLB history
As we head into the final stretch of the 2015 regular season, the intensity is heightened for a number of teams trying to make a playoff push. But with some teams fighting for a wild-card spot, a few teams have their division crown all but locked up -- or so they think. Let's take a look back at some of the worst September collapses in MLB history.
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1934 New York Giants
After winning it all in 1933, the Giants appeared poised to return to the World Series in 1934, back when the playoffs were only comprised of the top AL and NL teams squaring off in the World Series. Equipped with two future Hall of Famers (pitcher Carl Hubbell and slugger Mel Ott, who was in the midst of a tremendous age-25 season), it seemed no one in the National League could catch the Giants, who held a 5½-game lead with an 80-46 record heading into September. However, despite winning five-of-six games to begin September, the Giants floundered in the last month of the season. With the Cardinals gaining ground in the pennant race, the Giants ended the season on a five-game losing streak and subsequently lost the NL lead on their penultimate game of the season, botching a chance to defend their World Series title. Photo: AP
1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
In a year in which Maury Wills stole 104 bases, Tommy Davis drove in 153 runs, and Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax struck out a collective 448 batters, the Dodgers failed to make the World Series despite holding a four-game lead over their rival San Francisco Giants on Sept. 17 with 14 games remaining in the season. After assembling a seven-game winning streak in September, the Dodgers went 4-12 to end the 1962 season. Worst of all for the Dodgers, who had won the World Series in 1959 (their second season after relocating to Los Angeles), was that they lost the National League lead on the final game of the season. Nonetheless, the Dodgers wouldn't sulk very long, as they won the World Series the following season, sweeping the Yankees for their third World Series in franchise history. Photo: Getty Images
1964 Philadelphia Phillies
With 12 games left in the '64 regular season, the Phillies held a 6½-game lead in the National League. But in the final two weeks of the season, those Phillies found themselves in the midst of one of the most incomprehensible slides in the history of the game -- a 10-game 'Phold', as it became known. With each loss, the impossible dream became more and more attainable for the Cardinals and Reds, and perhaps no single Phillies loss during that slide was more unlikely than the one that started the collapse. Their 2-10 finish cost them the NL pennant and gave hope to fans of teams with slim chances for decades to come. FOX Sports' Sam Gardner revisited 'The Phold' 50 years later.
1969 Chicago Cubs
To this day, diehard Cubs fans are scratching their heads wondering what happened in 1969. Stacked with future Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams and pitcher Fergie Jenkins, Chicago was alight with hope that it would make the postseason for the first time since 1945. The Cubs added fuel to that blaze of hope when they claimed the NL East lead in early April and hadn't once surrendered it heading into the home stretch of the season. However, with a 4½-game lead over the Mets heading into September, the Cubs dropped eight consecutive games in the beginning of the month and quickly lost their divisional lead. The Cubs' spiral continued, going 8-18 to close out the season and finishing eight games back in the division, extinguishing Chicago's hope of winning its first World Series since 1908. Photo: AP
1978 Boston Red Sox
Don Zimmer managed the 1978 Boston Red Sox when they went from being 14 games ahead of the New York Yankees to losing the American League East pennant to the Yanks in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park. Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent hit one of the more improbable homers in baseball history to finish off one of the bigger choke jobs in baseball history. The Red Sox lost their grip on the division lead after being swept in a four-game series by the Yankees in early September and trailed New York by 3½ games on Sept. 16. Boston would go on a tear to finish September and tie the Yankees for the division lead. But what happened in that one-game playoff will live in baseball lore forever and forever will be burned into the memory of Red Sox fans who can't forget 'Bucky F-- Dent.'
Frank O'brien/Globe photo
1995 California Angels
On Aug. 9, 1995, the California Angels held a cushy 11-game lead in the American League West. On Oct. 2, they lost a play-in game against Randy Johnson and the Seattle Mariners to miss the playoffs. The biggest reason for their collapse? None other than their shortstop and nine-hole hitter Gary DiSarcina, who was hitting .317 before being injured Aug. 3 (he was out until Sept. 19). His loss -- paired with the failure to land ace David Cone -- led to a couple nine-game losing streaks, and the Angels failed to make the playoffs. The Angels' playoff drought would continue until their World Series season in 2002. Photo: AP/Bill Chan
2005 Cleveland Indians
The Indians were sitting pretty in the final week of 2015 season. They had a 1½-game lead in the wild-card race and were just 2½ games back in the AL Central after winning 13 of their previous 14 games. But that final week proved to be fatal for their playoff hopes, as they lost two of three to Tampa Bay and were swept in the final series by the first-place White Sox -- losing their shot at the AL Central title and their wild-card spot. It produced one of then-White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's more colorful moments -- the infamous 'choke job' gesture.
Lorain County Journal
2007 New York Mets
The Mets held a seven-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East on Sept. 12 before unraveling, losing 12 of their last 17 in one of the worst folds in history. A sweep at the hands of the Phillies ignited a five-game skid to slice the lead to 1½ games, but New York still carried a 2½-game edge into a season-ending seven-game homestand that included two series against the worst teams in the division -- the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins. The Mets dropped five in a row to fall one game behind Philadelphia with two to play before a 13-0 win forged a division tie entering the final day. Future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine was battered for seven runs in one-third of an inning in an 8-1 loss, opening the door for the Phillies to claim the NL East by beating the Nationals.
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2011 Boston Red Sox
After battling for the AL East lead the entire season, the Red Sox claimed the top spot in the division in the summer of 2011, and held a 1½-game lead heading into September. Boston had one of the most talented teams in MLB that season, with a rotation that included Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, and a batting order that housed sluggers Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. However, what happened in the final month of the season will forever live in Beantown infamy. The Red Sox fell off a cliff in September, posting an atrocious 7-20 record in the final month of the season, finishing the season seven games back (in third place) in the AL East. A season that could have been special for the Sox in ended in utter disappointment.
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2012 Texas Rangers
One win: That's all the 2012 Texas Rangers needed to get in their final three games of the regular season in 2012 in order to clinch the AL West. They couldn't do it, as the upstart A's swept the series in Oakland on the strength of some clutch pitching, timely hitting and an extremely ill-timed defensive gaffe from Josh Hamilton. The A's only had sole control of the West for one day in 2012 -- the final day of the regular season. The Rangers didn't exactly hand the A's the division, as Texas went 19-10 in August and 15-13 in September. But the A's went 18-10 and 17-11 in that same span before sweeping the series and stunning Ron Washington's club on Oct. 1-3. The Rangers saw the West slip through their fingers (and clank off Hamilton's glove), relegating them to the Wild Card Game they'd lose to the Baltimore Orioles.
2014 Oakland A's
On June 21, 2014, the Oakland Athletics held a six-game lead in the AL West. The team sent six players to the All-Star Game a month later, a day on which their record was 59-36. Everything seemed in the cards for the A's to have a successful October for the first season in a long time, but it didn't play out that way. In fact, after Billy Beane traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox at the July 31 deadline in exchange for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, it all unraveled. Remarkably, the A's went just 12-17 in August and 10-16 in September, needing the final day of the regular season to clinch the second AL wild-card spot with an 88-74 record. Falling all the way from a first-place club to narrowly qualifying for the second wild-card spot is pretty difficult to do, but the Green and Gold found a way in 2014.