The amateur baseball historian in me is perversely excited that the Orioles could make baseball history this year.
Last night, the Orioles seized defeat from the jaws of victory and lost for the 108th time this year. This is the most losses in Baltimore major league history, but not in franchise history; the 1939 St. Louis Browns lost 111 games. Three more losses in the next 11 games to tie the franchise record, four to set the record.
But, far more significant. The Orioles currently sit 60 games behind the first place Red Sox.
If 60 sounds like an absurd number of games to be out of first, that’s because it is: no team in the Wild Card era has ever finished 60 games out of first place before. In fact, no team in the Divisional era has finished 60 games out of first, either. You have to go all the way back to the 1962 Mets — losers of 120, famous for how inept their debut campaign was — for the last team to finish at least 60 back (the Mets were 60.5 behind the first-place Giants).
The all-time record for futility in the standings came in 1906 — the Boston Beaneaters (ie., the Braves) finished 66 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs.
The Orioles have a real chance! Their final games are against the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Astros. If the Orioles continue their woeful ways over the next week and a half, they could easily challenge the Braves’s historical mark for the team furthest back in the standings.
The Orioles can’t do this alone; the Red Sox have a role to play, too. The Red Sox have to win and the Orioles have to lose on the same day several times between now and the end of the season for the games-back gap to increase. This is one of the rare times I can speak approvingly of the Red Sox.
I think they can do it. Will they? History awaits!