Late-season collapses are immortalized in baseball lore. What used to make the baseball season so agonizing was the length of it and the limited number of playing spots. Since Major League Baseball added a Wild Card in 1995 and further added more playoff spots since some of the tragedy has been taken out of the season. Betting on who will win a certain division at an online casino at this point of this particular season doesn’t provide many exciting options.
This season, the American League only has one division — the American League Central — with three teams still in the running. On the National League side, the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are locked into a tight Central Division race. With a number of boring races, it’s a good time to take a look back at some of the memorable collapses of the past.
The last real pennant race
The 1993 National League West race between the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants came down to the last day of the season. When rookie pitcher Solomon Torres folded against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the season’s final day, the Giants ended Barry Bond’s first season with the franchise with a 103-59 record on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
San Francisco had nearly moved to St. Petersburg before the season and the new owner made a splash by signing a future home run king in Bonds. When two-time defending division champion Atlanta stumbled out of the gate, and San Francisco rallied behind Bonds, it appeared the Giants would be heading to the National League Championship Series.
MLB until 1969 only had the team’s with the best record in each league advance to the World series. Between 1969 and 1994, the two division winners went directly into the league’s championship series. In 1993, San Francisco led Atlanta by 10 games on July 22. However, the Braves would add punch to their lineup by trading for Fred McGriff.
The Braves comeback in the standings would be marked by an incident where Atlanta’s stadium caught on fire and people observed it was like the team caught fire. Meanwhile, the Giants collapsed under the weight of the pressure. San Francisco finished the season on a 6-15 stretch and would end up losing the division race, and a spot in the playoffs, to the Braves by one game.
Phold of ‘64
The Philadelphia Phillies didn’t win their first World Series until 1980. Before then, the Phillies had appeared in the world series in 1915 and 1950. In between 1950 and 1980, Philadelphia had a collapse that would leave a mark on baseball history. During the 1964 season, it appeared Philadelphia’s luck may be finally starting to turn.
On September 1, the Phillies led the Cincinnati Reds by 5.5 games in the National League race. With 12 games left in the season, Philadelphia still led by 6.5 games over the Reds. However, the Phillies wouldn’t be ready for what came next.
Philadelphia would drop their next 10 games, including three losses to Cincinnati and three losses to St. Louis. Losing the three games to the Cardinals allowed St. Louis to hop Cincinnati and Philadelphia to climb into first place for good. The Phillies finished the season 92-70, one game behind St. Louis and in a tie with Cincinnati.
That’s Mr. Bucky (bleeping) Dent to you
Still 25 years away from breaking their World Series curse, the 1978 Boston Red Sox had a 7.5-game lead over the New York Yankees with 32 games to go. Boston then closed the season in horrible fashion, having a stretch with 14 losses in 17 games before rallying to win their final eight games to force a one-game playoff.
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning when Bucky Dent smashed a three-run home run over the Green Monster to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. New York would end up winning the game 5-4 and go on to win their second consecutive World Series over the Dodgers.