With their defeat of the Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavs avoided becoming the 34th franchise in pro sports history to lose the title in their sport in consecutive years. The last pro sports team to lose consecutive titles were the Texas Rangers… they lost the World Series in 2010 to the San Francisco Giants and then lost the following year to the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the NBA, the last team to lose back-to-back NBA Finals were the New Jersey Nets. They lost the finals in 2002 and 2003. It’s a close race for the most back-to-back title losses in pro sports: There have been 11 in the NHL, 10 in MLB and nine in the NBA. There has been only three teams that lost back-to-back Super Bowls.
Here’s a look at the franchises that lost consecutive title games/series in the four major pro sports.
Toronto, 1935, 36
Toronto, 1938, 39, 40 *
Detroit, 1941, 42
Detroit, 1948, 49
Montreal, 1951, 52
Montreal, 1954, 55
Boston, 1957, 58
Toronto, 1959, 60
Detroit, 1963, 64
St. Louis, 1968, 69, 70 *
Boston, 1978, 79
Detroit, 1907, 08, 09 *
NY Giants, 1911, 12, 13 *
NY Yankees, 1921, 22
NY Giants, 1923, 24
NY Giants, 1936, 37
Brooklyn Dodgers, 1952, 53
NY Yankees, 1963, 64
L.A. Dodgers, 1977, 78
Atlanta Braves, 1991, 92
Texas Rangers, 2010, 2011
NY Knicks, 1951, 52, 53 *
Ft. Wayne Pistons, 1955, 56
St. Louis hawks, 1960, 61
L.A. Lakers, 1962, 63
L.A. Lakers, 1965, 66
L.A. Lakers, 1968, 69, 70 *
L.A. Lakers, 1983, 84
Utah Jazz, 1997, 98
New Jersey Nets, 2002, 2003
Minnesota Vikings, 1974, 75
Denver Broncos, 1987, 88
Buffalo Bills, 1991, 92, 93, 94 *
- Lost three or more consecutive title games/series
The MLB All-Star Game will be played tonight in San Diego. Here’s a look at 10 facts you may not know about MLB All-Star Game (ASG) MVPs since it was first awarded in 1962.
- Maury Wills was the first recipient of the ASG MVP in 1962. That was the same year that he was voted the National League MVP after batting .299 and stealing 104 bases.
- Five players have won the award twice: Gary Carter, Steve Garvey, Willie Mays, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Mike Trout. As the winner of the ASG MVP the last two years, Trout is the only player to win back-to-back honors. Ripken had the longest span in between awards… 10 years.
- Sixteen different players won the ASG MVP and are members of Baseball’s Hall of Fame: Roberto Alomar, Gary Carter, Ken Griffey, Jr., Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Cal Ripken, Jr., Mike Piazza, Kirby Puckett, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Don Sutton and Carl Yastrzemski.
- The Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants are tied for the most MVP awards with six. Cincinnati is next with five; the Red Sox and Angels have each had players win four ASG MVP awards.
- Outfielders have won 24 of the 55 ASG MVPs. Infielders have won 18, the battery combo of pitchers and catchers have won 13.
- The American League has the lead in MVPs with 28, one more than the N.L.
- Four players won the ASG MVP in their only ASG appearance: Melky Cabrera, J.D. Drew, LaMarr Hoyt and Bo Jackson.
- As mentioned above, Trout is the only player to win the award in back-to-back years. Teammates have won the award back-to-back twice: 1968-Mays, 1969-McCovey; 1977-Sutton, 1978-Garvey.
- There was no MVP awarded in 2002; that was the ASG played in Milwaukee that ended in a tie.
- Two players won the ASG MVP even though they played for the team that lost the game: Brooks Robinson in 1966 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1970.
When the calendar turned over to July last Friday, each of the 30 MLB teams were at or near the mid-point in their season. The sports pages showed two divisional leaders with leads of seven games or more over their closest competitor… a good sign, right?
In the last 20 seasons (since 1996), there have been 16 teams that had a divisional lead of at least seven games at the start of the day on July 1. Of those 16, how many do you think won the World Series that year? How many do you think failed to make the playoffs that year? That answer in a minute.
This year the Chicago Cubs had the biggest division lead of the six divisions with an 11-game advantage over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. In the America League, the Texas Rangers were 8.5 games ahead of division rival Houston in the West. The other four division leaders on July 1 (Washington, San Francisco, Baltimore and Cleveland) had leads of five or six games.
So, does having a lead of seven games or more on July 1 translate to a World Series appearance? Of those 16 teams with divisional leads of seven games or more on July 1 since 1996, only three went on to play in the World Series that season; all three, however, did win the championship (Boston-2007, White Sox -2005 and the Yankees-1998). Only two of those teams (the 2007 Brewers and 2003 Mariners) had a lead of seven games or more on July 1 but did not make the playoffs that year.
Here’s a look at how well the 16 teams with a lead in their division of seven games or more on July 1 did in the post-season that season. (How big a lead they had on July 1 is noted in parenthesis.)
Won World Series
Boston, 2007 (10.5 game lead)
Chicago White Sox, 2005 (10.5)
N.Y. Yankees, 1998 (10)
Lost in the playoffs before the World Series
St. Louis, 2015 (8)
N.Y. Mets, 2006 (10.5)
St. Louis, 2005 (8.5)
N.Y. Yankees, 2004 (7.5)
Atlanta, 2002 (8.5)
Seattle, 2001 (20)
Chicago White Sox, 2000 (9.5)
St. Louis, 2000 (8.5)
Cleveland, 1999 (12.5)
Cleveland, 1998 (8.5)
Atlanta, 1998 (8.5)
Did not make the playoffs that season
Milwaukee, 2007 (7.5)
Seattle, 203 (7)
If Cubs fans are looking for some good mojo concerning their team, consider this: Of the six teams that had a division lead of 10 games or more on July 1 since 1996, three won the World Series that season.
Zack Greinke has a very respectable 10-3 record with the Arizona D’Backs this season. But he is also making a little news with his bat… and his legs.
Greinke is looked upon as one of baseball’s best athletes among pitchers. He has been a threat with the bat; he is batting .270 this season with 10 hits, second most for pitchers. On June 23, he stole a base, his first of the season, in the D’Backs 7-6 win over Colorado. It was Greinke’s fifth career stolen base, making him one of only 84 pitchers to have stolen five or more career bases.
Greinke has quite a ways to go to challenge the MLB record for most career steals by a pitcher. That mark belongs to Bill Donovan who had 34 steals in his career that lasted from 1901-18. Second on the list is Doc White with 32; he is another hurler who played in the early days of baseball… from 1901-13.
If we look at pitchers from a more recent time, Greinke is one of 11 pitchers who has played since 1970 to steal five or more bases in a career. Here’s a look at the pitchers who played since 1970 and have the most career steals.
13: Bob Gibson
11: Greg Maddux
9: John Denny
8: Orel Hershiser
7: Joaquin Andujar
6: Dick Hall, Blue Moon Odom
5: Tom Browning, Adam Eaton, Zack Greinke, Jim Kaat,
The most stolen bases by a pitcher in a season since 1970 is four by Blue Moon Odom in 1972 when he played for the Oakland A’s. Tom Browning (1988 with Cincinnati) and Joaquin Andujar (1985 with St. Louis) each stole three bases to follow Odom.
With his fifth career stolen base to go along with six career home runs, Greinke also became the 31st pitcher in MLB history to have five career steals and five career HRs. Only six pitchers have reached these numbers since 1960: Andujar, Gibson, Greinke, Kaat, Maddux and Odom. Gibson is one of four pitchers in history to have 10 career steals and 10 homers; he had 24 HRs and 13 steals. The others: Bucky Walters (23 HRs and 12 steals); Walter Johnson (24 HRs and 13 steals); and Harry Howell (10 HRs and 18 steals).
Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun last season on August 19, 2015, hit career HR #252, giving him sole possession of the most career homers in Brewers team history. Also last season he collected career stolen base #150, and earlier this year he got his 1,500th base hit. Braun has played his entire 10-year career with the Brewers (we’ll see if he finishes the year with the team considering he is the constant focus of trade talks).
When he got his 1,500th hit, Braun joined a very select group of players: He became the 19th player in MLB history to have 1,500 hits, 250 home runs and 150 stolen bases with one team. Braun became the second Brewers player to reach these numbers; Robin Yount played all 20 of his MLB seasons with the Brewers amassing 3,142 hits, 251 HRs and 271 stolen bases.
The Brewers are one of only six teams to have two or more players in this 1500-250-150 group. The others: Houston, New York Yankees, Atlanta, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco. Nineteen of the 32 MLB teams do not a player in this group.
Following are the teams with a player who has/had 1,500 career hits, 250 career homers, and 150 career steals with that team.
3: Atlanta (Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones and Dale Murphy)
3: New York Yankees (Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez)
2: Chicago Cubs (Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa)
2: Houston (Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio)
2: Milwaukee (Ryan Braun and Robin Yount)
2: San Francisco (Barry Bonds and Willie Mays)
1: Boston (Carl Yastrzemski)
1: Cincinnati (Frank Robinson)
1: Kansas City (George Brett)
1: Philadelphia (Mike Schmidt)
1: Seattle: Ken Griffey, Jr.)