Some mistakes you never stop paying for. For the Phillies, it was the 1920s through the 1940s. Chris Jaffe brings the history over at The Hardball Times today:
Ninety years ago today was something of a turning point in Phillies franchise history.
On May 14, 1922, they beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1. In and of itself, that wasn’t terribly important. The win gave the Phillies a record of 11-12 on the year. Again, that wasn’t particularly special, either.
No, but in a longer view, it had a meaning. That win gave the Phillies an all-time cumulative franchise record of 2,827 wins and 2,827 losses, exactly .500. It proved to be the last time they’d ever be .500.
They had losing records for 30 of the next 31 seasons. And there weren’t many borderline years in that mix. Ten of the next 20 seasons after that 1922 season were 100-loss years, including five in a row between 1938 and 1942. Six of seven between 1936 and 1942.
Puts what the Pirates have done in the past 20 years in perspective.
Bonus from Jaffe today: Mets weirdness.
It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.
What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.
You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.
Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:
I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.
This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.