The Cubs gave me a week off from doing this by winning seven games in a row, which gave me time to reflect on more important things than losing baseball teams. It may have also saved Jim Hendry’s job for next season. We shall see. But with the loss today, I’m back to the journey through baseball in the 1970s.
1977 Toronto Blue Jays
Expansion team: Yes
Overall record: 55-107
# of win streaks of 3 games or more: Four
Manager(s): Roy Hartsfield
Hall of Famers on roster: None
100 loss seasons since: 1978, 1979
Pennant wins since: 1992 (World Series winner); 1993 (World Series winner)
The 1977 Blue Jays were an expansion team, and that year’s other expansion team, the Seattle Mariners, managed to avoid the 100 loss mark by only losing 98 games. But they are also the first of the expansion teams since 1966 to win a World Series, which took them 16 seasons to accomplish. Not too shabby. The team also set an expansion record by drawing 1.7 million fans in their first season, which is all the more remarkable because their stadium did not serve beer. And the team was owned by the Labatt Brewing Company, too. Go figure.
1977 Atlanta Braves
Expansion team: No
Overall record: 61-101
# of win streaks of 3 games or more: Seven
Manager(s): Dave Bristol, Ted Turner, Vern Benson, Dave Bristol
Hall of Famers on roster: Phil Niekro
100 loss seasons since: 1988
Pennant wins since: 1991; 1992; 1995 (World Series winner); 1996; 1999
The 1977 Braves were owned by Ted Turner, who was ahead of his time in many ways. He bought the team and signed Andy Messersmith to the first million dollar contract, thinking that he could give Messersmith the nickname “Channel” and the number 17 (guess which channel Turner’s WTBS was on?) MLB shot that idea down, along with Turner’s attempt to manage his own team.
After an 8-21 start, Turner fired manager Dave Bristol and took over the team himself. He lost the only game he managed, and after a one-game tenure by Bristol’s assistant Vern Benson, Turner hired Bristol back for the remainder of the season. But the season had pretty much already been lost by then.
Turner marketed his team as “America’s team” and, with a run of five pennants in the 1990s, it’s hard to argue with him. But Turner Field (a/k/a “The Ted”) was still a long way from being built back in 1977.
The next stop will be 1978, and another epic season in baseball history.