The .700 club is baseball’s most elite circle

Football, basketball and hockey teams regularly finish with a .700 winning percentage. In the NFL for instance, 12 wins in 16 games accounts for .750. The Warriors finished with an .890 winning percentage this past season and the Spurs were .817. One more win would have put the Cavs over .700 as well. And in the NHL, a league which doesn’t count overtime losses as losses, good teams often boast winning percentages of .700 or better.

Baseball with its 162-game schedule is a different breed. To finish at .700 or above, teams must win a minimum of 114 games. The Cubs are challenging .700 in the early days of the season, and if they keep up the pace they could become the first team to have a .700 plus record in 15 years….and the first National League team to reach those heights in 107 years.

Throughout baseball’s long history, only nine teams have finished .700 or above. Here they are:

The .700 club

1906 Cubs 116-36 .763

1907 Cubs 107-45 .704

1909 Pirates 110-42 .724

1927 Yankees 110-44 .714

1931 A’s 107-45 .704

1939 Yankees 106-45 .702

1954 Indians 111-43 .721

1998 Yankees 114-48 .704

2001 Mariners 116-46 .716

The first three teams to achieve the feat were all NL clubs; the next six all AL. Yet only five of those nine teams went on to win the World Series.

The 1906 Cubs, pictured above, recorded the best regular season in history with 116 wins and a .763 winning percentage….yet lost the World Series to their cross-town rivals, the White Sox, aka the Hitless Wonders, in six games.

The next year the Cubs wound up with a .704 percentage, and swept the Tigers in the World Series (with one tie). The Cubs repeated as World Champs in 1908 – and haven’t won since.

In 1909 the Pirates won 110 games and took out Detroit in a seven-game World Series.

Three times the Yankees finished with .700 plus winning percentages — in 1927, 1939 and 1998. The Bronx Bombers followed through with World Series sweeps each time.

The Mariners set the AL record with 116 wins good for a .716 winning percentage in 2001, yet lost the ALCS to the Yankees in five games.

In 1954, the Indians win 111 games in a 154-game season, establishing the AL win percentage record at .721. Yet Cleveland was swept by the New York Giants in the World Series.

Finally, in 1931 the A’s won 107 games, but lost the World Series to the Cardinals in seven games.

One Wild and Crazy Night

Move over Bobby Thomson, you’ve got company. Meet Evan Longoria.

Go crazy folks! Go crazy!

Those were the words late announcer Jack Buck used to describe an implausible game-winning home run by shortstop Ozzie Smith in the 1985 National League playoffs.

Crazy sums up the final night of the baseball season, when the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals overcame improbably long odds and huge September deficits to waltz into the post-season as wild cards.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Colossal Collapse I
The Boston Red Sox became the first team in history to lose a nine-game September lead and fail to make the playoffs. Boston led Tampa Bay by nine games on September 3, but won just seven of 27 in September and allowed the Rays to win the wild card on the final day of the season.

Colossal Collapse II
While the Red Sox were melting down in the American League, the Braves were doing virtually the same in the National League wild-card race. The Braves were 9-18 in September. St. Louis trailed the Braves by 10 1/2 in late August, 8 1/2 on September 6, and by three with five games to play.

Philadelphia Freedom
Until now, the Phillies were the poster boys for September ineptitude. In 1964, Philadelphia lost a 8 1/2 game lead in September. That year the foldin’ Phils led the Cards and Reds by 6 1/2 games with just 12 to go, then lost 10 in a row and ended up one game back in a tie for second with the Reds, despite winning their last two games. St. Louis went on to win the World Series.

Oh So Close
The Red Sox were one strike away from beating the Orioles and at least earning a tie and forcing a one-game playoff for the wild card before falling to the Orioles. Boston had been 77-0 this year when leading after eight innings.

The Rays, who overcame a seven-run deficit, were one strike away from falling to the Yankees before Dan Johnson’s home run tied the game in the ninth. Tampa won in the 12th inning on Evan Longoria’s second home run of the game. The Yankees had not blown a seven-run lead in the eighth inning or later since 1953.

And the Braves lost a one-run lead to the Phillies with two outs in the ninth before eventually losing in 13 innings.

The Shot Heard Round the World
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Longoria’s homer marked only the second time in history a walk-off home run in the final regular season game propelled a team into the playoffs. The other was Bobby Thomson’s famous home run that gave the New York Giants a win over the Brooklyn Dodgers in a playoff for the 1951 National League pennant.

Boston, You’re My Home
The Braves once called Boston home before moving to Milwaukee in 1953. Imagine that.

SB XLIII: Roman Numeral Numbness

Some random wild and crazy thoughts while wondering what’s the line that the Boss will play Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) at the Super Bowl.

Kurt Warner, whose Cardinals face the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII, joins Craig Morton as the only quarterbacks to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl.

Morton was terrible in both his starts, with seven interceptions and less than 200 passing yards total in two games. He lost to the Colts, 16-13, while quarterbacking the Cowboys in Super Bowl V.

Seven years later , Morton threw four interceptions before being replaced by Norris Weese as his former club, Dallas, slashed the Broncos, 27-10, in Super Bowl XII.

Warner fared much better. He threw for 414 yards and two touchdowns and was named MVP in helping the Rams beat the Titans, 23-16, in SB XXXIV.

Two years later the Rams lost to the Patriots, but Warner still passed for 365 yards and scored on a two-yard touchdown run.

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger resembled Morton more than Warner in his only Super Bowl appearance. Despite a miserable 9-21, two interception performance, Roethlisberger did rush for a touchdown as the Steelers beat the Seahawks, 21-10.

Here are the Super Bowl passing stats for Morton, Warner, and Big Ben:

SB V                      Att.   Comp.    Yds.   TD   Int.
Morton                   26      12          127     1      3

Morton                  15        4            39      0       4

Warner                  45      24         414     2      0

Warner                  44      28         365     1       2

Roethlisberger     21        9         123     0       2

Roman Numeral Numbness

Is it me, or are we advancing beyond comprehension through the annual use of Roman Numerals to designate Super Bowls? Do the math. Hey listen, I took four years of Latin in high school, but I got lost around about XXXIX.

Some Super Bowl Factoids That May Interest Only Me:

Only 13 of the previous 42 Super Bowls have been decided by seven points or less.

But lately, there have been some close games. Six of the last 11 games have been decided by a touchdown or less

And in the last seven years, all four Patriots’ Super Bowls, including the 17-14 loss to the Giants last year, were decided by field goals. The Pats won the other three.

The NFC holds a slight lead over the AFC, 22-20, in Super Bowl titles.

The NFC won 13 straight between SB XIX and SBr XXXI; the AFC has won eight of eleven championships since then.

And finally…..

My multi-petaflop supercomputer crunched the numbers and spit out the result: Cardinals 27, Steelers 24… in overtime.

Free Football: Hoping Super Bowl Works OT

Who are you rooting for Sunday, Cardinals or Steelers?

I’m rooting for overtime.

Actually, I’m rooting for a good Super Bowl game with historic ramifications. Overtime would practically guarantee both.

I have little rooting interest in either the Cardinals or the Steelers. Oh sure, the  Cardinals would be a Cinderella story. It’s like having the St. Louis Browns… or Tampa Bay Rays…win the World Series.

But I don’t know a single person who is an Arizona Cardinals fan.

On the other hand, I know plenty of Steelers fans, some of whom will be on Tampa this Sunday. The Steelers have a tremendous national following. That’s what five Super Bowl rings do for a team.

I’m rooting for a good game, a close game, an exciting game. I’m rooting for overtime.

It’s been 50 seasons since the first, last and only NFL championship game to end in overtime. That game, between the Colts and Giants in 1958, has been called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

We’re long overdue for another.

And remember, if Super Bowl XLIII goes into overtime, you heard it here first.

Impress Your Friends with Football Factoids

Impress your friends, win bets, make money with these 10 NFL tidbits:

The Giants, coming off the best Super Bowl ever, are the only team in the NFL to have beaten the Steelers, Ravens, Eagles and Cardinals this year.

The Cardinals are one of six teams never to have played in a Super Bowl. The Lions, Saints, Jaguars, Texans and Browns are the others.

Now that the Cardinals are playing for the NFC title, only the Texans have never made at least a conference championship game since the Super Bowl began..

The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl. Philadelphia lost Super Bowl XV to the Raiders, 27-10, and Super Bowl XXXIX to the Patriots, 24-21.

Super Bowl XXLIII certainty: The NFC will have an entrant that has never won a Super Bowl. Never ever.

The Ravens won the only Super Bowl they played, beating the Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV.

The Steelers are tied with the Cowboys and 49ers for most Super Bowl championships — five.

A Philadelphia-Pittsburgh all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl would mark only the third occasion where two teams from the same state faced off for the NFL’s ultimate prize. Giants-Bills in Super Bowl XXV and 49ers-Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX were the others.

A Philadelphia win in the Super Bowl would give the NFC East 12 championships, twice as many as any other division.

No team has ever played a Super Bowl at home. Next year’s game is scheduled for Dolphin Stadium in Miami.