Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Most Amazing Season

For this week’s Wild Card Wednesday, we examine what I think may just be the most amazing season ever. What season? The 114-win 1998 New York Yankees? No way. Impressive? Of course. But give Billy Beane double the payroll of every other team, and we’re talking 120 wins. Plus, the Mariners won 116 three years later. How about the 1962 New York Mets and their 120 losses? While perhaps as equally improbable and amazing as 114 wins, the 2003 Detroit Tigers almost toppled them just a few years ago.

The 1988 Baltimore Orioles (0-21 start)?The Amazin’ 1986 New York Mets? The 2004 Boston Red Sox? The 1984 Detroit Tigers?

No, no, no and no. Have you guessed it yet? No? Well, I’m talking about…the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers!

I know what you’re thinking…the 1987 Brewers? What they do? Did they win the World Series? No. Did they even make the playoffs? Nope. However, what they did do is have one of the most amazing seasons, or at least the most amazing start to a season, in baseball history.

It all started on Monday, April 6, 1987 in Milwaukee. Teddy Higuera shut down the Red Sox with seven shutout innings and the Brewers downed their AL East rivals, 5-1.

After an off day, the Brewers won again on Wednesday. The next day they completed the sweep and were off to a solid 3-0 start.

Going on the road to Texas didn’t stop their momentum. The Brew Crew swept that series and were 6-0. Next series with the Orioles led to another sweep. 9-0. In fact, it took over two weeks for the Brewers to finally lose. On April 21, after a 13-0 start, the Brewers suffered their first defeat, falling 7-1 to the White Sox in Chicago.

So, let’s take a pause here. 13-1 start. Obviously, no team can sustain a .929 winning percentage. Certainly, the Brewers would come back to earth.

After their first defeat, they returned home for three against Baltimore. 3 days later, 3 more wins. 16-1. In Anaheim the next day, they win in 12 innings. 17-1.

They take 3 out of their next 5.


Winning 20 out of 23 makes you a good team. Doesn’t make you great, but you have talent. Let’s put it this way…the 2005 Royals aren’t going on a streak like that anytime soon.

20-3 qualifies as one of the best starts ever. Not quite 35-5 like the 1984 Tigers, but 20-3 immediately makes you a contender. And indeed, on May 2, 1987, the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers held a 5 game lead over the New York Yankees.

Unless you are a Brewers’ fan or have a great memory, you probably are not sure what happens next. Of course, I already mentioned they didn’t make the playoffs, so you know they would come back to earth.

Let’s just say the next few weeks weren’t as kind to the Brewers.

They lost the next day. 20-4. And the next. 20-5. And the next. 20-6.

No need to panic.

They then got swept at home by the Mariners. 20-9.

Dropped two more at home to the A’s. 20-11.

Look, still 9 games over. Still in first place (by percentage points over the Yankees).

Swept by the Royals in K.C. 20-14.

Dropped their next one at home against the White Sox. 20-15.

And won the next day! Here we go. 12-game losing streak over.

They win again the next day. Winning streak! 22-15.

Then they lose their next 6. 22-21.

Think about that. A 20-3 start….and then 22-21! Amazing. In a span of 20 games, the Brewers managed to go from 1st place with a 5 game lead to….5th place, 6 games out.

They then went on a 6-game winning streak. 28-21.

And that, my readers, is in my opinion, the most amazing start in baseball history.

The rest of the story is not quite as interesting. For the rest of the season, their longest winning and losing streaks were 5 and 4, respectively. The Brewers finished at 91-71, finishing 3rd behind the Tigers. A solid season, for sure, but hidden in that 91-71 record is perhaps the most amazing first few months in baseball history.

13-0. 17-1. 20-3. 22-21. 28-21.


"Wild Card Wednesdays" appears every Wednesday


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"I've had a pretty good success facing Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third base."
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