5 Worst Recent September Collapses

ALSO: TORONTO HITTERS TERRORIZE AMERICAN LEAGUE PITCHING STAFFS

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Readers React

BEGGING TO DIFFER

K.P. Wee’s suggestion that the use of the word “idiot” is in some way morally tantamount to Jonah Keri’s serially violent domestic abuse, including threats to murder his wife, is horrifying.

The use of the word “idiot” is not laudable, but it is not intrinsically bullying; and even when it has the effect of bullying, to suggest that it is in any way comparable to or redolent of domestic violence is to minimize domestic violence.

–-Alex Remington

ON 9/11 AND COOPERSTOWN SPEECHES

Dan Schlossberg’s piece Friday morning memorializing 'our' game and 9/11 was outstanding. He certainly captured the essence of the heartfelt feeling of a whole bunch of people, both in the game and out. Good on ya!

Hope you had a good time in Cooperstown. To think about what could have been and what was is a little mind-boggling. I looked out upon the hills and thought had there not been pandemic issues another 50 or 60,000 people would have filled that space.

I thought Ted Simmons' speech was literally one of the BEST in the history of acceptance speeches EVER. Larry Walker was really great with a ton of personality shining through, Jeter was Jeter, just easy, natural and beautiful.

I also thought Don Fehr did a disservice to Marvin Miller with the long litany of verbiage. Yes, in my opinion, Miller certainly deserves a plaque on the walk. We all know why. But with the history of his family's rail about how long it took for his Induction, one would have thought Fehr would have just said a few words, cited concisely his demeanor and professionalism getting his job done for his clients and moved on. Now instead of Miller being memorialized for his contribution to the players in baseball, he'll be remembered for Fehr's very long and laborious speech.

--Al Clark

The writer was a major-league umpire for 26 years, from 1976-2001.

ZAIDI OVER ANTHOPOULOS?

Good stuff as always, but my vote for top exec goes to the SF Giants Farhan Zaidi. No one expected the Giants to be any good. They also play in a much tougher division.

--Bill Beck

Before he retired in Arizona, Bill Beck was traveling secretary and broadcaster for the Marlins.


Pregame Pepper

Did You Know?

Even though he hasn’t played since the All-Star break, Ronald Acuna, Jr. leads the Atlanta Braves with a .596 slugging percentage . . .

Atlanta’s other injured slugger, Marcell Ozuna, has reached a plea agreement that could result in all assault charges against him being dropped — though MLB is continuing its investigation of his alleged domestic violence against wife Genesis . . .

Freddie Freeman, who always does something special on his birthday, homered to give the Braves a big insurance run in their 5-3 win over Miami on Sunday, his 32nd birthday . . .

Just last week, Amed Rosario had a .744 OPS in Cleveland while fellow shortstop Francisco Lindor, the man for whom he was traded, had a .702 OPS with the Mets . . .

Tampa Bay’s ancient warrior, 41-year-old Nelson Cruz, is the oldest player ever to produce a 30-homer season . . .

Speaking of ancient warriors, Albert Pujols hit a home run for the Dodgers in his return to his old stomping grounds, Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Leading Off

Five Biggest September Collapses In Recent Baseball History

By John Supowitz

As we head into the final month of the season, there are still plenty of teams with a chance to play October baseball. There are also teams that may think they have a comfortable lead, but we've seen the game is unpredictable.


There have been some epic collapses in MLB history; the 1969 Cubs, whose failure at the end of the season led to The Miracle Mets, or the 1978 Red Sox, where a 6.5-game lead on September 1st led to the nickname Bucky Bleepin' Dent.

We can go all way back and find teams with deplorable Septembers, but we've seen it in recent history; here are some of the most recent September collapses.

2011 Red Sox
The Red Sox had the second-best record going into September and a nine-game lead in the AL East but would go on to lose 20 of 27 games that month, even failing to win consecutive games.

Boston still had a chance to win the division on the last day. They were up 3-2 with two outs in the ninth inning until Nolan Reimold hit an RBI double to tie the game, and Robert Andino had an RBI single to win it and end the Red Sox season. That would completely change the organization. The team cut ties with popular players, manager Terry Francona was fired, and GM Theo Epstein left for the Chicago Cubs.

2011 Braves
Not only did we watch one team have an epic collapse in 2011, but there were two collapses that both culminated on the last day of the regular season. The Atlanta Braves had an 8.5-game lead in the wild-card heading into September. Their 8-18 record destroyed that lead, but the Braves still had a chance to get into the playoffs. They had a three-game lead over the Cardinals with five games left. Atlanta lost the first four, heading into a tie on the final day. The Braves would lose that final game in epic fashion; the Phillies tied the game in the ninth inning and won it in the 13th to send the Braves home for the winter.

2007 Mets
The Mets were coming off a season in which they lost in a heartbreaking seven games in the NLCS. Going into September 13th, they owned a seven-game lead in the NL East. That lead would cut down to 1.5 games with seven to go. The Mets were playing at home against teams with under .500 records; everything was in their favor to win the division. They would lose six of those games to not only lose the NL East to the Phillies, but a wild-card spot to the Rockies and Padres by one game.

2009 Tigers
This was a great Tigers team that had been in the World Series just three years prior. They held a three-game lead with just four to play. They would go on to lose three of the last four by a combined score of 21-4. A win in the final game would have helped the Tigers force a one-game tiebreaker on the road against the Twins. In that game, they had an early 3-0 lead before allowing the Twins to score four. Minnesota would go on to win that game in extra innings.

2012 Rangers
The Rangers were coming off back-to-back American League pennants and were favored to do it again. They just needed to win one game in a three-game series in Oakland, and they couldn't get it. They would be swept, and Oakland would win the division; it was the only day they actually led the AL West. Texas would still claim the wild card but would lose to the Orioles in the NLDS.

John Supowitz is a graduate of Quinnipiac University with a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism. He is currently at college football writer for NBC Sports and a game operations producer for the Colorado Rockies AA affiliate Hartford Yard Goats. E.mail him at john.supowitz@gmail.com.

Cleaning Up

Toronto Blue Jays Bury All Comers

By Dan Schlossberg

If anybody is cleaning up in Major League Baseball lately, it has to be the Toronto Blue Jays.

In Baltimore over this past weekend, they actually scored 29 runs over a four-inning span.

Say what?

Held hitless by Keegan Akin in the first six innings of a seven-inning doubleheader nightcap Saturday night, the Jays erupted for 11 hits and 11 runs, fueled by a four-homer barrage, and dealt the hapless Baltimore Orioles another one-sided defeat. Then they won a single game Sunday, 22-7, after piling up most of their runs in the early innings.

In their four-game series at Camden Yards, the Jays scored three, 11, 11 and 22, in that order, to set a club record for most runs in a four-game (47), five more than their previous best.

These Jays can hit; 22-year-old Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. is making a serious bid for a Triple Crown, last won by Miguel Cabrera of the 2012 Detroit Tigers. He has 44 home runs, tied with Shohei Ohtani of the Angels for most in the major leagues.

But the biggest bat Sunday was carried by Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., who belted a club-record fourth grand-slam of the season and added a two-run shot later in the game. He also had three walks — one with the bases full to give him seven runs batted in.

Teoscar Hernandez also had a grand-slam, pushing him into a tie for the team RBI lead with Guerrero. Both have 102. Hernandez now has 27 homers.

After their fireworks in Baltimore, the Jays have won 14 of their last 16 and tied the Boston Red Sox for the top wild-card spot in the American League. Toronto is 80-63 while Boston is 81-64. Hot on their heels are the struggling Yankees, surprising Mariners, and steady Oakland A’s.

Only once before have the Jays topped their 22-run barrage; they once scored 24 — a goal that seems to be within reach considering the way this team is clicking.

“I’ve been in the game for 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like this, scoring that many runs back-to-back,” said Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo after the game Sunday. “When you do what we did yesterday, you usually show up today and score four or five. But to score 22? That’s impressive.”

Returning to Rogers Centre has revived the Jays, who opened this season at their Dunedin, FL spring training site and then moved to Buffalo’s Sahlen Field while Ontario enforced Covid protocols. If Toronto reaches the postseason, rival pitchers will have their work cut out for them.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg, the author of 38 baseball books, covers the game for Here’s The Pitch, forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Ball Nine, and others. His e.mail is ballauthor@gmail.com.

Timeless Trivia

Until the last week of his career, Derek Jeter played in just one game in which the Yankees had been eliminated from postseason play . . .

Proving consistency counts, Jeter hit .310 with an .817 OPS in 2,747 regular-season games and .308 with an .838 OPS in 158 postseason games . . .

Jeter won MVP awards for the All-Star Game and World Series but not for the regular season, though he had eight Top-10 finishes in his career . . .

As a rookie in 1996, Jeter led the Yankees to the world championship by batting .361 in the postseason . . .

Jeter is the 28th Hall of Famer whose primary team was the Yankees — and the ninth to spend his entire career in pinstripes.


Know Your Editors

HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [bchrom831@gmail.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [nymfan97@gmail.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [ballauthor@gmail.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.

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