World Series Appearances Could Lead to Future Disasters
Looking at the standings this morning, you see the Phillies in last place five years removed from consecutive appearances in the World Series and six years removed from winning it all.
While some teams have quickly fallen to very bad regular season records in a shorter amount of time, what is telling is the number of teams that win and want to keep winning, or come this close to winning like the 2005 Astros, which hang on too long to certain players and aggressively go after other older free agents, while neglecting to maintain a healthy pipeline of future talent from the minor leagues. The result is a team that 5-7 years later is unwatchable by even the most loyal of baseball loving fans.
The last 40 years of results should be a story of caution to any baseball executive that short changes the player development pipeline during periods of extended success at the major league level. It makes it clear that resources must be deployed to take advantage of the draft even if picks are not coming from the top 20 in the first round and it clearly means that stronger international programs should be the main goal for any team but especially winning teams that don’t get the top amateur picks in June.
The Athletics were a dynasty from 1971-75 with three straight World Series wins from 1972-74. By the end of the decade, Oakland was one of the worst teams in baseball and yes while the owner contributed to that process, even if the team had not been broken up, there would have been some decline which might have made the Oakland clubs of the early 1980’s worse than they would turn out to be.
The Reds were one of baseball’s best teams in the 1970’s, winning in 1975-76, but times would be very tuff in 1982-83 in Cincinnati.
The Pirates won the 1979 World Series and they were competitive through 1983, but the team began to fall apart in 1984 and the franchise hit rock bottom in 1985-86, before surprising many and finishing near .500 in 1987, a preview of success that would follow in 1988 and 1990-92.
The Phillies won the World Series in 1980 and lost it to the Orioles in 1983. Both would enter major decline afterward, Philly would not win more than 82 games in a season accept in 1986, but that year their 87-75 mark was an afterthought as the Mets ran away winning 108. Philly had a surprise run in 1993 but no regular success would come to the franchise until the turn of the century. The Orioles went from 1983 champions and winning seasons in 1984-85, to a second half collapse in 1986 and by 1988 a record worst 0-21 start to the season, losing 107 games.
The Tigers were 35-5 to start 1984 and they would roll to championship glory. They would contend through 1988, but lose 103 games in 1989 and despite teasing fans in 1991 and 1993, the team would never find its winning ways on a regular basis again until 2006. I would worry about 2019-2021 if I were a Detroit fan now.
The Royals won it all in 1985 and have not seen postseason since then. KC did not have a dramatic decline like some of the teams mentioned here, but eventually the winning ways left KC and only recently have the Royals moved back into a discussion as a postseason candidate. The Cardinals team they beat would lose another series in ’87, St. Louis would then go into a bit of a decline though not dramatic like some other franchises mentioned above. The Cardinals have been a model of consistent play since 1996.
The 1986 Mets would win it all and be great through 1988, but 1989 began to show the first signs of possible decline, which were on full display by 1991 and in 1993, the Mets lost 109, by far more than either of that seasons expansion teams, the Rockies and Marlins both did not even hit the century mark in the loss column.
The Twins won it all in 1987 and ’91, but 1993 began a long term period of bad baseball in Minneapolis and other than a decent 1996 twins team, they would not be truly relevant again until 2001.
The Dodgers had that most memorable 1988 world Series victory, starting with what we all remember as the ending of the opening act. “High fly ball in to right field, she is gone!!!!!” By 1992, the Dodgers were a 99 loss franchise that had hit rock bottom, but the rebound would be quicker for LA as they were back in postseason in ’95.
The Reds make this list again, winning it all in 1990 after several better seasons from 1985-88. The team would have some success through 1995, surprise many as a 1999 contender and the team had a winning 2000 season, but 2001-2009 was a forgettable time in Cincinnati baseball. The Reds are good again these days, but if the team doesn’t see a World Series in the next 2-3 seasons, it won’t be remembered as a decline could be on the way if the system does not improve in the minors.
Back to the Athletics, they had lost in 1990 to Cincinnati after a 1989 championship. They would be great through 1992, have a run of six bad seasons, and we all know the up and down history of Oakland since 1999 as that franchise is run by one of the most capable GM’s in all of baseball.
The 1990’s best teams were probably the two main exceptions to the rule as the Braves and Yankees kept winning and winning and winning. But even the tide would turn somewhat for the Braves as a down period came to the franchise from 2006-09. The Yankees would seem to finally be in some decline now following the 2009 championship and a period of difficult times that remind some of the 1990-1992 period in Yankee history could be on the horizon.
The Blue Jays won it all in 1992-93, Toronto has never won more than 88 games since then and is awaiting its first playoff appearance since ’93. The franchise never hit rock bottom which in a way might have prolonged that very process of not getting into postseason.
The Nationals would have been one of the great 1994 stories when they were still the Montreal Expos, the strike happened that year. Soon after the team would be broken up and other than teasing seasons of 1996 and 2002-03, the franchise never really contended until 2012, though the 2005 team in Washington got off to a lucky start and held as much as a five game lead into July.
The Indians were great from 1994-2001, the model franchise that brought us into the world of developing a core of players together and then bringing them on to the big league seen together. The team would have a sharp decline from 2002-06 following World Series losses in 1995 and 1997. Cleveland had 90+ winning teams in 2007 and 2013.
The Padres had a run of success in the late 1990’s which was the best in team history. San Diego never hit the bottom following a 1984 World Series loss until the team was truly stripped down in 1993. By 1995 it was clear improvement was coming and it resulted in 1996 and 1998 division titles, a World Series loss by the team in ’98 and what seemed to be future success. The Padres would take a few steps back and forth, get to the playoffs in a weak NL West in 2005-06, suffer a dramatic ending to their hopes of October baseball in 2007 which in terms of record was the best team since ’98, only to repeat the same feat in 2010. It may be time for a total reset in San Diego.
The Diamondbacks were a 1998 expansion team, a 2001 world champion, and a 2004 111 loss team that had the worst mark of any team outside Detroit’s 2003 club and matched by Houston in 2013. Arizona has been up and down since then, winning division titles in 2007 and 2011.
The Angels have been a relatively successful team since they won it all in 2002. Worry in Anaheim though, as the farm system is not strong and this team is getting old. It may not be that much fun at the Big A come 2016.
The Marlins are another team that can’t fit on this list like the Braves and Yankees, because the Marlins are the classic case of build a nice house, tear it down five years later and start all over, then after another few years, do it yet again. They won it all in 1997, tore it down, came back to win in 2003, tore it down after 2005, contended in 2008, went for it in 2012 and then tore down yet again. Could Miami repeat 2003 in say 2015-16? If they do, what is 2017, a contending team or a stripped down outfit. Who knows.
Then there are the Astros, a team that was a contender through the 80’s, started over in 1991 but quickly came back to being respectable by 1993 and a contender through 2005. The team would get to the World Series and lose in 2005 and with an aging team, right then should have been the time to reset. Instead no major young talent would develop and a late 2008 push would bring about false hope. The team was torn to the ground and since 2011 it has been one of the jokes of baseball. The jury is out on how well this team may perform long term over the next 3-5 years, but success needs to begin soon at the big league level or the current regime may be out the door.
Which brings us finally to the Phillies, a team that had been so close to October baseball in the period from 2004-2006, finally breaking through in 2007 and winning it all in 2008. Philly though like Houston kept its franchise faces and now with an old team and a lack of young talent coming up from the farm, the future seems very bleak in the City of Brotherly Love. It could be several years before times are good again and until then, you may hear lots of booing from Philly as their team struggles to find its way. The Phillies would be well served to eat some contracts and start all over, now!