Well, as I write this entry I find myself in much the same situation as I did while writing my previous entry: in the midst of a bad losing streak and not pitching to the standards I like to hold myself to. While I certainly wouldn’t argue that I’ve been throwing the ball well, what is rather maddening is that I have pitched fairly well overall but been bitten in the butt by a small number of poorly timed costly mistakes. However, it is encouraging to realize that I’m not that far from getting things dialed in and putting up some zeroes.
We certainly haven’t been playing particularly well in any of the three phases of the game, but the effort level is still there on the part of the players and coaches so hopefully the worm will turn sometime soon. Sadly, I have more experience than I would really prefer when it comes to enduring awful losing streaks. After winning the North Central Conference title at North Dakota State in 2004 I went to Mankato, MN to play for the MoonDogs in the Northwoods League for the summer (with future minor league teammate and pitcher Kevin Dixon hitting cleanup). We promptly went 21-43, including a four game winning streak to avoid having the worst record in the league’s history. Upon returning to NDSU, my teammates and I endured what could only be described as sheer agony in NDSU’s first season in Division-I, going 10-43-1 in a season that featured a 0-22-1 start and a total run differential of minus 225. For those of you too busy cringing to do the math that totals up to 31-86-1 in a 118 game stretch. I–along with current Rafter teammates Russell Mitchell, Erik Stiller, Chad Tracy and Jamie Hoffman–also had a rough go of it in the Hawaii Winter League last year at 13-24. Ah, the memories.
In an attempt to keep things light-hearted and in their proper perspective, I would like to share with you the five worst sports teams of all-time. Your 2008 Surprise Rafters are on the verge of turning things around, but these teams just made your stomach turn.
5. 1991-92 Minnesota Timberwolves, 15-67
This team was so bad that it made later fans of the awful Christian Laettner-era T-Wolves point to this team and claim improvement. In assembling this team the front office neglected rule #1 of professional sports: your best player should never be named Pooh.
4. 2001 Carolina Panthers, 1-15
Another terrible team with a Minnesota connection, the 2001 Panthers–led by St. Paul native Chris Weinke–is the only NFL team ever to win its first game (over who else, the Vikings) and lose its final 15.
3. 1979-82 Northwestern Football
They lost 34 straight games (a 1-A record) and got outscored by 40+ points per game in a winless 1981 season. Combine that with purple uniforms and it just isn’t pretty.
2. 1899 Cleveland Spiders, 20-134
This team never really had a chance. Their owners bought the St. Louis Browns after the Browns posted a then-worst ever record of 39-111 (.260) and “traded” all of Cleveland’s good players, including Cy Young to St. Louis. The result, a MLB all-time worst .130 win percentage, 6 ten-plus game losing streaks and a 1-40 stretch to end the season. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
1. 1976 Tampa Bay Bucaneers, 0-14
I wonder if Steve Spurrier puts this down on his resume? They got outscored by 285 points on the season, got shut out five times and had by far the worst uniforms in the history of professional sports. They also managed to go winless for the first 12 games of the following season, which is almost impressively futile.
Well, that’s it for this week. I’ve got some plans to get out and see a bit of the area this weekend so look for that as well as updates on the winning streak we are hopefully about to start in the next installment.
Hey, back again for another installment. At the moment our record stands at 4-10 and this week hasn’t been real kind to us as we’ve gone 0-3 and gotten outscored 44-5 including a 28-1 loss on Monday. Let’s just say it’s been more Roy Munson than Thurman Munson so far this week, but I’m sure we’ll pull it together and start playing better soon.
Thus far the Fall League experience has been pretty good. I’m living with Erik Stiller and Chuck Lofgren at Chuck’s house in Mesa. Chuck’s place is really nice and living with Erik (who I lived with in Hawaii last year as well) and Chuck (one of the biggest goofballs in the business) has been great and rarely dull, but there is the significant drawback of being about an hour away from our home field in Surprise. In an attempt to be a bit more eco-friendly we’ve been carpooling with Wes Hodges and Stephen Head, and I imagine we look rather comical with Erik (6’5″), Chuck (6’3″), Wes (6’3″) and Stephen (6’3″) and myself packing into a rather small vehicle. By the way, with those four monsters in tow, who do you think gets stuck in the back middle seat most of the time? (I am officially required to complain but it isn’t that bad). We’ve had the good fortune to have Chuck’s parents in town so the three of us have been getting some good home cooked meals which is always nice, especially since they tend to be few and far between during the year.
The on-field experience has been good as well. Obviously we would all prefer to have a better record and be performing a bit more consistently, but playing against this level of competition has been great at forcing me to make adjustments and be on my game. We also have a good group of guys on this team, which helps to keep morale up in the face of the scorching afternoon sun. I’ll be back with more updates and what passes for insight in the upcoming weeks. Catch you later.