Baseball is, at its best, a beautiful game. Ideally, fans want to tune in to check on their team as they relax and enjoy the game.
Unfortunately, sport is a harsh game, and sometimes the only fun comes from talking of trades and the rewards of tanking, because the future was (and is) the only hope for the worst MLB teams ever, and the following stories describe the nightmares.
2023 Oakland Athletics: Broadcast Booth Possums
The Athletics have been outright bad this year, and that could be an understatement. Despite an awesome "reverse boycott" night and a seven-game win streak that rocked Oakland, the A's are still a paltry 19-50. They could be competing with the current worst team in the history of the 162-game schedule, the 2003 Detroit Tigers (43-119).
With an empty Oakland Coliseum that typically seats less than 9,000 fans, even the media in the press box of the stadium haven't been safe from the dread of the site. Earlier in the year, New York Mets broadcasters Gary Cohen and Ron Darling were forced out of the typical visiting broadcast booth at the stadium as a possum had moved into the space.
Last night, Gary and Ron shared the story of how they got moved out of the visiting television booth thanks to a possum ? pic.twitter.com/t3aK3siEzT
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 15, 2023
"Apparently, the booth reeked so badly of possum leavings that an executive decision was made to move us to this booth, which is so much smaller and has, you know, a few impediments," Cohen told viewers the night of the broadcast.
Given the state of the team, fans in Oakland can only hope the possums will spark some sort of rally, but it's likely not even that will keep the team in Oakland.
2018 Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis Finishes With Worst Batting Average in MLB History
Anyone looking at all the bad teams in sports will find a commonality. Players aren't playing as well as they need to or as fans and management would like.
But there are levels to everything, and in 2018 Chris Davis really plummeted from what he was at his best. Baltimore's first baseman hit a measly .168 in 470 at bats in 2018. Things got so bad that Davis hit 1-for-37 before sitting down for the season late in September. When Davis shut it down at the end of the season, it was not due to injury but simply due to poor play.
Davis' .168 batting average finished dead last in baseball history for players who had at least 502 plate appearances, the number necessary to qualify for the batting title. The next worse season was Dan Uggla's 2013 campaign with the Atlanta Braves, when the second baseman finished with a batting average of .179.
The cherry on top of a mountain of disappointment, the Orioles had a serious amount of capital dedicated to Davis' poor performance. Baltimore handed the slugger a $161 million extension in 2016. After the Orioles infielder retired in 2021, the team elected to defer his contract and it paid him $14.8 million earlier in 2023 and will pay Davis millions more each year until 2037.
1935 Boston Braves: Babe Ruth's Career Ends the Way it Started
A trade that will live in Boston sports infamy, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in January of 1920. In hindsight, anybody would say Frazee made a ridiculous decision, but the owner was desperate for cash as his team had not performed very well in 1919. The Red Sox finished 66-71, sixth in the American League.
Ruth clobbered a steady 659 home runs in 15 seasons with the Yankees but he decided to wrap his career up with the Boston Braves. When he took the offer with the Braves, Ruth accepted a deal to serve as the team's vice president and assistant manager.
In position for a big payday, Ruth walked away from a poorly performing Braves team, who finished with a brutal 38-115 record, much worse than the Red Sox team he left. The reason? Ruth felt he was not receiving the financial deal that he was promised from team president Judge Emil Fuchs.
"Judge Fuchs is a double-crosser. His word is no good. He doesn't keep his promises. I don't want another damn thing from him - the dirty-double crosser," Ruth said via a report from TIME in 1935.
Boston teams had the Great Bambino not once but twice, and each time they couldn't keep the greatest player in the game's history because of financial complications.
1889 Louisville Colonels: Fines for Poor Play
The players in today's game are treated to a certain standard. Though the Athletics have not played well, each player on the roster is still going to be paid and will have a nice hotel room when they go on the road.
Now imagine, if you will, being told your error is coming out of your paycheck. During a depressing 26-game losing streak (the current Major League record), owner Mordecai Davidson felt financial punishment was necessary for his players.
In one such instance, Davidson fined catcher Paul Cook for "stupid base running" and second baseman Dan Shannon for "a fumble and a disastrous wild throw." Both players were fined $25, half the number the fines would be increased to later in the season after players signed a petition against Davidson and his fines. Considering the highest-paid player in the game in 1889 (Fred Dunlap) made only $5,000, any fine would be of detriment.
On June 15, 1889, players Guy Hecker, Pete Browning, Dan Shannon, Harry Raymond, Red Ehret and Paul Cook all decided they would go on strike and refused to take the field for the game against the Baltimore Orioles. Once players returned to Louisville on June 21, several were given very little. Despite leading the team in batting average, Browning owed his owner $325.
In early July, Davidson sold his franchise to the American Association and the new ownership paid the players back their fines.
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