I was reading an online article about… something. I don’t remember, and it really doesn’t matter. What matters within the context of this post was the exchange that went on in the comments section of this article.
The scintillating exchange of ideas went something like this:
Yankee Fan: Yankee Fans are the most loyal fans in all of baseball!
Yankee Hater: How can you say that Yankee fans are truly loyal when they have never been put to the test in terms of suffering through a bad team?
Yankee Fan: The Yankees have been bad… Late 1960’s, late 1980’s.
Yankee Hater: The Yankees have been mediocre in the past, they’ve never been BAD.
Yankee Fan: Yeah, we’ll you’re a poophead!
Yankee Hater: Poop on you!
Yankee Fan: Double-poop on you!
It was at this dramatic juncture in the debate that I started to wonder; Have the Yankees ever been truly bad? Did it last long? What was the worst extended period of losing in the last 50 Yankee seasons? How about since Babe Ruth joined the team in 1920?
So I hit the books, figuratively speaking, and found out some very interesting stuff… and got a handle on why there’s a play called “Damn Yankees”.
First off, and this is the part that truly astounded me, from 1926 to 1965, the Yankees never had a losing season. I mean, I knew they won a ton of pennants and World Series during that period, but to never have a single losing season out of 40 straight …it’s just hard to wrap one’s brain around that.
If you extend that back to 1920, the year the Yankees acquired Ruth, then you can throw one losing season in there: 1925, when the Yankees went 69-85 and finished in 7th place.
OK, you don’t need me to tell you how wonderful, historic and blah blah blah the Yankees are, there are millions of Yankee fans who will gladly share that with you. What I wanted to find out was what the worst period of Yankees baseball has been over the past 90+ years.
For the purposes of this exercise, I defined “the worst period” as being the three year period with the lowest winning percentage.
…And the winner, so to speak, are the three years from 1989 to 1991, with a three-year winning percentage of .437.
Also, the longest string of losing seasons in post-Ruth-acquisition Yankee history are the four years from 1989 to 1992.
Finally, the worst Yankee team of the past 100 years was the 1990 Yankees who went 67-95 and finished in 7th. I’m pretty sure I knew this at the time, but I’d forgotten it over the past 24 years.
To be honest, I was a bit dismayed by this… I mean, if I realized just how historic such a period of Yankee mediocrity was, I would’ve made a point of enjoying it more than I had.
…Not that I didn’t enjoy it. Believe me, I did.
The second worst period of the past 90 Yankee seasons was 1965 to 1967, when they lost 85, 89 and 90 games.
Could we be on the verge of a similar Yankee slide? Remember, the Yankees are 26-31 in games that don’t involve Masahiro Tanaka, plus the only starting position player under the age of 30 is Yangervis Solarte.
Hey, we can always dream.
….and I promise to savor it the next time it comes around.