Friday, April 28, 2006

Turning 21 With No Hangover

The O's snapped a four-game slide on Thursday, but that streak doesn't hold a candle to the record-setting run in '88; Happy Anniversary, O's fans.

by Matthew Taylor

As they might say on "Pardon the Interruption":

"Happy Anniversary, Orioles fans. Today your team set a new American League record for futility, losing its 21st straight game to open the 1988 season. With a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome the Orioles passed the 1906 Boston Red Sox and the 1916 and 1943 Philadelphia Athletics for consecutive losses in a season. Cal Ripken, Sr. lost his job as the team's skipper six games into the season and was replaced by Frank Robinson, who followed up with 15 straight losses of his own. Hey, Frank, if you think things are bad in D.C. these days, just remember where you were 18 years ago."

The O's had no hangover after loss No. 21, winning, for a change, on April 29, 1988, against the Chicago White Sox. The '88 team fell two losses short of matching the 1961 Phillies for the Major League record (although Wikipedia incorrectly credits Baltimore with the ML record). Just last season the Kansas City Royals threatened to match the O's record losing streak, but, as Frank Robinson comments in this Washington Post article, the Birds will always be "on the hook" for their run of futility to start the season.

Part of Orioles lore, celebrated at the Legends Museum in Baltimore, is that 50,000 fans showed up for the next game at Memorial Stadium to welcome the Birds back to town. The team finished the season 54-107 but followed that up with the magical "Why Not?" effort of 1989, when they won 87 games and finished just two games out of first place after losing to the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend of the season.

Fifty-thousand fans? "Why Not"? I think losing has lost its charm in Charm City. See what our resident casual fan thinks in the posting below.

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