A Winning Tradition

As you probably know, the Nationals clinched a winning record for the 2012 season on September 3rd after beating the Cubs 2-1. This winning record isn’t just any winning record, it’s the first one for a Washington baseball team since 1969. That year, the Senators went 86-76, although they only finished fourth in the AL East. Ok, you say, that’s not surprising that it’s been that long, as there was actually no baseball in town from 1972-2005, so big whoop.

But it is a big whoop (I don’t know what that means) because that was the only winning record that version of the Senators had. And when you go back to the team that became the Twins, their last winning record was 1952, when they went 78-76. In fact, there have only been 20 teams. Here’s the list of teams, their records, and the place they finished in the division:

2012: 83-52 (1st) as of Sept 5
1969: 86-76 (4th)
1952: 78-76 (5th)
1945: 87-67 (2nd)
1943: 84-69 (2nd)
1936: 82-71 (3rd)
1933: 99-53 (1st)
1932: 93-61 (3rd)
1931: 92-62 (3rd)
1930: 94-60 (2nd)
1927: 85-69 (3rd)
1926: 81-69 (4th)
1925: 96-55 (1st)
1924: 92-62 (1st)
1921: 80-73 (4th)
1918: 72-56 (3rd)
1915: 85-68 (4th)
1914: 81-73 (3rd)
1913: 90-64 (2nd)
1912: 91-61 (2nd)

And that’s it. It may seem like a big list, but that is only 20 winning seasons. 20 seasons of a record just better than .500 out of 79 seasons in the city, just over 1/4. That isn’t just bad, it’s awful. They didn’t even finish above 4th place in 5 of those seasons, so without digging too deep, I’d guess those weren’t particularly great teams (For instance, in 1969 they finished 23 games out of first, and were a .500 team as last as mid August). Which leaves 15 decent seasons, although it’s hard to count ’43 and ’45 when the team had stars like Kit Keller and Dottie Hudson, so count those as you will. But it gets worse.

You see, Washington also had a couple of teams before. The Washington Nationals of the 1884 Union Association, the Statesmen of the 1884 American Association, the Nationals of the NL from 1886-1889, and the Senators/Statemen who were in the American Association and the NL from 1891-1899 totaled 15 seasons. And there are exactly zero of those whereby a winning record can be found. That’s right 20 winning seasons in DC out of 94, a whopping 21%. So this is indeed a rarity.

This is as good a time as any to remind everyone that this is the 100th anniversary of the very FIRST winning season in Washington. I know there aren’t many games left, but it’s not impossible for the Nats to honor that season in some way. This was my suggestion earlier, and I’ll just say, it’s not too late?

Beyond winning more than half their games, the Nats, 7 1/2 games up on the second place Braves, stand a good chance of winning their division. That would be only the 4th time in 94 seasons, which makes a winning season here seem almost commonplace. Even so, savor this winning season, because it is certainly a rarity for Washington baseball. Although I have a very good feeling that it will be the new paradigm, at least for a few seasons.

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