The Cushion and Weight of a 13-Game Lead

RALPH BRANCA, PITCHER
1951 BROOKLYN DODGERS
Most of us love Ralph. We just don’t want to see him working as our closer for the Astros in the 2017 Post-Season. We also reserve the right to change our minds in October.

 

Our wonderful Astros baseball icon, SABR Chapter namesake, history colleague, and fun-to-be-with baseball friend – Larry Dierker – asked this question of me as a comment at today’s Baseball’s Loudest Pin Drop Falls Again column:

“Have you checked where the ’51 Giants were (this date in history) compared to the current Astros? This may be our chance to make history.”

I knew in general, but I did the checking. And here’s precisely what I found about yesterday’s date in history for the 1951 National League and this year’s 2017 American League West Division:

NL STANDINGS THRU 8/11/1951

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
BRO 70 36 .660 618 458 .634
NYG 59 51 .536 13.0 561 504 .549
PHI 58 52 .527 14.0 509 453 .553
STL 51 53 .490 18.0 447 491 .457
BSN 51 55 .481 19.0 498 456 .540
CIN 49 58 .458 21.5 411 490 .420
CHC 46 59 .438 23.5 443 508 .438
PIT 44 64 .407 27.0 506 633 .399

AL WEST DIVISION STNDINGS THRU 8/11/2017

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
HOU 71 44 .617 668 510 .621
LAA 59 58 .504 13.0 501 510 .492
SEA 59 58 .504 13.0 554 560 .495
TEX 55 59 .482 15.5 560 554 .505
OAK 51 65 .440 20.5 505 603 .420

My Answer to Larry Dierker (and I’m responding here for the first time): Dierk, sad as it seems, the best chance for replicating the amazing comeback of the ’51 NYY Giants now mathematically belongs equally to either the 2017 LA Angels or the 2017 Seattle Mariners. Unfortunately, the success of either would leave the door open for the Astros to make history by repeating  the crash and burn failure of the ’51 Brooklyn Dodgers – via something equivalently cruel as Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” at the Polo Grounds and – look – we don’t want any part of that kind of history-making.

Please, baseball gods. Spare us that one. We don’t want it in base form – and we sure as hell don’t want it in all the cruel ways that baseball sometimes tailor customizes the pain of major disappointment.

Right, Ralph Branca?

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

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2 Responses to “The Cushion and Weight of a 13-Game Lead”

  1. bhick6 Says:

    Now that we have the benefit of hindsight, there is not only the aspect of the relative performance of the ’51 Dodgers and Giants over the last ten weeks of the season. There is also the question of the Giants’ use of a telescope to steal signs during that period. Let’s hope nothing like that enters the equation again.

    Bill Hickman

  2. Larry Dierker Says:

    The schedule was only 154 games in 1951so the teams chasing the Astros this year have a few more games to catch them. However, if memory serves, the last comeback of that magnitude was the 1914 Braves. I’d bet my bottom dollar that the 17 Astros win their division.

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