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The Seattle Mariners and Losing Streaks

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The Mariners have lost 16 straight and counting. What other losing streaks are out there in pro sports?

The Seattle Mariners and Losing Streaks

Last night, the Seattle Mariners went out with a whimper against the New York Yankees 10-3.  That was their 16th straight loss, a franchise high (and low) in failure that is still going strong.  According to SI.com's Joe Lemire, the Mariners joined an elite group when it comes to losing:

The Mariners' skid has put them near some infamous company. The record for longest losing streak by either an AL or NL team is 24, held by the NL's Cleveland Spiders in 1899. The record since World Series play began in 1903 is 23 games, held by the 1961 Phillies.

Since 1903 there have been only 21 streaks of at least 16 games, according to my research on Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index. The Mariners, who have been in existence since 1977, now have their first such streak, though 17 of the 30 major-league franchises still have never lost that many in a row. (One of those 14, the Pirates, had a 23-game losing streak in 1890.)

The funny thing about this streak is that Seattle was still in the hunt for the AL West lead at the start of their slide.  Losing 16 straight is a surefire way to fall out of contention in a hurry.  Their losing is also bringing a lot of issues to the forefront that might not be there had the club been winning.  Ichiro Suzuki is having the worst year of his career (although his worst is someone's above-average).  The Felix Hernandez trade rumors started swirling again once the Mariners fell out of the race.  All of these things would be swept under the rug had the Mariners just kept winning.

But those aren't things I think about when the Mariners's losing streak crosses my mind.  I wonder what other levels of ineptitude have been reached by professional sports teams.  Here is a list of the most impressive losing streaks in pro sports history.

  1.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Detroit Lions: The Buccaneers lost the first 26 games in their franchise's existence.  This included an 0-14 season in 1976 followed by an 0-12 start in 1977.  They held the record for single-season futility until the Detroit Lions came along and also had a winless season.  With an expanded 16-game schedule, the Lions were able to obliterate the old mark and finish 0-16.  Unlike Mercury Morris, you won't see members of these teams popping champagne when the last NFL team wins a game to prevent a winless season.  The Bucs were at least able to win a Super Bowl more than two decades later, and now the Lions do have some hope with young talent on their roster.
  2. Washington Capitals/San Jose Sharks: In 1975, the Capitols broke a 45-year-old record for the longest losing streak by losing 17 games in a row.  It only took 18 years for that mark to be matched by the San Jose Sharks.  It's now been another 18 years, and both of these teams still share the inglorious distinction of most consecutive losses.  If my team lost that many games in a row, I might resort to Slapshot tactics to turn things around.
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers: When LeBron James left the Cavaliers last summer, everyone expected a severe drop-off for Cleveland.  We just didn't expect it to be so drastic.  The Cavaliers lost 26 straight, making Cleveland fans miss LeBron more and more.  I remember watching the game Cleveland won to snap their skid.  It was a thrilling overtime victory against the Clippers, and the level of excitement inside the arena for a positive result made the victory sweeter to see.  Unbelievably, Cleveland did not end the year with the worst record.  That belonged to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have slowly been building their streak of inferiority over the years.  They have not seen a winning season in 18 years, and the closest they have come was 1997 when they finished 79-83 (which was good enough for second place).  It has been an awful ride for this newest generation of Pirates fans, but things are looking up.  There are still more than two months left in this season, but the Pirates looked poised to finish above .500 and break trend.  They are currently 53-47.  Last year, they won 57 games.

Let Charged.fm get you the best tickets to see the Seattle Mariners take on the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night. 


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