It’s September: Better Watch Your Back!
By Lisa R. Neilson
On September 1, 2011, the Red Sox woke up to a nine-game lead over third-place Tampa Bay in the AL East, confident they’d be showing up for batting practice on opening night of the World Series. They were mistaken—they failed to even make the postseason. Losing 19 out of 26 games that month, the Red Sox became the first team to blow a September lead that big. It was an epic collapse that sent team personnel packing and brought outrage to the streets of Boston.
But they’re not the only club in MLB history to lose steam on the way to the playoffs. The one sure thing about September baseball is that not everything is a sure thing; there will be surprises, both good and bad.
Here’s a look back at a few of the memorable collapses that rocked baseball’s world and kept September interesting:
Naturally as a Mets fan, I can’t forget about the collapse of 2007. Ahead of Philadelphia by seven games on September 12, the Mets looked poised to win the division. Except they didn’t. They went 5 – 12 in their final 17 games, finishing one game behind the Phillies. New York Mets veteran pitcher Tom Glavine didn’t make it out of the first inning in that final contest of the season; he and then-shortstop Jose Reyes (0 for 5) faced overwhelming boos from the Shea Stadium crowd that afternoon. All they needed was one more win to tie the Phillies, but on October 1, the Mets’ season had come and gone.
In 1987, the Toronto Blue Jays dropped their last seven games, erasing a 3 ½-game lead over Detroit. The Tigers clinched the AL pennant, knocking Toronto out of the playoffs for two more years.
In 1995, the Angels defied the odds: they went 12 – 26 to close out the season, losing both the AL West to the Mariners and the wild card race to the New York Yankees. Both the Mariners and the Yanks went 26 – 13. The odds of these three things happening stood at 8,332 – 1.
The 2009 Detroit Tigers had a three-game lead over the Minnesota Twins with four games left to play. No problem, right? Wrong. The Tigers went 1 – 3 and the Twins went 4 – 0, leaving the two teams tied for first place. The Tigers lost a one-game tie breaker to the Twins in 12 innings.
And so, as some exciting play gets underway this September, it’s important to not take too much for granted.
True, it’s unlikely—almost certain—that the Braves and Dodgers aren’t going anywhere this year, winning their divisions by more than 10 games. The same cannot be said for the remaining divisions, however. Almost anything can happen over in the AL East, and the same is true for the NL Central. Even the Tigers, ahead by 6 ½ over Cleveland, should be leery of the drama this game can bring.
With 29 games left to play as of this writing, it’s too soon to start placing any postseason bets. Surprises happen in September.
Baseball fans can tell you that.
Posted on September 6, 2013, in 2013 and tagged AL East, Angels, boston red sox, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, NL Central, Toronto Blue Jays. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.