A lot of talk has been given to the Phillies being the first team in the history of pro sports to reach 10,000 losses. It's a Jason Stark fact that everyone has latched on to. All that means is that is is useless and full of fluff. Sure, this has been a pretty inept franchise. Bad enough to lose 10,000 games, but good enough for people to still pay to see it. I am not sure how that actually works, but somewhere, DNL is trying to dig up a nonagenarian that can claim that they saw 7000 of those losses.
Anyway, most of it means NOTHING to us, but we live in Philly, and Philly fans relish losing. They take pride in it and want to think their pain is worse than any other. So, here is an era breakdown of the futility of this franchise. After a slow start, we actually had a winning record for a while. Go figure.
Let's start with the basics.
Winning percentage: .468
If we could go undefeated for the next 7 and 1/3rd seasons, well, we'd hit 10,000 wins before we hit 10,000 losses. And we'd likely have a couple of WS rings. I consider that a win-win scenario. This season has actually raised our career winning percentage up 0.0001489 points. .470 winning percentage, HERE WE COME!
In 1883, the Phils started off pretty poorly at 17-81 and then went 39-73 the next year. This can be considered their "bad April" cause it was all uphill after that. It's tough to go down when you have a .2667 winning percentage.
But the Phils got hot. And I mean, Paris Hilton HOTT. They then reeled off 4 straight winning seasons and 13 of their next 17. Teams PHEARED the Phightins at the turn of the century. After their 1902 season they were sporting a .524 winning percentage and showing the rest of the world what it meant to live in the birthplace of United States.
Sadly, that was the apex of this once glorious franchise. They had a rough couple of years and flirted with dipping below .500 after the 1906 season, but showed their resiliency and topped out in 1917 after a 87-65 season with a team .515 winning percentage. Of course, this being the Phils, it didn't take them long to wipe away the great memory of being a winner. Whatever happened right before we hit the roaring 20s shook baseball forever. The Red Sox traded Ruth to the Yankees, the White Sox threw the World Series and the Phormidable Phightins went into the tank. The world was shocked.
1921. That was it. That was the last time this franchise had a winning record. Sure, it lasted a few games in 1922, but nobody cares about mid season. The Phils went 51-103 in 1921 to close out with a 0.50009 winning percentage. If only the franchise folded up then, we could all, at least for the last 80+ years, feel like winners. Alas, 1922 season rolled around and the Phillies would never see the blue sky above .500 again. In fact, the fall was pretty dramatic as the franchise entered the "Dark Ages". We have no evidence that they actually existed then except for players like Chuck Klein we think once played for us, but there is no actual proof of. At least, none that we'll believe.
Over the next 3 decade, baseball in Philadelpia was like brushing your teeth with an SOS pad. Sure, it got them clean, but it was painful and probably did more damage than it helped. And after 1948, the franchise hit rock bottom. In 27 years, they went from a team with a winning record to a team with a .445 winning percentage at 4254-5305, the lowest it would ever be. It took a lot of work to get there and many 100+ loss season, but, our boys did it and we should be proud.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Phillies had a young kid who was on that bottoming out team, and had something to say about all the losing going on around here. Richie "Whitey" Ashburn was a young whippersnapper on that 1948 team. He took this franchise by it's collar and lifted us up. The Phils enjoyed their best decade since the "teens", although they would still have a losing record overall. In fact, the Phillies would have 5 consecutive decades with overall losing records until they reached the 1970s (bring back disco). Amazingly enough, the Phillies would then have winning records for 3 of the next 4 decades.
Decades are arbitrary, but let's look at them anyway.
1890s: 743-629 .542
1910s: 762-717 .515
2000s: 620-601 .508
1970s: 812-801 .503
1980s: 783-780 .501
1950s: 767-773 .498
1900s: 709-752 .485
1880s: 390-424 .479
1960s: 759-843 .474
1990s: 732-823 .471
1930s: 581-943 .381
1940s: 584-951 .380
1920s: 566-962 .370
As you can see, we are enjoying the best baseball Philadelphia has seen since the beginning of the last century. Do we REALLY have a right to complain?
Now, for posterity, let's get a count:
100+ win seasons:
2 (1976, 1977)
90-99 win seasons:
9 (1899, 1915, 1916, 1950, 1964, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1993)
80-89 win seasons:
70-79 win seasons:
60-69 win seasons:
50-59 win seasons:
19 (includes 1981 and 1994)
Below 50 win seasons:
12 (includes 1883 and 1884 where full seasons weren't realized yet)
100 loss seasons:
14 (includes 1941 with 111 losses)
#10,000 is right there, but let's take a quick reality check. Most of us didn't watch baseball before WW2 since we didn't exist yet or barely knew what a baseball was. The first half of the Phillies history was a mess. But, since 1949, the Phillies have gone 4473-4621 for a .492 winning percentage. Is that good? Heck no, but it isn't nearly as miserable as everyone wants it to seem to be and that is pretty much almost anyone can remember anyway. We need more championships, but the recent history isn't nearly as grim as 10,000 makes it seem.