The Misery Index for the New York Baseball Teams

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal attempted to list the most miserable moments for each of the New York professional sports teams. Two columnists, Matthew Oshinsky and Michael Salfino, gave us their opinion on what these moments were for each New York team. Since this is a baseball blog, I will discuss only their choices for the New York baseball teams. After reading their choices, I encourage you to comment on your choices.

We begin with the New York Giants baseball team. Of course, I refer to the New York Giants baseball team before they left for San Francisco in 1958. The winning most miserable incident occurred on Sept. 23, 1908. The player involved was Fred Merkle. In fact I wrote about this incident in a previous blog and this incident also appears in my website under the topic of “Interesting Facts.” On an apparent game-winning hit in the ninth inning, the 19 year-old Merkle was on first base and stop running between first and second base and went back to the dugout. As the happy Polo Grounds’ crowd filed onto the field, second baseman Johnny Evers got the ball and stepped on second resulting in a force-out which negated the winning run. With the fans already crowding the field, the game could not be played to a decision and the game was declared a tie. A newspaper called the incident “Merkle’s Boner.” This spawned the phrase “bonehead play” which is still used today. The Giants and the Cubs ended the season tied for first place and had a rematch at the Polo Grounds, on October 8. The Cubs won this makeup game, 4–2, and thus the National League title. The Cubs went on to win their last World Series to date that year. You could say the fact that the Cubs won a pennant they did not deserve, the curse of the injustice paid to Fred Merkle was placed on them. The Cubs would go on to appear in seven World Series in the years 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, losing each time. The runner-up for miserable day occurred in 1957 when the National League owners unanimously voted to allow the Giants (and Dodgers) to leave New York. The Brooklyn Dodgers most miserable day was when on Oct. 8, 1957 in a news conference it was announced they would leave for Los Angeles in 1958, after 74 years in Brooklyn. The runner-up for miserable day occurred on July 19, 1942 when Pete Reiser’s promising career ended when he ran face-first into the outfield fence.

The winning event for most miserable day for the New York Mets occurred on June 16, 1977.when fans woke up and found out that the greatest player in their team history, Tom Seaver, was traded to Cincinnati for four mediocre players (Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman). The Mets next winning season occurred seven years later in 1984. Runner-up for misery occurred on Oct. 9, 1988 when Dodger catcher Mike Sciosia homered off of Dwight Gooden in the ninth inning of Game-4 of the NLCS ending the Mets title hopes.

Number one on the misery index for the New York Yankees occurred on Oct. 20, 2004 when the Yankees became the first team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series, losing in game-7. What made it even worse was that it happened against their hated rival the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox went on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, sweeping them 4-0. This was the Red Sox sixth World Series championship, but first since 1918 and finally ended “The Curse of the Bambino.” Runner-up for misery occurred on Oct 13, 1980 when Bill Mazeroski wins the World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates by hitting a walk-off home run in Game-7 off of Ralph Terry.

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