Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Just ask the Dodgers, who needed a truncated season in 2020 to finally make good on having tremendous talent and a big payroll. The Marlins have won as many world titles as the Cubs and Dodgers combined over the last 25 years, though it appears they’re trying to tank once again now that Derek Jeter has departed.
You could say he left, but that’s a direction he’s never been able to move.
Luck isn’t something Cubs fans have on their side, which is probably why Tom Ricketts is so tickled about adding a sportsbook to Wrigley Field. With season tickets no longer presenting the same guaranteed value they once did, the business side needs a new way to ensure a steady stream of income from gameday denizens. Of course, making good on their promise to spend money on a competitive product would ensure wheelbarrows of cash from several sources.
Though there’s no way to guarantee a winner, boosting payroll and adding good players is a pretty solid recipe for success. Even then, you’ve got the potential to see an otherwise great season derailed by an injury or a hot opponent. Since Major League Baseball’s last work stoppage in 1994-95, the team with the best overall record has won the World Series just seven times.
The Dodgers in 2020 were one of those, so it’s really only happened six times.
Of the 47 teams that won more than 60% of their regular-season games in that time, only 10 went on to capture a title. Bookies.com examined those other 37* to determine the unluckiest teams in MLB since the sport’s last work stoppage in 1995. They gave each team one point for each regular-season win, postseason win (PSW), each All-Star, each Hall of Famer, and each projected Hall of Famer not currently eligible.
You will be completely unsurprised to know that the Cubs don’t show up on here very often, with just their 97-win campaign in 2008 making the list at No. 29. Sitting in the top spot are the 2001 Seattle Mariners, whose record-tying 116 wins were not enough to get them into the Fall Classic. The Dodgers, Yankees, and Braves each make two appearances in the top 10, with the Braves and Yankees actually showing up four times in the top 18.
Since luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, the real takeaway here is that putting your team in a position to compete in the postseason year after year is still the way to go. You can only be disappointed if you had expectations in the first place. You know, like no-hitting the Dodgers and then completely shitting the bed the rest of the season.
That’s a totally hypothetical situation, mind you, and should not in any way to related back to the Cubs, who did that very thing last season.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, may the luck o’ the Irish treat you more kindly than it did the teams listed above.
*The Twins, Rays, and A’s all had better than a .600 record in 2020, but they were omitted because, just like the Dodgers, their accomplishments in that short season don’t actually count.