By Rob Ficiur
This time of the year is the best for sports fans; the regular season in Major League Baseball is coming to an end; the CFL season is just past the half-way point and the NHL season is about to begin. With all that going on there are stories behind every number.
0 – Saskatchewan Roughriders scored zero (0) points against the Edmonton Eskimos. This was the first time since 1986 that the Roughriders have been shut out. Riders fans need not give up the season just yet. Starting quarterback Darian Durrant was injured. The Grey Cup champion quarterback led the team to the third best record in the league so far.
2 – Calgary Stampeder losses – and wins by Red Blacks. The Stampeders are the top team in the CFL with an 11-2 record. Can they keep this momentum going until the end of November? The expansion Ottawa Red Blacks are still looking for their second win. After winning their third game of the season, the Red Blacks (I still say Rough Riders) have lost their last nine games in a row. With only six games left can they get another win?
5 – Five Toronto Blue Jays starters won ten games this year. In 2013 the team had two ten game winners; in 2012 they had only one. The Toronto Blue Jays have not had five pitchers win ten games in one season since the 1991 season. In World Series championship years of 1992 and 1993 the Jays had four pitchers that won ten games.
This stat will not make Blue Jays fans feel better about missing the post season. Being so close to a playoff spot hurts more than missing by a mile. If each of those five pitchers had just won one more game… the Jays would be / could be in the playoffs.
8 – As the new NHL season begins the Edmonton Oilers have the humiliation of holding the longest active non-playoff streak. Edmonton has missed the playoffs eight years in a row. The Oilers and their Canadian cousins will be hard pressed to break their current non-playoff streak: Winnipeg (7 years) and Calgary (5 years).
The Detroit Red Wings have been in the NHL playoffs an amazing 23 years in a row. The all-time record for consecutive playoff appearances in a row is 29 set by the Boston Bruins from 1968-1996. Making the playoffs in a thirty team league is a more difficult task than forty years ago. Last season the Red Wings were the 16th ranked team to make the 16 team NHL playoffs. With their aging (and often injured) stars, the Wings might be hard pressed to make the post season again this year.
29 – This week, the Kansas City Royals baseball team clinched a playoff spot. It has been 29 years since the Kansas City Royals made the baseball playoffs. Back in 1985 the Royals won the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. Those Royals came back from being down three games to one; only the fifth team in baseball history to come back from that deficit. The Royals were a strong team three decades ago; they were in the playoffs seven of the ten years leading up to their first and only World Series.
Now the Toronto Blue Jays hold the longest playoff drought in major league baseball; no playoffs in 21 years (since 1993).
30 – The 30 NHL teams begin the 2014-2015 season this week. Each team has one thing in common – they all think they can win the Stanley Cup this year. Only one of those optimistic team predictions will be correct.
202 – Blue Jays’ pitcher Mark Buerle pitched 202 innings this season; making fourteen straight seasons that the lefthander has thrown over 200 innings. Since 1900, only six pitchers have thrown 200 innings fourteen years in a row. The others were: Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, and Greg Maddux. The first two were more than 50 years ago. I remember watching Perry, Niekro and Sutton in the era of a four man starting rotation, not five like now. Only Greg Maddox (his last 200 inning season was 2006 ) has pitched in the modern era of pitch counts. Buerle has pitched 461 consecutive starts. This model of consistency may or may not be a record. Because starting pitchers throw every five (used to be four) days, all the – how many of us have been to work every day since 2001? Going to work every day for any fourteen year period of time is a remarkable feat for anyone in any job.
With the NFL season moving into full gear; with the coming World Series and the start of the NBA season a few weeks away, more sports numbers will there for fans to analyze, interpret and digest in this season of the year when all the sports seasons come together.