Ask Gary: And now for the forgettable streaks

by Gary Shelton on September 2, 2017 · 1 comment

in College football, general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Rays, USF

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 4 a.m.

You had a column this week about some of the most impressive winning streaks in sports history. What makes your top 10 list of infamous losing streaks? We can all think of one involving the Bucs.

Larry Beller 

I remember the year 2008, when the Detroit Lions lost all 16 games. I had a conversation with Falcons' general manager Rich McKay, whose father coached the original Bucs' team (McKay was a ballboy). At one point, I asked "How would the Lions do against your father's Bucs? He grinned and said 'They'd kill us."

Those Lions were a product of bad drafting by Matt Millen. The Bucs were a product of a lousy expansion draft. And they got to the post-season very quickly, remember.

Still, that Bucs' team has to bat leadoff, doesn't it?

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1. Bucs go 0-26. That team just didn't have a chance. It went 0-14 in 1976 and 0-12 before finally beating New Orleans in 1977.

2. Prairie View A&M, 80 games. Prairie View went most of the 90s without a victory.

3.  0-21, Baltimore Orioles. Technically, they weren't quite as bad as the 1963 Phillies, who lost 23 in a row. But Baltimore did it at the start of the season with a team that had Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Mike Boddicker.

4. Anthony Young, New York Mets: Young once lost 27 consecutive decisions. Ouch.

5. Vince Spadea, tennis player: Spadea once lost 21 straight matches.

6. Northwestern: Northwestern lost 34 straight games in the early 80s.

7. Cleveland Cavs: After losing LeBron James in free agency, the Cavs lost 26 straight ending in 2011.

8. The CalTech Beavers went 26 years between conference victories, or 310 games.

9. In 1911, Bill Bergen of the Brooklyn Dodgers went 46 straight at-bats without a hit. He hit .132 that year, one of 10 years he hit less than .200.

10. Chicago Cubs, 108 years: The Cubs went to the playoffs, and they had Hall of Fame players, and they became an iconic team. But they didn't win a World Series game for more than a century.

The lowest career earnings (in 2017 $) for a player in the Baseball Hall of Fame is $2.6 million for Dizzy Dean.  The highest career earnings (in 2017 $) for a player in the Baseball Hall of Fame is $235 million for Randy Johnson.  The highest career earnings (in 2017 $) for any MLB player is $460 million for Alex Rodriguez.  When will the escalating MLB salary madness stop?

Scott Myers

I don't know if it ever will as long as you have madmen in charge. The Arod contract is the perfect example. Who were the Rangers bidding against, and did they really offer $251 million?

Baseball bosses are morons with too much money. They throw senseless money at players because agents convince them someone else is waiting to pick up the players. It's insane. I once talked to the late Calvin Griffith, and he said that free agency wasn't as big a problem as arbitration.

But, you know, NBA contracts might be sillier. And NFL contracts for quarterbacks are getting that way. I think it's lunacy.

The USF Bulls are off to a good start to a season that has the highest expectations in their history. If they lose even one game it will be disappointing and two or more losses will be a disaster. The schedule is considered to be easy but living up to the hype could be daunting for Charlie Strong. He has a lot to prove in the minds of many after the failure at Texas including overcoming poor special teams play which again was an issue in the Bulls first game. Do you think this year is a referendum on the coaching ability of Charlie Strong?

Larry Beller

I think every season is a referendum on every coach, to be honest, not just Strong.

You're right. He has a manageable schedule. But that schedule does include Temple, which beat the Bulls badly last season. It includes Houston, which has been a great team in the AAC. And Illinois is still a Big 10 team. Taking over a great offense, and a terrible defense, isn't the easiest thing for a new coach. And, as  you mention, there is the hype.

I know this: There is no team in America that you can expect to go 11-0. Not Alabama. Not Ohio State. No one.

So what happens if Strong is, say, 9-2 this year. Do you think there will really be a movement to replace him? I don't. But, yes, there will be some of the faithful who will be disappointed. That's the way of college football these days. You have to win them all, and you have to win by at least 35 points every week. It's why most fan bases are disappointed.

I would bet a dollar that the most overworked folks in the Rays front office have to be whoever is in charge of making travel arrangements--what with the roster shuffling, shuttling back and forth to Durham, etc. Do you have any idea if other teams do as much manipulating of rosters--or is this mainly a feature of the Rays due to their need for creative use of personnel? I sure wish I had the contract for their airport limo service!

Barry McDowell​
You have a great point. The Rays have certainly worn out their travel staff this year. They've already used 51 players -- one short of the team record. And that doesn't count the yo-yo players like Blake Snell and Austin Pruitt, who have been repeatedly sent down and back up.
A lot of teams have done this kind of tinkering. It's one way to expand your roster. You merely bring up a rookie to pitch one day ... or to play left field.
It got worse Friday when the Rays, and all other teams, expanded their rosters.

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