Top 10 Overrated Would-Be MLB Dynasties

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October 5, 2012 by NowhereButPop

By Andrew Doscas


1)      1991-2005 Atlanta Braves

While I greatly respect what the Braves had done during those 15 years, keep in mind they only have 1 ring to show for it.  They won 100+ games six times, boasted five soon to be hall of famers[1], and assumed one of the greatest starting rotations of all time.  They consistently lost to teams that weren’t as good as them in the playoffs: in 1993 it was the Phillies, in 1997 it was the Marlins, in 1998 it was the Padres, in 1999 it was the Mets, and in 2003 it was the Cubs.[2]  They should have won more championships with that team, simple as that.  15 consecutive division titles is nice and all, but going 1-4 in only five World Series appearances during that time brings a sobering sense of reality to the golden age of the Braves.

2)      1988-1992 Oakland Athletics

It was rather difficult for me not to put the late 80s-early 90s Athletics at the top spot.  The only reason why they’re not at number one is because they didn’t last as long as the Braves did.  Despite the fact that their “reign” lasted only 5 years they still have only 1 ring to show for it.  The lineup consisted of known steroid users Jose Canseco, and Mark McGwire who averaged .184 and .217 respectively in the playoffs.  Their starters: Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Storm Davis, and Mike Moore all peaked at the same time and only endured an approximate four year span of success.  Bob Welch in particular, an average starter for the Dodgers in the early 80s goes to Oakland has two good years and one Cy Young winning year and then goes back to being the same mediocre pitcher that he was in Los Angeles.  Finally we get to their closer Dennis Eckersley, a Hall of Fame pitcher with 390 saves absolutely tanked in the post season.  A dominating closer of Eckersley’s reputation should not go 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in the World Series.  As a team however, they twice lost to teams who weren’t as good as they were.  In 1988 and 1990 the A’s won over 100 games and still lost to underdog teams.  In 1988 they lost to the Dodgers, quite frankly a team that shouldn’t have been in the World Series in the first place.  In 1990 they were swept the Reds, a team that the A’s lineup should have steam rolled over.  In summary we have a team that dominated in the regular season, but once the post season rolled around couldn’t get the job done in 1988, 1990, and 1992 even though they were the purported best team in baseball during this time span.

3)      1982-1987 St. Louis Cardinals

Besides Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee can anyone name any other players on the Cardinals during this time span?  Don’t worry, before last week I couldn’t either.  Despite beating a better team in the Brew Crew of ’82, the Cardinals would go on to have mediocre seasons in 1983-1984.  On top of that, they lost to two lesser teams in ‘85 and ’87 in the World Series.  Granted they lost in ’85 because of a horrible blown call in game six, but in ’87 I’m pretty sure they lost just because they didn’t have home-field advantage against the Twins.[3]  While there was no dominant team of the 80s the Cardinals were the closest thing despite not being a true dynasty.

4)      2001-2004 New York Yankees

When I look back at this period in Yankee history the only word that comes to mind is shame.  As I’ve said before, 2001 was the biggest letdown in all of Yankees history.  How in the world could Mariano Rivera blow the game in the bottom of the 9th in game seven right after the events of 9/11.?  2002-2004 they win over 100 games in each season and still fall to lesser teams in October.  2002, they were just outplayed by the Angels, a team who they could have beaten.  In 2003 after a stunning seven game ALCS against the Red Sox they go on to lose the World Series to the Marlins, quite possibly the luckiest team in the history baseball.  According to reporters, the Marlins were just happy to be there and had already conceded defeat to the Yankees before the series even began.  In that series the Yankees didn’t get beat, they beat themselves.  They had their chances to blow open games 4 and 5 but couldn’t get the job done.  The following year, the unimaginable happened; the Yankees blew a 3-0 lead in the ALCS against the Red Sox.  This travesty that shouldn’t ever happen in baseball solidified the fact that the glory days of the Yankee dynasty from 1996-2000 were officially over.

5)      1994-1999 Cleveland Indians

Similar to the Yankees of the late 90s, the precursor to the Indians success in the latter part of the 90s lies in 1994.  The day the strike ended they were in place to win the wild card and make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1954.  Instead they had to wait the next year to make the postseason.  But man did they dominate in 1995; in 144 games the Indians won 100 games and featured six regulars who batted above .300.  This team also featured Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Eddie Murray, Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, and Omar Vizquel in the prime of their careers (Eddie Murray notwithstanding).  While their offense was unstoppable, the Indians only had a decent pitching rotation, which as we know is what wins you championships.  Their ace was a washed up Orel Hershiser, their #2 was a 40 year old Dennis Martinez, and then there was Charles Nagy who really isn’t as good as people remember him to be.  However the Braves exposed their Achilles heel in the World Series.  As is always the case, good pitching will always stymie good hitting and that’s exactly what happened.  The Indians as a team batted .179 in the six game series.  Two years later in 1997 they lose to the Marlins in seven games.  As in 2003, the 1997 Marlins beat a better team.  Similar to the 2001 Yankees, the Indians got to the bottom of the 9th of game seven with a lead, but their closer Jose Mesa just couldn’t get it done.  They had their chances but they couldn’t seal the deal.  1997 was their best chance to win a championship, but their lack of good pitching came back to haunt them.

6)       1976-1985 Kansas City Royals

Playoff appearances in 1976-1978, 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1985, and yet they only have one (accidental) ring to show for it.  In 1976-1978, they lost to a better Yankees team, in 1980 George Brett got his revenge and single handedly swept the Yankees only to lose the World Series to a better Phillies team.  In 1984, no one and I mean no one was going to beat the Tigers.  Finally in 1985 the Royals were once again in the World Series, but this time they won.  I know that a win is a win, but it was an accidental win.  In the 9th inning of game six against the St. Louis Cardinals the first base umpire blew a call and called the Royals base runner safe at first even though he was clearly out.  Lo and behold the Royals rally and win the game, and then the series the next night.  Without the benefit of the blown call, the St. Louis Cardinals, the better team, probably would have won the series in six games.  In any of these years, the Royals weren’t the best team in baseball, merely the beneficiary of playing in a weak division.  Ten years, six post season appearances, and one championship won on a blown call doesn’t crown a dynasty, it just shows that every once and a while every squirrel will find a nut.

7)      1966-1971 Baltimore Orioles

I know what you’re thinking “Andrew, what are you stupid, the Orioles won two championships in six years and won the pennant in four of those years”.  That’s exactly my point.  If the world ever operated on how things should be then the Orioles should be 5-1 in the World Series.[4]  To this day it blows my mind that they beat the ’66 Dodgers in four straight games, all the while limiting them to only two runs in 36 innings.  If the young Orioles team beat Sandy Koufax’s Dodgers, then a seasoned Orioles team should have won three in a row from ’69-’71.  But they didn’t.  Even if they lost in ’66, but still managed to repeat in ’69-’70, or ’70-’71 I wouldn’t put them on this list.  I know that the 1969 Mets won 100 games and featured Tom Seaver at his best, but the Orioles won 109 and had two 20-game winners.  In the World Series, they couldn’t beat a Mets team featuring a less than usually stellar Seaver and are dispatched in five.  The next year they beat the Reds to redeem their poor performance in 1969.  In 1971 the O’s featured FOUR 20-game winners and lost the World Series after blowing a 2-0 lead.  If a team wins 100+ games in three consecutive years and only claims one championship we have a problem, especially when that team featured Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar.  What’s the point of being the best team in baseball during those years if they lose to a lesser opponent?

8)      Pre-1955 Brooklyn Dodgers

0-7 in the World Series, and their mascot was a bum (the Brooklyn Bum) to personify their perpetual inability to win.  I need not say more.

9)      1984-1990 New York Mets

Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry serve as perfect paradigms for the failures of these Mets teams to ever materialize as a dynasty.  Both the players and the team had vast potential and not only could have, but should have been better than what they were.  Barring 1986 and 1988 where they made the post season, every other year in this span they finished in second place and a not too distant second either.  Most of the time they were only between 2-5 games behind.  One way to look at it is that if Doctor K. hadn’t gotten involved in drugs he could have supplied them with the necessary starts to get them into the post season; but I digress, that’s too much hypothetical analysis even for me.  Regardless, they were perennial contenders, yet only made the post season twice.  In 1986 they won the division by 20 games and won an amazing 108 games.  They would go on to win the World Series, but even here you should start to see the cracks.  The ’86 Mets were much better than the ’86 Red Sox and it shouldn’t have even gone to seven games.  In 1988, they were arguably the best team in baseball; they were no doubt the most complete team.[5]  Unfortunately for Mets fans the Mets were eliminated by the Dodgers, an inferior team whom they had defeated 10 times out of 11 meetings during the year.  As someone who wasn’t alive in the 80s, take it from me, baseball from 1979-1991 was boring.  One of the reasons why was because there was dynasty during the decade.  The Mets could have done it, but of course as we all know, winning has always seemed a little excessive to the Mets.

10)  2007-2011 Philadelphia Phillies

In case this hasn’t been made clear yet, I adhere to a strict philosophy wherein I believe that unless a team wins the championship, their season does not matter… all.  Five consecutive division titles two pennants and one title doesn’t make a dynasty, especially with the team that they put on the field.  In ’07 they get swept by the Rockies in three games; they then come back strong in ’08 and win it all over the Tampa Bay Rays.  The thing about ’08 is that the Rays were going to lose to any team that they faced in the World Series.[6]  2008 was a year where everything just seemed to fall into place for the Phillies, characterized by Brad Lidge having a perfect season for a closer.  In 2009 they add reigning AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and could become the 4th National League club to repeat as world champions, granted they faced a better team in the Yankees that year.  In 2010, after trading away Cliff Lee (which to this day I will never understand) they trade for Roy Halladay, who desperately wanted out of the American League East.  Along with Roy Oswalt, whom they acquired during the season, and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay, the Phillies looked like the favorite to win the World Series.  However after demolishing the Reds in the NLDS, the Phillies got outpitched by the Giants and were eliminated.  The next year they re-acquire Cliff Lee and win a franchise best 102 games.  In 2011, the possessed one of the greatest rotations of all time and were eliminated in the first round by a Cardinals team that despite being in the middle of a late season surge should not have gotten past the first round.  It seems that every year the Phillies get better on paper, but get further and further away from winning another championship.

[1] Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff.

[2] They actually beat the Mets in the NLCS, but it was such a pyrrhic victory that the Braves were subsequently swept by the Yankees in the World Series.

[3] The 1987 World Series was the first time in which the home team won every game of the series.

[4] Maybe even 4-2 I will concede 1979 to the Pirates, however the O’s were up 3-1 so my concession may be unjustified.

[5] Had they faced the A’s in the World Series, their pitching rotation would have decimated Oakland.

[6] There’s only so much luck for Florida-based baseball teams, and the Marlins seem to have a monopoly on it.


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