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We're Not Alone! Really!

Bisons continue to struggle, other minor league clubs in the same boat

The Bisons’ season of misery marches on as the club lost six of their last nine to move to a record of 17-38 as of June 8. It’s a record that continues to put them at the bottom of the International League as well as all of affiliated professional baseball.

But you know what? This column isn’t going to be another “The Bisons Stink!” manifesto. Instead, we’re going to take a look around organized pro ball for a peek at some of the other clubs that are off to miserable starts of their own. As of this writing there are 10 minor league clubs who have a winning percentage under forty percent. We’ll take a look at a few, along with one god awful mess of a club at the Major League level.

A rivalry gone awry…

They’re separated by just 130 miles of Endless Mountains in the state of Pennsylvania, but what unites them has been the endless struggle to win games in regular fashion, if at all. The Altoona Curve (19-38) and Harrisburg Senators (18-35) have spent the entire season battling each other to see who remains in the cellar of the Eastern League’s Southern Division. And what a fight it has been, as both clubs have put up colossal losing streaks that only Bisons fans could identify with. First, Altoona dropped their opening nine games of the season, not winning until April 18. Not to be outdone, their rivals to the east went on a 12-game losing streak beginning April 17 and lasting through the end of the month. Then the game of “can you top this” continued, as Harrisburg spent the week of May 8-14 on a new skid of losing lasting seven games.

You wonder how they’ve fared against each other? Part of that seven-game skid featured a three game sweep by the Curve in their only meetings of the ’09 season thus far.

Do we get a government bailout too?

Only in Michigan could a ballpark be named after an automobile that’s no longer on the production line. But in the state capital of Michigan, Oldsmobile Park plays host to the Lansing Lugnuts (21-34). This team stumbled out of the gate in the Midwest League in losing 13 of their first 16 games, but has recovered by winning four of seven since President Obama announced the bailout plan for GM.

The Lugnuts have been poor in all areas of the game. They’re third from the bottom of the Midwest League in team batting and team pitching.

First in war, first in peace, and last in the National League…

During the final seasons of baseball in Montreal, apathy took hold. Fans stayed away from Stade Olympique in droves, sick and tired of the Expos inability/unwillingness to remain competitive. The lack of revenue as a result of low attendance, nonexistent local television money, and an outdated stadium incapable of creating needed capital, along with a community’s lack of will to build a new venue, created a no-win situation for that team. When Jeffrey Loria pulled up stakes in 2001 the search was on for new ownership as MLB took over in the interim, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into Montreal, keeping the Expos afloat.

So it was with great fanfare that Major League Baseball announced that the Montreal nightmare was to come to an end back in 2004. The City of Washington, DC and the powers that be in baseball had agreed on a new publicly financed ballpark ($600 million) to be built on the Anacostia riverfront. And with this agreement the Montreal Expos headed down to America’s capitol, to a place where the general public would greet them with open arms and provide them with a stadium that would create revenue streams finally capable of being able to compete on a regular basis with the rest of Major League Baseball.Or would it?

Holy cow, has that become a miserable failure. The folks in DC have to be wondering what happened to the notion of the Major Leagues in their city. The 2009 version of the Washington Nationals right now sit at 15-40 for a winning percentage of .273, a lower winning percentage than that of the Bisons. Fans at Nationals Park must have thought things couldn’t have gotten worse after losing 102 games in the ’08 campaign. But this years team is on pace to shatter that mark (44-118 over 162 games) and come dangerously close to the modern record for worst record in Major League Baseball history set by the 1962 Mets (40-120).

It’s been all downhill since the Expos became the Nats back in 2005, when a respectable team was in playoff contention during the summer before fading to a .500 record at 81-81, followed by win totals of 71,73, and 59 in the following three seasons leading up to the current debacle.

So relax, Bisons fans. So we’re having a rugged season of historically poor proportions. Just kick back and realize that we were bound to have a season like this at some point, and recognize that there are other baseball fans out there who know and feel our pain.

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