We knew only one could be the worst.
We also knew that all 17 teams in the tournament were, to put it simply, bad.
Now it’s down to two, as 1948 and 1981 have paced their ineptitude through three rounds to meet in the Tsuyoshi Nishioka Round for determination as to which is the worst of the worst:
Here’s how they tumbled to this point:
(6) 1948 Senators
- Logan Morrison Round: Lost to (11) 1995 Twins 3-1
- ByungHo Park Round: Lost to (14) 1951 Senators 3-1
- Ricky Nolasco Round: Lost to (10) 1982 Twins 4-1
At least they’ve been consistent, as ‘48, the third-lowest ranked of the ‘40s and ‘50s Senators teams, won one game in each of the three rounds on their way to the finals. After ‘95 took three of four in the opening round, ‘51 ousted ‘48 by the same game margin despite Mark Christman’s pinch-hit walkoff homer in Game 1. In both rounds, the series was tied 1-1 before 1948’s opponent ran the table; that trend continued in the Nolasco Round, as ‘82 and ‘48 split the first two games prior to ‘82’s winning Games 3, 4, and 5.
It has been hard to pinpoint one weakness for ‘48, but the most prominent might be inconsistency, as few players have performed well from one round to the next. For example. left fielder Tom McBride hit .500 in the Morrison Round with a home run, went 2-15 the following round and was named LVP, then went hitless in a part-time role in the semifinals. The team will have to bring their best performances in order to avoid a repeat of the previous three rounds.
(5) 1981 Twins
- Logan Morrison Round: Lost to (12) 1999 Twins 3-2
- ByungHo Park Round: Lost to (13) 1958 Senators 3-0
- Ricky Nolasco Round: Lost to (9) 1956 Senators 4-1
It can’t be said that 1981 wasn’t expected to lose. Like their opponent, ‘81 faced lower-ranked (i.e. better) teams in all three rounds, and like their opponent, ‘81 made their way to the Nishioka Round by losing in all three of their matches. Against 1999, ‘81 took a 2-0 lead and was on their way to escaping the bracket before dropping three straight, scoring just five runs in their three losses. That losing streak doubled to six against ‘58, who swept clean through the Park Round with four members of ‘81’s lineup batting below .200. Their streak reached nine in the semifinal, Roy Smalley’s ninth-inning homer preventing that streak from reaching 10, but a Game 5 shutout loss sent them into the finals.
‘81 is certainly the favorite, as they are a slightly lower seed and were one of the teams mentioned in the comment that inspired this tournament. Their biggest weakness has been their pitching; notably, third starter Fernando Arroyo has lost two of his three starts and has lasted two or fewer innings, allowing five or more runs, in all three. Whether ‘81’s bats can overcome this is unknown, but the pitching will have to improve in order for ‘81 to avoid the trophy of ignominy.
A couple logistical notes:
- Since I no longer have to choose which game to play per day, I’ll be playing every game in this series. I won’t be putting the “(played)” tag beside the header since there’s no need to distinguish between played and simulated games.
- Because there’s one Senators and one Twins squad in the finals, I can say “Senators” and “Twins” instead of using the year every time I wish to refer to a team.
- I’ll be keeping score every game as well, so I should be able to add more detail to the recaps.
- As I have been throughout the tournament, I’ll be posting one game per day, starting tomorrow.
Here they are, the players who... er... got us to this moment:
Nishioka Round Rosters
|(6) 1948 SENATORS||(5) 1981 TWINS|
|2 - Al Kozar - 2B||2 - John Castino - 3B|
|3 - Gil Coan - LF||5 - Roy Smalley - SS|
|4 - Mickey Vernon - 1B||7 - Rob Wilfong - 2B|
|5 - Sherry Robertson - 2B||8 - Glenn Adams - LF|
|6 - Bud Stewart - RF||9 - Mickey Hatcher - CF|
|7 - Eddie Yost - 3B||10 - Hosken Powell - RF|
|8 - Al Evans - C||11 - Sal Butera - C|
|9 - Len Okrie - C||14 - Pete Mackanin - 2B|
|10 - Ray Scarborough - SP||16 - Butch Wynegar - C|
|11 - Jake Early - C||17 - Pete Redfern - RP|
|12 - Forrest Thompson - RP||19 - Roger Erickson - SP|
|14 - Ramón García - RP||20 - Dave Engle - RF|
|16 - Mickey Haefner - SP||22 - John Verhoeven - RP|
|18 - Ángel Fleitas - SS||23 - Doug Corbett - RP|
|18 - Dick Weik - RP||25 - Danny Goodwin - 1B|
|19 - Milo Candini - RP||26 - Kent Hrbek - 1B|
|20 - Sid Hudson - RP||27 - Brad Havens - SP|
|21 - Dick Welteroth - RP||28 - Albert Williams - SP|
|22 - Jim Clark - 3B||30 - Fernando Arroyo - SP|
|22 - Sammy Meeks - SS||31 - Darrell Jackson - RP|
|23 - Junior Wooten - CF||32 - Gary Ward - LF|
|24 - Mark Christman - SS||33 - Jack O'Connor - RP|
|26 - Early Wynn - SP||34 - Don Cooper - RP|
|32 - Tom McBride - LF||35 - Bob Veselic - RP|
|35 - Walt Masterson - SP||38 - Ron Washington - SS|
Um... as far as I know, there aren’t songs that mention “48” or “81” in the lyrics.
If there are, please let me know.