Sport MLB goes streaking: Why Orioles’ futility, Yankees’ excellence is the norm in 2021
Yankees' 13-game winning streak: Four reasons New York has their longest winning streak since 1961
The Yankees have won 13 straight games for the first time in 60 years"We're clicking on all cylinders," Giancarlo Stanton told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, following Friday's win over the Athletics (NYY 8, OAK 2). "We're grinding away at the opponent. We've discussed what it took to get here and how we've all fed off each other, the work that we've all put in. It's cool to see it develop.
It has been a repetitive few weeks in the. The New York Yankees have won 11 in a row — the star-studded franchise’s longest streak since 1985 — while the moribund Baltimore Orioles that came dangerously close to the modern record of 23 consecutive defeats set by the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies.
The Yankees’ accomplishment feels particularly sweet considering they stopped the Atlanta Braves’ nine-game winning streak to do it. And yes, that was a different Orioles losing streak than the 14-game skid from May, and a different dubious record than the Arizona Diamondbacks set with a 24-game road losing streak (which was partially encompassed by a 17-game run of overall failure).
Yairo Munoz latest Red Sox player to test positive for COVID-19 as outbreak spreads
The Red Sox now have a combination of 11 players and coaches sidelined due to the coronavirus. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts; utility man Enrique Hernandez; second baseman Christian Arroyo; and pitchers Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura and Martin Perez tested positive for COVID-19 while left-hander Josh Taylor and first-base coach Tom Goodwin are in quarantine as close contacts. Quality control coach Ramon Vazquez has also tested positive for the virus. The Red Sox were forced to pull Bogaerts from Tuesday's 8-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the second inning after he returned a positive COVID-19 test.
If you feel like the fortunes of MLB teams have been snowballing — for better or worse — more often in 2021, you’re not wrong. This season has produced, the most since 2017 had six. It has also produced a mind-boggling , already the most of any season since at least integration in 1947.
There has rarely been a moment this season when someone wasn’t working on a double-digit run of excellence or, more commonly, futility. Why? Is this a case of a coin landing on tails over and over by chance, or are undercurrents in the sport creating the conditions for these epic streaks?
MLB’s bad teams are worse than ever
The Orioles’ intentional incompetence hasabout . Helmed by former Houston Astros executive Mike Elias, Baltimore is barreling toward its third 100-loss season in four seasons (and it wasn’t possible to lose 100 in 2020).
Red Sox option top OF prospect Jarren Duran
Duran, 24, is regarded as one of the top all-around prospects in baseball but did not hit the ground running upon his initial call-up from Worcester last month. The 2018 seventh-rounder was plugged in as the everyday center fielder in Boston upon his debut but has struggled to adjust to big league pitching. Through 89 plate appearances, Duran has posted a .221/.236/.372 slash. He’s drawn just two walks in that time and struck out at a whopping 37.1 percent clip to begin his big league career. The Red Sox surely still view Duran as a key piece to their future.
Elias helped the Astros ride an extreme rebuild to the top, and the Cubs did the same. But baseball has increasingly been confronted with the possibility that it won’t pay off, and with questions about whether this degree of despair is worth it, even if it does.
The Orioles are also tanking in a division that is otherwise universally competitive. The fourth-place Toronto Blue Jays are 66-59 and sporting the AL’s fourth-best run differential. So the Orioles — a mix of fledgling rookies, a breakout star and washouts thrown on board by the front office as space-eating, loss-column-filling sandbags — have played 61 of their games against teams that currently have a .550 winning percentage or better (an 89-win pace). They have gone 16-45.
But, while they have played against good teams the most, the Orioles have not fared the worst. The aforementioned Diamondbacks are running a 5-35 clip against those teams, having been outscored by 136 runs in 40 tries.
Yankees lefty Zack Britton likely out until 2023 after Tommy John surgery
A nightmarish baseball year has mercifully ended for New York Yankees left-handed relief pitcher Zack Britton. © Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports New York Yankees pitcher Zack Britton. His 2022 probably won't be that much better. As noted by the official MLB website, Britton underwent Tommy John surgery on Thursday and also had a bone chip removed. Per Dan Martin of the New York Post, specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the procedure in Los Angeles.
This is where the narrative gets complicated. Arizona did not enter the season as a tanking team.. Arizona's good players have been hurt. Most of their usually OK players have been bad. The fill-ins — which could double as a moniker for their pitching staff — have been an abject disaster outside of .
There’s no way to legislate a Very Bad Year out of baseball, but it’s noteworthy that the bad years seem to be going worse than ever in 2021. Now, Arizona has a similar problem to Baltimore — two of the best teams in baseball play in the NL West, along with a third good team we thought might be great — but the leaguewide numbers support the theory that bad teams are even more ill-equipped than usual.
These, to wit, are the teams that have run up the record nine double-digit losing streaks:
Chicago Cubs, 2 (one before, one after trade deadline fire sale)
Texas Rangers, 1
Kansas City Royals, 1
Pittsburgh Pirates, 1
In those double-digit winning streaks that are also more common than usual this year, four of the five have involved games against the Orioles or Diamondbacks. The season-best 13-game streak the Oakland A's went on in April involved both.
Yankees reliever Zack Britton undergoes reconstructive elbow surgery
New York hasn’t yet announced a target date in Britton’s recovery, but the procedure he underwent is similar to a full Tommy John surgery. Those typically require 12-14-month rehab periods.It’s disappointing and somewhat surprising news. Britton was known to be undergoing elbow surgery, but the southpaw downplayed the possibility of there being significant structural damage at the time of that announcement. Instead, the belief had been that doctors needed to remove bone chips from the joint. Evidently, there was a more significant issue involved than originally expected.
Teams over .500 are actually less dominant than they have been in any of the previous four seasons — a sign that more middle class teams are throwing punches. But— a 105-win pace that would be the highest of the expansion era that began in 1961. Notably, it would be exceeding a mark from 2019.
How did we get here?
Ultimately, that paints a picture of a league where the talent is not spread as evenly as it used to be. That doesn’t just mean the stars. In fact, it mostly means the depth players who can plug a major-league gap for a couple weeks without sinking the ship.
That could be springing from a couple things. One, the herky-jerky 2020 season may have created more injuries and thinned out top-level talent more than usual for some teams. That’s a possibility we won’t fully grasp until after the season or beyond. Two, the pool of teams aiming for losses is smaller than it has been, which actually creates even more dire situations for their performance.
The bad teams are doing worse, but there may be fewer tanking teams than we have begrudgingly become accustomed to. The 2021 season is on pace for fewer games featuring terrible teams than 2019. Some non-contending teams have graduated from awful to merely lackluster, and other teams hitting the skids did so only after.
So the market for serviceable talent was actually fairly competitive when it was on the table.
Except for the handful of teams — smaller than in recent seasons — that actively chose to bail on 2021. Where the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Cole Hamels as a potential back of the rotation fill-in — paying him $1 million for what turned out to be zero innings — the Orioles will pay only one pitcher $1 million this season: Matt Harvey, who has coughed up a 6.27 ERA.
This is how you get teams falling into the dire straits of losing streak infamy. A mix of bad luck and bad faith has created a cluster of organizations that don’t have as many capable major leaguers as it takes to get through a 162-game season. And for some of them, it's because they just won’t invest in any lipstick to put on the pig.
Norm Macdonald, former 'Saturday Night Live' comic, dies .
NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian Norm Macdonald, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer and performer who was “Weekend Update” host when Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson provided comic fodder during the 1990s, has died. Macdonald, who was 61, died Tuesday after having cancer for nine years, but keeping it private, according to Brillstein Entertainment Partners, his management firm in Los Angeles. He never reached the same television heights after being fired from “SNL” in 1998, but was an indefatigable stand-up comic and popular talk show guest whose death provoked an outpouring from fellow comedians.“Norm was in a comedy genre of his own,” tweeted Sarah Silverman.