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May 9, 2012 3:00 am

Sobsequy: The Art of Losing


Adam Sobsey

The Durham Bulls are in the midst of a rare losing season, prompting Adam to wonder: How do fans of the Royals and Pirates live with losing every year?

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
- Elizabeth Bishop

Down here on the Durham Bulls beat, I watched “America’s favorite  minor-league team,” as they call themselves, go 5-2 in their season-opening home stand. The needle was pushed all the way over right from the start, when the Bulls and Gwinnett Braves went to extras on opening night. In the top of the 12th inning, Cesar Ramos gave up a go-ahead solo homer to J. C. Boscan; but in the bottom of the 12th, as the game passed the four-hour mark, the Bulls rallied to win it when Gwinnett shortstop Greg Paiml misplayed a fairly easy grounder. The Bulls’ Will Rhymes, since called up to Tampa Bay in the wake of Evan Longoria’s hamstring injury, opportunistically raced all the way home from second base with the winning run.

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In the wake of another long losing streak for the Royals, we revisit an even longer one from last decade.

While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audiencesend us your suggestion.

The Royals ended a 12-game losing streak on Wednesday, but that wasn't nearly their longest in recent memory. To refresh your memory on the Royals' futility and the odds of long losing streaks, take another look at the article reproduced below, which originally ran as a "Crooked Numbers" column on August 18, 2005.

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August 25, 2005 12:00 am

Crooked Numbers: Going Streaking


James Click

Last week's column on the Royals' losing streak generated a lot of discussion, and revealed some errors. James sets things straight this time around.

Not unlike the old Sports Illustrated Jinx, it seems that as soon as we talk about something here at BP, things turn around. Jonah Keri covered Sunday's A's game yesterday in his Game of the Week column, but it's safe to say that my last two columns--about the Royals' losing streak and the A's winning ways--have made large U-turns in the last week. The Royals' managed to finally break out of their near-record slump and it's this subject that deserves a little more of our attention.

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August 18, 2005 12:00 am

Crooked Numbers: Royal Flush


James Click

The Royals' losing streak is approaching some of the longest in baseball history, but it's notable for another reason. James breaks out Pascal's Triangle to crunch the numbers.

To start, let's get some perspective. The Royals' streak of 18 straight losses is not the worst run of baseball of all time. The worst losing streak in the major leagues since 1901 was the 1961 Phillies who managed to lose 23 games in a row from 7/29/61 to 8/20/61. Interestingly, it could have been a lot worse; the Phillies lost five in a row just before the streak, so they actually lost 28 of 29 games in what may very well be the worst month any team has ever had. Here are the rest of the worst:

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