Matthew Taylor: A history lesson of hope and uncertainty

Call it a baseball revival. Long-suffering franchises are seeing the light after extended periods of darkness. But after the emotion of the moment passes, will fans keep the faith?

The Orioles entered the winning tent last year after 14 consecutive losing seasons. The Pittsburgh Pirates followed suit this week, ending their worst-in-any-sport streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons when they won their 81st game. Baseball is fun again in both cities. Or at least I think it is.

The Orioles’ uneven play of late and their uncertain playoff hopes have left a portion of the local fan base disgruntled. Given a taste of playoff baseball, fans are hungry for more. Recent history, however, shows that encore performances by revived franchises are by no means automatic regardless of how much fans demand them.

Should the Orioles fail to make the postseason this year, they would become the fifth team in the past 11 years to end a streak of eight or more losing seasons and then not qualify for the playoffs the following year.

Here’s the rundown:

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers had 12 consecutive losing seasons from 1993 through 2004. Their streak ended when they finished 81-81 in 2005, but they returned to their losing ways the following season going 75-87. Fans of the Brew Crew would have to wait until 2008 to experience playoff baseball.

Detroit Tigers: Like the Brewers, the Tigers also experienced a dozen consecutive losing seasons. Their run of misery from 1994 through 2005 included three 100-loss seasons, topped by a 43-119 showing in 2003. Detroit broke their losing streak in grand fashion by winning 95 games and advancing to the World Series in 2006. However, it would take an additional five seasons before they reached the playoffs again after that.

Tampa Bay Rays: The story of the Rays’ franchise begins with 10 losing seasons from 1998 through 2007. Like the Tigers before them, the Rays played the role of Cinderella by winning 97 games and the American League Championship Series in 2008. They followed their World Series run by going 84-78 and finishing in third place in the division in 2009.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals had eight straight losing seasons from 1995 through 2002. They won 83 games in 2003 to end that losing streak but started a new one in 2004. The Royals are currently 72-67 and looking to end a run of nine consecutive losing seasons. It’s currently the longest losing streak in baseball.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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