I've got a new series to announce! It's similar to Profiling the World Series Winners, but with a little more variety and a little less predictability (not that I don't love PTWSW, it's just that if you already know all the World Series winners you know which team is coming next).
Baseball's postseason is hallowed ground. Though many divisions and second-place berths have been added over the years (and more might be added still), it's managed to maintain its aura of exclusivity. October is when the best, most important and most interesting teams are playing, we like to believe. That said, not every team that misses the postseason is insignificant or uninteresting. If the only teams we chose to remember were the ones that played into October, a trip through the baseball archives would be a boring jaunt indeed.
That thought begat this new series, which I call "Home For October." How does "HFO" work? Simple. I'll be spotlighting a team for each year of the modern era that had an interesting story to tell without making it to the postseason.
What makes a team's story "interesting"? Any number of things! Some of the teams I chose narrowly missed the pennant, while others were historically bad. Some wildly exceeded expectations while others were spectacular flops. Some broke records or held an odd distinction. Some represent a turning point in franchise history, and some simply provide a snapshot of a bygone era. Basically, if I decide it's worth writing about, I'll write about it.
I only have two ground rules for my selections:
1. A team cannot have played past the officially-recognized regular season (duh). Tiebreaker playoffs are considered an extension of the regular season, so squads like the 1951 Dodgers, 1978 Red Sox, 2009 Tigers, etc. are all eligible. For years where no postseason was played (1901-02, 1904, 1994) I'll select a team that wouldn't have qualified based on their record when the season ended.
2. For variety's sake, repeat selections of a franchise need to be separated by at least eight years. In other words, if my selection for the 1984 season is the Mets, the Mets cannot previously have been selected more recently than 1976, and they can't be selected again until at least 1992.
When I originally got the idea for this series I thought I'd be selecting the "most interesting non-postseason team," but I quickly realized that a) there'd be a lot of franchise repetition, and b) "most interesting" is so subjective that I'd probably get disagreements from readers. By simply saying these teams are "interesting," I can (hopefully) avoid conflict. Of course, if anyone wants to leave a comment suggesting alternative teams for certain years, I welcome the discussion.
Here are all posts in this series:
1901 Milwaukee Brewers: The Original Brew Crew