I know everyone has been bemoaning the ineptitude of the Cubs lately (although we have won 2 whole games in a row now… whoo!) Honestly, it isn’t unfair. The Cubs have been pretty bad. To make everyone feel just a little better about our sad squad of baby bears, I thought we might take a look back at the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the worst team in Major League history.How bad were the 1899 Cleveland Spiders? Their “ace” pitcher was a chap by the name of Jim Hughey. His record that year was 4-30. I’ll bet he and Ryan Dempster could talk.
The Spiders’ overall record as a team was 20-134. After averaging less than 200 fans per game in their first month or so of contests at home, other teams refused to come to Cleveland to play the Spiders (the revenue wasn’t sufficient to cover traveling expenses) and they were forced to play the rest of their games on the road. Their home record was 9-33, their road record 11-101 (that makes for a .098 winning percentage, folks.)
You thought the Cubs losing streak was bad? Well, the Spiders had streaks of 11 or more straight losses six different times. Their longest streak was 24 losses, which is still good enough (or bad enough, rather) for a Major League record. Their longest winning streak was two, a feat they accomplished only one time.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Spiders were so abysmal that when Baltimore Orioles pitcher Johnny Nops ended up losing to them, his manager John McGraw had him fined and suspended.
A Cleveland sports writer named Elmer Bates noted the following five advantages to following the Spiders that season:
1) There is everything to hope for and nothing to fear.
2) Defeats do not disturb one’s sleep.
3) An occasional victory is a surprise and a delight.
4) There is no danger of any club passing you.
5) You are not asked 50 times a day, ‘What was the score?’ People take it for granted that you lost.
I hope Cubs fans, as well as supporters of other underachieving franchises, will take a spot of comfort from the sorriness of this historical team.