CHARLOTTE, NC, June 22, 2016 – They will be marching in the streets of Cleveland today after ending the drought of sports championship this week with the Cavaliers NBA trophy. In tribute we look at sports trivia including an important bit of information about Cleveland’s professional basketball team.
1 – It doesn’t pay to be a winner: Cleveland’s Cavaliers made NBA history earlier this week when they became the first professional basketball team ever to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship.
Not only that, they did it against the NBA’s winningest regular season team, the San Francisco Warriors, which compiled a record of 73-9.
But here is where our trivia takes command of the story.
The teams in all four major North American professional sports (Football, Basketball, Baseball and Hockey) that compiled the overall best regular season records in history, all failed to win the league championship.
In 1906 and again in 2001, the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners respectively won 116 games. The Cubs did it in a 154 game schedule while the Mariners played 162 regular season games. Neither won the World Series however.
The Cubs lost the Series to their cross-town rivals the Chicago White Sox in six games while the Mariners were beaten by the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series and never even made it to the World Series.
In the NHL, the Detroit Redwings set a league record with 62 regular season victories only to lose in six games to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals.
And as recently as the 2007-08 NFL season, the New England Patriots had an undefeated regular season at 16-0 before losing in Super Bowl 42 to the New York Giants, 17-14.
All of which could spell doom for this year’s Chicago Cubs who currently have the best record in major league baseball at 47-22. That’s a pace to win more than 100 games and end their title-less losing streak that is over a century old. Beware the “Curse of the Regular Season.”
2 – Sports idiom that is now mainstream jargon: The term “Free-For-All” hasn’t always had the negative connotation it has today. Webster’s definition is “a competition, dispute, or fight open to all comers and usually with no rules,” which is much closer to the origin of the phrase than today’s usage.
In modern English a “free-for-all” conjures the image of a “brawl” which Webster says is “a chaotic situation lacking in rules or structure.”
Actually the phrase goes back to the 1700s and horse racing in England which was open to anyone who wanted to enter. By the time the idiom reached the US in the late 1800s it had morphed by the American press to refer to large public disturbances.
As far as anyone can tell, there are no records of how the evolution took place.
Perhaps it had something to do with the song “Take Me Out to the Brawl Game” but we doubt it.
3 – Let’s make a deal: Ever heard of a catcher named Harry Chiti? Probably not, but he did make baseball history back in 1962. We return to Cleveland for this one.
Chiti was drafted by the then Kansas City Athletics in 1957 and played with KC until 1960. During the next three years of his career, he became a journeyman player in trades between the Athletics, the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians.
When the major leagues expanded in the early 1960s, Chiti was acquired by the New York Mets from Cleveland in 1962 for a player to be named later.
Poor Harry never played a game for the Indians and was only with the Mets for a few months before being sent back to Cleveland as the “player to be named later.”
As a result, Harry Chiti became the first player in baseball history to be traded for himself. Since then, this sports oddity has occurred on three other occasions involving Dickie Noles, Brad Gulden and John McDonald.
For the record, Chiti never played another major league game, spending the next two years of his career in Triple-A before retiring in 1964.
So you see, the “trade deficit” is nothing new when it comes to major league baseball.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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