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Elephant Rumblings: Sympathy for MLB’s remaining postseason curses

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Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

The 2020 MLB postseason has reached its second round, the League Division Series. The Oakland A’s advanced out of the first round by beating the Chicago White Sox in the new Wild Card Series, which is a big deal for the green and gold. The A’s broke a streak of six straight series/round losses in the postseason, and nine straight losses in winner-take-all elimination games — that second streak is an all-time MLB record.

No matter what happens from here on out, Oakland has busted its long curse. It would be disappointing to not move on further in the bracket, and especially against the national villain and division rival Houston Astros, but at least we’ve seen them win something in October for the first time in over a decade.

However, some other teams weren’t as fortunate. For starters, the Minnesota Twins now take over as the undisputed saddest postseason team, at least among clubs who make it there sometimes. After being swept by the Astros in their Wild Card Series, the Twins have now lost 18 straight postseason games, dating back to 2004. After losing the ALDS that year, they were swept in the ALDS in 2006, 2009, and 2010, lost the 2017 Wild Card Game, and then were swept in the 2019 ALDS and this year’s WCS. Of course, that 2006 ALDS was against the A’s, which was Oakland’s only October success of the 21st century until last week. The Twins had already won this curse-off even before last week.

Then you’ve got the Cleveland Indians, who were supposed to unleash a dominant starting rotation but instead got hammered by the Yankees’ ridiculous lineup. The Indians last won the World Series in 1948, the longest active championship drought in the majors. They almost got there in 2016, but blew a 3-1 series lead to literally the Cubs. They’re quickly running out of time in the current competitive window.

This was only the third playoff appearance in the last 27 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, who were swept out in two games. Granted, they were lucky to make it at all due to the well-timed expanded bracket, but still. They needed several things to go massively right at once just to reach the ALCS a couple times in 2015-16, and now they’re finally back with a new young core ... just in time to compete with the No. 1 Rays plus the relentless Yankees and Red Sox.

And finally, how about those Chicago White Sox that Oakland just beat? The A’s hadn’t won a postseason series since 2006, but the Sox haven’t since 2005, albeit that year they won a magical championship. But that championship itself broke an 88-year drought that was slightly longer than even that of the Red Sox. They’ve only made the postseason 10 times in 120 years, a number the A’s have exceeded in just the 21st century alone.

And of course, while several teams have never won a World Series (Brewers, Padres, Rangers, Rays, Rockies), the Seattle Mariners have never even been to one. They also haven’t been to the playoffs at all since 2001, and only four times in 44 seasons (all from 1995-2001).

So breathe easy, A’s fans. The 21st century has been tough for the green and gold faithful, but at least we usually get invited to the October dance in the first place so we can have a bad time there. There are teams out there who have it worse, especially now that we’ve turned a new page.

Now let’s beat the Astros so we can further distance ourselves from this conversation, and maybe instead get to talk about which few teams have it better than we do.

A’s Coverage

MLB News & Interest

MLB Postseason Update

The ALDS begins today (Mon), and the NLDS gets going tomorrow (Tue). See the full schedule below.

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