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The biggest September collapses in major-league baseball history

Here we are on Sept. 5 and the Rays have a 71/2-game lead in the race for a playoff spot. History tells us that's safe. It's rare for a team to blow that kind of a lead, but it's not unheard of. Here's a look back at some of the most infamous September collapses in baseball history.

1934 New York Giants

Entering play on Sept. 7, the Giants, led by the great Mel Ott, below, had a seven-game lead over Dizzy Dean, Frankie Frisch, Joe Medwick and the Cardinals. But an 8-13 swoon cost the Giants the pennant. The Cardinals won 18 of their final 23 and won the National League by a comfortable two games.

1938 Pittsburgh Pirates

With a month left in the season, the Pirates held a seven-game lead over the Cubs and Reds. On Sept. 21 that lead was down to 3 1/2 over the Cubs when the 1938 Long Island Express Category 5 hurricane ripped through the Northeast, postponing some games. In the final week of the season, the Pirates went 1-6, while the Cubs went 5-2 to ultimately win the National League by two games. Since then, the Cubs have won only one other pennant, in 1945.

1951 Brooklyn Dodgers

When September began, the Dodgers' 13 1/2-game lead was down to six games. Still, six games. They went a respectable 15-14 in September, but the Giants went a remarkable 21-6 to tie Brooklyn. It was part of a stretch that saw the Giants win 37 of their final 44, including a 16-game win streak. The late rally set up a historic three-game playoff for the NL pennant, which ended with the famous "Shot Heard 'Round The World'' by the Giants' Bobby Thomson.

1969 Chicago Cubs

When you talk about Cubs curses, this ranks right up there with the Steve Bartman play. On Sept. 7, the Cubs held a 7 1/2-game lead over the Mets in the NL East. When a black cat appeared in front of the Cubs dugout in a game at New York's Shea Stadium on Sept. 9, you knew the Cubs were in for bad luck. The Cubbies finished 8-14 and were passed by what became the Miracle Mets, who went 20-5 down the stretch and went on to beat the high-powered Orioles in the World Series.

1973 St. Louis Cardinals

On Sept. 7 the Mets were a crummy 68-73 and still somehow only four games behind the Cardinals in the NL East. Still, four games is a lot to make up in less than a month. The Mets did their part, going 14-6 in their final 20 games. But the Cardinals really did their part. They went 9-12 and not only lost the division, but lost it by a game and a half.

1964 Philadelphia Phillies

Manager Gene Mauch's Waterloo. In September, his team held a 6 1/2-game lead in the NL over the Cardinals and Reds with only 12 games left. While Mauch monkeyed with the pitching rotation, the Phils lost 10 in a row and ended up in a tie for second place with Cincinnati, one game behind the Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series over the mighty Yankees.

1995 California Angels

On Sept. 13, 1995, the Angels held a six-game lead over the Mariners in the AL West with a mere 17 games left. Seattle finished the season on a 13-4 tear. If the Angels, who earlier in the season led Seattle by 13 games, had gone even 7-10, they would've at least tied for the division. Instead, they went 6-11 and missed the postseason.

2007 New York Mets

One of the epic collapses in baseball history. On Sept. 12, the Mets had a seven-game lead in the NL East over the Phillies with only 17 games left. But in those final 17 games, the Mets went 5-12, while the Phillies went 13-5 to win the division. Not only did the Mets' nosedive cost them the division, it also cost them a wild-card spot to a Rockies team that won 13 of its last 14. The Mets, meantime, lost six of their last seven, all of which were at home. Five of those losses came to two of the worst teams in baseball — the Nationals and Marlins.

The biggest September collapses in major-league baseball history 09/04/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 4, 2010 10:37pm]
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