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The Angels are now the only expansion team to have a .500 record

Jul 8, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

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It’s odd to think of a team that has been around for 53 years as an “expansion team,” but that’s what the Angels are. They, along with the version of the Washington Senators which became the Rangers, started play in 1961, representing the first expansion in Major League Baseball since the American League came online in 1901. Then came expansion in 1962 with the Mets and the Colt .45s (Astros) and 1969 with the Expos, Pilots (Brewers), Royals and Padres. Then 1977 with the Mariners and Jays, followed by the Marlins-Rockies in 1993 and the Devil Rays-Diamondbacks in 1998.

But despite all of that expansion history, no expansion team sat at .500 or above as play began last night. With their win over the Blue Jays last night, the Angels are now even at 4,272 wins and 4,272 losses.

Now, they aren’t the first expansion team to break .500. As Dbacks’ Vice President Josh Rawitch noted on Twitter last night, Arizona was 652-644 between 1998 and 2005, getting over the .500 hump and staying there for a time after their first couple of seasons. Such early success for an expansion team is unusual, however, and they have since sunk below sea level. The Angels were above .500 twice in their first four seasons, but they had not been at .500 in the aggregate since they were 1-1 following the second day of the 1961 season. They’ve spent over 50 years climbing out of the hole they dug. Pretty cool.

Also cool, at least if you’re an Angels fan: they have the second best record in all of baseball this year and, since May 7, they top everyone with a 36-19 mark. This is a very good Angels team right now, folks.

  1. chill1184 - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Kinda curious if MLB is willing to expand again

    • paperlions - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      I’m sure they’d love to as soon as more local politicians step up and offer to spend 100s of millions of tax dollars to build stadiums to gift to billionaires along with 10s of millions in annual tax breaks and other such corporate welfare.

    • scotttheskeptic - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Contraction is needed. Unfortunately the last 2 rounds of expansion were driven by the need to bring in franchise fees to the other owners, who were still reeling from the collusion settlements of the 80s. In doing so, they dove into markets with no hope of supporting an MLB franchise.

      • nolanwiffle - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        Like (thumbs up)

      • grumpyoleman - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:43 AM

        Kind of silly they did away with the thumbs so you can’t give a guy props without having to write out a comment. Thumbs up.

      • Bryz - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        Refresh your page, grumpyoleman. Then the thumbs reappear.

      • echech88 - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        Sad but true.

        In fact, most American pro-sports leagues would benefit from contraction. Over-expansion in the 90s is widely considered to be the reason why the NHL had such a serious dip in quality.

        All the unions would fight this tooth and nail though. You can’t tell them with all the new TV money pouring in that there is a serious need to eliminate hundreds of jobs for players and drive salaries down.

      • grumpyoleman - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        Thanks Bryz

  2. adenzeno - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    I have long though(for whatever that is worth) that baseball should have four 8 team divisions, grouped geographically, you play a 152 game schedule, play within your division and then play only one other division, that way everyone within a division plays the same schedule. Then the next year, rotate the other division that you play(my English teacher is wondering if I paid ANY attention after that sentence).Take the top 2 teams in ea division. EX 14 games within your division A (98games), 8 games wi Division B(64 games). Next year you play Division C etc etc. Geographically setting them up saves travel $$$, probably offsetting lost revenue-fewer games = smaller pitching staff??(suure) wi a better more useful bench…Just my 2 cents

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      I’ve got the schedules for either that, or eight four-team divisions:

    • twinfan24 - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      With 162 games (or even 152 in your example), there is no reason not to play every team for at least a 2 game series. Teams are selling for billions of dollars, do you really think travel costs are that much of an issues for these teams? The NBA has half as many games and manages to play every other team twice. That would also give every team within a division the same schedule (and drop the “rivalry series”). I want a chance to see every player play against my team every year and every other year in person, if I so choose.

  3. jjohnb5393 - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    The Marlins have won more WS than the Cubs.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 8, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Unless the Cubs forfeited a Series win, they’ve both won 2.

      • whatacrocker - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        You didn’t hear that Joe Tinker accepted “illegal benefits” in 1907, and so the Cubs were stripped of that title by the NCAA?

  4. sdelmonte - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    Interesting thought: of the expansion teams, the Rangers, Brewers, Expos, Rays and Astros have changed their names (with first three moving); and the Angels and Marlins changed the name of the place they represent (and Angels having also moved). Plus the Astros and Brewers have changed leagues. Never mind that many of these franchises have been fairly unstable in one way or another. Or that nine haven’t won a title yet. (The Mets and Marlins winning so quickly remains noteworthy.)

    Expansion is by no means a failure. But long term across-the-board stability, in terms of identity, location and quality of play, is clearly hard to achieve.

    • scotttheskeptic - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      You neglected the Diamondbacks in your parenthetical comment. They were quicker to prize than either the Mets or Marlins.

      • sdelmonte - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        D’OH! How did I forget that? I suppose their recent drop to the bottom of the sea can make one lose sight of the past, but to forget the D-Backs’ comeback and everything that series meant even to Mets fans? I need to take my baseball memory pills.

      • mybrunoblog - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        I think what the Mets did was much more impressive than what the Dbacks did. The Dbacks won a championship in th free agency era. Much easier to land players through free agency and trades in 2001 than in 1969. The Mets bred a team, the Dbacks built theirs. Same with the 1997 Marlins. Free agency was a huge part of their 1997 title.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        I need to take my baseball memory pills.

        Consult an MLB trainer first to make sure they’re not on the banned list.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Well, of the original 8 NL teams, two moved west; one moved twice and eventually to Atlanta. Of the original 8 AL teams, one moved to Minny, one to Baltimore and one moved twice, eventually to Oakland.

      The two NL teams from NYC moved before the first expansion, as the Braves did with their first move. The Browns moved before the first expansion, as the A’s did the first time. The Twins moved at the same time as the first expansion.

      So, your “interesting thought” really doesn’t mean much.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

        As for name changes? Two of the three AL moves did it. Other original teams did it long ago. Boston Red Stockings/Bees/Beaneaters, anybody? Brooklyn Bridegrooms/Superbas/Robins? Chicago White Stockings? St. Louis Brown Stockings/Browns/Perfectos?

        Teams changed their names a lot in the early days (which at times might have reflected instability, or might have reflected early ideas on marketing). Teams changed their names after getting some stability, like the later changes for the teams that eventually became the Braves and Dodgers.

      • sdelmonte - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        Except that since expansion began, the original 16 have settled down. The last of those teams to move was the A’s. What instability there is in baseball franchises seems to be limited to a small number of teams.

      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        True, but one person’s “instability” is an owner’s “greener pastures.” Corbett in DC found out the same thing as Griffith; nobody was attending Senators’ games. St. Louis? The city was no longer a viable two-franchise spot. Arguably ditto for the Braves, plus Milwaukee loved them when they first moved. Also ditto for sure for Philly.

        On the expansion teams? The Brewers were always slotted for Milwaukee; the “Seattle Pilots” were just a one-year temporary landing spot, so scratch that example in my book. The Angels haven’t moved since the mid-60s, and that was going from a minor-league stadium to an MLB one. By the same standards, the Dodgers, and the Giants, have both moved since their initial move to the West Coast.

        Name changes, as I point out, mean little as to instability.

        The league changes? The second, especially, was required by Bud to get balanced scheduling. So, blame him for doing that without expansion (or contraction). Of itself, it has little to nothing to do with “instability.”

        So, again, I don’t see any of your points as marking today as some great era of instability.

      • jwbiii - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        The Orioles also moved twice. They were the 1901 Milwaukee Brewers.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Heck, did we count the Yankees playing as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901-02 before moving to New York as the Highlanders?

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      The Halos only moved from Wrigley and Dodgers Stadium in LA to Angel Stadium, hardly comparable to the Seattle Pilots moving to Milwaukee. Probably more comparable to the Mets moving from Shea to Citi.

      • sdelmonte - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

        Except they changed their name to the California Angels, which implies they were going after a different fanbase. It’s more like the Nets moving from NJ to Brooklyn. The same but not the same.

  5. nolanwiffle - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    The Rangers came into existence in 1972. The ’61 Senators moved to Minnesota (the Twins) and Washington was immediately given an expansion team. That team then left for Arlington Texas after the 1971 season.

    • johnnysoda - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      I’ve never understood why the original Senators left Washington, and then a new expansion team immediately took their place. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the original Senators to stay in D.C, and for Minnesota and Los Angeles to get expansion teams?

      • nolanwiffle - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        Yes, but as the story goes……by 1960, Washington, D.C. was becoming an increasingly black city as its white population moved to the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. Calvin Griffith didn’t think black people would fill his stadium, so he headed to whiter pastures in Minnesota.

        Not sure why MLB then immediately awarded D.C. an expansion team. But a really shiity owner would move them to Texas only ten years later. And thus, our nation’s capital was without the “national pasttime” over 30 years.


      • Bryz - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        The original plan was for Minnesota to get an expansion team while the Senators stay in Washington, but Calvin Griffith (then owner of the Senators) convinced MLB to let them move to Minnesota and give Washington the expansion team. About 17 years after the move, he made a pretty racist comment explaining why he brought the Senators to Minnesota.

        “It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. It’s unbelievable. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking, white people here.”

      • Francisco (FC) - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        More sense for whom? Certainly not the owner who wanted to move OUT of Washington to begin with.

  6. 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Baseball just hasn’t been the same since they let the Dodgers leave Brooklyn. Nothing should ever change.

  7. andreweac - Jul 8, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    Mike Trout is the answer — not 42.

    • mazblast - Jul 31, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      42 is the answer. Especially in baseball (and I’m not talking about Mariano or Mo Vaughn, either).

  8. Bob - Jul 8, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Astros were less than 10 games under .500 after 2008 season and it took them about 40 years to get over all of the 90-loss seasons of the ’60s. Five consecutive losing seasons (3 with 100 losses) and 17 under this year has sunk them back to more than 200 under .500. It will probably take them another 50 years or more to get back to .500.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 8, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Hey, maybe they can get there with a couple 100 win seasons. They’re going to win the World Series in 2017, right? 😀

  9. tmc602014 - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    There’s nothing there. Years of poor performance cannot be overcome except by long term, consistent high performance. But still: the Phillies are over 1,000 games under .500. Yet seven WS appearances are more than sixteen other teams, who can only dream of a history like that.

  10. 1coaster1 - Jul 10, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    “The Angels were above .500 twice in their first four seasons, but they had not been at .500 in the aggregate since they were 1-1 following the second day of the 1961 season”.

    It may be picky, but the facts don’t support what was written. How do you get ABOVE .500 twice in four seasons if they didn’t get TO .500 again after falling to 1-1? I believe the answer is they didn’t. This was the first time since falling to 1-2 that the Angels got to .500.

    Again being picky, the Angels had a winning record of 1-0 for four days. Winning on Tuesday and not playing again until Saturday when they lost at Boston. That would be the second game of the season not the second DAY of the season. For purposes of this story, it makes a difference, they were above .500 for a total of four days in franchise history.

    Finishing 21 games under .500 in 1961 the Angels never made up that ground at any time in their first four seasons. 4,272 – 4,272 was the first time they got to .500 since they were 1-1 and so obviously never above the .500 mark since they were 1 – 0.

    Picky? As a long time Angels fan I actually care.

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