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There is everything to hope for, and nothing to fear

June 1st, 2017 at 2:33 PM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

I write this on Wednesday night, the eve of the NBA Finals. I’ve been having a great time learning about the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, a tower of incompetence even in the Cleveland sports skyline, and I wanted to tell somebody about it. So thank you.

In short, the Cleveland Spiders of 1899 were the worst thing ever. They were owned by a guy called Frank Robison, who that same year purchased the St. Louis Browns, which had just gone bankrupt. Just as there weren’t rules governing draft-pick exchanges before Ted Stepien, there weren’t rules governing multiple-ballclub ownership before Frank Robison. We certainly know how to pick our owners, don’t we?

To paraphrase Rachel Phelps, the Cleveland Spiders didn’t draw dick. And while the Browns weren’t a great team, St. Louis was a great market. It was a top-five city at the time, one that would go on to host both the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics in 1904. Cleveland, while a large and growing town, wasn’t spending much of its hard-earned scratch on the Spiders.

So what Robison did was, he sent seven of the Spiders’ best players, plus the entire starting rotation, which included a 31-year-old Cy Young, to the Browns. He mortgaged the Spiders franchise in hopes of propping up the Brownsâ??and that might be insulting to mortgages.

The sediment left in Cleveland went on to go 20-134, the worst record in the history of big-league baseball. Their .130 winning percentage is the most putrid of all time. They lost 101 road games, a record that will never be broken and was only enabled because opponents refused to travel to League Park, knowing they’d be lucky to get 200 fans through the gate. The ace of the Spiders rotation was Jim Hughey, who went a cool 4-30 with a team-best 5.41 ERA. The pitching staff as a whole averaged 3.8 walks and 1.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

The point is, this team was absolutely God-awful. It was worse than even the Brownsiest of Browns; Charlie Frye probably could have won five games for the Spiders. They were sort of pro team that Kentucky or Bama actually could beat. I find them fascinating. They’re the biggest loser in a town that has seen hundreds of them.

Even after The Block and The Shot, much of Cleveland’s sporting identity, and civic fabric in general, is …

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Tags: Cavaliers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Spiders, Golden State Warriors, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, NBA Finals

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