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The Browns and the 1962 Mets

Most people would consider the 1962 Mets to be the worst team in baseball history. Sure, you can talk about the 1899 Cleveland Spiders who lost 134 games, but that was a whole different time, a whole different era. Those Spiders were so bad and drew so poorly that teams simply stopped coming to Cleveland. No, seriously, they just stopped coming. They said that the revenue from Cleveland games didn’t even cover their expenses.

Wonder if NFL teams can do that now.

As a result, the Spiders played eight of their last 93 games at home. In all, that team played 112 out of 154 games on the road … and lost 101 road games. The Spiders were their own thing.

The worst modern team, by percentage, is the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics who went 36-117. That team had three 20-game losers on it, including the much beloved Jack Nabors who went 1-20. Nabors soon after joined the army, caught a serious case of influenza and died at the age of 35. In any case, this too was a different time — the Deadball Era — and it was at the start of that period when Hall of Famer and all-time great Connie Mack couldn’t afford to put a decent team on the field. Mack’s A’s had won three World Series and three more pennants when he felt the need to sell off everybody; Mack averaged 102 losses per season from 1915 to 1921.

The 1935 Boston Braves were remarkably terrible, they went 38-115 and not one pitcher with a decision on the entire team had a .500 record. No one was even 1-1. That Braves team, incidentally, was also managed by a Hall of Famer — Bill McKechnie. It’s amazing: The three worst teams of modern times were all managed by Hall of Fame skippers.

Maybe this is a reason to believe in Browns’ coach Hue Jackson.

Anyway, I like to think of the 1962 Mets as the worst team ever, perhaps because there are so many wonderful stories about their awfulness. They went 40-120 under the guiding influence of Hall of Famer Casey Stengel. My favorite story is well-worn but it never loses its joy, it’s the “Yo la tengo!” story. There’s a pretty great band named after it.

Apparently, Mets shortstop Elio Chacon was pretty reckless in how he chased after fly balls hit to centerfield. This concerned the Mets veteran centerfielder and future Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, who was 35 at the time and didn’t particularly fancy crashing into a 25-year-old kid. Chacon was from Venezuela, so Ashburn came up with a good idea.

“Elio,” he said. “How do you say, ‘I got it” in Spanish?” he asked.

Chacon replied: “Yo la tengo.”

Asbhurn practiced the words, practiced them, and that night a fly ball was lifted, it was Ashburn’s ball, but out of the corner of his eye he could see Chacon tearing after the ball with blood in his eyes.

“Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!” Ashburn shouted. And to his surprise and joy, Chacon stopped.

That’s when right fielder Frank Thomas plowed into Ashburn and the baseball dropped.

Anyway, the 1962 Mets have a special place in baseball history, and their 40-120 record has a certain mathematical elegance about it, and Jimmy Breslin wrote a classic book about them with the classic title “Can’t Anyone Here Play This Game,” so let’s go with them.

What do these guys have to do with the Browns other than their obvious shared stinkiosity?

Well, for that let’s thank brilliant reader Patrick who came up with my favorite stat theme in recent months. Patrick is a long-suffering Browns fan, naturally, and so he decided to look into how the Browns have done over their last 162 games to make a direct baseball comparison. He also decided to see how the same stat would look if the Browns lose their last two and finish 0-16 this year.

I think the Browns have a reasonable chance of winning one of their last two. They play the Bears this week in Chicago, and while the Bears absolutely COULD destroy them, well, the Bears aren’t all that good either, and they probably won’t be super motivated, so who knows? And then last week the Browns play Pittsburgh, which would be a 600 point loss if it mattered, but it likely won’t matter to the Steelers at all. So, it’s not impossible and perhaps not even crazy improbable that they win a cheap game.

But let’s proceed as if they go 0-16 like they should.

If that’s the case — and now we’re following Patrick’s chart.

0 wins in last 17 games.

1 win in last 35 games.

2 wins in last 43 games.

3 wins in last 46 games

4 wins last 53 games

5 wins in last 55 games.

OK, stop here. Look at that: Assuming the Browns lose out, they will have gone 5-50 in their last 55 games. We often joke about how a college football team, even a great one like Alabama, would get destroyed by NFL teams. I am one of the more staunch “No college team could compete against an NFL team” people.

BUT, I think if you gave Nick Saban this year’s Alabama team, put them through NFL training camps, kept them all together for four years, and had them play a three and a half year, 55-game NFL schedule, would they be worse than 5-50? I don’t know. I kind of doubt it.

Even if they were worse, they couldn’t be MUCH worse for various math reasons.

OK, keep going.

Browns won three in a row in 2014 (woo hoo!) so that makes it eight wins in 59 games.

OK, there was another two-game winning streak in 2014 and a three-game streak in 2013 and a three-game streak in 2012. Yes, they’re rolling. We are going backward so that that 2012 streak made them 18-68 over t86 games, which, yeah, that’s terrible. a .209 winning percentage, worse than any baseball team of the 20th century. But we have only barely made it to half a baseball season. So we keep going.

The Browns won 19 of their last 90, 20 of their last 102 (a sweet 11-game losing streak from end of 2011 to 2012 that you probably forgot about), 21 of their last 106. In 2009, under Eric Mangini, the Browns actually won four games in a row — yes, they were the last four games of the season against mediocre-to-lousy teams that didn’t care, but four-game streaks are four game streaks.

Counting that streak, the Browns will have won 33 of their last 139 games.

We’re getting close to the full baseball season now. But we’re also closing in on the 2007 season, the one semi-precious gem in the Browns treasure box of garbage. The Browns went 10-6 in 2007. Does that put them over the New York Mets?

Well, now it can be told. As of right now, the Browns are 39-121 over 160 games … one game worse than the 1962 Mets! BUT, this is cheating a little bit because this record butts up against a two-game winning streak. So over 162 games, which is a the real baseball seaosn number (the 1962 Mets played in a time when nobody cared so much about it) the Browns are 41-121. This would tie them with the Mets in the standings but it is three percentage points better than the Mets.

However, if they can just lose out this year, yep, it’s all theirs: The Browns would be 39-123 over 162 games, worse than the 1962 New York Mets. It is something to dream about.


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22 Responses to The Browns and the 1962 Mets

  1. Tom says:

    This is staggering. I’m a Broncos fan (hi Joe). It’s taken Cleveland 55 games to win 5. Denver has won 5 games this year alone, and this is the worst Denver team since Josh McDaniels was allowed to be in charge. From 2012 to 2015, Denver won 51 regular season games. Per your stat, Cleveland is nowhere near 51 wins in their last 10 seasons. Just amazing.

  2. John Cochrane says:

    The Browns won all four of their preseason games this year. Full-price-for-the-ticket kind of games. No? I guess not.

    • dtslcd says:

      John, there is historical precedent! My not-so-beloved Detroit Lions were 4-0 preseason the year they went 0-16, showing – well, I guess it shows you are wasting an incredible amount of time and money going to preseason games

  3. Brad says:

    Stinkiosity. I think that might be my new favorite word.

    • Brad says:

      Has anyone else noticed the strange posting times of the blog? I post at 8:33 pm CST, and the blog says 2:33 AM. Of course, there’s no way in hell I’m awake at 2:33, unless…well you get the idea. He must be using a server out of Ireland?

  4. Any interest in discussing Johan Santana here or on Joe?

  5. rabidtiger says:

    According to, the Detroit Lions went 39-123 from the beginning of 2001 to the end of 2010 Ten full seasons. The Browns have a history of more wins than losses. The Lions do not. They had a front office that was roundly criticized during the losing years. Matt Millen was the object of a lot of mouth-frothing.

    I come not to gloat but to say that winning modestly, even going to the playoffs, will occur again. No one knows when, but perhaps the tailspin will end before the club’s historical winning percentage descends to to Detroit’s level.

    • Brent says:

      I was wondering what long suffering Lions fan would look this up as I suspected they had to be close to the Browns record of futility. Of course, comparing apples to apples (or in this case one cr^**y Detroit team to another), the 2003 Tigers were 43-119 and then made the World Series 3 years later.

    • IRAM01 says:

      The sad thing is that Browns have a history of more wins than losses only because they took the stats from the Ravens. This franchise has far more losses. But its agreed, it will turn around at some point. Hopefully, before Joe retires from writing.

    • rabidtiger says:

      Correction: the Lions’ record for the lost decade was 39-121. On the bright side, if we disregard ties, the Browns would have to go 43-163 from the next game on to have a franchise record matching the Lions’ record NOW. Do you think the bar is set too high?

  6. MarkW says:

    A couple of important points, I think… first, yes the Mets played a 162-game season, but due to a rainout that no one really wanted to see made up, only played 161 (with one tie). So the valid comparison is 161, since, who knows, the Mets could’ve cranked it up and won the makeup. The Browns are 40-121 over 161, finishing behind the Mets at 40-120-1.

    Also, I think the Browns could really use a couple of rainouts right now.

    Second, I know that as a writer you are opposed to redundancy, so I am going to urge you to stop writing “long-suffering Browns fan.”

  7. Richard says:


    If you visit Lower Manhattan (Battery Park, Wall Street, City Hall Park), you should note the plaques inlaid in the sidewalk going up Broadway. These mark each and every ticker-tape parade held there in the “Canyon of Heroes”. Careful inspection shows that the Mets had TWO parades before the Yankees had their first! In 1962, welcoming the team to the city, and after they won the 1969 World Series. The Yankees didn’t get a parade until 1977.

  8. nightfly says:

    I gotta hand it to the Browns on one count: I have never spent so much time on football reference in my life. So it’s back to the site for more research on the bad ol’ Depression-Era Chicago Cardinals.

    Between their championship in 1925 and their improbable win in 1947, there’s an awful lot of bad Cardinals football. The worst stretch is from 1931-1945 – a stretch that actually includes a 5-4 campaign in 1931 – but includes the Wartime Cardinals (I should copyright that phrase at once), who were anything but warlike. Anyway, from ’31-’45 the Cards went 39-112-10, a 161-game stretch that surely must be considered in this conversation.

    Along with that, Detroit’s lost decade (2001-2010) as outlined by rabidtiger above, is among the Inverse Pantheon. Other contenders (heavy cherry-picking alert, of course):

    * TB, 1983-1996: the “Suckaneers” went 64-159 (.287), including a 26-85 stretch from ’83-’89
    * NO, 1967-1977: a run of 39-110-5; include ’78-’81 and it’s 59-154-5
    * ATL, 1966-1976: 50-100-4; rolls off the tongue quite pleasantly
    * Colts, 1978-1986: a disaster in any city, going 38-98-1
    * BUF, 1967-1971: the dark times – a 17-64-3 record. Going out to ’79 it’s 60-123-3
    * NYG, 1973-1980: the G-Men dragged to a 33-84-1 mark. No 2500-yard passers, no 1000-yard rushers in the whole time

  9. […] sportswriter Joe Posnanski published a story on his personal blog yesterday picking up a reader suggestion to compare the abject futility of the […]

  10. Mark Daniel says:

    Just because I thought it was interesting…
    Going back 10 years, the worst teams in all of MLB had the following winning percentages:
    Starting with most recent:
    .395 (2017), .364, .389, .395, .315 (2013), .340, .346, .352, .364, .366 (2008)
    The average is .363, which amounts to a 59-103 record.
    If you applied this to the NFL, you would have a 6-10 team.
    For the ’62 Mets, they were well below this average floor (0.250 vs. 0.363).

    In the NFL, over the same time period, the worst winning percentages are/were:
    .000 (2017), .063, .188, .125, .125, .125, .125, .125, .063, .000 (2008).
    The average is .094.
    FYI, the Browns had the lowest winning percentage in 2017, 2016 and 2015, but not any of the other years.
    That’s about a 1.5-14.5 record.
    If you applied that to MLB, you’d have a 15-147 team.
    The Browns, if they lose out this season, would have a .240 winning percentage, which is significantly higher than the average floor in a given NFL season.

    So…they have that going for them.

  11. Rodney Payne says:

    Submitted for your review: the 1974-75 Washington Capitals of the NHL who went 8 wins, 67 losses and 5 ties in an 80 game season. 10.00 winning percentage and 13.125 points percentage (2 points for a win and 1 point for a tie).

    The next year, they went 11-59-10, for a combined 19 wins, 126 losses and 15 ties in 160 games.

    Putrid doesn’t begin to describe it.

  12. rabidtiger says:

    While we’re busy cheering Joe up, let’s remind him that the Houston Astros of recent vintage went 162-324 (2011-2013). That’s .333 for a winning percentage. Not as bad as it could be, but three very bad years undoubtedly. With the proper vision and energy, the dollars will be allocated where they ought to go. A big “if” for those of little faith.

    The worst franchise history winning percentage in the ML seems to be San Diego’s .462. In the NFL, the worst career record for extant teams is Tampa Bay’s .387. They had 12 consecutive seasons of 10 or more losses. But they have a Super Bowl win. I’m not smart enough to know what this means, if anything.

  13. Make Whitfield Beat You says:

    Mets get mitigation for being a first-year expansion team (one that would win a championship in only its eighth season). New Browns have existed since 1999, been in one playoff game (2002, lost), and have arrived at this streak after years of favorable draft positions. They have no excuse. They’re the worst.

  14. The Mets were blessed with a Hall of Fame broadcast trio: Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy, both Frick winners, and Ralph Kiner, who is in as a player. Lindsey said one day Casey Stengel told him the team needed to work on “the little finesses,” like hitting behind the runner and bunting. That day, the Mets lost 19-1. Lindsey saw Casey after the game and Casey said, “The little finesses ain’t gonna be our problem.”

    That would be a good motto for the Browns.

  15. Brent says:

    “Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!” Ashburn shouted. And to his surprise and joy, Chacon stopped.

    That’s when right fielder Frank Thomas plowed into Ashburn and the baseball dropped.

    and Frank Thomas reportedly said after the game, “I don’t know what a ‘yellow tango’ is.”

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