Maui Sports

Time to panic for 0-3 teams

October 2, 2009, 8:14 AM HST
* Updated October 2, 8:17 AM
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By Fred Guzman

MauiNow.com

Knowledgeable baseball fans are well aware that their sport’s regular season is a marathon. But NFL fans should also be aware that, as a result of a much shorter schedule of 16 games, their season is a relative sprint.

Since the playoffs were expanded to 12 in 1990, 76 percent of the teams – 62 of 82 — that started the season with three straight wins went on to make the playoffs. Last year, each of the four teams that opened 3-0, including three eventual division champs, qualified for postseason play.

But fans whose teams have gotten off to a 0-3 start have every reason to be in panic mode. Over that same span, less than 2 percent of the teams — a mere 3-of-204 — that started 0-3 reached the playoffs: The ’92 Chargers, ’98 Bills and ’98 Lions.

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That doesn’t bode well for Tennessee, Carolina and Miami – three teams that qualified for last year’s playoffs but remain winless.

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Of the three, Tennessee has the best chance of bucking the long odds, starting with a win over struggling Jacksonville this weekend.

Carolina has fallen apart since being beaten at home in the playoffs by Arizona, while Miami is saddled with a back-breaking schedule after having gone from 1-15 to 11-5 and a playoff berth last season. Miami hosts Buffalo this week. Carolina is idle.

The other four winless teams are – and never were — going anywhere. Cleveland, Kansas City, St. Louis and Tampa Bay are all every bit as bad as expected.

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LOCAL BOYS IN BIGS: Within the past year, Maui’s Shane Victorino has won a World Series ring, captured a Gold Glove and was the National League’s starting center fielder in the All-Star Game.

The times could get even better. The Phillies have clinched a third straight NL East title and will next open a bid to become the first team to double up as World Series champs since Yankees in 1999 and 2000.

Victorino has become an integral part of a team that includes former MVP’s Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, as well as All-Star Chase Utley. The pitching staff features some familiar names as well: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez.

Shane is batting .293 with 10 homers and 61 RBI. His 13 triples rank first in the majors. His 101 runs rank eighth, 39 doubles ninth, 25 steals ninth in the NL.

He’s become something of a cult figure in Philly and popular nationally thanks to his playing style and the success of his title team.

While the spotlight is constantly on the Phillies and, by extension, Shane, that is hardly the case for Kurt Suzuki.

He has been one of the most productive and consistent players for his team. Unfortunately, the reliable catcher labors in relative obscurity for the struggling Oakland Athletics. Kurt is having a very solid season of his own, batting .272 and leading the team with 36 doubles, 236 total bases and 87 RBI.

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