Jay Tibbs holds an odd place of honor in Orioles lore. On May 2, 1988, he was recalled from Rochester and became the first O's pitcher to win a home game that season. This was, of course, the team that set an American pro sports record by starting the season 0-21 before eking out a win in Chicago. They then lost the last two games of that road trip to return to Baltimore with a 1-23 record. 50,402 ridiculously loyal fans packed Memorial Stadium to watch Tibbs and the Birds outlast the Rangers by a score of 9-4. Of course, the righthander went on to tie with Jose Bautista for the team lead with 15 losses. In my mind, Jay takes the booby prize as the worst starter on that team by the tale of the tape: 4-15, 5.39 ERA as opposed to Jose's 6-15, 4.30 line.
That 1988 team was back in the headlines last week, which is an unusual occurrence in December. They found their record for early-season futility being challenged by the NBA's New Jersey Nets, who set a new pro basketball mark by losing their first 18 contests before finally grabbing that first "W" last Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats. As the Nets got within spitting distance of the Orioles' dubious milestone, I was conflicted in my rooting interests. On one hand, any time your favorite team becomes a little less synonymous with failure, that's a good thing. But there's something about that "0-21" that is like a perverse badge of honor. If nothing else, it's a constant reminder that things should never be as bad in Birdland as they once were.
Still, when you compare the respective streaks, the Nets' 0-18 holds a bit more weight than our 0-21, what with the NBA season being half as long as MLB's schedule. That's to say nothing of last year's 0-16 Detroit Lions, who did not win a single NFL regular-season game. I suppose crumminess is all relative.