The Warriors’ quest for 73 wins has spawned a lot of contextualizing. This morning, our local FM sports station, 95.7 The Game, asked where it would fit among the greatest sports records (team or individual) of all time. The San Jose Mercury News wondered aloud where 73-9 would rank among the greatest seasons ever among Bay Area teams.
Just for fun, let’s compare it to the greatest regular-season record in Major League Baseball history. And you all know what that was, right?
In case you’re wondering, and you probably are, the greatest record in MLB history is 116-36, posted by the 1906 Chicago Cubs.
All week long, the Warriors have been talking about the magic of 73 wins, about how they have long viewed the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72-10 as a virtually unbreakable mark, about that numeral – 72 – being seared into their collective consciousness.
So why is the Cubs’ 36-loss season so obscure? In a way, you might expect it to be the most celebrated team record. Baseball is more obsessed with numbers than any other sport, and the sheer age of the record, 110 years and counting, makes it incredible.
But no one talks much about 116-36. It probably got some play when the Seattle Mariners put together a brilliant run in 2001, going 116-46 behind Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and Jaime Moyer. But as a number, neither version of 116 stands out a whole lot.
Neither the 1906 Cubs nor the 2001 Mariners won the World Series. Maybe that’s why their marks fail to register. If the Warriors should get upset in the postseason, perhaps 73-9 (assuming they beat the Grizzlies tonight) will fade, too. But here’s a more likely explanation: too many games in baseball.
Even the greatest team in regular-season MLB history lost 36 games. That’s a lot of losses. As Golden State’s Harrison Barnes said today, he remembers each of the Warriors’ nine losses this season. You have to wonder if Mordecai Brown recalled each of the Cubs’ 36 in 1906.
As evidence, I submit the following numbers: 11-0, 14-0 and 16-0.
The first might be a little hard to recognize. The others, with a little reflection, probably jump out as the Miami Dolphins’ regular-season record in 1972 and the New England Patriots’ mark in 2007. (The Chicago Bears went 11-0 in 1942, but lost to Washington in the NFL championship game.) Even more indelible is 17-0, the Dolphins’ flawless record after they beat Washington in Super Bowl VII. The Patriots were upset by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, but that doesn’t erase 16-0.
Clearly, the NBA mark falls somewhere in the middle. It isn’t as obscure as 116-36, but it doesn’t pack the wallop of 16-0, either. Here in the Bay Area, 73-9 would probably live for a good long while in our memories – longer than 72-10, one would presume, so there’s plenty for the Warriors to gain against Memphis tonight.