The Toronto Blue Jays are down in the American League Championship Series, losing their first three games of the series to the Cleveland Indians. Blue Jays fans don’t need some smug internet jerk to tell them this doesn’t look good. But, well, I saw the smug-internet-jerk silhouette in the sky, and I came as fast as I could.
There have been 34 times that a baseball team has been down 0-3 in a best-of-seven postseason series. One of those teams has come back to win.
League Championship Series
1988 - Oakland Athletics over Boston Red Sox (4-0)
1990 - Oakland Athletics over Boston Red Sox (4-0)
1995 - Atlanta Braves over Cincinnati Reds (4-0)
1998 - San Diego Padres over Atlanta Braves (4-2)
1999 - Atlanta Braves over New York Mets (4-2)
2004 - Boston Red Sox (down 0-3) over New York Yankees (4-3)
2006 - Detroit Tigers over Oakland Athletics (4-0)
2007 - Colorado Rockies over Arizona Diamondbacks (4-0)
2012 - Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees (4-0)
2014 - Kansas City Royals over Baltimore Orioles (4-0)
2015 - New York Mets over Chicago Cubs (4-0)
1907 - Chicago Cubs over Detroit Tigers (4-0-1)
1910 - Philadelphia Athletics over Chicago Cubs (4-1)
1914 - Boston Braves over Philadelphia Athletics (4-0)
1922 - New York Giants over New York Yankees (4-0-1)
1927 - New York Yankees over Pittsburgh Pirates (4-0)
1928 - New York Yankees over St. Louis Cardinals (4-0)
1932 - New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs (4-0)
1937 - New York Yankees over New York Giants (4-1)
1938 - New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs (4-0)
1939 - New York Yankees over Cincinnati Reds (4-0)
1950 - New York Yankees over Philadelphia Phillies (4-0)
1954 - New York Giants over Cleveland Indians (4-0)
1963 - Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Yankees (4-0)
1966 - Baltimore Orioles over Los Angeles Dodgers (4-0)
1970 - Baltimore Orioles over Cincinnati Reds (4-1)
1976 - Cincinnati Reds over New York Yankees (4-0)
1989 - Oakland Athletics over San Francisco Giants (4-0)
1990 - Cincinnati Reds over Oakland Athletics (4-0)
1998 - New York Yankees over San Diego Padres (4-0)
1999 - New York Yankees over Atlanta Braves (4-0)
2004 - Boston Red Sox over St. Louis Cardinals (4-0)
2005 - Chicago White Sox over Houston Astros (4-0)
2007 - Boston Red Sox over Colorado Rockies (4-0)
2012 - San Francisco Giants over Detroit Tigers (4-0)
The oddest part isn’t that one team has done it in 35 chances. We’ll resort to quick and dirty math. If you give both teams in a postseason series an equal chance of winning any particular game, that means there’s a 6.25 percent chance of either of them winning four games in a row. That’s two out of 35 series, so one more comeback over the next couple decades, and the math is normal.
The oddest part is that 29 out of those 35 series ended with the losing team not winning a single game. We looked at the possible reasons the last time we did this, and there isn’t an obvious, foolproof explanation. Just one of those things? A losing team that’s simply demoralized? The winning team detecting the blood-scent of championship in the water?
Regardless, it’s the 2004 Red Sox, and then it’s everyone else. Sorry, Blue Jays fans.