The Cleveland Indians’ American League-record 22-game winning streak puts Arizona baseball legend Terry Francona among two other Wildcat icons who have experienced winning stretches of record proportions in their respective sports.
Francona, the manager of the Indians, guided his team to its 22nd straight win Thursday night in a 3-2 triumph in 10 innings at home over the Kansas City Royals.
The Indians on Wednesday broke the American League record of 20 straight wins achieved by Oakland in 2002. They passed the 1935 Chicago Cubs on Thursday for the second-longest streak, trailing only the 1916 New York Giants, who won 26 in a row.
LONGEST WINNING STREAKS IN NFL, MLB AND NBA[table “” not found /]
Former Arizona defensive lineman Tedy Bruschi — a member of the famed Desert Swarm defense — was part of a New England Patriots team that won an NFL-record 21 straight games between 2003 and 2004.
The Patriots, with Bruschi a captain at linebacker, also won 18 straight games to start the 2007 season before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl at the end of that season.
Arizona basketball icon Steve Kerr and legendary figure Luke Walton were part of NBA history with Golden State’s 28-game winning streak between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
The winning streak is the second-longest in NBA history behind the 33-game mark achieved by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1971-72 season.
The Warriors began the 2015–16 season by winning their first 24 games, eclipsing the previous best start in NBA history, set by the 1993–94 Houston Rockets and the 1948–49 Washington Capitols at 15–0. Their record-setting start ended when they were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 12, 2015.
Kerr was the coach on the bench at the end of the 2014-15 season but he was not present at the start of the 2015-16 season because of complications from a back surgery. Walton, an assistant, coached the Warriors in Kerr’s absence, but he is not credited with the victories during the 24-0 start in 2015-16 because the NBA only acknowledges head coaches with wins and losses.
The Indians have outscored opponents 142-37 in their winning streak.
Francona would rather not focus on the streak judging from his comments with reporters after Monday night’s win over Detroit.
“I get it, I just don’t feel like going there, because it sends the wrong message,” he said. “Our message has been consistent. Show up and try to out-play them today. We try to stay in the moment. Play the game at hand, then turn the page, because there’s another game tomorrow. I really feel that’s the best way to do it.”
After Tuesday night’s win, Francona took on a lighter tone when it came to superstitious behavior during the streak.
“I got one really good buddy, one of my best friends, but he’s notoriously bad luck,” Francona said. “Everybody kind of refers to him as like the gray cloud. He knows who he is, and you talk about superstitions, I will not talk to him. He is a text only.
“Oh, yeah. He knows. It cost me one job, he’s not getting in the way again.”
After Wednesday’s win, Francona mentioned his team “should enjoy what they’re doing. It’s pretty special.”
“I think they’re enjoying themselves,” he said. “They should. I think what’s kind of cool about our game is when you do things, and you do them the right way, I think it means more. Our guys are playing the game to win the right way.
“That part’s very meaningful.”
After the dramatic win over the Royals on Thursday, Francona labeled the streak as having a “terrific” impact on Cleveland.
“It’s kind of cool: You’re hearing ‘Cleveland’ a lot,” he said. “If people are walking around with their chests out a little bit, I’m glad — because I like it here and I like the people here. So I think that’s maybe a byproduct of this (streak). It’s not going to help you in the standings, but it’s good for Cleveland. Anything like that I think is terrific.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.