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There Is No 26-Game Win Streak in MLB

People are debating where the Cleveland Indians' current win streak stands in MLB history because the 1916 New York Giants won 26 times in 27 games.

by Sean Newell
Sep 14 2017, 2:11pm

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians won again last night, bringing their incredible streak to 21 straight wins. It is an American League record, and ties the 1935 Chicago Cubs for most consecutive wins. Notice I did not say "in MLB history" at the end of that sentence. That's because there is, of course, some debate about this, because baseball is a sport with so many nooks and crannies that you could debate anything.

(For example, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 and for some reason, as Giancarlo Stanton approaches 60 this season, people want to argue about whether he will be the "true" single-season record holder if he somehow passes Roger Maris's record of 61, which is not the record.)

Anyway, there has been argument brewing about the Major League Baseball record for consecutive wins that has, on one side of the debate, an indefensible position. It's possible that the Indians keep on rolling and all this becomes moot, but frankly it already is: the 1916 New York Giants do not have a 26-game winning streak.

Nearly 101 years ago, the Giants got hot early in the season, and won 17 consecutive games in May of 1916. Later that season, they scuffled before going on another streak, this time 12 straight wins. Their next game, on September 18, was a 1-1 tie with Pittsburgh. The Giants then rattled off 14 more wins before losing the back end of a double-header with the Braves on September 30. They are somehow credited with a 26-game consecutive wins streak, despite this streak containing 27 games.

I don't know how you argue that a streak of games that were won consecutively also is split in half by a game that was definitionally not a win. I don't know how any sane person could agree with this point of view. Sure, it's not a loss, so you don't want to hold it against them, but if you are talking about the largely meaningless statistical anomaly of games-won-in-a-row, this doesn't count. It can't! At no point in time did the 1916 New York Giants win 26 games in a row. Pull out a 1916 calendar and plot out all the games of this streak and trace your finger over every single day that they won, until you get to a day that they did not win. Tell me what number you get.

And no one wants to talk about a "most games won without a loss streak" because that is too many words and sounds stupid (although it does tidily align with baseball framed as a game of failure—no, STOP, I will not be swayed!).

Jose Ramirez gets it:

Is it semantics? No. It's words having meanings. First, "consecutive," which Merriam-Webster defines as "following one after the other in order." I mean, it should really end right here. This is, as they say, the ballgame. Second, "games": uh, a baseball game. Finally, "won," the past participle of "win," to gain the victory in a contest. Does tying—i.e., "not losing"—sound like being successful or victorious? It does not; you would say you won if you were allowed, but you're not.

The Cleveland Indians are now 90-56 and sneaking up on the Dodgers for best record in baseball. The 1916 Giants finished in fourth place in the National League.