The Best Seasons In Professional Sports History

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With one more win, the Golden State Warriors will surpass the 1995-'96 Chicago Bulls to post the best regular season record in NBA history: 73-9. As they stand on the cusp of this monumental feat, here are some other high marks across the world of professional sports.

HOCKEY

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The same year the Chicago Bulls set the NBA record with wins in a season, the 1995-’96 Detroit Red Wings broke the NHL’s single-season record with 62 wins (record: 62–13–7). Astonishingly, Detroit failed to make the Stanley Cup Finals after the Colorado Avalanche upset them in the Western Conference Final.

While that Red Wings team surpassed the 1976-'77 Montreal Canadiens total of 60 wins, the 132 points tallyed by that Habs team (record 60812) is still an NHL record. That year, the Canadiens outscored their opponents 387-171.

BASEBALL

1906 Chicago Cubs // Wikimedia Commons

The 1906 Chicago Cubs' 116-win, 36-loss season still stands as the best record in MLB history. That mighty Cubs team lost to South Side rivals the White Sox in that year’s World Series, proving the ball club had a knack for excruciating futility long before the curse of the Billy Goat.

The 2001 Seattle Mariners managed to tie that Cubs team for wins when they went 116-46. Because of the longer 162-game season, their win percentage of .716 is behind the Cubs’ .763 mark set in the 152-game 1906 season.

SOCCER

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The 95 points earned by the 2004-'05 Chelsea squad is the highest single-season total in English Premier League History. That team won 29 games, the most ever in a single season. The previous year, Arsenal won the league while going undefeated (26 wins, 12 draws), but their points total was five shy of the mark Chelsea would set the following year.

In Spain’s La Liga, the highest-ever points total was set by Real Madrid in 2011-’12, when they finished with 100 points (32 wins, 4 draws, and 2 losses). Both record-setting Chelsea and Real Madrid teams were managed by José Mourinho.

In Europe’s other top-tier league, Germany’s Bundesliga, the 2012-’13 Bayern Munich squad’s 91 points is an all-time record. That will go unmatched for at least one more year—even if the current Bayern Munich team wins all their remaining matches, they will still finish one point shy of the mark set by the 2012-'13 squad.

FOOTBALL

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The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team to win the Super Bowl without losing a single game during the regular season. Their record, Super Bowl included, was 17-0. Members of that Dolphins team still pop champagne as soon as modern NFL squads threatening to break the record lose their first game. Mercury Morris and company had to wait all the way to the Super Bowl in 2007 to uncork the bubbly—the New England Patriots fell to the New York Giants at the final hurdle, marring their attempt to become the only 19-0 team in NFL history.

6 Times the Olympics Have Been Postponed or Canceled

Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been officially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan agreed to push the start date back to 2021 after Canada, Australia, and other countries announced they would not send athletes to the Summer Games this July.

The Summer Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world, typically bringing more than 10,000 athletes from dozens of countries together every four years, The New York Times reports.

It's extremely rare for the Summer or Winter Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Since 1896, when the modern Olympic Games began, it has happened only six times—and it usually requires a war.

The Olympic Games were canceled during World War I and World War II. The 1940 Summer Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo, were postponed due to war and moved to Helsinki, Finland, where they were later canceled altogether. The current coronavirus pandemic marks the first time the competition has ever been temporarily postponed for a reason other than war. Here's the full list.

  1. 1916 Summer Olympics // Berlin, Germany
  1. 1940 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan and Helsinki, Finland
  1. 1940 Winter Olympics // Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  1. 1944 Summer Olympics // London, United Kingdom
  1. 1944 Winter Olympics // Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
  1. 2020 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan

6 Surprising Ways Baseball Actually Favors Lefties

Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during game five of the National League Division Series in 2019.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

If you grew up playing baseball, tee-ball, softball, or any other derivative of America’s favorite pastime, you might be familiar with certain positions left-handed people are unofficially prohibited from playing—you’ll hardly ever see a left-handed shortstop or third baseman, for example, because they’d be facing the wrong direction for any throws to the right side of the field. However, there are plenty of other parts of the game that are equally important as efficiently making outs at first or second base, and some of them can even favor lefties. Read on to find out how left-handed batters, pitchers, and more have an edge against their right-handed competitors below.

1. Left-handed pitchers have a better view of first base.

Since a left-handed pitcher faces first base when he’s gearing up to pitch, he can easily see if a first base runner is leading off (i.e. taking a few steps off the bag, with the intention to steal second base). This makes for some pretty spectacular fake-outs where a pitcher will feign throwing a pitch and instead flip it to the first baseman, who can tag the runner out before he can get a foot (or finger) back on the bag.

2. Left-handed batters are closer to first base.

Left-handed batters are simply standing a little closer to first base than right-handed batters. As former MLB player Doug Bernier explained for Pro Baseball Insider, an extra step or so can be the difference between getting thrown out at first base or making it safely there, especially if it’s an infield hit. That said, not everyone agrees the slightly shorter distance to first base is enough to give left-handed batters an advantage on infield hits in general. In a 2007 article for The Hardball Times, John Walsh argued that since lefties hit more ground balls into the right half of the infield—giving first and second basemen a shorter distance to cover to make the out at first—their one-step head start isn’t statistically significant overall.

3. Left-handed batters’ momentum is already carrying them in the direction of first base.

Even if a shorter distance to first base isn’t enough to give a left-handed batter the edge on every occasion, he also has the laws of physics on his side. When a lefty swings, the momentum of the bat is moving to the right—i.e. toward first base—so he gets to run in the same direction he’s already moving. Righties, on the other hand, swing toward third base and have to break the momentum to sprint in the opposite direction. Dr. David A. Peters, a professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (and baseball aficionado), calculated that lefties’ momentum means they’re able to travel to first base about one-sixth of a second faster than righties.

4. Left-handed first basemen are facing the right direction to throw the ball to another infielder.

If the ball is hit to a left-handed first baseman, he’s already in the ideal position—with his right foot closest to his target—to throw it just about anywhere else in the infield. This is especially helpful when there’s an opportunity to make an out at second or third base, which he’d usually prioritize over the first base out. A right-handed first baseman, on the other hand, might have to pivot as much as 180 degrees to get his left foot where it needs to be to throw it to another infielder.

5. Left-handed batters perform better against right-handed pitchers, which are more abundant.

In baseball, it’s generally agreed that batters fare better when hitting against opposite-handed (OH) pitchers, so much so that coaches sometimes stack their batting lineups with lefties when they know a righty will be pitching, and vice versa. “With the dominance of right-handed pitchers in the game,” Dan Peterson writes for gameSense Sports, “the left-handed hitter comes to the plate with a built-in advantage.” The advantage itself has to do with the direction of the pitches.

“With a right-handed release to a right-handed batter, the ball seems to be coming right at him,” Peterson explains. “The same pitch coming from the opposite side provides a better view across the body.”

6. Right field is shorter than left field in some parks.

detroit tigers comerica park aerial view
An aerial view of the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park.
NASA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When professional baseball stadiums first started cropping up in the late 19th century, there wasn’t a league-wide set of dimensions to standardize their size and shape (in fact, for the most part, there still isn’t). Since the majority of batters were right-handed—and, as such, more likely to hit the ball into left field—some stadiums featured left fields that were significantly deeper than their right fields. Take Philadelphia’s Columbia Park II, which opened in 1901 with a 340-foot left field and a 280-foot right field. Those short right fields meant left-handed batters would have an easier time hitting home runs. While most modern stadiums have quite literally evened the playing field with more symmetrical dimensions, some of them still have discrepancies; the right field foul pole at the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park, for example, is a whole 15 feet closer to home plate than its left field foul pole.

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