A history of Giants June Swoons

Thearon W. Henderson

It is not a pretty history

June Swoon. You might think this is a baseball phrase, something that every team has to hear when they go on a losing streak in June. You would be right, but it probably started with the Giants. Here's the oldest mention of "June swoon" in the New York Times archives, from June 12, 1971.

Screen_shot_2014-06-27_at_10.16.58_am_medium

Here's something Nick Peters wrote in 1990:

Convincingly destroying the myth of the June Swoon, the Giants are heading for their best month in San Francisco. The record is an 18-5 April in 1971. The June standard is 19-11 in 1964.

We pay attention to the June Swoon because it's a month of bad baseball after expectations were heightened. It doesn't really exist -- it's like the "things happen in threes" canard -- but our brains see a pattern. That means it's probably time to look at the greatest June Swoons in San Francisco Giants history because you were having too much fun at work.

Here are the Giants' June records since moving to San Francisco, sorted by the difference between June winning percentage and overall winning percentage:

Year June wins June losses June W-L% Overall W-L% Difference
1981 2 7 .222 .505 -.283
1974 7 20 .259 .444 -.185
1994 8 19 .296 .478 -.182
1992 7 19 .269 .444 -.175
1958 10 17 .370 .519 -.149
1987 11 16 .407 .556 -.149
1960 11 16 .407 .513 -.106
2007 9 18 .333 .438 -.105
2013 10 17 .370 .469 -.099
2000 13 13 .500 .599 -.099
2005 10 17 .370 .463 -.093
1971 13 15 .464 .556 -.092
2010 13 14 .481 .568 -.087
1968 14 16 .467 .543 -.076
1962 16 13 .552 .624 -.072
1965 14 13 .519 .586 -.067
2003 15 12 .556 .621 -.065
1967 16 16 .500 .562 -.062
1973 13 14 .481 .543 -.062
1963 14 15 .483 .543 -.060
1983 12 16 .429 .488 -.059
1961 15 15 .500 .552 -.052
1985 10 20 .333 .383 -.050
1996 10 17 .370 .420 -.050
1975 14 17 .452 .497 -.045
1969 15 14 .517 .556 -.039
2002 15 12 .556 .590 -.034
1970 12 12 .500 .531 -.031
1976 13 17 .433 .457 -.024
1982 14 13 .519 .537 -.018
1997 16 13 .552 .556 -.004
1995 12 14 .462 .465 -.003
1977 14 16 .467 .463 .004
1959 17 14 .548 .539 .009
1998 15 12 .556 .546 .010
1978 17 13 .567 .549 .018
1972 13 15 .464 .445 .019
1966 18 12 .600 .578 .022
2012 17 11 .607 .580 .027
2006 13 13 .500 .472 .028
2008 13 14 .481 .444 .037
1993 19 9 .679 .636 .043
1988 14 11 .560 .512 .048
1986 16 12 .571 .512 .059
1984 14 16 .467 .407 .060
1999 16 11 .593 .531 .062
1979 13 13 .500 .438 .062
1980 15 13 .536 .466 .070
2001 17 10 .630 .556 .074
1989 18 10 .643 .568 .075
2011 17 11 .607 .531 .076
1964 19 11 .633 .556 .077
2004 18 10 .643 .562 .081
2009 17 10 .630 .543 .087
1991 17 10 .630 .463 .167
1990 19 8 .704 .525 .179

Notes:

  • The Giants have been better in 24 of their 56 Junes, worse in 32.

  • The worst June Swoon was in 1981, but that doesn't count because of the strike. The real stinker was in 1974.

  • The Giants don't like strike seasons. They hate to see their parents fight like that.

  • Last year's June Swoon was followed with a July Apocaly and August Schmaugust, so it looks bad, but it got a whole lot worse.

  • The Giants have made the playoffs 10 times since moving to San Francisco; in only two of those seasons did they play better in June than they did for the cumulative season.

  • Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter. Look at the no-hitter! Everyone look at the no-hitter.

  • I liked that no-hitter.

  • I don't like June Swoons, and I think they're mean.

More importantly, the Giants' record in June is 770-772, which is a .499 winning percentage. The Giants have been a .509 team since moving to San Francisco. The difference is negligible. There is no such thing as a June Swoon, at least anything that falls outside the normal parameters of what we should expect every year.

But the words sure do rhyme.

The part about expectations crashing down is the most important thing, probably. When a team stinks in April, we just assume they stink. Same in May. But when they get our hopes up and then stink in June, it's crushing. We think the team is a nice blind date, but then halfway through the dinner, they start describing how they follow Limp Bizkit on tour every summer. Last year's July was the revelation of a Fred Durst tattoo, and last August was the existence of five-year-old Freddie Jr., who's at home with the sitter.

The Giants are mostly terrible right now, but hopefully they won't be for long? That's all I got. This is a June swoon, alright. Even if it doesn't exist, we're living through it right now. Stop it, Giants.

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