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For many, May dismay precedes June swoon

A moment of sympathy, please, for the last-place teams. Or at least those who are asked to pay to watch them play.

By now, we see where the flops might be buried in baseball. Where the customers could be in for a long summer, which is nothing new to many of them. Just look at the bottom of the standings.

There are groans from Philadelphia and moans from Kansas City. Cincinnati is grumbling, Seattle restless. As for Tampa Bay and Colorado, they’ve seen this before and will again.

Oh, this is barely May. But it doesn’t take long for despair to flourish in last place. The preseason optimism turns out to be a mirage in the desert. The new guys lose just like the old guys. Suddenly, only the bobble-head giveaway dates in the summer – or the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox visits – are generating much advance sales.

Misery comes in all shapes, sizes and numbers. (The following numbers are through Monday.)

The Kansas City Royals are 2-12 at home.

The Colorado Rockies have been outscored 87-35 in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, including 22-0 at home in the seventh.

The Philadelphia Phillies have one starting pitcher with an ERA of 10.57 and a part-time starter at 14.14.

The Cincinnati Reds have blown ninth-inning leads of 9-3 and 5-1, just in the past week.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have six wins from their starting pitchers.

The Seattle Mariners recently went 39 straight innings without having the lead.

Some of the afflicted are resigned to their fate. The Tampa Bay community has never seen a baseball team lose fewer than 91 games in a season. The citizens of Colorado are accustomed to watching respectability at home, and then waving as their pitching-poor troops head off to inevitable disasters at sea level.

The Rockies are 2-15 on the road this season. Colorado pitchers have walked 153 batters, 21 more than any other staff in baseball.

Kansas City has not had a playoff team since the World Series champions of 1985. The Royals teased their city with an 83-79 record in 2003, but lost 104 times last year.

Seattle won 116 games four years ago. By last season, the roster a shell of its former self, Seattle lost 99. The current Mariners have hit 19 home runs … or just eight more than Alex Rodriguez, whose name might ring a bell in Seattle.

Most bitter of all may be the patrons of Philadelphia, who are about as understanding as great white sharks, anyway. They were led to believe the Phillies were building a contender with a $95 million payroll.

Alas, the pitching has been unstable and the hitting is the worst in the National League. There is venom in the air. Hell hath no fury like a Philly fan scorned.