After winning the World Series in 2004, thus breaking their own 86 year title-less drought, the Boston Red Sox celebrated in the locker room. Pitcher Curt Schilling raised a bottle of champagne in the air & cried out “Why not us!?” Well, the cities home to these sports franchises have to be saying “Why Us?!”
These are cities with teams that have long playoff droughts and/or never won a championship.
Browns: After many ups and downs from the 1950’s through the 1970’s, they were on an upward trend through the early 80s’ peaking in 1986 going 12-4. The Cleveland Browns had a good offense and an even better defense. Their starting QB Bernie Kosar had a great season, passing for 3,854 yards and 17 touchdowns. He along with five other teammates made the Pro-Bowl. They lost in the AFC title game that year to the Denver Broncos which will forever be known as “The Drive”, in which John Elway marched the Broncos 98 yards down field throwing the game tying touch down pass to Mark Jackson; and later kicker Rich Karlis made the game winning field goal.
They met two other times in the AFC championship game and lost both. After some rough rebuilding years they made the playoffs in 1994 under current Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The Following season team owner Art Modell in a shocking move packed up the franchise and moved to Baltimore. To say fans were angry was an understatement: they rioted, set fires, and protested. This move was so infamous that even when Modell passed away, some fans had a hard time showing sympathy.
After that fiasco, the Browns made the playoffs just once (2002 losing in the wild card round to the Steelers). Need some more evidence of the bad luck this franchise has endured? They went 10-6 in 2007, and still missed the playoffs. They managed to pull off this ‘feat’ with two 1,000+ receivers (Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr.), a 1300 yard rusher (Jamal Lewis), and rookie QB Derek Anderson tossing 29 touch downs.
Cavaliers: More recently they have had better luck than the Browns, although the infamous phrase, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” set back a franchise at least three more years. From the late 80’s to early 90’s they put together very competitive teams with the likes of Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, and Larry Nance. Like many teams during that period who dared to compete, they were simply told, “No sir” by Michael Jordan and the Bulls, who eliminated them from the playoffs in 1988, 1989, 1992, and 1993. They have never won an NBA title, going to the NBA finals just once in their 43 year history.
After their last playoff appearance in 1998, they were simply inept for the next six seasons posting win totals of 22, 32, 30, 29, and 17. Good fortune struck as they drafted high school phenom Lebron James in 2003 and they became competitive. By his 4th year in the league, they were in the NBA finals. The Cavs remained among the NBA’s elite teams until James left for the Heat in 2010 and won 2 titles. Record with Lebron James from 2004-2010: 349-235, since he left: 64-166.
Indians: Haven’t won a title since 1954 and throughout the 70’s and 80’s were a wretched team. They began a turnaround in 1993 finishing with 76 wins and went 66-47 during the strike shortened 1994 season. From 1995-2001 they went to the playoffs and despite a power house team averaging 93 wins, were unable to win the World Series. They went twice, losing to the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and Florida Marlins in 1997. From 2002-2012 they’ve made the playoffs once.
Bills: All you really need to know about this franchise is they went to the Superbowl four years in a row from 1991-1994 while boasting a team loaded with stars and lost each of them. They haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, with only one winning season. Despite a rabid fan base they still continue to disappoint.
Sabres: They have been a solid team throughout their tenure but haven’t won title in their 43 year existence and have gone to the Stanley cup finals twice, most recently 1999. In 2005-06 and 2006-07 they made it to the conference finals both times and lost.
Raiders: A once proud franchise has become the laughingstock not only among the NFL, but pro sports as a whole. During the 1970’s to 1990’s they were among and sometimes THE elite team in the NFL. Those days are long gone with no real end in sight. From 1974-1990 they had 12 winning seasons, 10 playoff appearances, 4 conference championships, and won 3 Superbowl titles. Other teams were intimidated to play them in the Oakland Coliseum, which was dubbed the “black hole” because of its hostile environment. After reaching another Superbowl in 2002, they didn’t make the playoffs again and owner Al Davis had more misses than hits through the draft and free agency. In addition to that, from 2003 until the present they’ve gone through five coaches and have a record of 49-111.
Golden state warriors: Although they’ve shown promise of late, it doesn’t mask the fact they are similar to their football counterparts. A mediocre team in their early years, Golden State had a brief run of success with Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch Richmond (they were dubbed “Run TMC”). They were an exciting threesome that averaged 73 points between them and led a juggernaut offense that was among the top teams in scoring. It didn’t last long however, as Richmond and Hardaway were traded, and Mullin was slowed by injuries.
After a promising 50-32 season in 1993-94 led by rookie Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell, they spiraled out of control to the tune of having a losing record in 16 of the next 18 seasons before making the playoffs this year. The Warriors haven’t won a title since 1975, hopefully that’ll change in the future.
Athletics: They have been the better of these 3 franchises. They won the World Series in 1989, sandwiched in between two other appearances in 1988 and ’90. However, having three aces on their pitching staff (Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder), making the playoffs four years straight (from 2000-2003), and compiling two 100 win seasons only to lose in the first round each year is widely considered a disappointment.
4. KANSAS CITY
Royals: It’s tough for me to write about how bad things have been, so imagine being a fan seeing it. Listen to this: since 1995, they’ve had just ONE winning season and four seasons of losing 100+ games, and haven’t made the playoffs since 1985. Hard to believe throughout the 1980’s they were a competitive team with 7 winning seasons while going to the World Series twice, winning one. Those days are long gone.
Chiefs: Pretty decent team as a whole, but haven’t won a title since 1969 and own a paltry 29-67 record in the last six years making the playoffs once. Maybe the change from Scott Pioli of Patriots fame as GM to Mike Holmgren will be the recipe for success this once proud franchise needs to return to the top of the NFL.
Raptors: Came into the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1995 and have gone to the playoffs just four times. That may not sound THAT bad, but keep in mind in the NBA’s Eastern Conference you can make the playoffs with a sub .500 record. They haven’t had many stars outside of Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. After their last playoff appearance in 2008, their last five win totals have been: 33, 40, 22, 23, 34.
Blue Jays: After some great years that fell short in the 1980’s, they peaked in the early 90’s with solid pitching, hitting, and defense. As a result, they made the playoffs three consecutive years from 1991-1993 and won back to back World Series titles(1992 and ’93). The Jays topped 4 million in attendance each of those 3 years, yet since then have struggled to go over 2 million.
A mere two years after winning, they finished last place in their division. They haven’t made the playoffs since winning the title and have endured plenty of losing seasons. Perhaps the free agent acquisitions and trades they made last winter will bring them to the top of their division again, but as of yet they are still in last place.
Maple Leafs: They have won 13 Stanley Cup titles in their 86 year history, and as a whole consistently made the post season. The Leafs however, have not won a title since 1967, and missed the playoffs 7 consecutive years before making it this year. Their bad luck struck yet again this Spring when the Leafs were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the 1st round after blowing a 4-1 lead with 7 minutes to go in the third period of game 7.
So sports fans/readers, those are some of the more tortured sports cities. If you know of any you’d like to add, please do and of course, tell us why.
Title update on 01/15/19. Post Originally entitled, “How Much More Can We Take? Most Tortured Sports Cities”