Every town that has a losing team in some professional sport decides that their grief deserves the most attention. NO ONE has it worse than they do, except for the other towns that do have it worse. And who cares about those fans you’ve never met? They just don’t understand! Boston fans were like this for a long time, and we loved them for it. They were the Chicken Little waiting for sky to fall, the bottom to drop out, the good times to end. That attitude was tragic then, and after their success it just makes them unbearable bad sports. “We KNEW we were going to lose to the Giants, that game was always going to turn out like that.” Please cry into your 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. This list is different. These sports fans have not seen a championship in decades and have been forced to endure countless turmoil on top of their losing seasons. These are fans so cynical and dejected that they basically support their hometown team only because it gives them some sort of self-hating pleasure. Or they are transfixed, as we all are, in the prospect of next year…
To add some context for this list:
We only selected towns that had multiple sports franchises and only took into account professional sports franchises in the 4 major sports of Football Baseball Basketball and Ice Hockey. It is too hard to consider college teams and if you are a fan of some smaller sport it doesn’t qualify as mainstream in our eyes. We also factored in how intense fans were about the sports in question. I understand the Florida Panthers have never won a Stanley Cup, but somehow I don’t think that hockey resonates with the general public down there. So lets jump in, shall we?
A quick glance, Seattle has been a part of major sports since the 1970’s and the city does have one championship in 1979 for Basketball to hold onto. Their fans are passionate given that their 12th man has been notorious for coaxing NFL Quarterbacks into off-sides penalties. They also have managed to sync a lot of their jerseys with the same lime green color which speaks to the unity a lot of fans feel with their sports teams. However, they have failed in every attempt since 1979 to secure another title in a major sport. The Seahawks made their magical run to the Super Bowl only to lose to Big Ben. The Mariners have been lucky enough to find talents and draft talents such as Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Ichiro Suzuki. However, the market was just too small for the owners to afford to keep all their great players. They have watched all but Ichiro walk away in free agency or a last minute deal due to pending free agency without attaining much major success. These issues are frustrating enough for any town to deal with but the major reason they make this list is because of the franchise they lost.
The Seattle Supersonics were sold to a group from Oklahoma City in 2006 to become the franchise now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder. The idea at first was not to move team but that keyed on a new arena deal which seems to be a standard demand for most franchises these days. The team had a lease but was having problems staying in their current facility which prompted them forcing a legal battle to escape their lease earlier than was planned. This eventually was successful and the team was moved to Oklahoma in 2008. To add salt in the wound, the team had been SO bad for so long that owners had accumulated a number of high lottery draft picks in players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Now the Oklahoma City Thunder (I don’t get it either) are one of the top teams in the NBA and seem ready to compete for the title for many years. All that pain and suffering of losing your team punctuated by seeming someone else bearing the fruit of your losing seasons…not exactly a good feeling. David Stern’s grin fucking won’t go really far to soothing Seattle. I personally don’t see how a consolation franchise could make you feel better. That team doesn’t always have the same feel as the one that got away. Any new Seattle team would have a clean slate and lack the history of the team that left. Later, we will get into that type of pain in a little more detail.
The city of Cincinnati has a strong baseball history with the Reds but their team’s success has started to fade into history. They have been shockingly mediocre since their last World Series in 1990, and seem to spend more time debating whether Pete Rose (a member of the Famed Big Red Machine) should be in the Hall of Fame and less about the success of the current roster. But many midwest franchises have fallen on hard times recently with the financial explosion of baseball. You either have to be ready to spend more money than the Philadelphia’s and the St. Louis’s or hope to draft well and put together the right combination of home grown talent (i.e. Moneyball). This team is at least more dignified than the calamity of the Bengals franchise that is also in the city.
The Bengals have never taken home a title to the town which, much like the rest of the Midwest, adores football. But the way the Bengals fail have really made sports fans cringe. The countless draft busts in supposed franchise saving players such as Akili Smith, David Klingler and Ki-Jana Carter have been poster boys for the losing seasons that made most fans go to the games wearing paper bags. They have made some recent strides at success but those years have not come without turmoil. Least we forget this video. The team had a group of selfish players, many of whom have become the poster boys for “character risks”. We aren’t talking about Chad Ochojohnson, we are talking about Cedric Benson being arrested, the tragic career of Chris Henry, the recent folly of Jerome Simpson (you know, the guy whose flip was on ESPN Top Plays for like 4 months), and Adam Pacman Jones because the team thought they could handle them. Every time we see the Bengals have some success they punctuate it with off the field problems that lead to suspensions, and unfortunately, after this playoff run, one can only hope it doesn’t happen again
Buffalo at first doesn’t seem that tragic. The Sabres are a fairly old franchise that hasn’t managed to get over the Stanley Cup hump but they have very committed fans and a new hope with the Pegula ownership group. The Bills Fans are constantly at the top of the “Best Tailgating list.” The fans seemed really energized with the early season success of the Bills this year, and you have to respect the passion of these fans considering it’s so god damn cold up there. We just have to ask, if these fans are such dedicated fun people, HOW CAN THEY KEEP GOING AFTER LOSING FOUR STRAIGHT SUPER BOWLS. FOUR. IN. A. ROW. IN. FOUR. YEARS. Jim Kelly has to be one of the saddest people out there. You’d think that they would get lucky once. You honestly cannot make that one up. Is this the town that “Any given Sunday” forgot? They haven’t made the playoffs since the late 90’s!. Losing is one thing but long term failure after 4 straight heartbreaking defeats in the biggest football game of the year….just feels too tragic. Maybe one year Buffalo finally win one, but that’s got to be just as bad as some of the baseball curses.
Sorry Lebron. This isn’t all about you.
This is about the Cleveland Browns. A team that had its glory days back in the 1960’s. Their last playoff appearance was in 2002 and they have their own recent history of draft busts such as Tim Couch and Courtney Brown. The real tragedy was how they ended up losing their franchise for a few years.
Relocation stories can be tragic but some have happy endings. The Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis, but Baltimore got a franchise and both the Colts and Ravens have won Super Bowls and enjoyed many winning seasons in recent memory. Baltimore happened to get its franchise by relocating Cleveland’s historic franchise to Baltimore, and Cleveland got….an expansion team. Nice. Not quite the same. Having an established franchise versus building one from the ground up just sucks. You KNOW your team is bad and that you are going to have to endure early failures for at least 2-3 years before hoping to compete. The expansion team got to keep the Browns name and legacy but that didn’t change the fact that the fans didn’t have football for THREE YEARS. The fans were famously violent after their final home game and did a number on the stadium. The real stick in the eye was that the new Baltimore franchise would go on to win the Super Bowl 4 years after relocation, which can only make fans annoyed that their team could have had a long awaited Super Bowl. Instead they lost their team and got to start over while many players that they drafted got to hoist the trophy the Dawg Pound has is still waiting for.
The Cleveland Indians have also been fairly unsuccessful outside of losing the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins. They last brought a championship to Cleveland in 1948, which just increases the championship drought of this town. LeBron James energized the town when he was drafted because he was a local talent who was tabbed as the next Michael Jordan, which made the town feel that long awaited success was just around the corner. But in the end, a few failed playoff runs made James make an over-hyped “Decision” to play with another group of All Stars in Miami. But he was not the wound, he’s merely more salt poured in the wound. He might get booed when he goes to play there, but Art Modell (Browns/Ravens owner) basically had to choose not to return to Ohio (not the worst thing ever).
1. New York, NY. Specifically a fan who supports the Jets, Knicks, Islanders, Mets.
I must be abundantly clear about this choice: I AM NOT GIVING NEW YORKERS A LICENSE TO COMPLAIN. I just happen to know a lot of people who support these 4 teams, and recent events have made me pity their sports choices. If you are a New Yorker who happens to like 3 of these teams but like the Rangers, Yankees, Giants..you are not a championship starved fan and are just a dick.
A New York Jets, New York Mets, New York Islanders, and New York Knicks fan. New York is that town that every league has been trying to cram two(three) franchises in since the dawn of American Sports. The owners’ thirst for consistent revenue has torn many New Yorkers in different directions when considering who to support. While you can’t say EVERY New Yorker thinks like this, you can’t deny that some of these sad sacks do exist.
The New York Jets have been forced to endure 4 crosstown Super Bowls since their lowly triumph in Super Bowl III when many Americans were still not into the NFL. Fortune gifted them Rex Ryan whose lust for feet and overselling his team have made two bad near misses at the Super Bowl hurt even more when the Giants celebrated. This year, the Super Bowl could have been named the Rex Ryan bowl. A scenario where the Jets fan was forced to either watch the Giants gain their second Super Bowl under once hated Coach Coughlin and Quarterback Eli Manning OR watch Brady and Belichick walk away with their Fourth Super Bowl in recent memory.
The New York Mets. Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets, Come on out and please please buy the Mets. This team has had its share of bad losses and hard luck but many fans seemed to take the high road because the Yankees were the evil empire and they were the likeable brother by default. They had their uplifting World Series titles that they could cling on to. But recent failures have made it hard to remember 25 years ago; the team has slammed into rock bottom because of their involvement in Bernie Madoff’s elaborate ponzi scheme defrauding investors out of countless amounts of money. Trustees are seeking over 386 Million Dollars from the club alone and that’s not the only problem with this. Many of the lucrative contracts the Mets were handing out over the years involved future bonuses, which they decided to sink into (wait for it) Bernie Madoff accounts. No one can be an optimist in this situation. The team is in a financial hole that has WAY too many zeros in it. You can already see the fallout from this: the team was forced to watch beloved homegrown shortstop Jose Reyes walk to Division Rival Miami (Florida) without so much as an offer, and they will most likely be forced to watch another organizational favorite in David Wright walk away unless someone can find a way to walk them out of their multi-million dollar debt.
The New York Islanders. No one can remember, with much detail, the 4 Stanley Cups. The Islanders have made bad business moves, bad financial moves, bad free agent moves, bad management moves, bad drafting moves, bad political moves….just bad. The team was recently denied a new arena by voters and has even had press when season ticket holders were trying to find ways of destroying their tickets. I will only give you a couple examples of their poor moves because frankly I do not have the patience. Alexi Yashin was, once, a huge point scoring machine for the Ottawa Senators. The Islanders made a blockbuster deal to trade for Yashin by dealing the Number 2 overall Selection in the 2001 draft, forward Bill Muckalt, and a lankly 6’9” player by the name of Zdeno Chara. The draft pick was used for Jason Spezza who has been a very productive NHL player and Chara would go on to captain the Stanley Cup winning Boston Bruins. Yashin was immediately signed to a 10 year contract, which, even after being bought out in 2007, was counted against the Islanders salary cap until 2011. Next, Rick DiPietro, the number one overall selection in the 2000 draft was supposed to be the next big thing in goaltending (I’ll gloss over Roberto Luongo being drafted a few years before by the Islanders). They took him over two highly touted forwards in Marian Gaborik and Dany Heatley, (both turned into are very productive NHLers) while Rick DiPietro has been a perennial unhealthy scratch since he signed a 15-year 67.5 million dollar deal. They are going to be paying this man until 2021. I don’t know many players I would want to commit to for 15 years but a goaltender with a history of (sometimes comical) injury problems is NOT one of them. Seriously, were other teams beating down the door trying to sign this guy? He’s had how many surgeries? Done! Sorry, I’m going to stop, I’m actually starting to feel bad.
The Knicks have not won a title in a very long time and even with the Jeremy Lin era starting, there is very little to hold onto. They had good players during the Jordan era which means they didnt win anything and they also have had their own Islanders-esque contracts in Allan Houston and have seem incapable of truly breaking up with Isaiah Thomas.
So there you have it! These are the top 5 tragic sports fans. Feel free to disagree, I just felt the financial woes of the New York teams pushed them just ahead of Cleveland, but feel free to comment. One can only hope that one of these cities gets lucky enough to see another championship. Here is a short list of teams that are quite close to making this list in the near future:
Minnesota: The Twins success just keeps fading into history and the Wild have not done much of note. Oh yeah that Brett Favre thing didn’t really work either.
Kansas City: Chiefs haven’t been great and the Royals have not been competitive for a while.
Oakland: Billy Bean era may have run it’s course and the Raiders are…the Raiders.
The redemption list:
When I was making this list, I thought about what it would have looked like 10-15 years ago and it is rather surprising to see the cities that have fallen off it. This makes me think that the 5 cities on the list are truly cursed.
Philadelphia: Thanks to the Phillies, no more 1980 talk. I know they would love a Super Bowl but you can’t really complain that much after a World Series (or you can).
New Orleans: What a change. No longer the Aint’s, few of us can even remember that era anymore.
Tampa Bay: Just like the Saints, we can put away the Yucks nickname thanks to the Buccaneers.
Boston: Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins. Wow we learned to hate this town really really quickly.