Congratulations Boston! You’ve won yet again another sports title. Over the last decade or so, the Massachusetts metropolis has seen championships across all four major sports. The Patriots (4) in football, the Red Sox (3) in baseball, the Celtics (1) in basketball, and the Bruins (1) in hockey have all brought home their respective league’s highest honor.
That’s an incredibly impressive feat. Sure, a team in any given league might excel across a few seasons, being competitive and maybe even repeating as champions. However, to see more than one team from the same city win, let alone all four, is remarkable.
Of course, not every city can be Boston. In fact, most aren’t even close to being half as lucky. There are numerous cities across the sports landscape, from coast to coast and border to border, that just can’t seem to get it together. There are sports fans in towns across North America that have long been waiting for something to cheer for.
The prevailing belief in sports is that for any given game, anyone can win. And taking that forward, when the season starts, any team has a shot at the championship. One in thirty or thirty-two aren’t the worst odds when vying for world supremacy. It doesn’t really work like that though. In almost all four leagues, you can knock a handful of teams out of consideration before the first quarter of the season has been completed.
Which means that there are a lot of familiar losers on the outside looking in. There are those teams, for whatever reason, (including just having a legacy of failure to look back upon) that can’t get it together for a big win. With respect to their current situation and future outlook, here are the most hopeless sports cities in North America.
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15 Tampa Bay – St. Petersburg
This sunny locale will be facing some tough times in the near future. Their only hope lies with the Lightning, a playoff-bound hockey team (but 15 others will make it too). The Buccaneers have been pretty terrible, but they have some hope with the top draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Still, that likely won’t manifest itself into anything for a few years while the Rays have lost their brilliant manager, while being in the toughest division in baseball with the rebuilding Red Sox, the resurgent Blue Jays, and the powerful Orioles.
Okay, this is a bit of a cheap shot since Jacksonville only has one major professional sports team, which is why they're not higher on this list. Still, the Jaguars have been terrible for years and seem in a constant state of rebuilding. They’ve loaded up with a lot of young players to get better, and maybe have a decent quarterback, but they're still pretty far away from contention. What makes them even more hopeless is that there's a chance the Jaguars move, which would end their legacy of being lackluster in Jacksonville.
Sure, the Panthers made the NFL playoffs this past year, but they came out of the worst division and were streaky at best last year. Meanwhile, the Hornets show little signs of life, with two playoffs appearances in the last 10 years and no postseason victories. They had just seven wins in 2011/12! Granted, the season was locked out to start, but they still lost 59 times. Hockey isn’t going much better for them, as the Carolina Hurricanes are among the worst teams in the league and will not make the playoffs for a sixth straight year.
Hope you enjoyed those recent NBA championships Miami, because nothing good is heading your way for a while. The Heat may still be the best sports team in the southern city, but Dwyane Wade isn’t going to play forever. The currently mediocre Heat give way to three other teams, but none are in a position to go deep into the playoffs, if they make them at all. The Dolphins are rebuilding, still unsure at quarterback, while the Marlins are also rebuilding (but they have a nice new stadium to play in). The Panthers, albeit forgotten as they're in Sunrise (which is near Miami), are battling for a playoff spot with an aged goalie and few fans.
Sure, Peyton Manning may have another year left with Denver, but as long as Tom Brady is in the AFC and Seattle still has a solid defense, is there really any chance of the Broncos winning a Super Bowl? It’s been a pair of great regular seasons for the team, but they will have a new coach and Manning, who once again comes with a lot of injury concerns and question marks. Meanwhile, the Rockies, Avalanche, and Nuggets are all stuck in the middle. In the last five years, they have a combined six playoff appearances with no series victories.
10 San Diego
Arguably one of the most underachieving teams in football comes from San Diego, as the Chargers always seem to have all these offensive talents but can never do enough with them to win. After four straight seasons in the playoffs, they have made it once in the last five, despite having consistency at quarterback throughout. Meanwhile, the Padres boast a quality pitching staff but not much in the way of hitting. Once in eight years have they been over .500,and their two playoff berths since 1999 ended in first round losses.
Over the last two years, the Nationals have been picked by many to not only make the World Series, but win it. Of course, they have no wins to show for it. After acquiring the best player in Max Scherzer, expectations will be high again. It’s rather similar to the Capitals, that for many years were dominant before the playoffs but once the postseason arrived, choked. The Wizards have become relevant, but don't seem capable of beating a Western Conference team in they were to make it to the NBA Finals. Then there is the football team that has turmoil on and off the field. They have seven wins in two seasons, no quarterback, an unproven coach, and a name controversy.
There was a strong argument to be made that the Houston Texans possessed the NFL MVP this season. J.J. Watt is an incredible athlete and footballer without question. Of course, that didn’t help get the Texans into the playoffs. And you know what? It will be no easy task for the next 15 years or however long Andrew Luck is in their division. Since the greatness of the Rockets in the mid-nineties, they have been average, which is the worst thing you can be in the NBA. They’ve finished between fourth and ninth in the West in 11 of the last 12 seasons, winning one playoff series in seven post-seasons. Then there are the Astros, a club that has had a losing record six years in a row and seven of the last eight. What’s more, they have one World Series appearance in their 50-plus year history, but zero World Series wins.
For all the talk about Chip Kelly and the Eagle's high-flying new offense, they are largely mediocre. They failed to make the playoffs this year and suddenly it seems like their gimmick has been figured out. Whereas once it seemed any quarterback could fit into the system, now it could be that neither Nick Foles nor Mark Sanchez is the answer. Elsewhere, the Phillies have completely turned over, getting older, losing players, and falling towards the bottom of the NL East. The Flyers are mediocre, losing in the first round of the playoffs last year while likely missing the postseason this time around. Then there are the anemic 76ers, who thanks to the Knicks, aren't in last place in the league right now with 12 wins.
It seems that for the remainder of the Andy Dalton's and/or Marvin Lewis' tenure, the Cincinnati Bengals will enjoy admirable regular seasons only to lose out in the playoffs. That’s their move. They are consistent and unremarkable. In baseball, meanwhile, the Reds have made the playoffs four times since they won the World Series in 1990. Of late, they they're very similar to the Bengals, as in their last three playoff appearances, including twice when they won the division, they lost in the first round.
A metropolis that prides itself on a history of brewing, this largest city in Wisconsin boasts two major franchises, and neither really has any hope of doing anything. The Bucks won an NBA Championship in 1971, and since 1991, they have made only eight playoff appearances. That span saw just two series wins (both in 2001). They had 15 wins last year, but are doing better this season, though they're nothing more than a single-series contender. The Brewers, meanwhile, have been in existence since 1970, lost in the World Series in 1982, and have two postseason appearances since then.
Nor far from Milwaukee is another cold city that doesn’t have too much to get excited about (that’s a theme among the top part of the list), despite having four professional clubs. Let’s see: the Vikings are competing with two strong teams in their division, have a sophomore QB, and lost their RB to scandal. The Twins has finished no better than fourth in their division the last four years and their last three playoff appearances involved being swept. The Wild have been decent in the NHL, making the playoffs the last two seasons, but were eliminated by Chicago both times. This year, they're on the outside looking in. Then there are the T-Wolves, a club that hasn’t made the playoffs in ten years, has two series wins to its 25-year history, and are dead last in the Western Conference this year. At least they have Andrew Wiggins...
The most populated Canadian city, and home to the beloved (and often infuriating) Maple Leafs, has been plagued now for over 20 years. It was in the early nineties that the Jays won the World Series and since then they haven’t made the playoffs, partly because they compete in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. The Raptors are finally doing better in a weak Eastern Conference in the NBA after long periods of mediocrity. It’s all about the Leads though, a club that has so much financial support and a huge fan base, but one that can’t win under pressure. They have made the playoffs just once in the last eight seasons (it’ll be nine this spring), and have finally committed to a true rebuilding effort. Several others clubs are doing the same and the Leafs are destined for more losing seasons for years to come.
Congratulations Cleveland! The only reason you are not number one is because of Lebron James. Now, you might think having the best player in the NBA gives reason to hope. Well, no. Firstly, his latest experiment isn’t going particularly great, with many bumps along the way. Still, they will make the playoffs and compete, but with a much more talented Heat team last year, James lost. And there are plenty of teams in the West who are better than any competition in the East. Plus, James isn’t guaranteed to remain in Cleveland next year. Then there are the Browns, who bungled the NFL draft once again, would have a quarterback controversy if either of their top QBs were good, and only have a bit of hope this coming season because they made a lone savvy move to secure a first round draft pick from the one city more hopeless than them. It may not make sense, but Cleveland seems cursed.
Poor Buffalo sports fans. The Bills and Sabres, pride of Western New York, are burdened with keeping the Queen City’s hopes alive for a national championship. The Sabres saw a few good seasons only some ten years ago, but are among the worst in the league recently as they try and completely rebuild the team. The Bills, meanwhile, hold the unenviable record for longest playoff drought in the NFL, a league custom-designed to embrace parity and make the worst teams better and the better teams burdened. What’s more, Buffalo’s sports history includes such devastating plays as Wide Right, the Music City Miracle, and of course Brett Hull’s skate in the crease, among many others. There is always next year, as Buffalo’s motto declares.
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