By Jim Caple
Page 2

There are two types of misery.

One is being so close to a championship you can read the vintage on the label of the champagne bottle ... only to watch everything roll away between the first baseman's legs. The other is losing so many games for so many years that there are cases of bubbly in the clubhouse that have been gathering dust since Don Zimmer had hair.

Six Facets of Misery
Historic despair: How many seasons have left fans chanting "Wait until next year!" the day after pitchers and catchers report to spring training?

Recent despair: In addition to fitted and adjustable caps, does the team store currently sell officially-licensed paper sacks for fans to wear on their heads?

Historic pain: How many autumn memories leave fans shaking worse than a Bill Buckner bobblehead?

Recent pain: Is the anguish so recent that most fans haven't repaired the TV screen yet?

Intangible misery: While subjective, this category takes into account misery (as well as apathy) not necessarily reflected in the won-loss record or in ESPN Classic reruns. For instance, a loss in Texas just simply doesn't provoke the same level of misery as a loss in Boston. Especially once the Cowboys report to training camp.

Misery outlook: Are fans looking forward to the current and near-future seasons or are they looking forward to their Fantasy Football draft?

Which type of misery is worse for fans, to root for teams that lose painfully in the end or teams that lose at the beginning, the middle and the end? Look at it this way. Would you want to be rejected so often that a member of the opposite sex hasn't appeared with you in public for 15 years without a restraining order?

Or would you rather have a long relationship with a supermodel who lets you get as far as third base, then suddenly leaves you at the altar while she runs off with your worst enemy, leaving you feeling rotten and on the hook for the priest, the band, the florist, the caterer and the final 20 payments left on the engagement ring?

Which one is worse, to root for a team that always loses or to root for a team that falls painfully short of winning it all? That's easy. Whichever situation your favorite team is currently in. But we're weighing both types of misery equally in Page 2's new Misery Index of baseball fans.

The Misery Index is a 60-point system that measures two types of fan misery -- despair (produced by losing seasons) and pain (brought on by agonizing ends to winning seasons). There are six 10-point categories in the Misery Index (see table).

It's said that misery loves company and the Misery Index proves it. As the following rankings show, there are a lot of fans who would have loved to have been in position to curse Grady Little and Steve Bartman last fall.

Sportoon

1. Montreal Expos
Talk about trade deficits. Montreal exports great players (Vlad Guerrero's departure was preceded by Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Gary Carter) and imports misery.

Page 2's Misery Collection
  • Caple: Misery Index
  • Neel: 25 Moments of Misery
  • Schoenfield: MLB Misery
  • 25 Years of MLB Standings
  • Even during those stretches when the Expos have fielded good teams, the result has been as painful for fans as a Celine Dion dance remix. Blue Monday suddenly ended their World Series hopes in the ninth inning of the 1981 playoffs finale and Bud Selig ended them when Montreal had the best record in baseball in 1994.

    Threatened with contraction two years ago, 23 of their home games are now played more than 1,000 miles away and the home games in Montreal aren't too pleasant either due to the exhaust belching from the U-Hauls parked outside Le Stadium Olympique. And baseball wonders why fan support has fallen so far?

    Montreal Expos Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    10 7 7 6 10 10 50

    2. Cleveland Indians
    Red Sox and Cubs fans are living charmed lives compared to Cleveland fans. They haven't seen their team win the World Series since 1948. They had the best record in league history in 1954 and got swept in the World Series. They had a player killed by a pitch in 1920. They have their own curse -- the trade of Rocky Colavito that turned them into a national punchline for the better part of four decades. And then when they were within three outs of winning it all in 1997, Jose Mesa blew the lead and the World Series.

    Cleveland Indians Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    10 4 7 8 10 5 44

    3. Chicago Cubs
    Cubs

    They haven't begun a pennant-winning season since Franklin Roosevelt was in office. They haven't finished a World Series-winning season since Theodore Roosevelt was president. The image of a popup dropping off of Steve Bartman's hands and a grounder rolling between Leon Durham's legs is as horrific to their fans as Oprah on the cover of the swimsuit issue.

    They haven't had consecutive winning seasons in 31 years. And despite playoff appearances in 1984, 1989, 1998 and last year, they have the worst winning percentage of any non-expansion team over the past 25 years. The only thing keeping them out of the top spot is Sammy Sosa and a lot of beer -- the losses never seem to bother Cubs fans the way they do others.

    Chicago Cubs Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    10 6 8 10 5 4 43

    4. Chicago White Sox
    All the attention goes to the poor fans on the North Side but how about a little compassion for the beleaguered folks on the south side? Sox fans are still paying the price for having their team throw the 1919 World Series. They not only haven't won any postseason since then, they've only played in the World Series once -- the worst mark by far. It's enough to make you want to jump from Comiskey's upper deck ... if you could climb that high.

    Chicago White Sox Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    8 7 5 5 10 7 42

    5. Milwaukee Brewers
    In their lone World Series appearance, the Brewers blew a two-run lead in Game 7 with four innings to go. They haven't been to the postseason in Miguel Cabrera's lifetime. They haven't had a winning season in a dozen years. They've been run into the ground by incompetent ownership. And their roof leaks.

    Milwaukee Brewers Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    8 10 5 5 6 8 42

    6. Boston Red Sox

    Red Sox

    If you listen to the wailings in Boston, no one outside of a Mel Gibson movie has endured the pain of Red Sox fans. And while it's true they've had more agonizing moments than any other team -- the Ruth trade, Ed Armbrister, Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, Grady Little ... well, you get the point -- they've also been one of the best, most consistent teams in baseball since the Impossible Dream season.

    Sure, autumn is always painful but summers in Fenway are about as good as it gets. And really, is there a single Red Sox fan who would trade places with a Brewers fans?

    Boston Red Sox Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    4 2 10 10 10 4 40

    7. Philadelphia Phillies
    More than a century in the majors and exactly one world championship. No wonder Philly fans often feel like they just went the distance with Apollo Creed. But at least Veterans Stadium is gone and a lot of people are calling them the National League favorites.

    Philadelphia Phillies Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    9 7 7 4 8 4 39

    8. San Francisco Giants

    Giants

    They've had perhaps the two greatest players of the past seven decades, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. They had Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. They play in a wonderful ballpark paid for (gasp!) by the team itself.

    And yet 45 years in the Bay Area have brought zero world championships and no small amount of anguish -- what other team has a World Series delayed by earthquake? Oh, why couldn't McCovey have hit his line drive a couple feet higher? Why couldn't Scott Spiezio have hit that ball a couple feet lower?

    San Francisco Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    6 3 8 8 9 4 38

    9. Houston Astros
    The Astros entered baseball the same year as the Mets and they still haven't won a postseason series -- they're 0-for-7, including flat-lining losses to the Phillies in 1980, the Dodgers in 1981, the Mets in 1986 and the Padres in 1998. They played in a domed stadium for 35 years and then in a stadium named after Enron (with an adjacent plaza named after Halliburton). And don't forget those rainbow uniforms. Now, that was misery.

    Houston Astros Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    8 4 8 6 8 4 38

    10. Texas Rangers

    Rangers

    They began life as the Washington Senators, then moved to Texas. And got worse. Like their brethren in Houston, they have never won a postseason series. They have finished in last place four consecutive seasons and responded to last year's performance by trading their best player. Shoot, they'd rank at the top if their fans didn't care more about a Cowboys exhibition loss than a Rangers last-place season.

    Texas Rangers Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    9 10 4 4 3 7 37

    11. San Diego Padres
    Their owner once grabbed the microphone and apologized for his team's play. They've finished in last place 13 times in their 35 seasons. And don't bring up those brown uniforms.

    San Diego Padres Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    9 6 5 4 7 5 36

    12. Pittsburgh Pirates
    Blame it all on Francisco Cabrera. After enduring the embarrassment of the Pittsburgh drug trials, the Pirates won the NL East three consecutive years from 1990-92 and missed the World Series each time. Then they decided to keep Andy Van Slyke instead of Barry Bonds and they haven't had a winning season since. Not even baseball's best stadium, lingering memories of Roberto Clemente and a Sister Sledge Greatest Hit collection can comfort fans. Sigh. Maybe it would have all been different had Sid Bream been just a little slower.

    Pittsburgh Pirates Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    6 10 5 4 4 7 37

    13. Detroit Tigers
    One of the league's marquee teams for many years, the Tabbies have fallen on hard times. They traded John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander to reach the 1987 playoffs but lost to the Twins anyway and have had just two winning seasons since. They lost a league record 119 games last year and then threw more money away by signing a 32-year-old catcher with a bad back to a big contract. And it's not like the old days were that great -- the Tigers have been to the World Series only twice since the end of World War II. Worst of all, fans can't listen to Ernie Harwell anymore, either.

    Detroit Tigers Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    5 10 5 5 4 7 36

    14. Seattle Mariners
    Their original owner was Danny Kaye, the goofy guy from "White Christmas." And he was the best owner they had until Nintendo bought the Mariners in 1992 and turned the franchise into a regional treasure. A game in Seattle is a civic party these days but even when the Mariners tied the all-time record with 116 wins they still didn't reach the World Series. And as good as Edgar, Ichiro, Jamie and Boonie have been, fans also had to watch three certain Hall-of-Famers -- the Big Unit, Junior and A-Rod -- leave without a World Series to show for their talent.

    Seattle Mariners Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    8 2 5 7 7 5 34

    15. Minnesota Twins
    Only one team (you know who) has won more World Series in the past quarter century than Minnesota. The Twins have won the division two consecutive years and have a good chance to win it again. They have Torii Hunter in center field. All of which barely makes up for owner Carl Pohlad, a banker who got his start delivering foreclosure notices to farmers during the Depression. He threatened to move the Twins to Mayberry, volunteered them for contraction and still won't guarantee their continued existence.

    Minnesota Twins Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    6 6 4 6 5 6 33

    16. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

    Devil Rays

    The Devil Rays haven't been around long but Tampa Bay fans have done a lot of catching up. The area was played for a patsy a half-dozen times ("The FILL IN THE TEAM announced they will move to Tampa Bay in order to get FILL IN THE CITY to build them a new stadium) and then when it finally did get an expansion team, the owner hinted he might move it to Orlando before even playing a game.

    The Rays have finished last their first six seasons -- not even the Mets matched that string -- and with the Yankees and Red Sox in the same division, they have little hope of reaching the playoffs while Lou Piniella still has hair.

    Tampa Bay Devil Rays Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    4 10 2 4 4 7 31

    17. Colorado Rockies
    They set an attendance record that may never be broken and reached the postseason in just their third year. And nothing has gone right since. Are the Rockies even in the league anymore?

    Colorado Rockies Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    4 7 2 3 7 7 30

    18. Kansas City Royals
    The baseball gods haven't been too charitable since giving Kansas City fans the Don Denkinger blunder, but Royals fans did enjoy George Brett, Willie Wilson and company for a whole lot of years -- and they got to watch them in one of baseball's best stadiums. And hey, manager Tony Pena has things looking up.

    Kansas City Royals Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    3 8 5 4 4 5 29

    19. Anaheim Angels
    Sure, Angels fans still bear the scars of 1982, 1986 and 1995 but after the 2002 World Series, they display them with pride. Nah, we're not like those Diamondbacks or Marlins fans -- we earned our championship. And now they have a new owner who is lowering beer prices while raising expectations. Funny what a little Rally Monkey can do.

    Anaheim Angels Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    6 4 9 0 5 2 26

    20. New York Mets
    When you've witnessed two unqualified miracles (1969 and 1986), there should be no misery. Unless, of course, someone mentions Mo Vaughn.

    New York Mets Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    5 3 3 5 4 4 24

    21. Oakland A's
    Reggie. Catfish. Rickey. The Bash Brothers. And four consecutive playoff appearances despite having less money than almost any other team. Think how happy their fans would feel if only their players could figure out how to touch home plate.

    Oakland A's Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    4 2 3 8 4 3 24

    22. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Dodgers


    They once were the finest organization in baseball, the team of Jackie Robinson, the Boys of Summer and all those winning seasons in Los Angeles.

    But they've been so bad since the year Kirk Gibson did his Roy Hobbs impersonation (they haven't won postseason game since 1988) that Giants fans are rooting for them just so the rivalry can be interesting again.

    Los Angeles Dodgers Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    3 5 6 2 3 4 23

    23. St. Louis Cardinals
    When the beer is flowing and the stadium is a sea of red and Albert Pujols is stepping to the plate, it's hard to remember that the Cardinals haven't been to the World Series in nearly 20 years and haven't won it in 22 (the longest droughts for St. Louis since the 1920s).

    St. Louis Cardinals Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    3 3 4 5 4 4 23

    24. Cincinnati Reds
    The Big Red Machine may have outsourced most of its operations but the past few seasons aside, fans have almost always entered the season with the highest hopes. And frequently, they were fulfilled.

    Cincinnati Reds Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    3 5 3 4 2 5 22

    25. Toronto Blue Jays
    After enduring the usual growing pains of an expansion team, the Blue Jays became baseball's best organization in the mid-'80s, becoming the first team to crack the 4 million attendance barrier while winning consecutive world championships. They fell far with the 1994 strike but they're back on track.

    Toronto Blue Jays Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    4 5 2 3 4 4 22

    26. Baltimore Orioles

    Orioles


    The past few seasons, the 0-21 start and Sir Sidney Ponson's weight aside, fans who can sit in terrific ballpark and have had the pleasure of watching Cal Ripken Jr. every day and Brooks and Frank Robinson before him have no room for intense suffering.

    The only way life could be better is if Boog Powell was grilling up some pork sandwiches.

    Baltimore Orioles Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    3 3 4 4 2 6 22

    27. Florida Marlins
    They've won the World Series twice without ever finishing in first place (you can hear Boston and Chicago fans gritting their teeth). So what could these fans possibly have to complain about? Well, there was that rather ugly fire sale after the 1997 championship, there are all those rain delays and their owner, the slippery Jeffrey Loria, is hinting about a possible move if the community doesn't build him a stadium to replace the one where the Marlins won those two World Series.

    Florida Marlins Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    4 3 2 2 4 6 21

    28. Atlanta Braves
    Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's record. A dozen consecutive postseason appearances and 12 first-place finishes in the past 13 seasons. A World Series championship. With all that, we can take Chief Nok-a-Homa and the occasional Jim Leyritz home run.

    Atlanta Braves Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    5 0 3 5 3 3 19

    29. Arizona Diamondbacks
    They've been in existence six years and they have a World Series trophy along with the memory of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in Game 7. Not even flashbacks of Byung-Hyun Kim can ruin that.

    Arizona Diamondbacks Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    3 3 2 2 3 5 18

    Yankees

    30. New York Yankees
    You've got to be kidding, right?

     

    New York Yankees Misery Index
    Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
    1 0 1 3 6* 1 12

    * for being owned by George Steinbrenner

    Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com




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    THE MISERY INDEX