Monday, March 26, 2007
Updated: March 29, 4:36 PM ET
99 years on the wall ...
By David Schoenfield
When the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, Joe Tinker led the club with six home runs and 68 RBI, Three-Finger Brown went 29-9 with a 1.47 ERA and the starting pitchers totaled 108 complete games.
Of course, it's not like current Cubs fans actually have fond memories of seeing that team in action.
Which is why this whole "99 years and counting" of Cubs misery is overblown. Most Cubs fans have suffered for only a fraction of those years. And if they're going to claim 98 seasons without a title, don't they also have to claim the seven World Series they did play in?
So, we here at Page 2 aren't so quick to crown Cubs fans as having endured the most misery. What about Astros fans? Or Indians fans? And why stick to baseball? Why not consider teams from the NFL, NBA and NHL? It's time to crown an Official Team of Pain and Suffering once and for all. And to do this we need a formula.
We started with our colleague Jim Caple's idea that real suffering only begins after 25 years without a championship. As Jim wrote, "Why use 25 years as a standard? Because a quarter century is enough time for a fan to be born, build layers of scar tissue rooting for one team and then pass on this anguish to another generation."
So any team that has won a championship in the last 25 years shall not be considered (yes, even the Kansas City Royals). And any franchise that has relocated in the past 25 years shall not be considered (like the Nationals, because Nationals fans don't really care about what happened in Montreal). Likewise, teams like the Expos, which no longer exist in that city, shall not be considered.
From here, we looked at what has happened to every team since it last won a championship, as the Page 2 staff of scientists went through rigorous testing to arrive at the following Pain and Suffering formula:
[(Seasons in playoffs * 4) + (losing seasons) + (non-playoff seasons) + (finals losses * 3) + (finals losses in past 25 years * 15) + (Soul-sucking moments * 25) + (seasons without a title)] - [(winning seasons) + (playoff seasons * 2)]
seasons without a title
Essentially, the formula is bad stuff minus good stuff divided by seasons without a title. Extra emphasis is placed on the past 25 years and bonus points can be awarded for particularly Soul-sucking moments that happened to your franchise.
We ran 46 teams through the formula and guess what? The Cubs are nowhere near the top. So, Cubs fans ... quit your whining.
1. BUFFALO BILLS
Last title: 1965 (AFL) Seasons: 41 Playoffs: 14 Winning seasons: 17 Finals losses: 4 (4 in last 25 years)
Low point: In 1971, the Bills finished last in the NFL in points and last in points allowed, were shut out four times and finished 1-13 (despite having O.J. Simpson). Coach John Rauch quit right before training camp started, so personnel director Harvey Johnson took over. Johnson also had coached the team part of the 1968 season, going 1-10-1, making his career mark 2-23-1. So he was apparently a lousy personnel director and a horrible coach. Or maybe it was the back-to-back 2-14 seasons in '84-85 (the Vince Ferragamo Era). Or the four straight Super Bowl losses.
Soul-sucking moments: Norwood's missed kick, Music City Miracle.
Pain & Suffering rating: 5.49 (approximately equal to 11 Scott Norwoods)
2. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Last title: 1964 Seasons: 39 Playoffs: 15 Winning seasons: 18 Finals losses: 1 (0)
Low point: Not including the recent expansion edition of the franchise, the 1990 Browns went 3-13, which led to the hiring of Bill Belichick in 1991, which led to ... New England's dynasty.
Soul-sucking moments: Brian Sipe's interception in 1980 playoffs, The Drive, The Fumble, Art Modell's middle finger. (The Browns have suffered more soul-sucking moments than any franchise.)
P & S rating: 5.10 (10 Marty Schottenheimers)
3. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Last title: 1975 Seasons: 30 Playoffs: 25 Winning seasons: 24 Finals losses: 5 (3)
Legion of doom: Since the Broad Street Bullies won back-to-back titles, the Flyers rank high for consistent excellence playoff appearances (marred only by a five-season playoff-less streak in the early '90s) and frustrating playoff flameouts. They've topped 100 points 15 times with no titles.
Soul-sucking moment: Goalie Pelle Lindbergh's death in a car accident early in the '85-86 season. The season before, he had won the Vezina Trophy and led the Flyers to the Cup finals.
P & S rating: 5.07 (10 Eric Lindroses)
4. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Last title: 1980 Seasons: 26 Playoffs: 3 Winning seasons: 10 Finals losses: 2 (2)
Why the Joe Carter home run wasn't a soul-sucking moment: (1) Given Mitch Williams' postseason performance that season -- 16 baserunners in 8 innings as Carter dug in -- it was entirely predictable something bad would happen to the Phillies; (2) Teams that play with fire don't deserve sympathy; (3) Even if the Phillies had won that game, they still needed to win Game 7.
Why the Joe Carter home was a soul-sucking moment: (1) The Phillies are the only team to lose the clinching game of a World Series on come-from-behind home runs; (2) A dream season ended at the guillotine; (3) Playing with fire clogs your arteries.
Winner: Soul-sucking moment!
P & S rating: 4.69 (nine Mitch Williamses)
5. UTAH JAZZ
Last title: Never Seasons: 26 Playoffs: 20 Winning seasons: 20 Finals losses: 2 (2)
Did you know? In their first year in Utah (1979-'80), the Jazz featured Adrian Dantley, Pete Maravich and Bernard King. We're not sure how many games they actually played together (Maravich played just 17 games before being traded to Boston and King 19), but how many teams have had three players who averaged over 30 points a game at some point in their career? OK, Maravich was a hobbled shell by then and King spent most of the season in treatment for substance abuse, but Jazz fans must have been disappointed with a 24-58 record.
Soul-sucking moment: Jordan over Bryon Russell.
P & S rating: 4.58 (nine Michael Jordans)
6. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Last title: 1977 Seasons: 29 Playoffs: 25 Winning seasons: 23 Finals losses: 2 (2)
Low point: Umm, we don't have the time or space to delve into a complete history of the Jail Blazers.
Soul-sucking moment: Blowing a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals against the Lakers. Since then: (A) the Lakers won three straight titles; (B) the Blazers haven't won a playoff series; (C) saw their streak of 21 straight playoff seasons end; (D) employed Ruben Patterson for 4+ seasons; (E) finished with the worst record in the league in 2005-06; (F) re-signed Joel Przybilla for $32 million.
P & S rating: 4.38 (nine Sam Bowies)
7. HOUSTON ASTROS
Last title: Never Seasons: 44 Playoffs: 9 Winning seasons: 23 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Playoff pain: (1) 1980 -- Nolan Ryan can't hold a 5-2 lead in the eighth in the NLCS clincher, Astros lose in 10; (2) 1981 -- blow 2-0 series in best-of-5 NLDS vs. Dodgers; (3) 1986 -- blow 3-0 lead in ninth of Game 6 vs. Mets, lose in 16; (4) 2004 -- lose Games 6 and 7 of NLCS; (5) 2005 World Series -- Podsednik off Lidge, Blum off Astacio.
Soul-sucking moments: 1980, 1986 and 2005.
P & S rating: 4.27 (nine Brad Lidges)
8. BOSTON BRUINS
Last title: 1972 Seasons: 33 Playoffs: 29 Winning seasons: 30 Finals losses: 5 (2)
Soul-sucking moment: In the late '70s, the Bruins, coached by Don Cherry, and Canadiens were the class of the NHL and fierce rivals. The Canadiens beat the Bruins in the Cup Finals in '77 and '78, and in '79 the teams met in the semifinals. In one of the greatest NHL games ever, Boston led 3-1 entering the third period, Montreal tied, Boston took the lead with four minutes left, but was then caught with too many men on the ice. Montreal's power-play goal tied it with 74 seconds left and Habs won in overtime.
P & S rating: 4.18 (eight Jeremy Jacobses)
9. SEATTLE SONICS
Last title: 1979 Seasons: 27 Playoffs: 18 Winning seasons: 17 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Soul-sucking moment: With Michael Jordan in retirement, the Sonics had the NBA's best record in 1993-94, going 63-19. They then blew a 2-0 series lead to the Nuggets, dropping the final three games (the finale in OT at home), becoming the first team to lose to an eighth seed.
We're not saying they were chokers, but ... The next year, Seattle won 57 games and lost to the pre-Shaq Lakers in the first round.
P & S rating: 4.00 (eight Dikembe Mutombos)
10. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Last title: Never Seasons: 35 Playoffs: 20 Winning seasons: 11 Finals losses: 2 (2)
Long live the Smythe Division: The Canucks did not have a winning season from 1977 through 1991, but made a miracle run to the 1982 Cup finals after going 30-33-17 in the regular season. They were promptly swept by the Islanders and didn't win another playoff series until 1992. The team would make another miracle Cup finals run in '94, finishing seventh in the West but upsetting Calgary in the first round by winning Games 5, 6, and 7 in OT. The Canucks would lose to the Rangers in seven games in the Cup finals.
Random odd fact: The Canucks played their first four seasons in the East Division (meanwhile, Philadelphia played in the West).
P & S rating: 3.97 (eight Mark Messiers)
11. NEW JERSEY NETS
Last title: Never Seasons: 28 Playoffs: 15 Winning seasons: 12 Finals losses: 2 (2)
Amazingly: The Nets have made the playoffs 15 times since moving to New Jersey for the '77-78 season, but have won 50 games just once.
Low point: The 1990 Nets went 17-65, featuring Dennis Hopson, Chris Morris, Sam Bowie, Purvis Short, Mookie Blaylock, Charles Shackleford, Joe Barry Carroll and Derrick Gervin. Seriously, has there have been a more electric group of former college stars, flameouts and burnouts? The Nets must have averaged about 4.6 assists per game that year. Gervin certainly had some of his older brother's scoring abilities, averaging 12.0 points in 16 minutes per game in the 21 games he played. He also handed out eight assists ... total. Anyway, the Nets secured the No. 1 pick by losing 22 of their final 24 games.
P & S rating: 3.96 (eight Derrick Colemans)
12. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Last title: 1961 Seasons: 44 Playoffs: 36 Winning seasons: 28 Finals losses: 5 (1)
Low point: Trading Phil Esposito? Trading Dominik Hasek? Trading Ed Belfour? Trading Jeremy Roenick? Trading Chris Chelios? Missing the playoffs in 1998 for the first time in 29 seasons? Being named the worst franchise in professional sports in 2004 by ESPN The Magazine? All excellent options. But the lowest of lows was the day Dollar Bill Wirtz took over as team president in 1966. Did you know Dollar Bill is in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Soul-sucking moment: In Game 7 of the 1971 Cup Finals, the Blackhawks led Montreal 2-0 at home late in the second period. Bobby Hull's shot off the crossbar nearly made it 3-0 ... but then the Canadiens scored on a fluke goal from center ice and Henri Richard scored twice to give Montreal a 3-2 win.
P & S rating: 3.80 (eight William Wirtzes)
13. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Last title: Never Seasons: 38 Playoffs: 8 Winning seasons: 12 Finals losses: 2 (1)
Low point: 1991-2004. Or check the police blotter. It might have happened last night.
A brief history of the Bengals: The Bengals joined the AFL in 1968, made the playoffs the first year of the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, were good in the mid-'70s, had a surprise season from nowhere and reached the Super Bowl in 1982, crazy Sam Wyche took over and they had another surprise Super Bowl trip in 1989, Stanley Wilson got coked up the night before that game and Bengals lost again to the 49ers, then came a string of about 15 consecutive crappy drafts, Carson Palmer got cheap-shotted in the playoffs and then the entire team got arrested.
Soul-sucking moment: Montana to John Taylor.
P & S rating: 3.79 (eight David Klinglers)
14. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Last title: Never Seasons: 31 Playoffs: 9 Winning seasons: 14 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Random notes: Curt Warner blows out his knee ... Boz, meet Bo ... The Rick Mirer Era ... Hey, whatever happened to Dan McGwire? ... "We want the ball and we're going to score" ... Jerramy Stevens is wide open down the middle ...
Soul-sucking moment: The refs blow 14 different calls, and the Seahawks become the first team to lose a Super Bowl despite outgaining and committing fewer turnovers than its opponent. OK, maybe just 13 different calls.
P & S rating: 3.77 (eight Brian Bosworths)
15. NEW YORK KNICKS
Last title: 1973 Seasons: 33 Playoffs: 21 Winning seasons: 17 Finals losses: 2 (2)
Before Isiah ... There were the '85-87 Knicks, who won 24, 23 and 24 games. A string of 14 straight playoff seasons followed, including two losses in the NBA Finals. It could be argued that losing the '94 Finals to the Rockets in seven games provided a soul-sucking moment, since the Knicks lost Game 6 86-84 when Hakeem Olajuwon tipped John Starks' shot at the buzzer and then lost Game 7 when Starks shot 2 for 18 and Pat Riley refused to bench him. In truth, however, the Knicks deserve no extra pain points since they nearly destroyed the NBA during this period with their brand of basketball.
P & S rating: 3.70 (seven Isiah Thomases)
16. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Last title: Never Seasons: 49 Playoffs: 8 Winning seasons: 32 Finals losses: 3 (2)
Selling your soul to the devil moment: Barry Bonds, 2000-2001 offseason.
Soul-sucking moments: Game 7, 1962 (McCovey lines out in bottom of ninth); Game 6, 2002 (seven outs away).
P & S rating: 3.67 (seven Barry Bondses)
17. PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Last title: 1979 Seasons: 27 Playoffs: 3 Winning seasons: 7 Finals losses: 0
A chronological list of events Pirates fans have suffered through since 1979: Dave Parker getting fat, the cocaine drug trials, Jose DeLeon's 2-19 season, Marvell Wynne, losing to the Reds in 1990, getting shut out in Games 6 and 7 of the 1991 NLCS, seeing Bobby Bonilla leave as a free agent, blowing a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the '92 NLCS (one of the absolute, most crushing defeats any team has ever suffered, considering everyone knew Barry Bonds and Doug Drabek, the team's two best players, were going to leave as free agents), Cam Bonifay, Pat Meares, Operation Shutdown, Dave Littlefield, Lloyd McClendon, 14 consecutive losing seasons.
Soul-sucking moment: Sid Bream sliding home safely.
P & S rating: 3.52 (seven Derek Bells)
18. SAN DIEGO PADRES
Last title: Never Seasons: 37 Playoffs: 5 Winning seasons: 12 Finals losses: 2 (2)
Selected lowlights: Owner Ray Kroc apologizing over the public-address system for the team's poor play
the Tom Werner era
the Fire Sale -- punctuated by dealing Fred McGriff to Atlanta for Melvin Nieves, Vince Moore and Donnie Elliott
the mustard yellow unis.
Soul-sucking moment: Mark Langston's 2-2 pitch to Tino Martinez -- you know, the one that was right down the middle of the plate.
P & S rating: 3.46 (seven Roseanne Barrs)
19. SEATTLE MARINERS
Last title: Never Seasons: 29 Playoffs: 4 Winning seasons: 9 Finals losses: 0
The roll call: Fifteen seasons before first winning season; employing perhaps the worst manager in big league history (Maury Wills); being owned by perhaps the worst owner in big league history (George Argyros); playing in perhaps the worst stadium in big league history -- the Kingdome tile fiasco of 1994 would have forced the team to finish the season on the road if not for the strike; trading Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb; failing to reach a World Series despite employing Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Jay Buhner and Jamie Moyer at the same time; Bill Bavasi and an open checkbook.
Soul-sucking moment: After losing Johnson, Griffey and Rodriguez in successive years, the 2001 Mariners put together the greatest regular season in MLB history ... only to lose the ALCS to the Yankees.
P & S rating: 3.38 (seven Bobby Ayalas)
20. LOS ANGELES KINGS
Last title: Never Seasons: 38 Playoffs: 23 Winning seasons: 14 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Not all playoff seasons are created equal: The Kings have made the playoffs nine times with a losing record.
Soul-sucking moment:Two words: curved stick.
P & S rating: 3.34 (seven Marty McSorleys)
21. CLEVELAND INDIANS
Last title: 1948 Seasons: 58 Playoffs: 7 Winning seasons: 26 Finals losses: 3 (2)
Four random notes about the Indians: (1) They haven't been as historically bad as often depicted, with more winning seasons than not since their 1948 World Series title; (2) Despite that, the franchise went from 1956 to 1995 without ever winning 90 games; (3) The Curse of Rocky Colavito is real; (4) Cory Snyder and Joe Carter appeared on the cover of the 1987 Sports Illustrated baseball preview with the headline "Indian Uprising" and were predicted to win the AL East (they lost 101 games).
Soul-sucking moment: Game 7, 1997 World Series, two outs away.
P & S rating: 3.33 (seven Joe Charboneaus)
22. INDIANA PACERS
Last title: 1973 (ABA) Seasons: 33 Playoffs: 21 Winning seasons: 14 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Not listed: Since 1994, the Pacers have lost five times in the Eastern Conference finals aside from their loss to the Lakers in the 2000 Finals.
P & S rating: 3.33 (seven Chuck Persons)
23. CHICAGO CUBS
Last title: 1908 Seasons: 98 Playoffs: 11 Winning seasons: 40 Finals losses: 7 (0)
How come the Cubs don't rate higher? While the Cubs have had two monumental playoff collapses, most of their post-1945 history consists simply of bad players and losing seasons -- while those add up, they don't add up to the sting caused by playoff seasons that fall short of a title. In other words, losing sucks, but losing in the playoffs sucks even more.
A good note about the Cubs: They haven't lost 100 games since 1966.
Soul-sucking moments: Ruth's called shot, blowing the 1984 NLCS, blowing the 2003 NLCS.
P & S rating: 3.28 (seven Steve Bartmans)
24. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
Last title: Never Seasons: 36 Playoffs: 14 Winning seasons: 15 Finals losses: 0
Low point: The team employed four coaches while going 15-67, including 19 straight losses to end the season, in 1981-'82. Owner Ted Stepien made so many horrible trades during this period that the NBA eventually would give Cleveland top-10 picks in the '85 and '86 drafts.
Soul-sucking moment: Jordan over Craig Ehlo.
P & S rating: 3.25 (seven Michael Jordans)
25. DALLAS MAVERICKS
Last title: Never Seasons: 26 Playoffs: 12 Winning seasons: 12 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Before Mark Cuban: It's easy to forget as the Mavs' roll to the best record in the league and their third 60-win season in five years, but before Cuban they suffered 10 straight losing seasons, including the 1992-93 team that went 11-71 (including 4-57 through 61 games). That team was outscored by the incredible margin of 114.5 to 99.3 per game, and had losing streaks of 12, 15 and 19 games (they actually finished strong, winning their final two). Click here to check out the team stats.
P & S rating: 3.23 (six Toni Braxtons)
26. ATLANTA FALCONS
Last title: Never Seasons: 41 Playoffs: 8 Winning seasons: 10 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Low point: A franchise very underrated for its general horridness, the Falcons lost 11 or more games six times in seven seasons from '84 through '90. The 1987 team, coached by Marion Campbell and quarterbacked by Scott Campbell (mostly), completed a clean sweep, finishing last in the NFL in points, yards, points allowed and yards allowed.
NFL football sure was fun in the '70s: The 1974 Falcons scored 111 points (7.9 per game) and QBs Bob Lee, Kim McQuilken and Pat Sullivan combined for 31 interceptions and four TDs.
P & S rating: 3.15 (six Eugene Robinsons)
27. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Last title: Never Seasons: 46 Playoffs: 24 Winning seasons: 28 Finals losses: 4 (0)
15-1: The 1998 squad, which lost one regular-season game (by three points) is arguably the best team never to make the Super Bowl. For the safety of Vikings fans, we won't describe the soul-sucking moment that cost them a Super Bowl trip. But we will mention the four Super Bowl trips in the '70s that all ended in blowout defeats.
P & S rating: 3.11 (six Onterrio Smiths)
28. ST. LOUIS BLUES
Last title: Never Seasons: 38 Playoffs: 34 Winning seasons: 21 Finals losses: 3
Low point: In 2000, the Blues led the NHL with 114 points
only to suffer a stunning loss to San Jose in the first round.
Which means: Despite 25 consecutive playoff seasons from 1980 through 2004, the Blues haven't been in the Cup finals since they made it their first three seasons in the league, '68-70. (The NHL expanded from six to 12 teams in 1968 and put all the expansion teams in one division. The Blues were swept in the finals all three years.)
P & S rating: 3.03 (six Mike Keenans)
29. PHOENIX SUNS
Last title: Never Seasons: 38 Playoffs: 26 Winning seasons: 23 Finals losses: 2 (1)
Low point: The Suns generally have been successful, with 15 50-plus win seasons, two Finals appearances and a long list of star players. But in 1987, three players were arrested on drug charges (with star forward Walter Davis giving testimony under immunity) and the team went on to finish 28-54 that season. Needless to say, team continuity was probably a little lacking that season. (The Suns quickly turned the franchise around by trading for Kevin Johnson and signing Tom Chambers as a free agent.)
P & S rating: 3.03 (six Charles Barkleys)
30. WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Last title: Never Seasons: 31 Playoffs: 18 Winning seasons: 18 Finals losses: 1 (1)
The worst team ever? The Capitals joined the NHL in 1974, and let us pray we never see a team this bad again. They finished 8-67-5 and won just one road game. They were outscored 446-181. Apparently, the Hanson brothers were unavailable.
Not quite a soul-sucking moment but much worse than a kick to the groin: The Caps were strong through the '80s, making the playoffs every year from '83 to '96. But their playoff heartbreak was best defined by the famous Easter Epic first-round loss to the Islanders in 1987. The teams were meeting for the fifth straight year in the playoffs, but the Caps took a 3-1 series lead. New York forced Game 7, which was broadcast on ESPN on Saturday night before Easter
but the game wouldn't end until Easter morning, when the Islanders' Pat Lafontaine finally scored the winner in the fourth overtime.
P & S rating: 3.00 (six Jaromir Jagrs)
31. MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Last title: Never Seasons: 36 Playoffs: 2 Winning seasons: 10 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Can you remember 1992? Baseball had four divisions. Bobby Bonilla was the highest-paid player at $6.1 million. Jack McDowell had 13 complete games. Only two players hit more than 35 home runs (Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez). Barry Bonds led the majors in OPS, and Roger Clemens led the AL in ERA (OK, some things don't change). And the Milwaukee Brewers had a winning record.
P & S rating: 3.00 (six Bud Seligs)
32. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Last title: 1960 Seasons: 46 Playoffs: 16 Winning seasons: 19 Finals losses: 2 (1)
What's wrong with your rankings?!?!?! Are you morons communists? We haven't won a championship since 1960! We've lost Super Bowls! We lost three straight NFC championships! We suffered through the Marion Campbell era! We drafted Mike Mamula in the first round! Don't you know our pain? Bobby Hoying was our QB one year! We can boo Santa Claus and we sure can boo Page 2 as well!
P & S rating: 2.98 (six Terrell Owenses)
33. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Last title: 1963 (AFL) Seasons: 43 Playoffs: 11 Winning seasons: 18 Finals losses: 1 (1)
Blunder and lightning: In 1998, the Chargers traded a second-round draft pick, a future first-round pick, Eric Metcalf and Patrick Sapp to move up one spot to select
Ryan Leaf?!?! Of course, that was one of the few times that Bobby Beathard didn't trade away the team's top pick in favor of drafting a player such as Bryan Still. There were also the Dan Henning and Kevin Gilbride eras. Plus, the team fired the wrong Bobby after the '96 season (Ross instead of Beathard).
Soul-stealing moment: Getting absolutely destroyed by the 49ers' juggernaut in Super Bowl XXIX. After Jerry Rice torched the San Diego secondary for the first touchdown of the game, ABC's Dan Dierdorf crowed, "The Chargers are doing their best to remain nameless and faceless." That has to hurt -- especially coming from someone who never played in a Super Bowl.
P & S rating: 2.84 (six Marty Schottenheimers)
34. BUFFALO SABRES
Last title: Never Seasons: 35 Playoffs: 25 Winning seasons: 26 Finals losses: 2 (1)
Heartbreak No. 1: Lost the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals to Philadelphia, perhaps in part due to the infamous "fog game," in Buffalo, when hot weather turned the ice at the old Aud into a sea of fog. During the game, Buffalo's Jim Lorentz spotted a bat flying through the fog and swatted it down, killing it. Sabres fans called this a bad omen and, sure enough, the Flyers won the series.
Heartbreak No. 2: If you're ever in Buffalo, say at a Sabres game, we advise you not to wear a Brett Hull jersey.
Heartbreak No. 3: On the brink of returning to the Finals for the first time since that '99 loss to Dallas, the Sabres led the Hurricanes 2-1 entering the third period of Game 7 of the 2006 Eastern Conference finals
only to lose 4-2.
P & S rating: 2.82 (six Brett Hulls)
35. WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Last title: 1978 Seasons: 28 Playoffs: 11 Winning seasons: 8 Finals losses: 1
The bleak years: 1998-2004, seven straight losing seasons with no playoffs, a 19-63 record in 2001, which led to the ill-fated MJ comeback and No. 1 overall draft selection of Kwame Brown.
The really bleak years: 1992-1996, when the then-Bullets won 25, 22, 24 and 21 games (ahh, Wes Unseld was quite the tactical genius). The three leading scorers on the '94 team were Don MacLean, Tom Gugliotta and Rex Chapman
when was the last time that happened?
The bleakness of mediocrity: From '83 to '89, the artists formerly known as the Bullets won between 38 and 42 games each year. And never advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs.
P & S rating: 2.82 (six Michael Jordans)
36. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Last title: Never Seasons: 40 Playoffs: 6 Winning seasons: 8 Finals losses: 0
Nothing but facts: (1) The Saints didn't have a winning season until their 21st year; (2) Archie Manning never played on a winning team in the NFL (including stints with Houston and Minnesota); (3) The only victory for the 1-15 team in 1980 ("the Aints") was 21-20 over the Jets in Week 15; (4) Saints are 2-6 all-time in the postseason; (5) In their first 10 seasons, the team had a different rushing leader every year.
P & S rating: 2.75 (six Ricky Williamses)
37. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Last title: 1967 Seasons: 39 Playoffs: 27 Winning seasons: 19 Finals losses: 0
Harold Ballard, you S.O.
Only the Blackhawks have a longer current Stanley Cup championship drought, but at least Chicago has been competitive for most of those years. The Leafs not only haven't returned to the Cup Finals, they've only finished in first place once (in 2000). From 1968 through 1993, the team never even finished higher than third in its division, bottoming out with a 20-52-8 record in 1985.
P & S rating: 2.72 (five Harold Ballards)
38. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Last title: 1973 Seasons: 33 Playoffs: 17 Winning seasons: 24 Finals losses: 2 (1)
22: Number of seasons Don Shula coached without winning a Super Bowl again after winning Super Bowl VIII.
1990: The last time the Dolphins won 12 games, meaning
wow, it's been a long time since the Dolphins really mattered, hasn't it?
24 of 33: The Dolphins have obviously been successful without winning it all; in fact, five of those non-winning seasons were .500, so they've had only four losing seasons since their last title.
1: Number of Super Bowls started by both David Woodley and Dan Marino.
P & S rating: 2.70 (five Dan Marinos)
39. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Last title: 1975 Seasons: 31 Playoffs: 7 Winning seasons: 9 Finals losses: 0
Ineptitude: There is no other way to describe this franchise, currently riding a 12 consecutive losing/non-playoff season streak. Included was the remarkable 1998-2002 stretch, in which the team went 19-63, 21-29, 19-63, 17-65 and 21-61.
Worst trade ever? The Warriors traded Robert Parish and the No. 3 pick to Boston for the Nos. 1 and 13 picks. The Warriors took Joe Barry Carroll and Rickey Brown while the Celtics drafted
P & S rating: 2.65 (five Joe Barry Carrolls)
40. NEW YORK JETS
Last title: 1968 Seasons: 38 Playoffs: 11 Winning seasons: 13 Finals losses: 0
Fluke: Joe Namath never won another playoff game after the Jets won Super Bowl III. In fact, Namath played on only three winning teams as a professional.
P & S rating: 2.61 (five Rich Kotites)
41. MILWAUKEE BUCKS
Last title: 1971 Seasons: 35 Playoffs: 23 Winning seasons: 20 Finals losses: 1
OK, so they traded Kareem: How different would the NBA be if the Bucks hadn't traded Abdul-Jabbar for Junior Bridgeman, Brian Winters, Elmore Smith and David Meyers? Would it even exist? (No Kareem/Magic combo, no Lakers-Celtics rivalry, David Stern becomes NHL commissioner instead.)
The 1980s: You kids out there may not realize how good the Bucks were in the '80s -- just not as good as the Celtics or Sixers. Led by guys like Sidney Moncrief, Terry Cummings, Paul Pressey, Marques Johnson, Ricky Pierce, Jack Sikma and Bob Lanier (not all at the same time), they won 50 or more games seven straight seasons and reached the conference semifinals or finals in each of them.
P & S rating: 2.60 (five Paul Mokeskis)
42. ATLANTA HAWKS
Last title: Never Seasons: 37 Playoffs: 23 Winning seasons: 9 Finals losses: 0
Low point: Well, there was that little 13-69 blip in '04-'05. Thank you, Billy Knight!
P & S rating: 2.59 (five Billy Knights)
43. DENVER NUGGETS
Last title: Never Seasons: 39 Playoffs: 24 Winning seasons: 20 Finals losses: 0
Low point: Well, there was that little 20-62 blip in 1990-91. And that 21-61 blip in 1996-97. And that 17-65 blip in 2002-03. But you can't top 11-71 from 1998 -- one of the sorriest excuses for a pro team you'll ever see. In fact, that team deserves a few random notes:
1. Bill Hanzlik was the coach. You'll be shocked to read that was his only season as a head coach.
2. The Nuggets were outscored 100.8 to 89.0 on average, ranking 28th of 29th teams in offense (points per 100 possessions) and 28th in defense.
3. Johnny Newman led the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game.
4. Poor Dean Garrett started all 82 games.
5. Danny Fortson had 2-to-1 turnover-to-assist ratio.
6. Denver started the year 0-12 and dropped 23 straight to fall to 2-38.
7. After a 16-game losing streak, the team actually won two in a row for the only time, beating Vancouver and Portland.
P & S rating: 2.59 (five Dan Issels)
44. DETROIT LIONS
Last title: 1957 Seasons: 49 Playoffs: 9 Winning seasons: 16 Finals losses: 0
Low point: Yesterday? Today? Tomorrow? Wait, when's the draft again?
Bell curve: 2-14, 3-13, 5-11, 6-10, 5-11, 3-13
looks like you can pencil in 2-14 for 2007.
In the name of Rusty Hilger: The Lions haven't had a Pro Bowl quarterback since
Greg Landry in 1972.
P & S rating: 2.53 (five Matt Millens)
45. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Last title: 1969 Seasons: 37 Playoffs: 11 Winning seasons: 19 Finals losses: 0
To the good people of Kansas City: There is nothing we can say that our little mug shots of Marty don't already say.
P & S rating: 2.27 (five Marty Schottenheimers)
46. TEXAS RANGERS
Last title: Never Seasons: 34 Playoffs: 14 Winning seasons: 17 Finals losses: 0
Low point: There was the time owner Bob Short, desperate to increase attendance, drafted Texas schoolboy legend David Clyde first overall in the 1973 draft and promoted him straight to the big leagues. Short got his temporary attendance increase (Clyde won his first start before a sellout crowd), but Clyde finished with a 5.01 ERA that year and hurt his arm two years later.
Lower point: Signing Alex Rodriguez to a $252 million contract.
Lowest point: Well, there was the time Lenny Randle attacked and pummeled manager Frank Lucchesi. (Randle was ticked that Lucchesi was favoring rookie Bump Wills in a job battle for second base.) Randle was charged with assault and Lucchesi later sued.
P & S rating: 2.21 (four Jose Cansecos)