Feast or Famine: An exercise in futility

June 16, 2011 | Keith Melchior

With the NBA and NHL playoffs both leagues crowning  champions this week,  I think back to when Baltimore rejoiced in the Ravens’ Super Bowl  victory. The city was painted purple and fans from all over partied in the streets and watched the celebration in the rain. Hard to believe that was 10 years ago already.

Imagine how you’d feel if you were a fan of a team that never won a Super Bowl, World Series, NBA title or Stanley Cup.  Here in Baltimore, with our 2 major sports, we’ve experienced 4 NFL championships (1958, 1959, 1970, 2000) and 3 World Series titles (1966, 1970, 1983).  Buffalo comes to mind as a city that has never experienced the feeling of winning a championship. The Bills (NFL), Sabres (NHL),  and the old Buffalo Braves (NBA) have had some really good teams that never won a championship. Cities like Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto, New York, Pittsburgh Green Bay and Chicago all know what it’s like to win numerous championships and on many occasions, fans from a few of those cities love to rub  those championship victories in the faces of many Baltimore fans.

We’re well aware the Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and in the AL the Cleveland Indians last won the series in 1948. Around the Baltimore area, we hear the complaining about the Orioles only making the playoffs twice in 27 years and not winning a World Series title since 1983.

It’s hard to win championships in any given league. Many franchises were fortunate enough to win multiple titles in their history.  Others, however, haven’t been lucky enough to even win at all. Some have never gotten the chance to play for a league championship. Talk about a hard pill to swallow. How would you like to be those fans?

Here’s a list of all current major sports franchises, the year they last won a championship and the current drought ;

Baseball – Chicago Cubs 1908 – 102 yrs, Washington (Senators/Nationals) 1924 – 86 yrs,  Cleveland 1948 – 62 yrs,  Pittsburgh 1979 – 31 yrs,  Baltimore 1983 -27 yrs,  Detroit 1984 – 26 yrs,  Kansas City 1985 – 25 yrs,  New York Mets 1986 – 24 yrs,  LA Dodgers 1988 – 22 yrs,  Oakland 1989 – 21 yrs,  Cincinnati 1990 – 20yrs,  Minnesota 1991 – 19 yrs,  Toronto 1993 – 17 yrs,   Atlanta 1995 – 15 yrs,   Arizona 2001 – 9 yrs,  LA Angels  2002 – 8 yrs,  Florida  2003 – 7 yrs,  Chicago White Sox 2005 – 5 yrs, St Louis 2006 – 4 yrs,  Boston 2007 – 3 yrs,  Philadelphia 2008 – 2 yrs,  NY Yankees 2009 – 1 yr,  SF 2010 – current.

These 7 current teams have yet to win a World Series;  Houston 1962 – 48 yrs , San Diego Padres  1969 – 41 yrs,  Milwaukee Brewers 1969 – 41 yrs, Texas 1972 – 38 yrs – Seattle* 1977 – 33 yrs, Colorado 1993 – 17 yrs, Tampa Bay 1998 – 12 yrs….  *Seattle is the only team to have never played in a World Series.

NHL – It’s not an easy task to win the most beautiful trophy in all of professional sports, Lord Stanley’s Cup. It takes 16 playoff wins to accomplish the feat. Unlike the NBA, where certain teams seem to dominate the post-season, the NHL has crowned 8 different champions in the last 8 seasons. The only 2 teams to repeat as champion in the last 20 years were Pittsburgh in 1991/92 and Detroit in 1997/98. Detroit and New Jersey are the only teams to win twice in the millennium.

The drought continues for former Cup winners;  Toronto 1967 – 44 yrs, Philadelphia 1975 – 36 yrs, NY Islanders 1983 – 27 yrs, Calgary 1989 – 22 yrs,  Edmonton 1990 – 21 yrs, Montreal 1993 – 18 yrs, NY Rangers 1994 – 17 yrs, Dallas 1999 – 12 yrs,  Colorado 2001 – 10 yrs, New Jersey 2003 – 8 yrs, Tampa Bay 2004 – 7 yrs, Carolina 2006 – 5 yrs, Anaheim 2007 – 4 yrs, Detroit 2008 – 3 yrs, Pittsburgh 2009 – 2 yrs, Chicago 2010 – 1 yr, Boston 2011 – current.

These 12 franchises have never won a Stanley Cup in their history; LA Kings 1967 – 44 yrs,   St Louis 1967 – 44 yrs, Buffalo 1970 – 41 yrs, Vancouver 1970 – 41 yrs, Washington 1974 – 37 yrs,  Minnesota (North Stars -1967-1993 and Wild -2000) 37 yrs,  Atlanta (Flames 1972-1980 and Thrashers  1999-2011) – 22yrs**,  San Jose 1991 – 20 yrs,  Ottawa 1992 – 19 yrs,  Winnipeg 1979-1996 – 17 yrs ** , Florida 1994 – 17 yrs,  Phoenix 1997 – 14 yrs, Nashville 1998 – 13 yrs, Columbus 2000 – 11 yrs… **Atlanta’s franchise was sold and will move to Winnipeg in 2012, the 2nd time NHL hockey has failed in the ATL.

These teams have never played in a Stanley Cup final;  Atlanta, Winnipeg, San Jose, Phoenix, Nashville and Columbus.

Boston ended their 39 yr drought last night, making Toronto the only team left from the original 6 not to win at least one Stanley Cup in the last 18 years.

NBA – The NBA is very stingy when it comes to crowning new champions. The sport has been dominated by Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Antonio over the last 50 years, with those teams claiming the NBA title 36 times.  Since 1960, there have only been 15 different NBA champions crowned.  The Dallas Mavericks won their first ever NBA title in the 30 yr history of the franchise this week.

The drought continues for the following teams; Milwaukee Bucks 1971 – 40 yrs, New York Knicks 1973 – 38 yrs, Golden State 1975 – 36 yrs, Portland Trailblazers 1977 – 34 yrs, Washington 1978 – 33 yrs,  Philadelphia 1983 – 28 yrs, Houston 1995 – 16 yrs, Chicago 1998 – 13 yrs, Detroit 2004 – 7 yrs, Miami 2006 – 5 yrs, San Antonio 2007 – 4 yrs, Boston 2008 – 3 yrs, LA Lakers 2010 – 1 yr, Dallas 2011 – current.

Having a lot of different teams winning an NBA Championship over the years was almost like trying to unseat Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund or Hulk Hogan for the WWF championships, it just didn’t happen very often as noted by the gaps between the droughts from 1983 to 2011 when the likes of San Antonio (4), Detroit (3), Houston (2),Boston (3), LA Lakers (8), and Chicago (6) won 26 of 28 championships during that span. Miami and Dallas are the only different, “non-repeating” teams to win a title in 28 seasons

These franchises have never won an NBA title;  Phoenix 1969 – 42 yrs, Atlanta &  Cleveland 1970 – 41  yrs,  Utah 1975 (in New Orleans) – 36 yrs, Denver, New Jersey, & Indiana 1977 – 34 yrs,  LA Clippers 1979 (in San Diego) 32 yrs,  Sacramento 1986 – 25 yrs, Minnesota & Orlando 1990 – 21 yrs,  Memphis 1996 (in Vancouver) – 15 yrs, Toronto 1996 – 15 yrs, New Orleans 2001 – 10 yrs, Oklahoma City 2008 – 3 yrs

These 10 teams have never appeared in an NBA final: Charlotte, LA Clippers, Sacramento, Oklahoma City**, Toronto, Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Denver, and Minnesota. **(the  franchise won in 1979 as the Seattle Supersonics before moving to OKC)

NFL – They talk about wanting parity in the NFL and they are right. Here is an interesting list of all the current NFL franchises and the last time they won either the Super Bowl or the old NFL Championship post 1940′s.

Here’s the drought between championships;  Detroit 1957 – 53 yrs, Philadelphia 1960 – 50 yrs, Cleveland 1964 – 46 yrs, NY Jets 1968 – 42 yrs, Kansas City 1969 – 41 yrs, Miami 1974 – 36 yrs, Oakland 1983 – 27 yrs, Chicago 1985 – 25 yrs, Washington 1991 – 19 yrs, San Francisco 1994 – 16 yrs, Dallas 1995 – 15 yrs, St Louis 1999 – 11 yrs, Baltimore 2000- 10 yrs, Tampa Bay 2002 – 8 yrs, New England 2004 – 6 yrs, Indianapolis 2006 – 4 yrs, NY Giants 2007 – 3 yrs, Pittsburgh 2008 – 2 yrs, New Orleans 2009 – 1 yr, Green Bay 2010 – current.

These 10 franchises have never won a title in their history; Minnesota 1961 – 49 yrs, Atlanta 1966 – 44 yrs, Cincinnati 1968 – 42 yrs, (AFL merged teams – Buffalo 1970 – 40 yrs, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 1970 – 40 yrs, San Diego 1970 – 40 Yrs) Seattle 1976 – 34 yrs, Jacksonville 1995 – 15 yrs, Carolina  1995 – 15 yrs, Houston 2002 – 8 yrs….

Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville and Houston are the only current teams who have never played in Super Bowl game although Detroit and Cleveland both won an NFL Championship in 1957 and 1964, respectively. Even in the parity era of the NFL, only 17 of the current 32 teams (53%) have ever won a Super Bowl. Parity might give teams a chance, but it doesn’t guarantee them a title.

With MLB in preliminary talks about eliminating the divisional format and going to 2 leagues with a balanced schedule, the playoffs would expand to 5 teams in both the AL and NL. The teams finishing in 4th and 5th place would be the wild card teams and have a best of 3 series to determine who gets to play the top seed in the divisional round. Those 2 teams, along with the 2nd and 3rd place finishers would face off  in the divisional round. The LCS would pit the winners of round 2 in a best of 7. That seems to make the scramble for playoff seeding much more interesting. The only thing left is for MLB to scrap the  All-Star game winner securing home field advantage in the World Series. That should be left up to the individual teams to decide with best overall record determining the advantage.

Should MLB make the switch, we wouldn’t have to hear the Oriole apologists complaining about the Orioles having to play in the over-matched Al East anymore. Thankfully, that would be a thing of the past and hopefully so would their string of non-playoff appearances.

How sweet would it be to have both the Orioles and Ravens celebrating championships together? Extremely.  Then we could rub it in other fans’ faces for once.

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