Living in New York, I have had to hear much chatter about the woeful ways of the New York Mets. The angst felt by their fans toward their beloved team is certainly understandable. At the risk of inflicting more wounds, I won’t go into events that have led to their frustration, particularly the ones over the past seven seasons. However, I am a little tired of the “woe is me” attitude that seems to prevail among Met fans. Of all the fans of Major League Baseball teams, they act as though nobody has had it as rough as them. I must admit it is a bit humourous at times to listen to them rant but at the same time, it does get old. So I decided to quantify which fans have been inflicted with the most misery over the course of their existence. I kept the list to five though it could have very easily been expanded to ten. Sorry Met fans, your team doesn’t cut it; in fact I would have a hard time picking them for my top ten. Here they are, in no particular order the UnFab Five:
Chicago Cubs: This franchise has been known as the Cubs since 1903 but it actually dates back to 1876 when they were known as the White Stockings. The last time the Cubbies appeared in the World Series was 1945 and the last time they won it was 1908. Since then, it has been nothing but losses and heartbreak for the fans of Wrigleyville and beyond. Since that 1945 series, the Cubs have captured four division titles and one Wild Card. They have yet to win a single playoff series. Oh, they have been close. They had a two games to none lead on the San Diego Padres in 1984 back when the divisional round was the best of five and the winner went to the Fall Classic. First, it was Steve Garvey taking Lee Smith deep to win Game 4 and then with the Cubs winning 3-2 in Game 5, Leon Durham‘s error in the bottom of the seventh inning opened the door to a four run inning allowing San Diego to prevail 6-3 and go to the World Series. Fast forward to 2003 and the team held a commanding 3 games to 1 lead over the Florida Marlins in the NLCS. This was, of course the Steve Bartman series in which the end result was Florida coming all the way back and advancing to the Series. Then there was 2008 when Chicago posted the best record in the National League at 97-64 only to be swept in the first round by the Los Angles Dodgers. Throughout their history, be it decades ago or a couple of years ago, there has been an endless array of second tier finishes. If you though the party for the Boston Red Sox was huge when they finally won it all in 2004, wait until the Cubs win the big one. Hopefully, that will happen before the next turn of the century.
Cleveland Indians: Although the Tribe enjoyed a great deal of success from the mid 1990’s to 2001, this is a franchise that has not won a World Series since 1948. Some of those playoff losses a decade or so ago are the stuff of legend…..and misery. They lost the 1997 Fall Classic in heart-breaking fashion when the Indians coughed up a 2-1 9th inning lead in Game 7 and lost in 11 innings. In 1999, they blew a two game to nothing lead against the Red Sox in the divisional round and lost in five as Pedro Martinez came out of the bullpen in the clincher and tossed six-no hit innings. After a string of dismal seasons, the 2007 club held a 3 games to 1 lead over Boston in the ALCS only to see the Sox make another historic comeback and evaporate Cleveland fans’ dreams once again. Since that year, the team has not finished above .500. Before their 1990’s surge, they were about as big a laughingstock in the game as you could find. In 1968, the Tribe finished in third place. They would not finish that high again in the standings until 1994. From 1978 through 1985, Cleveland would finish no higher than sixth place in the American League East. “Major League” came to theaters in 1989; too bad some of that magic didn’t rub off on the organization until five years later.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Everyone knows the not-so magical number: 20, as in the number of consecutive losing seasons. I also think back to the last time the Bucs won the World Series which was 1979. Not too long after that, the team began playing some really bas baseball. From 1981 through 1989, the Pirates finished higher than fourth only twice, lowlighted by the 1985 campaign in which the team went a horrendous 57-104. And then it was onto those three, glorious seasons from 1990 to 1992 in which they captured three straight National League East titles. Of course, those last two seasons ended in miserable fashion. In 1991, the Pirates came home with a 3-2 NLCS lead over the Atlanta Braves only to score exactly zero runs over the next 18 innings as Atlanta reached the Fall Classic. Who could ever forget the two teams’ epic encounter the following season in the NLCS? The Bucs fought back from a 3 games to 1 deficit and took a 2-0 lead into the 9th inning of Game 7 only to watch the Braves push across three runs, the final one being Sid Bream‘s “dash” around third base to score the series-clinching run. The following season, Barry Bonds was gone and an entire generation of Pittsburgh fans has NEVER seen their club get to the .500 mark.
Kansas City Royals: Even now, it is almost hard for me to picture the Royals be so miserable as growing up they were one of the best franchises in Major League Baseball. I am sure that feeling is not shared by KC fans. Except for that tremendous run between 1975 and 1989, the last time it won 90 games, Royals fans have not been treated too kindly by their team. The five seasons between 2002 and 2006 saw Kansas City lose over 100 games four times. Had they not finished 83-79 in 2003, KC’s streak of consecutive losing seasons would stand at 18. Since 1994 when MLB expanded to three divisions per league, the Royals have finished as high as second place only once, that coming in 1995. During this stretch, they have seen homegrown stars such as Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran flourish in other locales. They have not made the playoffs since 1985, the year of their only World Series victory and is currently the longest postseason drought in the game today. Kansas City fans are hoping this is the year all of the building and shuffling pays off with a winning season and a playoff berth. I will believe it when I see it.
Seattle Mariners: This was the hard one. I could have gone with a handful of other teams. If I had written on this topic at this time last year, I think I would have gone with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. Their 2012 season and having stars such as Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper takes them out of consideration. I could have chosen the Milwaukee Brewers, despite the fact they have made two playoff appearances over the past five seasons. It was a very long wait for postseason baseball to return to Wisconsin. Instead, I will go with the only other team besides Expos/Nats to not appear in a World Series, the squad from the Pacific Northwest. It’s hard to believe that a franchise that once boasted Ken Griffey, Jr, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez could appear on this list. No World Series trips helped (hindered?) the cause as well as futility before and after the four players starred for the club. Seattle began play in 1977 and did not post a winning record until 1991 when it finished 83-79. It took all the way until 1997 for the franchise to reach the 90 win mark. After trading Griffey, the team made the ALCS in 2000. After losing Rodriguez, the M’s won a record 116 regular season games but lost again in the ALCS. Since then, there has been nothing going on except the magical hitting of Ichiro Suzuki and later the dazzling pitching of Felix Hernandez. They lost 101 games in 2008 and 2010 and have finished last in the AL West seven times in the last nine seasons. After almost a decade of misery, the skies may be getting brighter in Seattle.
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