Who Are The New Cubs? The Longest Suffering Franchises In Sports
Last week, the Chicago Cubs did what many believed to be impossible, bringing the franchise its first World Series title in 108 years, erasing yet another curse from history.
While not nearly as sexy, or well known, as the famous “Curse of the Bambino” the Boston Red Sox lifted nearly a decade earlier, the “Curse of the Billy Goat” left generations of loyal Cubs fans without ever seeing a World Series appearance, let alone a championship.
But as an estimated five million people attended Friday’s parade – one of the largest gatherings of humans ever – it was clear the weight had been lifted, only to be passed to another franchise.
In the other dugout of this year’s World Series was a team that has done its fair share of suffering – 68 years worth to be precise – in the Cleveland Indians.
With its last championship in 1948, Indians fans have had little to celebrate other than the franchise’s run of the mid 1990s through early 2000s, a seven year span that saw the Tribe win six American League Central Division Titles and two American League Pennants, only to come up short in heartbreaking fashion to two better franchises in the World Series – the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and the Florida Marlins in 1997. This year’s 3-1 lead, paired with a dramatic, yet heartbreaking Game 7, proved to be almost as nauseating as Jack Parkman’s “little shimmy.”
But LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers helped take away some of the sting, as the city was still collectively hungover from its NBA title a few months earlier, which ended a 52-year curse, or 147-season, drought that had plagued the city and turned it into a sports laughingstock. With the Indians off the hook for at least a few seasons, thanks to the Cavaliers who are equipped to make another run, the franchise is definitely the new Cubs, the new “loveable losers.” But they’re certainly not alone.
SACRAMENTO KINGS: 65 YEARS
Founded in 1948, the Sacramento Kings found almost immediate success in the NBA as the Rochester Royals, winning its first – and only – championship in 1951. But times have been tough over the years for the league’s oldest franchise, often looking more like jesters than kings.
The early 2000s saw a fleeting moment of hope, as the Kings won two Western Conference Pacific Division titles in 2002 and 2003, only to lose in the Conference Semifinals both seasons. For the most part, the franchise has been a bottom dweller since then, worried more about remaining in Sacramento than winning titles. The Kings have only called the city home since 1985, which hardly makes them comparable to the Cubbies, though certainly due for an NBA championship – but not nearly as sexy of an underdog.
ST. LOUIS BLUES: 49 YEARS
I know what you’re thinking, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the butt of every National Hockey League joke and have had virtually no success for more than a decade. Opposing fans even chant “1967! 1967! 1967!” to poke fun at the last time the Leafs won – but the St. Louis Blues have suffered far worse.
As one of the league’s first expansion teams in 1967, the Blues built an immediate winning culture in St. Louis, appearing in the Stanley Cup Final its first three seasons, losing twice to the Montreal Canadiens and once to the Boston Bruins – both of which were among the best teams ever created.
The Blues made the playoffs seven times in 10 years during the 1970s but only got out of the first round once. From the 1979-1980 season until the 2005-2006 season, St. Louis made the playoffs every year – 25 years – but were unable to make it to the Stanley Cup Final, even during the 1999-2000 campaign when it won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best team.
Over the last decade, the Blues have been one of the most successful teams during the regular season, though it simply hasn’t translated to the postseason. All while the rival Chicago Blackhawks have hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup three times.
It’s a good thing the St. Louis Cardinals have helped make it more bearable.
THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO: 52 YEARS
San Diego might just be the new Cleveland.
While the city might only have two professional sports franchises, neither has won a championship since 1963, when the San Diego Chargers won the American Football League’s Championship Game. They have only appeared in one Super Bowl over the last 50 years. Let’s not forget the front office woes that have recently plagued the team – just look at Joey Bosa – as well as a dilapidated stadium, which has led to many conversations regarding relocation.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres have yet to win the World Series, claiming two A.L. pennants in 1984 and 1998, only to come up flat in both World Series appearances, combining for just one collective win.
It’s been a decade since the Padres won a division title and have had little talent to root for, other than Trevor Hoffman, the all-time leader in career saves. But the Padres have also battled incompetence, like when the team let Bruce Bochy, who managed the team in 1998, walk in 2006 at which point he went on to win the rival San Francisco Giants three World Series titles over the span of six seasons. But at least both of San Diego’s teams have tasted victory, getting ever so close to bringing the city a title.
DETROIT LIONS: 58 YEARS
Once a proud franchise, who claimed three championships in six seasons during the 1950s, the Detroit Lions haven’t come remotely close to recapturing that magic.
In the 58 years since the Lions’ last championship in 1957, the team has made the playoffs just 11 times, gone through a laundry list of horrible-to-average quarterbacks and failed to make an appearance in the Super Bowl.
Barry Sanders, one of the all-time great players and a career Lion, even retired early as the team failed to put talent around him. During the early 2000s, Lions fans staged a walkout on Thanksgiving and wore paper bags over their heads to show their frustration. It really didn’t help, as in 2008 Detroit became the first team to go 0-16.
The franchise has long had issues selling out home games, which leads to games being blacked-out on television. There’s a good chance the Lions are cursed and just don’t know it.