Thursday, September 30, 2010

The five most "cursed" sports cities

The word curse gets thrown out a lot in professional sports.  There was "the curse of the bambino" which Red Sox apologists blamed their 86 year drought between World Series titles.  The Cubs have "the curse of the Billy Goat," and the whole Bartman incident of 2003.  I am a lifelong San Diego fan, and our town hasn't won any kind of championship since 1963 when the Chargers won an AFL title. (before the Super Bowl was even around)  The Padres recent collapse made me think about cities that seem to have a black cloud over their sports teams.  So I present to you, the 5 most "cursed" sports town.  Here is the criteria:  The town MUST have at least two major sports teams, and has to have gone at least 15 years without a championship.  Cities like Chicago are ineligible, since the Chicago White Sox won a title in '05.

5.  Kansas City
Major Teams:  Chiefs, Royals, Kings(moved to Sacramento in 1985)
Last Major Championship:  Royals, 1985

Kansas City has had some success, with both of their major teams winning championships, but there has been a long drought.  The Royals won the World Series in 1985, (the year I was born) but have not returned to the playoffs since.  25 years, without a division championship or a wild card.  They have been a perennial doormat in the AL central too, losing 100 games four times from 2000-2009.  Things aren't looking better for them in 2010, although they have a very deep farm system.

The Chiefs had several great teams in the '90's, teams that were coached by Marty Schottenheimer(a recurring theme on this list) but always seemed to come up short.  The 1993 Chiefs, who featured Joe Montana and Marcus Allen, won the AFC West with an 11-5, and advanced to the AFC championship, only to fall to the Buffalo Bills.  The 1995 Chiefs went 13-3, but lost to the Colts 10-7 in a playoff game, in which kicker Lin Elliott missed 3 Field Goal attempts.(sound familiar Charger fans)  The current version of the Chiefs look strong, so perhaps they may end their championship drought in the near future.

4.  Seattle
Major Teams:  Seahawks, Mariners, formerly the Supersonics(moved to Oklahoma City)
Last Major Championship:  Sonics(1979)

Seattle has had a lot of great players on their teams over the years, but haven't been able to win the big game.  The Mariners featured Ken Griffey Jr., one of the finest outfielders in the history of baseball, and developed Alex Rodriguez.  The biggest choke job by the M's came in 2001, when they won 116 games, yet lost the ALCS to the Yankees in five games.  With the direction this team is going in, it will be a long time before they are in the mix.

The Seahawks have had some success recently, but were unable to win the big one.  They advanced to the their only Super Bowl berth in 2005, only to fall to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Seahawks also went 11 years, between 1989-1999 without advancing to the playoffs.  Oh, how I will never forget the Rick Meier era.

The Sonics are probably the biggest disappointment of all.  I loved watching the teams they had in the 90's with Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, and role players like Sam Perkins and Heresy Hawkins.  They of course, ran into Michael Jordan in his prime, and lost to the Bulls in the 1996 NBA finals.  The team rebuilds, and are able to select Kevin Durant in the 2007 Draft.  Then, Clay Bennett, an Oklahoma businessman, moves the team, and the fans of Seattle are left wondering "What if?"  They have built an impressive, young team that nearly took out the Lakers in the playoffs last season.  I can't even imagine the bitterness these fans must hold.

3.  San Diego
Major Teams:  Chargers, Padres, Clippers(moved to Los Angeles in 1985)
Last Major Championship:  1963(Chargers, AFL)

Now we come to my hometown.  I live and die with my teams, and I've had many brushes with death.  San Diego teams, always seem to get your hopes up, only to kick you in the crotch in the end.  The greatest example has been the last few seasons.

I will never forget the 1994 season.  The Chargers went 11-5, and beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, for a berth in their first Super Bowl.  Naturally, the Chargers were matched up against an offensive juggernaut, and were beat down 49-26, in the most uncompetitive game I have seen.  If the 49'ers don't pull their starters, they win at least 63-14.  Then we have the '06 Chargers, who won 14 games, under Marty Schottenheimer of course, yet choked against the Patriots.  If Marlon Mccree falls down with the Tom Brady pick, the Chargers might have won it all.  Then in 2007, the Chargers made the AFC championship game, only to see their stars, Rivers, Gates, Tomlinson, all suffer injuries prior to the game, and weren't at 100 percent.  Hell, Tomlinson didn't even play, and they lost 21-12.  The Chargers lost a couple of other brutal games, to the Jets in '04 and '09, and the Freezer Bowl in 1981 to the Bengals.  The Chargers just can't seem to get over the hump.

We move on to the Padres, and they don't have much history to speak of.  Two pennants in 40 years, and a ton of losing seasons.  The '84 Padres were outmatched by a great Detroit Tigers, and the Padres in '98 were forced to do battle with the Yankees, a team that i feel is the greatest of my lifetime.  The 2010 Padres look poised to piss away a six game lead that they held in August.

Maller's problem now.

2.  Buffalo
Major teams:  Bills, Sabers
Last Major Championship:  1965(Bills, AFL)

Poor, poor Buffalo.  The weather is miserable, and their professional sports teams are even worse.  I do realize that the Clippers actually played here, but it's not really important, so I didn't really mention it in the section above.

I also don't really like the NHL, and naturally the Buffalo Sabers have never won a damn thing.  So let's move on to those lovable losers, the Buffalo Bills.  They won consecutive AFL championships in 1964 and 1965, but have come up dry since.  They famously lost four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993.  They had their hearts ripped out by Scott Norwood's missed field goal in '90.  They lost the next year to the Washington Redskins, 37-24, and Thurman Thomas lost his helmet, forcing him to miss the first two plays of the game.  The next two years, they were beat down unmercifully by the Cowboys in both '92 and '93.  The team now, is an absolute joke.

1.  Cleveland
Major Teams:  Indians, Browns, Cavaliers
Last Major Championship:  1948(Indians)

I really pity the poor bastards that live in Cleveland.  I can't imagine how much trauma they have been dealt over the years.  From the Indians losing the series in 1997, to the original Browns bolting to Baltimore, to Lebron James spitting in the collective faces of Cleveland fans everywhere.  Curse is an understatement when describing the history of Cleveland sports.  Some origins of the "curse" point to Rocky Colavito, who was traded by the Indians in 1960, in an unpopular move.

The Browns had some success in their history, but the heartbreak that made them synonymous with the word failure started in 1986.  The Browns led by, none other than Mr. Chokejob himself, Marty Schottenheimer, led the Browns to the AFC Championship, only to lose in a game famous for "The Drive," in which John Elway led the Broncos on a 98 yard drive to tie the game, then lost in overtime on a field goal.  In 1987, the Browns were again a very strong team, and again met up with those pesky Denver Broncos in the playoffs.  Just as it looked like Cleveland might finally get over the hump, running back Earnest Byner was stripped at the goal line, and the Browns were crushed yet again.  Later, in 1995, owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore, in one of the most vilified moves in sports history.  The Browns came back in 1999 as an expansion team, but are still looking to find their niche in the game.  They are one of four teams who have never appeared in the Super Bowl.

The Indians haven't won a title since 1948, before television was relevant in our society.  The team had an impressive run in the 1990's, featuring superstars like Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, and Jim Thome.  They lost in the World Series in 1995 and 1997, blowing a ninth inning lead in game 7 of the 1997 World Series.  Cleveland fans will forever see Craig Counseil crossing homeplate to steal the title away from the Indians.

Then we move to the Cavaliers.  Before Lebron James, they were best known for Michael Jordan posterizing Craig Ehlo.  Then in 2003, the team wins the draft lottery, allowing them to pick the most hyped draft pick in the history of the NBA.  Lebron got the team to the NBA finals in 2007, but they were swept away by Tim Duncan, and the San Antonio Spurs.  The last two seasons have featured 60 wins, but no championships.  Then in an unprecedented event, Lebron ditched Cleveland in an elaborate made-for-television special, taking his talents to Miami.  Cleveland was left once again to make sense of yet another agonizing heartbreak.

All of these cities seem to have horrible luck.  Is it poor team management, or is there some supernatural force prohibiting these cities from tasting the champagne of victory.  Which of these cities will rise from the ashes first, to experience a title?  I may die before that happens.

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