Who are sports longest-suffering fans?

A rare sight in the past 20 years: happy Pirates fans. This group was in Texas for a sweep of the Rangers that included win No. 82.
A rare sight in the past 20 years: happy Pirates fans. This group was in Texas for a sweep of the Rangers that included win No. 82.
Published Sept. 14, 2013

The Pittsburgh Pirates broke one drought last week, assuring themselves of a winning record for the first time since 1992. Their 20 consecutive losing seasons was the longest such streak in history among the big four North American professional sports leagues. Now they're on the verge of snapping another streak by making the playoffs for the first time since 1992. And that all means it no longer stinks to be a Pirates fan. So who is up now? Which teams' fans have it the hardest? Here's a look at the four major leagues and which teams are making it hardest on their fans.

Major League Baseball

Eight teams — the Rangers, Astros, Padres, Brewers, Nationals, Mariners, Rays and Rockies — have never won the World Series, and the Nationals and Mariners have never even been to the Series. The Nationals' drought includes the franchise's pre-Washington days, when the team was the Montreal Expos.

In addition, the Brewers haven't been to a World Series since 1982, and that's a shame because the good folks of Milwaukee make up a good baseball town.

Even if the Pirates somehow miss the playoffs this year, the Royals still will have the longest current postseason drought in the majors, having not made the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series.

Also, the Indians deserve to be noted. They've won two World Series, but the last one was in 1948.

But this is a no-brainer. No team in all of sports is a bigger loser than the Cubs, albeit they are lovable losers. Poor Cubs fans. They've lived through horror shows such as the Steve Bartman game in 2003 and the black cat collapse of 1969. The "Curse of the Billy Goat" — a fan supposedly placed a curse on the team because he was forced to remove his pet goat from Wrigley Field — has lasted more than a half-century. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and haven't been to the Fall Classic since 1945.

Oh, and the Cubs are on their way to finishing last in their division this season.


Two teams lead the list of long-time losers. The Kings haven't been to the NBA Finals since they were the Rochester Royals in 1951. Since then, they have moved to Cincinnati and then Kansas City and then to Sacramento in 1985. They had a team good enough to win it all in 2002 and would have at least made the Finals had they not been the victims of one of the worst officiating jobs in sports history during the 2002 Western Conference final against the Lakers.

Meantime, the Hawks haven't won a title since moving to Atlanta in 1968. But does anyone in Atlanta really care about the Hawks? A team has to have passionate fans to break their hearts. And there are other bad teams: the Wizards, Timberwolves, Raptors and Bobcats, for example.

But I'm going to go with the Trail Blazers. They have never been truly awful, and they even won a title with Bill Walton in 1977. But here's why they lead this list: They haven't won a playoff series since 2000, and since then, they have lost in the first round six times. They went through the whole "Jail Blazers'' era with shady characters, and even when they have brought in good franchise players, such as Brandon Roy, those players have gotten hurt.

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Most of all, Blazers fans make themselves sick thinking about how the team passed up drafting Michael Jordan for Sam Bowie in 1984 and Kevin Durant for Greg Oden in 2007. Oh, what could have been.


Plenty of teams have never won a Super Bowl. Four have never even appeared in one: the Browns, Lions, Jaguars and Texans. The Jags and Texans are newer teams, so the suffering in Jacksonville and Houston isn't that deep. (Though the old Houston Oilers never went to the Super Bowl, either.)

No doubt the Browns and Lions have tested the patience of their fans. The Browns haven't won a title since 1964 and haven't even made the playoffs the past 10 years. Their last playoff win was 1994. Plus, Cleveland lost its team for a short spell.

Meantime, the Lions haven't won anything since the 1957 title and haven't won a playoff game since 1991.

But here's the most suffering current franchise: the Bills. They haven't made the playoffs in 13 years, and that drought is not expected to end soon. In addition, their fans have the painful memories of losing four consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990s, starting with XXV at Tampa Stadium. Looking back at those losses, it might have been better to have never gotten to the big game at all. Bills fans are a special group. They are great fans. They deserve better.


The longest current playoff drought belongs to the Oilers. But no one will ever feel sorry for Edmonton fans. They used to have the greatest player of all time (Wayne Gretzky), who led one of the greatest dynasties of all time.

The fans of Long Island have constantly lived under the fear of having their team move, and now the Islanders are on their way to Brooklyn in 2015. They haven't won a playoff series since 1993, but they, too, once had a great dynasty with the Bryan Trottier-Denis Potvin teams that won four consecutive Stanley Cups in the early 1980s.

Maple Leafs fans haven't won a Cup since 1967, but too many of them are so obnoxious that it's hard to feel bad for them.

That leaves the Blues, who have never won a Stanley Cup even though they made the playoffs every season from 1980 to 2006. But no Cup and not even a Cup final appearance since 1970? That would have anyone singing the blues.

tom jones' two cents