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Some or a lot of you probably hate Bill Simmons with a passion but recently he released his top 15 tortured franchises. Here's the full article but there is a lot of extra crap like emails and stuff in it.
Here's the list. We have 3
Here's the list. We have 3
14-15. Seattle Mariners/Seahawks
Last Title: Never.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: None.
Rock Bottom: Losing the Sonics in 2008 sent the city into a spiritual sports funk.
Additional Thoughts: Had to be included after the repeated failures of the Griffey/Ichiro Mariners, Super Bowl XL and the Sonics hijacking. Only a title can snap the city out of it. The good news: They listen to the right kind of music to get through this. "Black hole sun ... won't you come ... and wash away the rainnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn."
13. Portland Trail Blazers
Last Title: 1977.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: 2000 Western finals, Game 7, when they blew a 17-point lead to the Shaqobe Lakers as Mike Dunleavy squinted in disbelief and Rasheed threw up bricks. Somehow, those two are still in my life on an everyday basis. Is there a reset button I can hit?
Rock Bottom: The height of the Jail Blazers era.
Additional Thoughts: Even though they shouldn't be eligible until 2012, I'm including them because of the many Drexler Era meltdowns, the 2000 collapse, the Bowie and Oden decisions, and the team's "only child" status in Portland. People in Portland are irrational about the Blazers much like a single soccer mom would be irrational about her only son. What do you mean he isn't starting today, Coach? He's the best player on the team! YOU JUST DON'T LIKE HIM -- THAT'S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT! They would not handle a Level 1 loss well.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Title: 1960.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: 2008 NFC title game (to Arizona).
Rock Bottom: Donovan McNabb throwing up during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXIX.
Mitigating Factor: The Phillies' 2008 title knocked the Eagles down a few spots. At least the people of Philly know God isn't against their city now. Or, they're reasonably sure.
Additional Thoughts: It's unclear whether Eagles fans could have a Level 1 loss at this point since they keep their guard up at all times. (I watched it firsthand in Jacksonville during Super Bowl XXXIX: As soon as things went wrong in the second quarter, they checked out.) Eagles fans are like those premade dinner bowls from Uncle Ben's or Healthy Choice -- just cut the top, microwave for three minutes and you have a bowl of bitter. Switch McNabb for Favre this past Sunday, and Eagles fans absolutely would have been waiting for that interception to be thrown. To rope them into a Level 1 loss would take a Herculean choke.
11. New York Jets
Last Title: 1968.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: 1986 AFC playoffs against Cleveland, when they blew a 10-point lead in the last four minutes, jump-started by Mark Gastineau's stupid late hit on Bernie Kosar (fast forward to the 2:24 mark).
Rock Bottom: None. Just a nasty habit of starting hot and falling apart.
Additional Thoughts: Like Eagles fans, Jets fans are smart enough to lock out before they get hurt. This past Sunday, it happened when Rex Ryan called for a 52-yard field goal that never had a chance. After that miss, I e-mailed a Jets friend of mine with the subject heading, "THAT WAS A MISTAKE." He e-mailed back, "That was the game." Jets fans are a lot of things, but they're always realistic.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Title: Never.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: "The Shot" (1989). A true Stomach Punch. They had just taken the lead a few seconds earlier on one of the best inbounds plays ever executed (fast forward to the 3:22 mark). And then ... ooof.
Rock Bottom: Orlando's shocking upset of the Cavs in the 2009 Eastern finals. They never saw it coming. Next time, they will.
Additional Thoughts: For all we know, this season is their last chance with LeBron. It's going to be like a mutant version of the 1992 Pirates during Barry Bonds' last season -- desperation mixed with urgency -- but in this case, Cavs fans won't have the "We Are Family" title from 1979 to cushion the blow if things go wrong. Just writing about this makes me uneasy.
9. Buffalo Sabres
Last Title: Never.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: 1999 Finals, Game 6 (the No Goal Game).
Rock Bottom: Ditto. I mean, they lost the only Stanley Cup finals in which the opposing team cheated to score the title-winning goal in triple overtime.
Additional Thoughts: They share a city with the star-crossed Bills. That's like having your house sprayed by a skunk once a year. You can't get that stink off your clothes.
8. New York Knickerbockers
Last Title: 1973.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: Games 6 and 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals were more recent, but 1993's Charles Smith Game might have been the all-time NBA Stomach Punch loss. We've never seen anything approaching that final sequence in a basketball game, before or since. It's remarkable. If you showed that play on a loop in a crowded Manhattan bar, within 15 minutes, it would incite a riot.
Rock Bottom: The Isiah era.
Additional Thoughts: Slowly becoming the pre-2004 Red Sox of basketball. Right down to the 45 shameless writers who would release a quickie book if the Knicks ever turned things around and won a title. Wait, I think I just made fun of myself.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Title: 1967. Also their last finals appearance.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: Game 6, 1993 conference finals (overtime in Los Angeles). The Leafs have a chance to clinch their first Cup appearance in 26 years and score three in the third period to force overtime, and then Wayne Gretzky gets away with a high stick to Doug Gilmour's face that isn't called ... and Gretzky scores the game winner one minute later. The Leafs go on to blow Game 7 at home. They haven't recovered.
Rock Bottom: Probably a 2008 YouTube video of a Leafs fan breaking up with the team. It's inordinately depressing.
Additional Thoughts: They're the Knicks of the NHL -- giant fan base, huge city, decades of unhappiness, a beaten-down fan base with little hope, and for whatever reason, it's always more fun when they're good.
(Now here's where a sarcastic Knicks or Leafs fan would chime in, "Yeah, and you left out that they both stink and don't have a 2010 first-round pick." Um ... good point.)
6. San Francisco Giants
Last Title: Never (unless you count 1954, when the team was in New York).
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: Game 6, 2002 World Series (sadly, no YouTube clip since MLB knocks any footage off YouTube in its never-ending quest to find ways to suck). Arguably a Level 1 loss. No moniker, though.
Rock Bottom: Game 6 again, though I forgot to mention the thundersticks.
Additional Thoughts: You'd think a 66-year title drought, the Bonds/BALCO fallout, a borderline Level 1 loss in 2002 and having its first World Series home game in 27 years postponed by a devastating earthquake during batting practice of the first-ever Bay Area World Series would get the message out that, "Hey, we need to start including these guys in all future Tortured Sports Cities discussions." Can you be underrated/tortured? Apparently so.
5. Cleveland Indians
Last Title: 1948.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: With apologies to the 1999 Indians (shut out by an injured Pedro Martinez coming out of the bullpen in a wild Game 5) and 2007 Indians (blew a 3-1 series lead to Boston), the answer is still Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Every bit as devastating as the 1986 Red Sox collapse at Shea, but without the fanfare because of residual bitterness from the 1994 lockout. Only when steroids use became mandatory the following year (wait, it wasn't?) did we throw ourselves back into baseball again.
Rock Bottom: Two recent Cleveland aces (Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia) starting Game 1 of the 2009 World Series ... but not for Cleveland.
Additional Thoughts: Lost some "tortured" street cred because "Major League" and "Major League 2" have been on cable so often that 30.9 percent of Americans now mistakenly believe that Charlie Sheen was the 1994 World Series MVP.
4. Cleveland Browns
Last Title: 1964 (also their last NFL Championship Game appearance).
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: The Earnest Byner Game (1987 AFC title game versus Denver). For my money, the most underrated Level 1 loss -- he's running toward the end zone, they're about to tie the game, then BOOM! It's like a sniper took him out. No other fan base has ever swung from total euphoria to total depression that quickly. And how 'bout poor Byner, who carried the Browns that game and was so tormented that he could barely walk back to the sideline? That game still haunts me, and I'm not even a Browns fan.
Rock Bottom: Cleveland losing the franchise in 1995, then getting a much crappier version back a few years later. That was like when the Ultimate Warrior came back as the Not-So-Ultimate and It's-Too-Bad-He-Cut-Down-On-The-Steroids Warrior.
Additional Thoughts: I can't believe the Browns are only No. 4. Three teams are more tortured than this?
3. Buffalo Bills
Last title: 1965 (AFL).
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: The Music City Miracle (1999 playoffs). Also the worst gambling loss of the past 10 years for anyone who bet on Buffalo. The rare double whammy.
Rock Bottom: Let's go with this one -- a while back, I wrote that Buffalo had lost three straight Super Bowls, and my editor corrected me that it was actually four. I know I'm getting old, and I've been having a ton of brain farts lately ever since my son decided it would be a good idea to start getting up at 5:15 every morning like he was a CEO. But still, the Bills lost so many Super Bowls in a row that someone who writes about sports for a living couldn't remember the exact number. We'll never see anything like that again. I'm convinced.
Additional Thoughts: They've had so many crushing defeats that Vincent Gallo made "Buffalo '66," about a Bills fan who loses so much money on a Buffalo Super Bowl that he can't repay his bookie so he takes the fall for a crime the bookie committed, spends five years in prison, then gets out and decides he has to kill the kicker who cost the team that Super Bowl. They had to change the name of the kicker from "Scott Norwood" to "Scott Wood" for legal reasons. This actually happened.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Last Title: Never.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: This past Sunday.
Rock Bottom: Hard to top four Super Bowl losses in eight years. (Although we just topped it with the Bills, so I guess it's not THAT hard.) But since there were so many rock bottoms, let's go with the first one: Super Bowl IV, when the Vikes were favored by 12 and ended up losing by 16 to the Chiefs. Before the game, a Vikings mascot tried to take off in a hot air balloon, failed and nearly crashed into the stands. Don't believe me? Go to the 20-second mark of this clip. It's like a deleted scene from a Christopher Guest movie. Not a good omen for the Vikes and big games. Call it a retroactive rock bottom.
Additional Thoughts: As Geoff said on my podcast, "If there's any upside [from Sunday's loss], it's that no city will be willing to lure the Vikings away." I bumped them ahead of Buffalo only because of their unparalleled streak: Every 10 years or so, they rip the intestines out of their fans. Happened in 1975 (the Hail Mary), 1988 (Darren Nelson), 1998 (Gary Anderson) and 2009 (12 men). ... By the way, none of those were the four lost Super Bowls. Not even the Red Sox annihilated their fans at such a consistently efficient pace.
1. Chicago Cubs
Last Title: 1908.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: Bartman.
Rock Bottom: Ditto.
Additional Thoughts: Cold weather, a 102-year title drought, a checkered history, a Level 1 loss that happened recently, self-loathing fans, a nagging sense that it can never turn around ... the Cubs really bring everything to the table. They get my "fan base that's wired the most tightly" vote for this reason: Remember Game 1 of the 2008 playoffs at Wrigley, when the Dodgers jumped out to an early lead and the crowd died immediately? No faith at all. It has been beaten out of the fans.