I am counting the 10 worst spoiler teams of the last 20 years from the four major North American sports leagues, those being the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.
To define spoiler, one must acknowledge what it would have meant if the other team won, and also, what occurred with the spoiler team winning.
In my opinion, a spoiler team isn't necessarily a massive underdog that beat a favorite but what favorite it was they beat and at what time.
Spoiler teams also tend to be forgotten in the history books, and often it is the team they beat that is better remembered.
For the first time in NHL history since the 16 team first through eighth seed format was employed, the No. 1 seeded Red Wings of the Western Conference lost in seven games to the San Jose Sharks.
This was the year Sergei Fedorov became the first Wings' player since Gordie Howe to with the Hart Trophy. He also won the Frank Selke as the most complete player in the league.
Paul Coffey had come off an injury season to record 100 points for the first time since 1990-91, scoring 14 goals.
This was also Mark Howe's second to last season, and even though he would return for the '94-'95 season, he would only play 18 regular season games compared to 44 in '93-'94, and would only make three playoff appearances.
Lastly, it was Scotty Bowman's first season coaching the team, and it was a complete team.
The problem with the Sharks' upset victory, was it meant nothing to them.
The Sharks would go on to lose in seven games to the Leafs, and we all know the '94 Cup went to the Rangers.
Now Ranger fans couldn't dream of a '94 season without Messier hosting the Cup, but the Wings could have been champs.
In the big picture, the Wings' dynasty could have been much greater had they won in '94, with more confidence, a repeat instead of a loss in the Final could have developed, and who knows how many Cups the Wings would have finished the '90s with?
Something else to consider is what it would have meant to the careers of Howe and Ciccarelli.
Both players with a Stanley Cup Championship on their resume could have made the Hall of Fame.
Ciccarelli has, of course, only been retired for a decade, but his chances don't seem great. Although he most likely will make the Hall of Fame one day, he will never be acknowledged as an elite player. Not saying he should be, but one or two Stanley Cup rings would have gotten him in.
As for Mark Howe, he may never get in. With a Stanley Cup Championship, or maybe two if he chose to come back after a championship in '94, his chances would be significantly higher.
Were people getting tired of the 49ers winning Super Bowls by the 1990 season? Yes, I'm sure a lot of fans were getting annoyed. However, looking back, it would have been something to see a team finally three-peat, as the Packers, Dolphins and Steelers (twice) failed to do so.
But no, the New York Giants didn't just beat the 49ers by a Roger Craig fumble with just over two minutes to go, but they also knocked Joe Montana out of the 49ers forever.
We all know Montana ended his career on the Chiefs.
And we all know Buffalo's Scott Norwood missed that 47-yard field goal, and the Giants won the Super Bowl, 20-19.
Now, I put this at No. 9 and no higher because that was a great Super Bowl, and the 1990 Giants had a hand in making Belichick what he is today.
However, what happened to Montana alone leaves me to put the spoiler label on this team.
Also, not many people remember the 1990 Giants for their greatness, but mostly for Norwood's missed kick instead.
Montana could have won five Super Bowls and retired a 49er, and hell, couldn't Steve Young have gotten traded and played on another team? Wouldn't that have been something?
I don't know, but the '90 Giants stick out like a sore thumb for me, plus the '90 Bills, had they faced off against the 49ers, probably would have gotten destroyed, and, yes, you wouldn't have gotten such an exciting Super Bowl, but you probably wouldn't have gotten all those Bills hardships.
I mean, to me, had the Bills gotten destroyed in that first Super Bowl, maybe Marino could have lead the Dolphins to the promise land, or some other AFC team could have gotten there.
Will Drik Nowitski ever win an NBA Championship?
After losing to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals, the Mavericks improved to a league best 67 wins in the 2007 regular season. Dirk Nowitski won the League MVP (by a nose over Steve Nash), and the Mavericks ownership had high hopes for a Championship.
In the first round Dallas faced the Golden State Warriors, a team with no outstanding stars that fought in the last game of the season to make the playoff appearance.
The Mavericks lost in six games, and even though the Warriors picked up warm support from fans around the league (especially Steve Nash fans), they would get beaten handily by the Utah Jazz in the next round.
What could have happened? Dirk Nowitski could have won his first Championship, or either way the NBA Finals could have been against the Mavericks and Cavaliers, two teams that had never won a Championship, making for an exciting predicament.
Instead we got another Spurs Championship...yay...
The 2001 Seattle Mariners seemed a team of destiny.
They tied a record 116 wins in the regular season and beat the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS to advance to their first American League Championship. They lost to the New York Yankees in six games.
The 2001 Mariners boasted a lineup of star players that included Ichiro Suzuki, Bret Boone, Mike Cameron, John Olerud, Edgar Martinez, and
It would have meant quite a bit to the city of Seattle, which has been at a loss in major sports, having only won one Championship, the Supersonics in 1979.
However, Ichiro Suzuki may be the greatest hitter in the history of MLB. Yes, better than Ty Cobb, considering the era Cobb played in, and how Suzuki has yet to have a season with less than 200 hits.
I also think Jamie Moyer would have retired a lot sooner than he....well, he's still playing. Why? I don't know.
It might be just me, but more than Karl Malone, I would have liked to see Reggie Miller win one.
His team made a Conference Championship six times, but only once was Miller part of a Conference Champion.
This happened in the 2000 NBA Playoffs, where the Pacers fought their way to the Finals only to lose to the Shaq and Bryant tandem.
Now maybe it's because I somewhat hate the Lakers, yes hate them, not dislike, but hate. I hate Kobe Bryant, and there's never been a thing I liked about the Lakers.
I even started to hate Malone when he came to them to win a Championship, and I laughed at him when my Pistons beat the Lakers in the 2004 Finals because I would have loved to see Malone in a Detroit jersey.
But still, Miller Time should have won a Championship, unlike Malone, Reggie Miller stayed with his longtime team and retired a Pacer, it's just plain sad the Lakers couldn't lose that year.
No, I am not a Leafs fan, and no, I don't really feel sorry for their embarrassingly long drought of playoff success.
In case you didn't know, the Toronto Maple Leafs haven't made the Stanley Cup Finals since 1967, the last time they won the Cup.
The Chicago Blackhawks, who own the longest Cup drought, not having won since 1961, have made the Stanley Cup Finals three times since 1967.
That hurts Leafs fans, I'm sure.
The team has made the Conference Finals three times, however, the last being 1994 when they were beaten by the Canucks.
The previous season they lost to the Kings in the Conference Final.
The playoff structure employed at the time had four divisions, two in each Conference, and the top four teams in each Division facing off against each other in a 1-4 seed format.
The Leafs finished third in their division and beat the Red Wings in seven games in the first round.
It took the Leafs another seven games to beat the Blues, and then they were off to face the upstart Kings, who won five less games in the regular season than the Leafs but beat the Flames in the first round of the playoffs after being down 2-1 and defeated the Canucks in six games in the second round.
The 1993 Conference Final would end up being one of the greatest in NHL history.
The Leafs and Kings would exchange victories until the fifth game of the series which saw Toronto win, 3-2, in overtime.
Then came game six.
The game went into OT tied, 4-4, but in overtime, controversy struck. Gretzky was not called on a blatantly obvious high stick on Doug Gilmour. The
Leafs did not get a powerplay in OT, and Gretzky won it sending the series to Toronto for game seven, where the Kings would again win by the score of 5-4.
The Stanley Cup Finals saw the Canadiens lose 4-1 to the Kings in Game 1, but proceeded to do what they did the entire playoffs that year, win in OT, the next three games to finish at home in game five with the score of 4-1.
Had the Leafs won game six or game seven of the '93 West Final, Doug Gilmour would have continued his amazing points streak, he scored 35 points in 21games played, and probably would have won the Conn Smythe.
The Leafs would have faced the Canadiens for the first time in a Stanley Cup Final in the Expansion era (started 1967) and may have finally won the Cup.
Doug Gilmour was an awesome player, and I feel bad for him never winning another Cup, but mostly it's because no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since 1993.
Maybe had the Leafs made the FInal it would have been different. Maybe other Canadian teams would have put in more effort to win, since only the Canadiens have won the Cup for Canada since '67.
Also, I wish Felix Potvin had won a Cup because, just personally, he was a nice guy. And then there's Wendel Clark, poor Wendel.
Be a Pats hater all you want, I wanted to see a team go undefeated.
With the possibility of the league extending the regular season to 17 or 18 games, it will become even harder.
Few coaches have the desire to go undefeated if they get to 13-0 and have everything locked up, like Tony Dungy in '05.
Also, who in the hell likes Mercury Morris all the bloody time talking about how his '72 Dolphins are the greatest team in NFL history?
They beat ONE team with a winning record, dear lord. Okay, Dolphins' fans, I know you're out there smiling, but face it, Mercury Morris is an annoying old fart, who got busted for cocaine possession and sent to prison in the '80s.
He's annoying, and for that fact alone I was rooting for the Patriots to win it all come Super Bowl Sunday.
Was I rooting for them to lose to the Ravens in Week 13? Maybe.
That game was so damn exciting though, and that's what the Patriots delivered in several games in the season. Even the blowouts were fun to watch sometimes.
For the record, I bet $20 for the Jaguars to beat the Pats in the Divisional Round, great odds you see.
But the Pats did make it to the Super Bowl, 18-0, the best start to a season ever.
Mercury Morris was on edge, and I remember him several times, with hatred in his eyes, trying to be calm by saying, "If they win, they join us, it doesn't matter who won more games, all that matters is the zero on the right side."
I laughed every time because had the Patriots won, Mercury Morris would shut his mouth forever.
But then the Giants won...
It wasn't that I hate Eli Manning ever since Coughlin was stupid enough to bench Warner in favor of Eli, who went 0-6 his first six starts.
No, it was that now some people call his game winning drive the greatest in NFL history, really? How many of his passes could have been intercepted? Three, and had David Tyree, a scrub, not made the LUCKIEST catch in Super Bowl history, I wouldn't have to be talking about this.
The Patriots finished 18-1, and the Giants won the Super Bowl. How many people 20 years from now will remember the 2007 Giants?
I'm sure Giants fans below the ages of 30 will have forgotten, but everyone will remember the 2007 Patriots, who choked, and it was an epic choke, but damn it all to hell, I wanted a 19-0 team!
Only Marino haters are content with having one of the greatest quarterbacks ever not winning a Super Bowl.
Dan The Man made three Conference Championships, and if this list extended beyond 20 years, I would have put the 1985 Patriots up for spoiling the '85 Dolphins season, which could have resulted if not in a Championship, the best game of the season against the '85 Bears (who's only loss was to the '85 'Phins).
However, Marino made his final Conference Championship after the 1992 NFL regular season.
His team drubbed the Chargers in the Divisional Round, 31-0, but had to face the two time defending AFC Champion Bills, who had overcome the greatest deficit in history against the Oilers in the Wild Card Round that year.
The Bills beat the Dolphins without a doubt, 29-10, but then proceeded to get tarred and feathered by the Cowboys, losing Kelly in the first half of Super Bowl XXVII.
How would it have looked had Marino's Dolphins made the Super Bowl instead?
Well maybe the Cowboys would have knocked out Marino and ended his career, or maybe he would have finally won one.
Either way it would have been nice to see Marino given another chance, instead of the Bills losing for a third straight time. Dear God, the humanity!
Anyone who thinks the '98 Falcons deserved to be in the Super Bowl that season are either Falcons fans or deadbeats who know nothing of the NFL.
The '98 Falcons won five games by seven points or less but, more importantly, was their pathetically weak regular season schedule. Having only five games against winning teams, they lost two of them.
In their Divisional matchup against the 49ers, who they split the season series with, was won 20-18, by the skin of their teeth. They showed up to Minnesota and, by sheer luck, avoided a blowout.
Many who watched the game will tell you the Vikings didn't take the Falcons seriously. They played half-assed, and I can't say I disagree.
Even still, putting in maybe 60 percent effort with some notable injuries, the '98 Vikings, one of the greatest teams in NFL history (setting the single season points record), were up by seven nearing the two minute warning with a 38-yard kick from Gary Anderson coming up.
Anderson hadn't missed a kick, period, in two years and was 35 of 35 in field goals, including 14 of 14 from 40+ yards.
Well, Gary Anderson missed that 38-yard kick, and the Falcons got a chance to tie the game with 2:07 to play. They did.
After almost 12 minutes of OT, Morten Anderson, the Falcons' place kicker, got a 38-yarder through the uprights.
The Falcons were NFC Champions.
They proceeded to get slapped around by the '98 Broncos and are only remembered for luckily beating the great Vikings in the NFC Championship.
Had the '98 Vikings and '98 Broncos met, it may have resulted in the highest scoring Super Bowl ever.
It's a shame, really, and the '98 Vikings boasted a lot of Hall of Famers that finished never having won a Super Bowl, most notably Randall Cunningham and Cris Carter.
But it was also Randy Moss' rookie season, and we all know he has, perhaps by bad luck, been denied a Super Bowl ring since.
The 1994 MLB strike was disgusting, but I'll be honest and blunt as to why I put it this high.
The fact of the matter is, the Jays were two-time defending World Series Champions but were slipping, however the Montreal Expos were leading the entire league with 74 wins and their division by 6 wins with a very solid team.
They held the hopes of a three-peat for Canada.
And then Donald Fehr decided to be an ass and spit in the Owners' faces.
I have, myself, never supported players' unions in professional sports. They make a ton of money and their union leaders still want more; it's never enough.
Every team, and every league survives on the fans, not the players—THE FANS.
The players should be proud of themselves for achieving such athleticism and spotlight.
They should also respect the fans, first and foremost, and the owners, although greedy themselves, pay the players more than enough for their work.
The '94 strike cost the Montreal Expos a decent shot at a World Series.
The team most likely would not have moved even if they didn't win because the team imploded after the strike, and Larry Walker would have gotten a beefed up resume to get into the Hall of Fame.
However, I think the big deal is that, had Donald Fehr not been a mule's bottom end and accepted the Owners deal, the now-known "'Roids " era would not have gotten as much steam as it did.
Bud Selig states he would have started steroid testing as part of the new deal, and the fiasco which came of Bonds, McGwire and alike would probably not have happened.
It's pretty much fact that the steroids era really got kicked into full gear as a way of getting fans back into baseball after many were shown the finger by the union in 1994.