Some say happiness is a state of mind. As a rabid sports fan, I have to disagree. To me, happiness is your team's place in the standings.
While fans in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Washington can all make compelling arguments, the lack of expectations, poorly attended games and the "football first" mentality of these cities disqualifies them from the race for most miserable.
History of Losing
The Cubs have not won the National League since 1945 and have not won a World Series since 1908. In fact, this team went from 1908 until 2003 without ever winning a playoff series. Despite the close calls in 1969, 1984, 2003 and 2008, the Cubs have never been able to get over the hump.
The Mets came into existence in 1962 and in their first season set a record for futility with 40 wins in its inaugural season, the worst total in Major League history. In 1993, Mets pitcher Anthony Young set a Major League record by losing 27 consecutive games where he had a decision. Unlike the Cubs, however, the Mets have won four pennants and World Championships in 1969 and 1986. The Mets can not compare with Chicago's track record of futility.
Recent Gut-Wrenching Losses
The Mets have had division leads of seven games and three-and-a-half games the past two Septembers, only to lose their ticket to the playoffs on the final day of each season. The odds of this happening to a team in consecutive years is about the same as my odds of hooking up with Minka Kelly.
In 2003, this happened to the Cubs.
Edge: Slight edge to the Mets. The Bartman incident was a bigger blow but it's a wound that has had more time to heal.
Both teams have had more than their fair share of highly touted young pitchers who never panned out.
For the Mets, it was a trio from the mid-90s know as "Generation K." Whether it be due to injury or general ineffectiveness, neither Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, nor Paul Wilson were ever able to put it together. Nobody from Generation K ever became anything more than an average Major League pitcher.
In the early part of this decade, Cubs fans pinned their hope on Mark Prior and Kerry Wood and in 2003, both pitchers gave Cubs fans a taste of what many thought would be a decade of dominance. But neither pitcher could stay healthy. Kerry Wood is now a closer in Cleveland while Prior will probably never pitch in the big leagues ever again.
Success of Rivals
Cubs fans had to suffer through two consecutive miserable Octobers. In 2005, Cub fans watched their cross-town rivals, the White Sox, win their first World Series in 88 years. The next year, Cub fans had to watch their biggest rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, win the World Series.
The Mets have a cross-town rivalry of their own with the Yankees, the most successful franchise in the history of American sports. The Yankess have won 26 World Championships, six of them coming since the Mets came into existence in 1962.
Last year, Mets fans had to watch their most bitter rival, the Philadelphia Phillies, win a World Championship. Then, they had to listen to Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins crack jokes about the Mets during the Phillies' victory parade.
In 1969, the Mets trailed a very talented Cubs team in the standings until late in the season when a black cat ran across the Cubs' dugout during a road game versus the Mets. The Mets went on to pass the Cubs in the standings and eventually win the World Series. To make matters worse for Cubs fans, that 1969 "Miracle Mets" team is now one of the most famous World Champions in the history of the sport.
In 1998, the Cubs exacted a little bit of revenge by beating the Mets out for the Wild Card on the final day of the year. That Cubs team was anti-climatically swept by the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.
The Cubs play in Wrigley Field which, in my not so humble opinion, is the greatest venue for a sporting event in America, maybe the world. I will always remember my trip to Wrigley. Cubs fans also got to spend the 90s rooting for the greatest athlete in the history of American sports as Michael Jordan led the Bulls to six world titles.
The New York Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008, which was nice for some Mets fans. Most Met fans though, support the Jets instead of the Giants. Rooting for the Jets is even more of an exercise in self-loathing than rooting for the Mets. All Mets fans have to distract themselves from their misery is a shiny new stadium that lacks any discernible charm.
It's too close to call. I think there is a divide at age 30. Anybody older than 30 has a vivid memory of the Mets' 1986 championship, while Cubs fans over the age of 30 are more tortured.
Those of us Mets fans who have no memory of 1986 have had it as rough as anyone. Not only have we never gotten a parade for our troubles, we had to go to school with Yankee fans in the late 1990s. Middle school sucked badly enough; I can't tell you how much worse four Yankee titles in five years made puberty for me.
No matter which of these teams you root for, baseball season has become a 162-game trip to the dentist. Let's hope for the sanity of both fan bases that one of these teams can break through.
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