No one wants be last—it stinks. Being last in line is the worst. Being the last guy picked for a game of pick-up basketball (or any other sport) is humiliating. The examples are, of course, plentiful; and exceptions are few and far between.
In fact, the only circumstance that makes being last a true win...is when you're the last man standing.
While, most of the MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL teams are vying to be that last man standing, some are just hoping to avoid the label "bottom dweller."
Across all four leagues, there are a few all too familiar barrel scrapers, a handful of franchises which love to flirt with total futility and a precious group of newcomers still in too far a state of shock to realize the ship is sinking.
Some are new and temporary players in the world of suck, while others seem to be permanent fixtures.
The Giants were not great in 2013, finishing third in the NL West and 12 games under .500. Of course, if their pattern since 2009 holds up, fans in San Francisco won't be suffering too long.
They rebounded from not making the playoffs that year with a World Series victory in 2010. Then they failed to make the postseason in 2011 and rebounded with a World Series victory in 2012.
Not only is this Giants team is still spending like the elite franchises in MLB, they're officially out from underneath that notoriously bloated Barry Zito contract. They were bad this season, but their future isn't anything but bleak.
Mark Cuban's Mavericks actually had a pretty nice little run for awhile. Though they failed to reach the playoffs last year, it was the first time Dallas had missed the postseason since 1999-00. The Mavs made it to the NBA Finals in 2006, losing to the Heat 2-4. They made it back to the Finals in 2011, defeating the Heat 4-2.
Unfortunately, they've been in a downward slide ever since. Dallas just barely squeaked into the playoffs in 2012 and were promptly swept out by the Thunder. Last year, they struggled to reach the .500 mark, finishing the season 41-41.
What the Mavs should've realized by now is that Dirk Nowitzki, as great as he is, does not make a championship team. And at this point, with Nowitzki now 35 years old, he does not even make a playoff team. Cuban has talked a big game about making a splash in free agency, but he has yet to snare a single high-profile player in the offseason.
They are going to struggle mightily on defense again this season, but they generally manage to get by with stop-gap measures. If Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Jae Crowder all pull their weight this season, this Mavericks team could sneak into the playoffs. If they don't? Well…it's going to be a dud of a year for hoops in Big D.
They may not have a Lombardi Trophy to display, but after some off-and-on success since the early '90s, the Falcons finally looked poised for a breakthrough since acquiring quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008.
With Ryan behind center, Atlanta has missed the postseason just once—a respectable 2009 season in which they went 9-7. The only problem being that for a team averaging over 11 wins a year, they've managed just one playoff win with Matty Ice—who is not so cool in the postseason.
That win came last year, a last-minute stunner against the Seahawks in the NFC Divisional round, before going on to lose to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Sure it wasn't a Super Bowl, but it was progress.
Progress is fine as long as you continue to build on it, which thus far this season, the Falcons certainly have not done. Currently they are 1-4, four games behind the division leading Saints, though not entirely out of the wild-card discussion if they win four of their next five—more than doable with this schedule.
But if Ryan loses more than one of those games, there's almost no chance this team will be playing come January.
Save for five consecutive seasons between 1989 and 1994 in which they failed to reach the postseason, the Flyers have been one of the most consistently successful franchises in professional sports. Since 1995, Philadelphia has missed the playoffs just twice, which is why it was such a big deal when it happened last season.
There was a sense the team was going to ax head coach Peter Laviolette in the offseason, particularly after the Flyers decided they'd rather eat nearly $50 million of former goalie Ilya Brzgalov's contract, rather than keep him around for another seven years. It seemed large-scale changes were coming in Philly.
Ultimately they decided to keep Laviolette, who they signed to an extension in August 2012, around through the upcoming season. But just three games into the regular season, Laviolette was unceremoniously dismissed after going 0-3 to start the year.
Perhaps it was time for him to go, but coaching is far from the only problem facing the Flyers. Supposedly, superstar center Claude Giroux has been in sharp decline since Laviolette declared him the best player in the world back in 2012, despite him finishing well behind Penguins star Evgeni Malkin in scoring.
Recently, CSN Philly asked: Is Claude Giroux still the best player in the world? The question they should've asked was: Was Claude Giroux ever the best player in the world to begin with? The answer is no. But if he can recapture some of that magic, these Flyers are in the best position of team to get off this list before season end.
The Texans spent nearly a decade fighting their way to the middle before finally breaking through as a postseason team in 2011 and 2012. Benefitting from a down Colts team each year, they finished first in the AFC South and would go on to lose in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Although Indianapolis was officially back on the radar in 2013, Houston was largely expected to repeat their successes of late. Even if they didn't win the division again, a major approaching backslide wasn't something many saw coming.
But that's exactly what's happened. After years of solid, not stellar, work, quarterback Matt Schaub has been an absolute mess through six games and was recently sidelined with an injury—which the fans actually cheered. He was replaced with backup T.J. Yates, who didn't exactly impress.
It all adds up to a Texas-sized mess. Perhaps they'll get it together by midseason, but right now it's hard to imagine this 2-4 team in the postseason.
Since 2006, the Rangers have only missed the playoffs once, but they've failed to do anything with their many opportunities. The 2011-12 season was their best since winning the Stanley Cup 18 years earlier, having finished first in their division and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, before losing to a less than impressive Devils team.
Last year, the sixth-seeded Rangers actually knocked off the third-seeded Capitals, defeating them in a dramatic quarterfinals series that went seven games. Then they were swiftly done away with by the Bruins, 4-1, whose regular season was only marginally better than the Rangers. Coach John Tortorella was axed as a result.
It's clear this team thinks it's built to win now, which is why their 1-4 start to the season is more than a little disappointing. And it's not just about losing, it's about how they're losing. The Rangers were recently routed by the Sharks, 9-2, which was disconcerting enough the whole hockey world wondering about the true state of this Original Six franchise.
A once proud franchise, the Redskins have had very little success since combative fanboy Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999 and promptly began running it like his own personal (2-10) fantasy football team. They stumbled into the playoffs a couple of times, but were never considered legitimate threat as a middling wild card.
That all changed last season, when quarterback Robert Griffin III led Washington to a 10-6 record, clinching the NFC East in a dramatic victory against the Cowboys in the last game of the season.
RG3 sustained further injury to an already ailing knee in a playoff loss to the Seahawks in the Wild Card Game, but for the first time in a long time there was hope for the future of football in the nation's capital.
Then they started this season 1-4 and all the wind in those sails died. In a struggling division, the 'Skins are just two games back at the moment, but they have an extremely rough road ahead.
There's nothing about Washington's first five games that suggests they'll be able to make up ground against tougher opponents.
It's hard to believe the Phillies are only two seasons removed from five consecutive playoff appearances between 2007 and 2011. They were World Series champions in 2008 and runners-up in 2009.
Philadelphia remains among the highest spenders in MLB, but their win total dropped by 21 games to 81 last year and sunk to 73 this past season—their worst season in well over a decade.
The last two years there have been countless sports journalists who have tried to answer the question: What's wrong with the Phillies?
There has been no strong consensus there, aside from a general sentiment that firing manager Charlie Manuel in August didn't even begin to address the problem.
Going into next season there are going to be more questions than answers in Philadelphia, which doesn't bode well for their short-term success. And it obviously doesn't bode well for their long-term success, either. So…uh…sorry Phillies fans.
With six Super Bowl championships to the Steelers name—the most in NFL history—they rank among the best franchises in professional sports. They've been extremely consistent in recent years, having made the playoffs 14 of 21 times since 1992.
Although, after a very early postseason exit in 2011 and failing to get there in 2012, it seemed pretty obvious that Pittsburgh wasn't primed to have a great year in 2013. Their defense is aging and cap trouble resulted in an offseason exodus.
But anyone who predicted they'd start the season 0-4—give yourself a gold star. The Steelers looked hapless through the first month of the season, but recently rebounded with a solid win against the Jets.
That doesn't mean they're now on track to make the playoffs, but you gotta start somewhere. At least they've slipped out of the shame spotlight beaming on the three remaining winless teams.
It's hard to believe that the Devils managed to trap and clutch their way onto this slideshow—but here we are. For almost two decades, the franchise has been defined by one thing; actually, make that...one man. His name? Future Hall of Famer, goaltender Martin Brodeur.
With Devils currently holding the dubious distinction of being the last team this season without a single win, Brodeur—coming off a season when his playing time and performance were impacted by injury—is not immune to the team's struggles. He's allowing 3.19 goals against and posting a save percentage of .878.
Another man certainly didn't define the franchise, but he's absolutely defined their gradual descent from elite, to good, to average, to just bad. That man is former $100 million winger, Ilya Kovalchuk, who took his puck home to Russia's KHL this summer—after four-and-a-half disappointing seasons.
Before the NHL lockout of 2004-05, the Devils counted themselves one of the dominant teams in the NHL—playing a brutal, defensive game that punished opponents, while Brodeur ensured that goals came at a rare premium for opposing players. The formula was a sure-winner: The Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
After the league hit reset, the Devils were still solid, but no longer the dominant force in the East that they were—and for the success they've had, having Brodeur in net was a large part of the equation. Now that it's clear he's not going to be the same suffocating netminder he was over his 20-year career so far, the Devils are left holding the bag.
There's no question the 76ers aren't the same largely successful team that missed the playoffs just once between 1975 and 1991. That being said, they did reach the NBA Finals in 2001 and was one game short of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012.
Unfortunately for basketball fans in Philadelphia, these current Sixers aren't even a shadow of their marginally successful teams in recent years. They are in complete rebuilding mode going into the 2013-14 season, having done nothing but dump salary in the offseason.
The 76ers have the most salary cap room in the league at the moment and will remain in "addition by subtraction mode" until further notice. It'll hurt for awhile, but it simply had to be done.
Last season, the Vikings made a surprise postseason appearance thanks to superstar running back Adrian Peterson, who more or less carried them there himself. They finished second in the NFC North and were bounced by the Packers in the Wild Card Game.
At the moment, it looks extremely unlikely Minnesota will be playing a game in January. Their only win of the season came against a less than impressive Steelers team, which was winless at the time.
The Vikings quarterback situation is currently in flux, which is the gentlest way to describe it. Former first-round draft pick Christian Ponder seems to be out of the discussion, backup Matt Cassel has not impressed and Josh Freeman has been in decline for several years now.
If freeman works out, obviously they'll be in much better shape. If he doesn't, they'll be rebuilding...yet again.
With well over a dozen NBA championships in their storied history, seeing the Lakers plummet as they did in 2012-13 was pretty jarring. Far as they fell, they still managed to make the postseason, before being unceremoniously swept by the Spurs in the first round.
Last year was their worst season since 2006-07 and it was the first time they were swept in the playoffs since the Spurs gave them the same treatment in 1998-99. Say what you will about the loss of free agent Dwight Howard in the offseason, just don't say they're a better team without him.
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was sidelined with an Achilles injury late last season, which despite what he says, can't not impact him at least a little. They've still got Pau Gasol, but Steve Nash's impact will be minimal and the addition of Chris Kaman did little to inspire confidence.
Unless Kobe makes a deal with the devil and beats him in a game of one-on-one, this is going to be one of the worst teams in the West.
The Sabres have had periods of off-and-on success since their inception and right now they are most certainly in an off cycle. They've been declining substantially each season since 2007, with a brief bounce back in 2010.
At the moment, they are 1-6 on the season and already have lost every way you can. They were blown out by the Penguins and Blue Jackets. They lost narrowly to the Wild and Blackhawks. They lost in overtime to the Lightning.
However, being just two weeks into the regular season, the Sabres are likely to find at least a few different ways to lose before all is said and done.
The Buccaneers are still currently winless, which means they are unquestionably a bad team. That being said, they haven't looked nearly as bad in defeat as some other of their brethren in badness.
The only lopsided loss of the season came against the Patriots in Week 3, other than that they've been competitive in every game. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has shown promise in his two starts since Josh Freeman was benched and later released.
The real problem in Tampa is Greg Schiano. I'm really not one to turn on a coach, as I believe they are often used as scapegoats to mask more serious problems, but this guy is the worst.
I was actually really torn trying to decide between the White Sox and the Cubs for this list. Both are good franchises—solid in their fanbase, if not their performance—that basically fell of the map after disappointing postseason performances in 2008.
The Cubs were actually swept out in the NLDS in '07 and '08 and haven't been back since. The White Sox lost to the attendance-challenged Rays 1-3 in the 2008 ALDS and haven't been back since.
Which is why I decided to include them both! At least the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, sweeping the Astros 4-0. The Cubs, on the other hand, haven't won a championship since 1908. Which is 105 years for anyone keeping count.
And I suspect every Cubs fan is keeping count.
The faces of Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries, who were acquired via a trade with the Nets in July, really say everything about the Celtics' prospects this season. With the exception of moodily talented point guard Rajon Rondo, this is not the team that won a championship in 2008.
Doc Rivers is gone. Ray Allen is gone. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are gone, too. And unfortunately for fans in Boston, they've all been replaced with Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries. Not an ideal situation, that's for sure.
First-year coach Brad Stevens, who was very successful in the college ranks, is going to need some time to get acclimated. Particularly with a baby face like that! Stevens is actually 37 years old, but he doesn't look a day over 16. The Celtics are poised to line the bottom of the barrel this season.
With four Super Bowl championships—two since 2007—the Giants are one of the most stable and respected franchises in professional sports. That being said, they do have a habit of swinging drastically between great and terrible seasons.
Yet for all that back and forth, the fact that they've started the 2013 season 0-6 is definitely far outside the norm. And the Giants haven't just looked bad this season, at some points they've been downright abysmal.
Of course, with the NFC East leading Cowboys and Eagles each currently at 3-3, it may be awhile before the G-Men are technically eliminated from playoff contention. But unless Eli Manning stops getting picked off three times a game, they have no shot whatsoever.
This one doesn't need a lot of explaining. The Astros are currently in rebuilding mode, a project that is going to take some time. So at the moment, they are downright terrible.
This season, Houston had the worst record in baseball—they finished with 11 less wins than the lowly Marlins. They also had a comically low payroll—substantially lower than the lowly Marlins.
Astros fans didn't have much to watch in 2013, but hopefully that marked rock bottom for the franchise. After hitting rock bottom, you have nowhere to go but up.
Unless you stay there forever…which hopefully won't be the case here.
Among the three winless teams remaining in the NFL currently, the situation for the Jaguars is most certainly the bleakest. They have the best chance of any team in the league of going utterly defeated in 2013—the dreaded 0-16.
The Jags have resorted to bargain basement prices on seats at the stadium and even offered free beer to fans as a promotion earlier this season. Maurice Jones-Drew is in the twilight of his career, Blaine Gabbert is an unmitigated disaster.
Aside from wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who seems to have stepped back from draft bust cliff, there are very few reasons to be optimistic for the future in Jacksonville.
Each year the Bobcats manage to reach a new low. A new low in season wins. A new low in shooting percentage. A new low in attendance. A new low in draft busts. A new low in Michael Jordan's career as an executive.
At this point anything would be considered a step up. They don't even need a good team in Charlotte, just a team that isn't so bad you have to do buy one get one free specials on season tickets.
Or give them away entirely.
The Marlins are the worst team in professional sports. They have a brand new stadium, which was largely funded by taxpayer dollars, but their infamous 2012 fire sale was proof this franchise has no intention of fielding a competitive team.
Perhaps they'll stumble into some success again at some point and then immediately dismantle everything to save a few dollars. This isn't just a bad team, it's a bad franchise.
At least very few people have to witness it, given their ridiculously pathetic attendance.