Tortured Towns: Six Cities That Would Give Anything to Have Boston's Success

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IJune 18, 2008

Six professional titles in seven years.  Enjoy it while you can Bostonians.  It won't last forever. 

Once a tortured sports town, now is everyone's envy.  The grass is greener on their side.

While Boston's recent success can be nauseating for some, it should also give a glimmer of hope to others. 

At the start of 2001, the Patriots had never won a Super Bowl, the Celtics were going on fifteen years since their last title, the Red Sox were hopelessly trying to break the curse of the Bambino and the Bruins were looking for their first Stanley Cup in nearly thirty years.

Fast-forward to the present, and three out of four isn't bad.

There are currently a number of sports towns that could be considered tortured.  To qualify, a town must have at least one franchise among the four major leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) and can't have won a title in the past twenty years.  Sorry, but the fact that your town's AFL and triple-A teams haven't won doesn't count.

Here are six tortured sports towns (in no particular order) who should cling to the hope that they will become the "next Boston."

1) New Orleans: Saints (NFL) and Hornets (NBA)

The city of New Orleans has as many pro sports titles as I do: zero.

The Saints began play in 1967 and have largely been an embarrassment.  The embarrassment became so bad during the 1980 season, that the team became known as the 'Aints, and fans began wearing paper bags over their heads at the Superdome. 

The Saints have been one of the least successful franchises in the NFL and own a winning record against exaclty one team, the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.  They did not get their first playoff win unitl the 2000 season and have a total of two.

The best season came in 2006 when Drew Brees led the Saints to the NFC Championship Game, which they lost to the Chicago Bears.

The Hornets, on the other hand, have only been in New Orleans since 2002 after re-locating from Charlotte.  The franchise's best season came this past year after head coach Byron Scott and star player Chris Paul led the Hornets to one win away from the Western Conference Finals.

As if this sports town wasn't tortured enough, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina forced the exile of the cities two sports franchises.  The Saints played "home" games at the Alamodome, Tiger Stadium and Giants Stadium.  The Saints returned to New Orleans in 2006.

The Hornets left for Oklahoma City for the better portion of two seasons and returned in 2007.

2) Seattle: SuperSonics (NBA), Seahawks (NFL) and Mariners (MLB)

We've all heard the recent news involving the legal battle between the city of Seattle and the NBA.  It looks as if Seattle will lose its Supersonics no later than 2010 and possibly by this October.

The SuperSonics have been in Seattle for 41 seasons and won the NBA title in 1979.  They made the playoffs in 1994 but had a torturing exit.  They became the first #1 seed to lose to a #8 seed when they lost a five game series to the Denver Nuggets.  They returned to the Finals in 1996 only to lose to the Bulls.  The SuperSonics are the only pro franchise in Seattle that has won a title.

The Seahawks, one of the younger NFL franchises, have played for 32 seasons.  Their most successful run came in the 2005 season when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.

Shortly after the Seahawks came into existence, the Mariners played their first game in 1976.  The Mariners have flirted with the World Series but have never reached it.  They lost the '95 ALCS to the Indians, and they lost back to back championship series to the Yankees in '00 and '01.  The 2001 team was favored to win it all after a 116-win season.

3) Cleveland: Cavaliers (NBA), Indians (MLB) and Browns (NFL)

Cavs fans have suffered through agonizing playoff losses, including Michael Jordan's famous jumper to end the first round series with the Bulls in 1989.  The Cavs have enjoyed just one conference title (2007) in 39 years.

The Indians haven't won a World Series title since 1948 but have been tantilizingly close.  They lost the '95 World Series to the Braves, and in 1997 they came within two outs of defeating the Marlins in Game Seven.  This past season Cleveland had a 3 to 1 series lead in the ALCS on eventual champion Boston but couldn't close the deal.

The Browns seem like one of those cursed franchises.  No NFL title since before the merger.  The Drive in 1986.  The Fumble in 1987.  Art Modell moves the team to Baltimore.  The Ravens win the Super Bowl during the fifth season after the move from Cleveland.

4) Buffalo: Bills (NFL) and Sabres (NHL)

Wide right.  That's how Super Bowl XXV ended for the Bills.  They made it to the following three Super Bowls but never made a game out of it in any of them.  Six seasons later, they were back in the playoffs only to lose in one of the most famous endings in playoff history: The Music City Miracle.  The Titans, their opponent in that 2000 playoff game, went on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

The Sabres have never won the Stanley Cup.  When they did get close in 1999, an illegal goal by Dallas' Brett Hull was allowed in triple overtime of the clinching Game Six.

5) Kansas City: Chiefs (NFL) and Royals (MLB)

The Chiefs haven't won the Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV.  They have had good teams since then, but those teams greatly underachieved in the playoffs.  The Chiefs won the division title four times from 1993-2003 but never reached the Super Bowl and only appeared in the AFC Championship Game once.

The Royals have been one of the worst teams in the majors since winning it all in 1985.  Since that one World Series title, the Royals have had 15 losing seasons including four seasons in which they lost 100 or more games.

6) Philadelphia: 76ers (NBA), Phillies (MLB), Eagles (NFL) and Flyers (NHL)

Despite having four professional sports franchises, this tortured town's last title came in 1983 when the 76ers won the NBA championship.  The 76ers briefly flirted with another title for the town in 2001, but Allen Iverson's team lost the Lakers in the NBA Finals. 

The Phillies won the World Series in 1980 and have twice made a serious threat but fell short. They have been stuck in the same division as the Braves since 1995 who had dominated the division until the past couple of seasons.  The Phillies broke through in winning the division in 2007 and are positioned to make a run this season.

The Eagles won the NFL Championship in 1960 but have lost two Super Bowls since then.  They lost Super Bowl XV to the Raiders and Super Bowl XXXIX to the Patriots.  QB Donovan McNabb has led the Eagles to five division titles in nine seasons but has yet to claim the ultimate prize. 

The Flyers won back to back Stanley Cups from 1974-75 but lost in the Stanley Cup Series six times since then.

What do you think?  Which town is most tortured and why?  Please feel free to share your opinions.


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