The 50 Worst Seasons in Sports History

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIIMay 4, 2012

The 50 Worst Seasons in Sports History

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    Seven wins, 59 losses. It's been almost a week now since the embarrassing echos of worst team ever began flooding the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina following the completion of the NBA's sloppiest season ever.

    But are the 2011-12 Bobcats truly the most atrocious team in sports history as a whole? We're not so sure.

    Throw out the record books and all expectations as we prepare to check out the 50 worst teams in history.

    With all hope quickly flowing down the drain, this could get ugly real fast.

    Stay calm.

50. 1999 Cleveland Browns

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    With football returning to the city of Cleveland for the first time since 1995, Browns fans had to know success would be a work in progress. And it certainly was. 

    Led by Kentucky gunslinger and 1999 first-overall pick Tim Couch, the Browns completed quite a lackluster 2–14 campaign.

    Possessing the first-overall pick for the second straight year, the Browns took Penn State defensive end stud Courtney Brown.

    For both players, promise turned to utter failure faster than greased up lightning.

49. 1988-89 Miami Heat

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    After drafting eccentric Syracuse star Rony Seikaly in the 1988 NBA Draft, the fresh fish Heat were ready for their league introduction.

    But 17 consecutive losses would quickly quell any hope for this young squad.

    Kevin Edwards' team-best 13.8 points per game helped propel the Heat to a 15-67 season.

48. 1960 Dallas Cowboys

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    Before the Cowboys were so-called America's Team, the Dallas squad got its feet wet in a losing body of water.

    11 losses, one tie and zero victories would essentially headline a necessary start for the inaugural Cowboys.

47. 2006 Oakland Raiders

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    After a 4–12 record in 2005, the Black Hole was eager for an improvement. They wouldn't get it. 

    But a resulting 2–14 campaign would at least earn the Raiders the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. The future seemed bright...

    Until LSU phenom Jamarcus Russell came along and put success on hold.

46. 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies

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    It was a season that saw the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors become the first NBA teams to play in Canada since the 1946 Toronto Huskies. Could these teams live up to the expectations was the big question.

    15-67 wouldn't exactly impress the press, but the Raptors would sniff at dominance with a 21–61 record.

    Experience paid off.

45. 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers

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    After losing Michal Handzus in a trade, Kim Johnsson to free agency, Eric Desjardins and team captain Keith Primeau to retirement and Peter Forsberg to a chronic foot injury, Philly brass couldn't have been optimistic.

    While they finished with an abysmal record of 22–48–12, it was the drop off from 101 points the year before to 56 points in 2006–07 (a 45-point difference) that had the crowd crying. Obvious progress.

44. 1939 St. Louis Browns

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    43-111 may seem like a buzzkill, but these '39 Browns knew they had the edge in one crevice of the game.

    Despite 739 walks and an earned run average of 6.01, the Browns glistened with a legendary logo.

    They reeked of confidence.

43. 2006 Chicago Machine

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    With the only winless season in Major League Lacrosse’s history, the Machine (epic name) finished the 2006 season 0-12.

    Let's note that Chicago was winning in the August 12th season-finale game against the Dragons only to relinquish the lead at the end of regulation and lose in overtime.


42. 1995 New York Jets

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    With the third head coach in three years, the J-E-T-S seemed destined for failure, and they didn't disappoint.

    Their three wins were the fewest by a Jets team since 1977 when they finished their third consecutive three-win season. Was another run possible?

    Nope. It was solely a stepping stone to the 1-15 record the following year.

41. 1942 Philadelphia Phillies

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    With expectations truly lacking, the Philadelphia Phillies were seemingly cornered into mediocrity.

    But there's no excuse for a 42-109 record.

40. 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks

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    With the hopes of improving upon a 28-54 campaign the year before, the 2004-05 Hawks tore through the season with just 13 wins and 69 losses, missing out on the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

    The lone bright spots were Antoine Walker and Al Harrington, who combined for 37.9 points and 16.4 rebounds per game.

    But Mike Woodson's dynamic duo didn't get much help.

39. 1999 Kansas City Wizards

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    With an average attendance of 8,183 at home, the Kansas City Wizards couldn't have felt inspired during games at Arrowhead Stadium in 1999.

    And with the league adopting a shootout to eliminate ties, the Wizards were in for some rocky roads ahead (and not the ice cream kind). 

    8-24 was the result and their 20-point total was the worst in history. High fives all around.

38. 2007-08 Derby County F.C.

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    After beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the 2007 Championship playoff final (pictured) and getting promoted back to the Premier League, excitement was steaming in Derby County stands.

    But manager Billy Davies leaving and being replaced by manager Paul Jewell was just an appetizer to the painful meal ahead. 32 league games without a win to be exact.

    Derby would become the first club in Premiership history to be eliminated in March (with six games remaining).

    One win, eight draws and 29 defeats almost seemed lucky.

37. 1934 Cincinnati Reds

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    And we're speaking gridiron lingo here, not baseball Reds for those keeping score at home.

    In their second and final year in the league, the bruising Reds went for the long goodbye, finishing the year 0-8 after a 3-6-1 record the previous season. 

    They were shut out in six of their eight games, including a 64–0 loss in Week 8. The team was purchased by the St. Louis Gunners, who naturally finished the remainder of the Reds' schedule.

36. 1998 Washington Mystics

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    With the Mystics set to partake in their first WNBA season in 1998, hope was flowing in Washington.

    But an eager audience quickly faded when the Mystics finished the year 3-27.

35. 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques

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    A season that saw the Quebec Nordiques finish 12-61-7 was headlined by an inability to protect the net. 

    While a 102-point season by 20-year-old Joe Sakic was a bright spot, the team was remembered for using seven different netminders and allowing a league-high 407 goals.

    None of the four goalies who played in at least 10 games had a save percentage better than .860.

34. 1982-83 Houston Rockets

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    After losing Moses Malone to Philadelphia in an exchange package for Caldwell Jones, the '82-'83 Rockets were left with washed up ballers Calvin Murphy and Elvin Hayes to run the team.

    This 14-68 season would be Joe Bryant's last before heading to Italy to continue his career. Apparently Kobe's dad wasn't as prolific as his talented son.

33. 1947-48 Providence Steamrollers

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    After posting a record of 46-122 (.274) in three seasons, the legendary Providence Steamrollers folded, drifting into the sunset with but a scratch of existence.

    But the 1947-48 season was by far the worst, as the second-year team went 6-42 (.125 winning percentage).

    It's their epic logo that carved them a spot in the record books.

32. 1972-73 New York Islanders

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    Hall of Famer Gordie Howe turning down an offer to coach the inaugural Isles wasn't the most promising start to an eventually promising New York club.

    Phil Goyette (6-38-4) and Earl Ingarfield (6-22-2) finished with almost identically atrocious records amid a 12-60-2 first season.

31. 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates

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    With 13 rookies making the opening day roster (including teenagers Bobby Del Greco, Tony Bartirome, Jim Waugh and Lee Walls), you knew this was going to be something special.

    But not in the good kind of way. More like the 42-112 type of way.

30. 1992-93 San Jose Sharks

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    In only their second season, the hungry Sharks were yearning for a taste of success. But they weren't quite there yet.

    A brilliant record of 11–71–2 (24 Points) was headlined by six shutouts.

    But hey, at least rookie goaltender Arturs Irbe recorded the first shutout and Rob Gaudreau the first hat-trick in team history. Progress.

29. 1997-98 Denver Nuggets

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    Only two years after the Grizzlies set the glorious record of 23 straight losses, the Nuggets decided to match their accomplishment.

    In losing 71 games that season, Denver would enjoy Bill Hanzlik's first and final season as coach in the NBA.

28. 1972 Houston Oilers

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    After finishing 1-13 in 1972, the enthusiastic Oilers decided to go for an encore. 1973 was a mirror image of the previous season.

    Houston was outscored by 464 points during the two seasons. They essentially never had a chance.

    They also had as many victories as fans spotted sleeping.

27. 1991 Prairie View A&M Panthers

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    Despite winning Black college national championship titles in 1953, 1954, 1958, 1963 and 1964, the Prairie View A&M Panthers found themselves stuck in a rocky 80-game losing streak between 1989 and 1998.

    But the 1991 season was perhaps the worst, in which the team finished 0-11 and scored only 48 points. They naturally gave up 56 points per game.

26. 1971 Buffalo Bills

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    It was their 12th season, second in the NFL, and the fiery Bills seemed ready to improve upon a lacking start.

    But for the second time in four years, the Buffalo club won only one game en route to a 1-13 record (the worst in franchise history).

    When coach John Rauch resigned in the beginning of the season, few expected the Bills to find success. Being held scoreless in four games summed it up for the New York franchise.

25. 1992-93 Ottawa Senators

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    The NHL had just presented Ottawa with a new franchise, optimism was pure throughout.

    The Senators started hot, beating the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens 5-3 in the opener. But success quickly faded.

    Despite a total of 10 wins, the Sens had to be pleased about being three points shy of the NHL record for fewest points in a season.

24. 1936 Philadelphia Eagles

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    When co-owner Bert Bell proposed the creation of the NFL Draft in 1936, teams finally had young college talent to get excited about.

    But when the Eagles made Heisman winning halfback Jay Berwanger the first pick ever and then traded him to the Bears because of high salary demands, Philly fans knew it was going to be a tumultuous year.

    Amid a 1-11 season were six shutouts. Going out in style.

23. 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers

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    They now hum to the tune of Blake Griffin's vicious slams and Chris Paul's pin-point passes, but there was a time when the Clippers were associated most with the NBA cellar.

    Led by Mike Woodson and a bunch of no-names, the other Los Angeles squad finished the 1987 season 12-70. Ouch.

22. 1981 Northwestern Wildcats

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    During a winless season in which they were outscored 505-82, the 0-11 Wildcats looked to coach Dennis Green for support.

    But he must've been too busy screaming we are who we thought we were! to cope.

21. 2007 Miami Dolphins

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    With three games to go in the 2007 season, the desperate Dolphins seemed destined for a magical upset.

    Beating the Ravens in the third to last week made Miami's '07 group only slightly mediocre.

    Following a 6-10 season in '06, the Nick Saban-led Fins couldn't find their groove, and they eventually watched their confused head coach leave for Alabama.

    1-15 was a painful stepping stone in the rebuilding process.

20. 2009-10 New Jersey Nets

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    In their final season at the Izod Center, the Nets started with an intriguing bang, becoming the first team in NBA history to start the season 0—18.

    Small steps towards success were microscopic to say the least. New Jersey would lose 28 of its first 30 games and 40 of its first 43, before falling to 4-46 and tying the record for worst 50-game start in the history of the three major sports (NBA, MLB, NHL). 12-70 was the end result.

    There's a reason the team is headed for Brooklyn.

19. 1966 New York Giants

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    Easily the worst season in Big Blue history, the 1966 season saw the Giants finish 1-12-1 in fashion.

    They would allow 35.8 points per game (including 50 points three times) and become the only team in history to give up 500 points in a 14-game season.

    This defenseless squad would be part of the highest-scoring game in NFL history on November 27 of that year, a 72-41 loss to the Washington Redskins.

18. 1980 New Orleans Saints

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    After a modest 8-8 record the year before, the Saints seemed ready for a thrilling encore.

    And it was plenty exciting, as the Aints won a single game by one point (21-20 over the Jets).

    1-15 would give New Orleans the first pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, which they used on future college Hall of Fame tailback George Rogers. 

    Fun Note: Future professional Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor was the next pick.

17. 1974-75 Washington Capitals

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    Losing 39 of 40 road games isn't routinely the key to success, and the expansion Capitals proved that when they finished the 1975 season with a record of 8-67-5.

    Even Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt couldn't guide this youthful crew in the right direction.

16. 2001 Carolina Panthers

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    Apparently Heisman Trophy-winner Chris Weinke wasn't up to the task for the feisty 2001 Panthers, who would counter a Week 1 victory with 15 straight losses.

    Julius Peppers would eventually be the consolation prize at No. 2 in 2002.

15. 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks

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    Headlined by the drafting of Ohio State phenom Jim Jackson fourth overall, the 1992-93 season saw the Mavericks finish 11-71 and get outscored by 15 points per game.

    A 19-game losing streak only made things worse.

14. 1990 New England Patriots

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    As only two teams in NFL history to play 11 games in a single season and never lead at any point, the '90 Patriots were essentially the laughing stock of the league.

    With a negative-265 point-differential (the worst of the '90s), the Pats set a standard for failure.

    But they certainly made up for lost time following the turn of the century.

13. 1916 Philadelphia Athletics

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    Even while the Connie Mack-led Athletics posted a 36-117 record (.235 winning percentage is lowest for post-1900 baseball team), it was the team's individual statistics that caused worldwide chuckles. 

    Third baseman Charlie Pick made 42 errors, righty hurler Jack Nabors lost a record 19 consecutive games and pitcher Tom Sheehan went 1-16, with 94 walks and 54 strikeouts.

    Evenly terrible for the old-school club.

12. 1981 Baltimore Colts

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    Back when the Baltimore faithful could call the Colts their own, the graceful squad finished with a -274 point differential, 533 points and 6,783 yards allowed and 14 losses.

    They naturally became the other one of two teams in NFL history to play in 11 games in a season and not lead at any point.

11. 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets

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    A record of 9-57-14 is certainly painful, but going 30 games without a win?

    Tough times for the second generation Winnipeg Jets.

10. 1952 Dallas Texans

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    Like flatulence on a windy day, the '52 Dallas Texans were gone just as quickly as they arrived.

    They began their first season 0-9, before finishing a horrific 1-11 campaign. They would never be seen again.

9. 2003 Detroit Tigers

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    As the season progressed, whispers of the '62 Mets flooded the playing field. The Tigers would eventually come within one loss of tying the record. 

    But Detroit's '03 group did finish 43-119 and broke the Athletics' 1916 record of 117 losses.

    An ERA of 5.30 and a team average of .240 weren't quite the ingredients for success.

8. 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers

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    Amid a 9-73 finish were complementary losing streaks of 15, 20, 14 and 13 games.

    Interestingly enough, the Sixers set the NBA record for most wins in a season and the highest winning percentage only six seasons earlier.

    Times, they are a-changing.

7. 1962 New York Mets

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    A 40-120 record headlined Casey Stengel's first Mets club. Dare we note 60.5 games out of first.

    After the first run of the season was scored on a balk, it was clear the expansion Amazins were several years away from actually being amazing.

6. 1943-44 New York Rangers

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    Behind coach Frank Boucher, the '43 Rangers would finish arguably the worst season in NHL history.

    A 6–39–5 was bad enough, but with 17 points being the fewest of any team in franchise history, the New York faithful were left to thrust their foreheads into their palms during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

5. 1899 Cleveland Spiders

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    This scrappy 1800s club shattered all records with a record of 20–134 and a winning percentage of .130.

    But with 101 road losses (an unbreakable record under baseball's current schedule), the Cleveland Spiders are cemented for good in the collection of memorably terrible sports performances.

4. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    As an expansion team, we'll give the '76 Bucs a break, but we can't possibly ignore that team's lack of a single victory.

    Amid a 0-14 season were five shutouts, fewer than nine points per game and a measly seven touchdown passes from Steve Spurrier.

    The start of something special.

3. 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats

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    Dripping with limited potential to begin with, the Bobcats entered this year unaware of an identity.

    And as the worst season in NBA history progressed, it became even more clear how inexperienced and lacking this crew was.

    In the end, a .106 winning percentage in a lockout-shortened season could've actually been worse.

2. 1935 Boston Braves

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    Amid 40-year-old Babe Ruth's redemption trail, his Boston Braves finished 38-115 in 1935, naturally bereft of fan support.

    The Babe had clearly lost his touch in his final season on the diamond.

1. 2008 Detroit Lions

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    While three straight years of drafting a receiver in the first round headlined the Matt Millen era (Lions fans breathe), the 2008 season was perhaps the last straw.

    But after a 4–0 preseason, optimism in Detroit was somehow blossoming.

    The deadly 16-game free fall that ensued left fans in shock. 0-16, ouch.

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