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Suffering Sports Cities II: Years of Winning

My brother pointed out that even though Kansas City hasn’t won a championship since the Royals in 1985, this year was unusually fun in that the Royals and Chiefs (and Missouri Tigers) all had winning records. I thought I’d revisit my earlier article and look at suffering sports cities by their teams’ number of winning records and years since their teams had winning records. My conclusion based on championships is that fans of Cleveland and San Diego teams have been suffering the longest. Let’s see what the results look like if we just look at winning records.

City Winning Seasons Team Years Winning Season %
New Orleans

15

71

21.13%

Charlotte

14

43

32.56%

Tampa Bay

17

52

32.69%

San Diego

37

100

37.00%

Washington, D.C.

45

119

37.82%

Cleveland

57

147

38.78%

Toronto

23

54

42.59%

Detroit

65

150

43.33%

Seattle

50

115

43.48%

Chicago

87

197

44.16%

Kansas City

46

104

44.23%

New Orleans Pelicans logoMy brother was right; this does give us a very different set of results. New Orleans, with crappy football and basketball teams for much of their existence, has a clear lead in losing seasons. Charlotte hasn’t done too well either, although Panthers fans are happy this year. Tampa Bay has also been dragged down by years of terrible football play. Washington DC has had bad basketball, baseball and football teams (although the Redskins of the 1980’s gave Washington fans something to root for). Surprisingly Kansas City comes in 11th. The Royals were great in the late 1970’s and for half of the 1980’s and the Chiefs won regularly during the regular season in the 1990’s.

San Diego and Cleveland both show up on the list as well, although they look a little better in this light. The Chargers have been relatively successful during the regular season but the Padres have been bad. The Browns have actually had 21 winning seasons out of the past 47 (they lost a few years when the original team left town and became the Ravens). The Indians and Cavaliers have also had some periods of regular season success but all three have had longer periods of losing.

Which cities’ teams have had the most winning seasons in the last 50 years?

City Winning Seasons Team Years Winning Season %
Boston

106

150

70.67%

Los Angeles

136

222

61.26%

Baltimore

52

87

59.77%

San Francisco

59

100

59.00%

Dallas

70

124

56.45%

Miami

51

95

53.68%

Pittsburgh

52

100

52.00%

Philadelphia

77

150

51.33%

Denver

54

107

50.47%

New York City

141

287

49.13%

Boston Red Sox

Red Sox 1908 logo

Boston fans, despite years of whining by Red Sox fans, have actually been pretty spoiled. The Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox have all enjoyed extended periods of regular season success during the past 50 years. The Red Sox have actually had 39 winning seasons out of the past 50 years, so their fans really didn’t have much to complain about even before they started their run of World Series wins. Los Angeles has also done very well in multiple sports. I find it interesting that New York City teams haven’t been more successful despite their huge budgets. The Yankees have 41 winning seasons out of the last 50 (explaining why they are hated so much) but the Jets and Giants combined only have 41. Thirteen winning seasons by the Nets out of 37 also drag down New York.

We do see a big market versus small market bias going on here. The list of losingest cities is generally the bottom of the barrel as far as major league market size. The winningest list sports large markets and a definite bias for coastal teams (just Denver represents the middle two thirds of the country), although the top five losing cities are also coastal (or close, as in Charlotte).

Our lessons learned? Kansas City teams aren’t as bad as you might think, as long as you stop following them after the regular season. And as you might expect, it’s better to live in a big city if you want to root for a local winner.

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Roy Z

2 Comments

  1. “My brother was right; ”

    There’s something I don’t often read.

    I’m pretty surprised at the lack of success of New York teams. I just assumed the Yankees would overwhelm all the losing by the Mets.

    If you ignore post-season success KC fans haven’t had it bad. The Royals were good until ’85 and just as they declined the Chiefs picked up their regular season win totals. It’s just impossible for KC teams to win in the playoffs.

    There’s always next year, right?

  2. The Jets, Mets and Nets really hurt the New York City area (yes, I put the Nets in New York even though they were the “New Jersey Nets” for years). Apparently you don’t want rhyming teams if you like winning. The Jets only had 17 winning seasons, the Mets 23 and the Nets 13 in the last 50 years. All that sucking couldn’t overcome the Yankees.

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