Thursday, June 09, 2005

They stink on ice

I’m a sports nut. I make no apologies and will remain a fanatic until the day I die. So in my continuing quest to disseminate vast amounts of sports knowledge I bring to you the definitive list of the ten worst franchises in American sports. The losers are…

10. Detroit Lions-These guys have been so bad for so long it almost defies comprehension. Matt Millen has made some decent moves, drafting Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, but the organization as a whole has been mired in mediocrity since the day I was born. But with young players like Teddy Lehman, Boss Baily, and Kevin Jones they potentially have a bright future. The hiring of Steve Mariuci was a good move but the presence of Wayne Fontes in the coaching carousel that is the Lions taints Mooch’s tenure. Fonts had arguably the best running back in the history of football, Barry Sanders, and put him behind a bad offensive line in a run-and-shoot offense. Other luminaries like Bobby Ross, Darryl Rogers, Monte Clark, and Marty Mornhinwig have prowled the sidelines for what was once one of the most storied teams in the NFL. They’ve won one playoff game in forty years.

9. Atlanta Hawks-Attending a home game for this team is like going to a fourth grade band recital. The crowd there is so quiet you can hear the popcorn popping in the concourses. They average fewer than 12,000 per home game and rarely sell out even playoff games. Atlanta has one of the most apathetic fan bases in sports. Even when they had Dominik Wilkins and were competing for playoff spots their fans were still non-supportive to say the least. Far from the most historically inept franchises ever their absentee fans alone are reason enough for inclusion on this list. That and they’ve difiled the NBA hardwood with bad basketball for the better part of the last ten years. Maybe the number two pick in this year’s draft will change their fortune. But then that begs the question…would anyone in Atlanta even care.

8. Chicago Black Hawks/White Sox-For the sake of the economy of commentary the two worst teams in Chicago tie for eighth place on our little count down. A plague on both your houses! The Black Hawks now own the dubious honor of having the longest Stanly Cup drought in the NHL. Team owner Bill Wirtz has been roundly criticized by ‘Hawks fans, the media, and NHL observers for his penny-pinching ways. Jeremy Roenick, Ed Belfour, and Chris Chelios are just a few of the gifted players that have been traded or jumped ship. The Black Hawks' situation is so bad that their flagship radio station recently dropped their contract. On the other side of town is the equally feeble White Sox. Yes, for those of you who don’t live in the Windy City there are indeed two baseball teams in Chicago. Not that you’d know it from all the press coverage they get. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf refuses to pay for talent, their minor league system is one of the worst in baseball, they rarely sell out their home games, and they haven’t won a World Series since 1917. Other than that they’re just fine. *Snicker*

7. Milwaukee Brewers-But for the presence of Bud Selig and now his daughter the Brew Crew would actually be a less-than-wretched franchise. When the league flirted with contraction a couple years ago Tampa Bay, Montreal, Minnesota, and Kansas City were all rumored to be headed for the hatchet. Lost in all this was the fact that the Brewers have been every bit as unsuccessful as any of the teams mentioned but escaped contraction talk for one reason only…Bud Selig. Imagine the size of the egg on Bud’s face if his own team had been scrapped. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

6. New York Rangers-How much money has this team spent on big name busts? Answer: a bundle. The Rangers have been in the top three in NHL payroll for ten years but haven’t made the playoffs since ’96. Players like Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Bobby Holik, and Darius Kasperitis have been relied on to turn around this floundering squad but they’ve only succeeded in underachieving and crippling the payroll. General Manager Glen Sather has alienated nearly everyone in hockey and let the best leader the sport has ever seen, Mark Messier, go to Vancouver. What’s the most reliable sign a player’s career is going to hit the skids? They’ll play for the Rangers.

5. Los Angeles Clippers-The only reason this team isn’t number one with a bullet is that they’ve actually shown a flicker of life the last few years. The perpetual anchor dragging down this team is and always will be owner Donald Sterling. The pariah of the NBA, Sterling has admitted he’s not as much about winning as he is about profit. This team refuses to resign young talent, Elgin Baylor is possibly the worst GM in sports, their drafts have been awful, they have no fan base, and they rarely sell out even in the second largest city in America. The Clippers have been so bad for so long it is down right scary.

4. Cincinnati Bengals-The laughable Bungles more closely resemble a pack of constipated wildebeest than an actual NFL franchise. Owners of the overall number one pick three times in the last eleven years the Bengals have nothing to show for such lofty first rounders. The jury is still out on Carson Palmer but Dan Wilkinson and Ki-Jana Carter are amongst the biggest draft busts of all time. Bengals’ owner Mike Brown, much like the aforementioned Sterling, apparently has an aversion to re-signing his own talent. Not to mention the squandering of one high draft pick after another. Their record since 1990 is 80-166. They can't even win a third of their games. ‘Nuf said.

3. Colorado Rockies-They burst onto the scene when Eric Young clubbed a homerun in the team’s first ever at bat. Three years later they pushed the vaunted Atlanta Braves to six games before losing in the playoffs. It’s been down hill ever since. With only one bona fide star, Todd Helton, the Rockies have been mired in last place since the millennium switch. Gone are the days of 2 to 3 million in yearly attendance, the most widely sold merchandise in baseball, and any semblance of competitiveness. To show you how bad the fortune of this team has turned sure fire Rookie of the Year candidate Clint Barmes, who was hitting .325 with 34 RBI’s and eight home runs, was walking up a flight of stairs with groceries in tow when he fell and broke his collar bone. He’ll be out until at least mid-August.

2. Tampa Bay Devil Rays-The only reason they’re not firmly in the top spot is the fact that they’ve only been stinking it up for seven years. The Rays play in the worst venue in sports. Should you ever get the impulse to visit Tropicana Field just lock yourself in a hermetically sealed Tupperware bowl and breathe your own air for three hours. Then for your added enjoyment watch bad baseball on artificial turf. You’ll beg for death inside of thirty minutes.

1. Arizona Cardinals-Speaking of living hell I truly feel for Cardinals’ fans, all seven of them. This team is the gold standard of futility in all of sports. Owner Bill Bidwell may be the most hated owner in America and without a doubt the most incompetent. The last time they won a championship was 1947. Since 1980 the Cards have had four seasons of .500 or better with one playoff victory and they have AVERAGED 5.5 WINS A YEAR in that span. Over the past 55 years the Cards have posted fifteen winning or .500 seasons. The NFL went to a sixteen game season in '78 and since the switch the Cardinals' winning percentage is .361. The Cards have had top ten draft choices seventeen times in the 25 years. They owned first round picks in '90, '92, and '95 but wasted them on supplemental pick Timm Rosenbach, and trades for Randal Hill and Rob Moore. The defining moment for this franchise came when kicker Bill Gramatica blew out his knee celebrating a first quater field goal in 2001. This type of ineptitude is beyond description.

Honorary mention-Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, New Jersey Nets, Pittsburg Pirates, New York Islanders