By Rob Ficiur
Now that the Chicago Cubs ended their 108 year championship drought, what team(s) in each of the five professional North American sports is going through the longest championship drought? Do you count the droughts by calendar years or do you count the seasons without a championship? Is it good to have been close to winning (but still lost?). Measuring a drought is not as easy as it sounds at first.
Major League Baseball
The Cleveland Indians last won the World Series in 1948. Their championship drought of sixty eight years is the longest championship drought in North American team sports. Twice the Indians have almost broke the drought. In 1996 the Indians were one out away from defeating the Florida Marlins but the game got away from them. This year the Indians blew three games to one lead as the Chicago Cubs rallied to end their own drought.
Six Major League baseball teams have never won a championship. These expansion team droughts are as follows: Texas Rangers (also known as the Washington Senators) 55 years (1961); Houston Astros 54 years (1962). In 1969 baseball added four expansion teams. Three of those teams have never won a World Series in their 47 years of existence: San Diego Padres); Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals; Milwaukee Brewers (known as the Seattle Pilots for one year). The Seattle Mariners (1977), Colorado Rockies (1993) and Tampa Bay Rays (1998) are other expansion teams that have never won it all.
National Hockey League
When the Toronto Maple Leafs won their fourth Stanley Cup in six years they established themselves as one of the NHL’s top franchises with. Since that 1967 championship Leafs fans have been shut out. They have had to look back in time to see the Leafs with their 13 championships. Not once since 1967 have the Leafs been to the championship round. Things are looking up for Leafs with their new young stars. Maybe their drought won’t last another fifty years.
The St. Louis Blues were one of six teams to join the NHL in 1967-68. Though the Blues made the finals the first three years, they have never been back since. The only consolation Blues fans can have is that they have done better than their fellow expansion team the Oakland Seals. The Seals (later Golden Seals then Cleveland Barons) never had a winning season in their twelve years in the league.
Ottawa Senators last Stanley Cup championship was 89 years ago. After winning the 1927 championship the team moved to St. Louis for a year before folding in 1935. The new Senators have been to one Stanley cup final since returning to the NHL 25 years ago. Is Ottawa’s drought 25 years or 58 years or 89 years? It depends on what years you count or don’t count.
National Football League
The NFL and the AFL merged in 1966. In the last fifty years several teams have had long droughts. The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars have never been to a Super Bowl. Nine other teams have been to the big game but never won. The Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings have been four times and never won. When calculating a championship drought for NFL teams, I have chosen to go by Super Bowl championships, which started when the leagues merged. Some would calculate the droughts going back to the pre-Super Bowl era. (see why it gets complicated).
National Basketball Association
Sacramento Kings last won a basketball championship as the Rochester royals in 1951. Their 65-year droughts is two years more than the Atlanta Hawks (then known as the St. Louis Hawks). The Phoenix Sons, LA Clippers have never won – going back 48 and 46 years respectively.
Canadian Football League
The Canadian Football has had either eight or nine teams for most of the last sixty years. On average a team should win about one Grey Cup every decade. When some teams win more than their “average share”, it means that some teams go on long droughts, even in a small league.
Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans don’t feel sorry for Ottawa. When Winnipeg last their tenth Grey Cup in 1990 the team was dominant. The Bombers had won two of the last three Grey Cups and three in the previous seven years. During the Bombers 25 year drought they have lost in the Grey Cup final five times.
The last time Ottawa won a Grey cup was 1976. ike the Senators of Ottawa, calculating the years of drought is a three-step problem. The Ottawa Rough Riders went twenty years without a championship before they folded in1996. From 2002 to 2006 the Ottawa Renegades added four more losing seasons of drought. The newly expanded Ottawa Red Blacks have added two years to the drought. Ottawa’s drought is 26 Canadian Football League seasons and 39 calendar years. This coming week the Ottawa Red Blacks will face the Calgary Stampeders for the Grey Cup championship? The Stampeders, who last won in 2014, will be looking to end a one year drought. Ottawa fans don’t care if the drought is 39 calendar year or 26 football seasons, they just want their drought to be over.