10. Dallas-Forth Worth
Background: Dallas has traditionally been a one trick pony, although that pony is very highly regarded. Still other than the NFL and college football in the early-mid 20th century, the Metroplex has been void of making much noise when it comes to major sports. TCU football aside, all of the college sports teams are afterthoughts and have been that way for years.
Highlight: Dallas Cowboys. Nothing else needs to be said, other than that by the time the Cowboys need to build a new stadium it will have been at least 70 years since they actually played in the City of Dallas.
Most Stunning Moment: Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals. History changes if the Mavs hang on against the Heat, particularly in the fourth quarter of the game. Up 2-0 before the game, the Mavs went on to lose four straight.
Most Disappointing Moment: Having finished with a league best 67-15 record in 2007, the Mavericks were upset by the troublesome, upstart Golden State Warriors 4-2 in the first round, making them just the third 8 seed to defeat a 1 seed in the NBA playoffs and first (and still only) to do it in a seven game series.
Fact(s) that tell it all:
*Despite winning 563 games since 2001 (56.3 per season, second behind the Spurs with 57.3) the Mavericks only advanced past the second round two times.
*The Texas Rangers have won one playoff game in 50 seasons (39 as the Texas Rangers), compiling a 1-9 record in three appearances.
*Even the beloved Cowboys advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first in over a decade last season.
Background: Atlanta hasn’t been known for many championships in it’s sports history, which dates back (aside from Georgia Tech) to the 1960’s. Rarely are Atlanta teams ever around past the first two or three rounds of the playoffs in respective sports.
Highlight: Given that most modern Atlantans cannot remember the 1917, ’28, and ’52 national titles in college football that Tech won, this answer comes down Tech’s shared national title in 1990 and the Braves only World Series title in Atlanta. Although the only major university in Atlanta (no, Georgia State doesn’t count as major), the University of Georgia is the most beloved team in the state and even the Atlanta metro area, so the Braves world series title was indeed the highlight of Atlanta’s sports history.
Most Stunning Moment: Atlanta teams generally are eliminated in easy fashion but Gene Larkin’s hit in the bottom of the tenth of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series had to hurt. The Braves had been a feel good story and they would go on to win the prize four years later but it was one of the toughest endings in the city’s history.
Most Disappointing Moment: The fact that Braves won 14 straight division titles only to grab one championship was disappointing enough but the Hawks 1988 conference semifinal defeat to Boston when they held a 3-2 advantage with Game 6 in Atlanta was hugely disappointing because of how great Dominique Wilkins played and in light if the following…
Fact(s) that tell it all: *In their entire history (even pre-dating their time Atlanta), the Hawks have NEVER advanced past the second round of the playoffs, although they have competed in the NBA Finals when it was the second round.
*Last year marked the first time that the Falcons recorded back to back winning seasons in franchise history. Needless to say, Atlantans are waiting for their teams to actually play consistently at a high level.
Background: If not for the Diamondbacks almost immeadiately stepping in and winning a title and the Cardinals Super Bowl appearence, Phoenix would be higher on the list. Phoenix teams vary in how they disappoint, from being highly successful in every way except getting over the hump (Suns), to being in an eternal pattern of being below average but not pathetic (Cardinals), to being a perennial underachiever wasting loads of potential (Arizona State). And of course others are virtually non-existent.
Highlight: The Diamondbacks gutsy rally against the three time defending World Series champion Yankees in 2001, breaking through against legendary closer Mariano Rivera of all pitchers.
Most Stunning Moment: John Paxson’s three pointer which gave the Chicago Bulls a 99-98 lead late in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals. The Suns looked primed to push what had been a 3-1 series hole in Chicago to a seventh game on their home floor when they up 98-94 with less than a minute remaining.
Most Disappointing Moment: The Cardinals 27-23 loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Although the longtime loser franchise had exceeded everyone’s expectations with their Cinderella run to the Super Bowl, they failed to close the door on what would have been the second pro sports championship to come to the Valley of the Sun
Fact(s) that tell it all: *The 2009 Cardinals won 10 games for the first time in 34 years, 12 years prior to their move from St. Louis. It was only their third winning season since moving to Arizona.
*Arizona State has only won one Pac-10 football title in 32 seasons despite routinely fielding talented teams.
*The Suns have 29 winning seasons, 29 playoff apperences (not necesarily same years as winning seasons) and advanced to 9 conference finals (including this series with Lakers) but have only advanced to the NBA Finals twice with 0 championships.
Background: Cincy hasn’t fared that bad historically in baseball but memories of the Big Red Machine and the 1990 World Series team are fading. The Bengals are a decent franchise for now but have historically been a non-factor in the NFL. The University of Cincinnati basketball has seen better days.
Highlight:The Reds winning 7 division titles between 1970-1981, when the team was known as the Big Red Machine for part of the run. It included 4 NL peanents and back to back World Series titles in 1975-76.
Most Stunning Moment: Super Bowl XXII, when Joe Montana broke the heart of Bengal fans everywhere with a late touchdown throw that sealed a 20-16 win for the 49ers.
Most Disappointing Moment: Kenyon Martin breaking his leg in the 2000 Conference USA Tournament. The Bearcats had been the favorite to win the national title but without the big man they fell in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Tulsa.
Fact(s) that tell it all: *The Reds have had two winning seasons since 1996, from 1999-2000 and no playoff apperences.
*Not to be outdone, the Bengals have had two winning seasons since 1990 and have only played in two playoff games since then.
*The University of Cincinnati has yet to make the NCAA Tournament since begining play in the Big East after dominating Conference USA since it’s inception.
6. Twin Cities:
Backgound: Minnesota has seen some great teams. Unfortunately, none of them won championships in modern times except for the Twins.
Highlight: The Twins winning two World Series in five years (1987, 1991).
Most Stunning Moment: The Vikings had one of the most dominant offenses and teams in NFL history in 1998 and all they had to do was defend their intimidating home field to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1970’s. After letting the Falcons hang around, Gary Anderson missed his only kick of the entire season late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons drove to tie the game and went on to win it in overtime. They are considered the best team by many to never reach the Super Bowl.
Most Disappointing Moment: The most stunning and disappointing could be one in the same but failing to win a Super Bowl in the 1970’s after four tries was brutal as well.
Fact(s) that tell it all: *Despite being a popular franchise, the Twins were nearly contracted.
*The Vikings have made the playoffs 26 of the last 42 seasons and have had more trips to the league/conference title game of any NFL franchise that has yet to win a Super Bowl.
*The Minnesota Timberwolves have made the playoffs 8 times, all from 1997-2004, but only advanced out of the first round once during the 8 year run (2004). The state hasn’t had an NBA champion since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1954.
Background: Houston is one of the more underrated cities when it comes to heartbreaking, defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victiry moments.
Most Stunning Moment: Houston has many and it would have been Albert Pujols home run in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS had the Astros lost the series. But nothing tops Phi Slama Jama ironically being foiled by a dunk in the 1983 national championship game. An all-tme great team losing to an above average ACC team is the stuff of legend, a legend that Houston fans have had to see again and again and again, particularly when March rolls around.
Most Disappointing Moment: Houston has more of these than people realize, so given that it’s a football first town the Oilers 32 point second half choke to Buffalo in 1992 was easily the biggest disappointment in Houston sports history and all but sealed the the franchise’s fate toward moving away to Nashville.
Fact(s) that tells it all: *The Astros are 1-5 all time in games that would seal a World Series appearence, which does not include the epic Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS that might as well have been one.
*The Oilers failed to reach the conference championship despite making the playoffs 7 straight years from 1987-93.
*The Houston Rockets have won just 4 playoff series since their NBA championships, including 3 in the two years immeadiately after them.
*The Astros went 2-12 between 1997-2001 in four playoff appearences despite winning 93 or more games three of those years.
4. San Diego
Background: Very little excitement in Sanny D (a play on Sunny D for those who didn’t catch it). Both the current major franchises are both generally afterthoughts that occasionally rise to the surface and compete and the city has lost two pro basketball franchises.
Highlight: The Padres, led by Tony Gywyn, shocked two loaded teams full of all-stars (Astros, Braves) en route to their second World Series appearance in 1998.
Most Stunning Moment: Losing to the New York Jets this past year on their home field despite finishing four games better than them during the regular season. Except for possibly 2006, it may have been the Chargers best chance to win the Super Bowl.
Most Disappointing Moment: The playoff defeat to the Patriots in 2006 ranks high but losing their second NBA franchise, the Clippers, after the Rockets had already left more than a decade before truly hurt as they moved up the coast to LA in 1984.
Fact(s) that tell it all: *The Chargers and Padres have 22 trips to the playoffs in a combined 90 seasons with only 4 league/conference championships between them, one of which was an AFL title by the Chargers.
Background: Some great teams have come through Seattle over the years but only one pro team has come home with a title. The University of Washington did make it’s mark on the football field however by winning a national title in the early 1990’s.
Most Stunning Moment: The 1993-94 Seattle SuperSonics finished with the best record in the NBA and with no Michael Jordan to worry about in the NBA Finals, looked poised to win their first title since 1979. Despite going up 2-0 on the upstart Denver Nuggets, the teams lost three straight to become the first 1 seed to fall to an 8 seed in NBA playoff history.
Most Disappointing: Losing the Sonics over a blackmailing and the Seahawks losing Super Bowl XL due to possibly questionable officiating was tough but the Mariners 5 game defeat after their record breaking 116 win season capped off a run of disappointing playoff defeats by the Mariners.
Fact(s) that tell it all: *The Sonics won 55 games 6 straight seasons but only advanced to the conference finals twice between 1993-98.
*The Mariners have only made the NLCS three times in 33 seasons.
Background: Misery is a well known resident of Buffalo. Luckily, the Braves moved away so they wouldn’t add onto the misery as they have to the west coast since becoming the Clippers.
Most Stunning Moment: It’s got to be a tie. “No Goal” where Dallas Stars’ player Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease while he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal is a soar point in Buffalo sports history. Perhaps it’s not as soar as the Music City Miracle or what Bills fans call “Immaculate Deception” when Frank Wychek threw a lateral (or pass) across the field to Kevin Dyson, who ran 75 yards to defeat the Bills in a Wild Card playoff game for the Titans on the way to the Super Bowl.
Most Disappointing Moment: Bills failing to win the Super Bowl after 4 straight trips, particularly when it seemed they became less competitive each year they played.
Fact(s) that tells it all:
The Bills have very little history outside the 1990’s and the team has yet to make the playoffs since the Music City Miracle.
Background: No city has had worse luck in sports than Cleveland, at least in the modern era. All three major sports have reached a high level at one point or another but wilted. Otherwise, they don’t make any noise at all.
Most Stunning Moment: Very hard to say because there are so many choices. Just considering how close they were to the ultimate prize, Jose Mesa failing to close out Game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the “long suffering” fifth year Florida Marlins, who routinely have played before empty stadiums, has to top it all.
Most Disappointing: The damage of (and knowledge of knowing whether or not this is it for) the LeBron James era is still being analyzed but the fact that the Indians failed to win the World Series after such a solid run of great teams in the late 1990’s was hugely disappointing.
Fact(s) that tell it all: *The Indians have not won a World Series since 1948.
*The Browns have not won an NFL title since 1964, which means they have 0 Super Bowl titles.
*The Cavaliers have won 0 NBA Finals games and have only one trip to the round.
Scariest Fact: Will LeBron leave?