Big Lead Sports Bar


Which Team Will Win First?

I have worked on this story for some time, because there is absolutely no clear cut answer. This will be strictly opinion, and I am confident that many of our readers will drop in with their thoughts.

Raul asks his readers: "Which of these horrendous organizations will be the first to win a championship?"

We will be breaking this down scientifically, offering Reasons for optimism, reasons for pessimism, and club history since 1992. Why since 1992? Since this is a Pittsburgh-based site, and we've had to endure 14 consecutive losing seasons of "major league" baseball, I'd like to match up organizations that are perceived as equally inept as our beloved Pirates.

Our subjects: 10 teams...4 in the NFL, 3 from MLB, and 3 from the NBA. These are not historically the worst teams. I've excluded the Cincinnati Bengals and LA Clippers, because that would have made the argument too easy. The Bengals, despite the fact that they are the Bengals, have made dramatic improvements; with a little more intestinal fortitude, the Clippers should have made the NBA Western Conference Finals. If you look at the 10 teams on this list, they are all dogs with almost no future. This is truly a tough call. Please voice your opinions in the comment section.

Atlanta Hawks

Reasons for Optimism:

-Draftee Shelden Williams looks like a Land of the Dead zombie , which could intimidate opponents

-Their coach, Mike Woodson, averages a 20-62 record over two seasons, so there's nowhere to go but up

-No one cares if they win or lose. Most fans think they're in the NBDL.

Reasons for Pessimism:

-Their ownership group is so hard on each other, they
sue you if they don't like your trade ideas. I would not, I repeat, not be in a fantasy league with these guys

-They play in a conference with a Lebron, a Shaq, a Wade, an Arenas, a Kidd, and some Pistons. I don't think a team led by a Joe [Johnson] and an Al [Harrington] are going to pass them anytime soon.

-They've managed to miss the NBA Finals every year since 1961, when they were in St. Louis and Stan Musial played for them in the offseason.

History since 1992: 7 playoff appearances (1993-99), including 3 first round exits and 4 second round exits. 1 division title (1994). Team Record: 513-603, .460 winning percentage. 7 consecutive losing seasons, including a 13-69 (.159) season in 2004-05.

Buffalo Bills

Reasons for Optimism:

-Willis McGahee has proven he can overcome any ACL tears he has this year

-Eric Moulds and his pesky 81 catches can go bother David Carr in Houston this season

-New Coach Dick Jauron has no unrealistic fan expectations. Buffalo fans are smart enough to know that he never won anything coaching Chicago or Detroit, so odds are he won't win with the Bills either. As the saying goes, "He's got nothing to lose".

Reasons for Pessimism:

-Their 86-year-old owner and 80-year old GM argued constantly in the offseason over whether or not to sign Bronko Nagurski

-No QB named J.P. or Kelly has ever won a Super Bowl. Although a guy with the last name Kelly has lost four of them.

-They felt it would take $10 million to lure Peerless Price home after his 6-catch season with the Cowboys. Probably could've got him a little cheaper.

-The Patriots still play in their division, which means they will always have at least one team in front of them in Peter King's Power Rankings as long as he is alive

History since 1992: 5 playoff appearances (1993, 95, 96, 98, 99). Lost Super Bowl 28 vs Dallas, 3 wild card losses (including 1999 Music City Miracle vs. Tennessee), and 1 second round loss (to 1995, Super Bowl-bound Steelers). 2 division titles (1993 and 1995). Team Record: 105-103, .505 winning percentage. No winning seasons since 1999. 5-11 in 2005.

Cleveland Browns

Reasons for Optimism:

-Kellen "The Soldier" Winslow makes his first appearance since 2004, which gives the Browns a better chance of winning, but automatically gives NFL fans one person to hate nearly as much as T.O.

-Braylon Edwards is optimistic about replacing Antonio Bryant as a talented yet underperforming WR

-First round pick Kamerion Wimbley plans to prove he's the first Browns draft pick they've drafted since their comeback to not be a complete bust

Reasons for Pessimism:

-The three-headed QB Monster of Charlie Frye, Ken Dorsey and Derek Anderson could combine for the lowest QB rating in history other than Tommy Maddox in 2005.

-They play in a division loaded with Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, who feature stars such as Santonio Holmes, Chris Henry, and Ray Lewis (make sure to click on the links). The AFC North, also called "The Longest Yard" division, even has incoming rookies that fit the profile, like the Bengals A.J. Nicholson. The Browns have William Green and Reuben Droughns on the squad, but they must upgrade in talented players who feel the need to be an accessory to murder here and there. The division champions get a free invite to one of Corey Fuller's poker games.

-The Browns are the only team to never play in or host a Super Bowl. They don't even know what it is. A reporter once asked Dennis Northcutt if he knew what the Super Bowl was, and he thought it was the Big East 2nd place team against the champion of the WAC.

History since 1992: 2 playoff appearances (1994, 2002), eliminated each time by the Steelers. No division titles. Team Record: 59-101, .369 winning percentage. Averaging a 5-11 record since re-entering NFL in 1999. "Genius" Coach Bill Belichick had 36-44 record in five seasons (1991-95). 6-10 in 2005.

Detroit Lions

Reasons for Optimism:

-Division rivals Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota all suck too

-Joey Harrington can ruin Miami's season this year

-Matt Millen didn't draft a WR in the 1st round

-OL Ross Verba won $500,000 in Vegas and spent it on a pool party, so he'll be highly motivated to cash a Super Bowl Champions bonus check

-The combination of a bible-thumping QB and Mike Martz has resulted in success before; can Jon Kitna pull a full Kurt Warner and marry a spiky haired, mannish wife?

-Another horrendous season could see ownership-hazing taken to a never before seen level by the frothing-at-the-mouth Lions fans

Reasons for Pessimism:

-Barry Sanders still won't un-retire for Matt Millen

-Despite all the threats, Charles Rogers is still on the roster

-Gameday traffic could be dangerous with so many fans wearing bags on their heads while driving to the game

-New coach Rod Marinelli tried to quit when he found out that the Lions have Terry Holt and Boss Bailey, not Torry Holt and Champ Bailey

History since 1992: 5 playoff appearances, all 1st-round wild card losses (1993, 94, 95, 97, 99). No division titles. Team Record: 85-123, .409 winning percentage. 5 consecutive losing seasons (all under Matt Millen). Millen era teams: 2-14, 3-13, 5-11. 6-10, 5-11 (21-59, .263 winning percentage).

Kansas City Royals

Reasons for Optimism:

-There are only 86 games left in the season

-They can always say they developed Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran

-They swept the Pirates

-Their first round pick has a rookie card that Keith Olbermann paid $7,500 for

-They are tough and intimidating and they don't take kindly to criticism

-They just hired a new GM who learned under John Schuerholz how to win one World Series with a 15-time division champion team

Reasons for Pessimism:

-George Brett retired in 1993, yet would still be the best hitter on their team

-Not only do they lose, but they continually fail to provide the great names they once gave us, like Buddy Biancalana, U.L. Washington, Onix Conception, Dan Quisenberry, and Jamie Quirk. On second thought, scratch that. They do have Ambiorix Burgos, Jimmy Gobble, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Mark Grudzielanek.

-They have not one, but SIX former Pirates on their team: Elmer Dessens, Brandon Duckworth, Matt Stairs, Reggie Sanders, Mark Redman and Emil Brown. Never the sign of a winner.

-In any league with the White Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, A's, Red Sox and Twins constantly contending, I don't see a team with Mark Redman as their winningest pitcher passing them up.

History since 1992: 0 playoff appearances. 3 winning seasons (1993, 94, 2003). Team Record: 897-1140, .440 winning percentage. 5 last place finishes, highest was 2nd place in 1995. 3 of last 4 seasons had 100+ losses. 56-106, .346 in 2005.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Reasons for Optimism:

-Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket. The First High School to NBA success story since Moses Malone. The guy put his team on his back and past the 1st round of the playoffs once in eight playoff appearances.

-They never lose faith in Kevin McHale, the GM who made the bold move of signing Joe Smith to a shady, backdoor deal that resulted in the loss of 5 1st-round draft picks. Someday they will be rewarded for their patience.

-Say what you want about McHale, but he was able to dump Stephon Marbury seven years ago. Saw that train wreck coming.

-As long as Mark Madsen remains on their roster, we never have to worry about him dancing at a championship parade

-They still give former Pitt hoopster and current stiff Mark Blount gainful employment

-The Ndudi Ebi era ended on November 1, 2005.

Reasons for Pessimism:
-The Eddie Griffin on their roster is the troubled former Seton Hall star, not the guy from Undercover Brother

-That Marko Jaric for Sam Cassell kinda backfired

-Minnesota fans who were excited when they signed Anthony Carter were disappointed when it wasn't this guy

History since 1992: 8 playoff appearances (1997-2004), including an amazing 7 first round exits and one trip to the NBA Western Finals. 1 division title (2004). Team Record: 529-587, .474 winning percentage. 33-49 (.402) season in 2005-06, worst in 10 years.

New York Jets

Reasons for Optimism:

-For Jets haters, plenty of "Mangina" jokes, in reference to new coach Eric Mangini

-Curtis Martin returns for his 39th season as the starting running back

-There's always hope of Joe Namath roaming the sidelines and kissing Suzy Kolber again

-Some of Bill Belichick's Magic Fairy Dust rubs off on Mangini and the Jets ride a tuck rule-esque play to three NFL titles

-No matter how bad they are, they still look better than the Knicks

Reasons for Pessimism:

-Chad Pennington is back, so Jets fans can expect no pass plays to be called over 10 yards

-Any team with a metrosexual advocate like Mike Greenberg as its biggest fan is asking for trouble.

-Washington wouldn't give them a re-do on the Laveranues Coles for Santana Moss swap

-Their nickname, "Gang Green", is actually a decay of body tissue caused by lack of blood flow

History since 1992: 4 playoff appearances (1998, 2001, 2002, 2004), including AFC Championship loss in 1998, 1 1st Round loss, 2 2nd Round losses. 1 division title (1998), tied for 2002 title. Team Record: 87-121, .418 winning percentage. 4-12 in 2005.

New York Knicks

Reasons for Optimism:

-The Isiah fiasco could end within 2006, and this Popcorn thing could be a nice fallback for him

-If they fire Isiah, he won't cost them $40 million to coach one season. Just $125 million to assemble the roster.

-Jerome James' 5-year, $30 million contract gives hope to all guys who average 3 points a game that the big payday is always out there as long as Isiah is around

-Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury still want to win that first playoff series that's eluded them throughout their storied careers.

Reasons for Pessimism:

-With a magical, George Mason-like run, Isiah could have his contract extended

-They drafted Renaldo Balkman, when Isiah thought he was drafting Rolando Blackman (credit to Bill Simmons on that gem)

-Eddy Curry and his bad heart for two first round picks and countless millions, with one pick already turned into Tyrus Thomas. This stuff just writes itself.

-Quite frankly, every loss equals more airtime and screaming from Stephen A. Smith

History since 1992: 10 playoff appearances (1993-2001, 2004); 2 trips to NBA Finals, 2 trips to NBA Eastern Finals, 4 2nd-round exits, 2 1st round-exits. 2 division titles (1993, 1994). Team Record: 606-510, .543 winning percentage. 2 consecutive losing seasons, including a 23-59 (.280) season in 2005-06, the worst by a Knicks team since 1986.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Reasons for Optimism:

-They have a starter in the All Star game, and all it took was a
few million ballots punched out by their own employees

-Ogden Nutting might sell his shares in the team, which is great news for Pirates fans. However, fans of Seven Springs resort should now expect less-than-quality slopes, horrible food, and an underachieving staff. But don't worry, because they'll tell you it will get better the next year.

-Jeromy Burnitz and other veterans will probably be traded, which means Former Pirates can be involved in the pennant race for the 14th straight year

Reasons for Pessimism:

-No All Star Game in 2007, so that means we'll go back to the same Pirates that we used to experience before the payroll flexibility of 2006 rolled around

-The Pirates will probably try to fill the void left by Oliver Perez and Ryan Vogelsong by trading Zach Duke for a mop-up guy and re-signing Francisco Cordova out of the Mexican Summer League

-The Pirates want to sever ties with Craig Wilson, in part because he drinks too much Pepsi. What's puzzling is that the Pirates have never been particularly worried about diet in the past. You've heard of the "Tiger Slam" in golf, but I'll bet you never heard about portly pitcher Jimmy Anderson's JimJam Slam. On August 2, 2000, the day after he pitched against the Dodgers, Jimmy Anderson ate at PNC Park's Outback Steakhouse, Benkovitz Fish, Primanti's, and the Willie Stargell Chicken Stand, all while a game was going on. The meals cost him a week's pay, but a legend was born.

History since 1992: 0 playoff appearances. 0 winning seasons. Team Record: 902-1135, .443 winning percentage. 3 last place finishes, 5 5th place finishes. Highest was 2nd place in 1997 (79-83).

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Reasons for Optimism:
-They might change their name next year, which has historically resulted in a championship that same year

-They may stink, but you gotta love how they ripped off the Mets in that
Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir deal. That trade was truly Pirate-esque by the Mets.

-They have only one former Pirate - Brian Meadows

-The average attendance of 16,000 put no unrealistic expectations or pressures on the players

Reasons for Pessimism:

-Delmon Young throws a bat at an umpire. B.J. Upton gets arrested. What's next, 3B Ty Wigginton punches Brett Myers' wife in the face?

-Russell Branyan's career batting average is .231. His career strikeout average is .404

-They disgusted Lou Piniella so much that he chose to work on Fox with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck rather than manage this team. Ouch.

-They play in the same division as the Yankees and the Red Sox. So when they finally win a division title, all the media will want to talk about is why the Yankees and Red Sox aren't in the playoffs.

History since 1992: 0 playoff appearances. 0 winning seasons. Team Record: 518-775, .401 winning percentage. 7 last place finishes and one next-to-last in eight seasons of existence. Highest was 4th place in 2004 (70-91, .435).

The facts have been laid out. It's all in black and white. Like the Pirates say, GET OUT AND VOTE!

So I cast the first vote for THE PIRATES to win a championship first, only because they have as good a chance of any of these hopeless teams. Think about the executives on this list: Marv Levy, Ralph Wilson, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Matt Millen, etc...This is wide open.


Anonymous said...

I vote for the T-Wolves. They still have Garnett, and they just drafted Foye. In hoops, it only takes 1-2 good players to compete.

And you forgot about Golden State, they have missed the playoffs something like 12 years in a row. They are the Pirates of the NBA.

Anonymous said...

First, it will never be the Devilrays, Pirates, or Royals. The young talent is fine and dandy until they mature and the Bo-sox or Yanks buy them out. They will have to change the ownership group to Bill Gates or a sheik from Saudi Arabia to win!!!

I vote for the Bills. The salary cap will aide them greatly. More turnover in the NFL leads to a variety of teams making the playoffs every year. If they draft well they could be a champs easily within the next 5 years. Chris Berman has to be right sooner or later. Despite his Swami record being somewhere around 9-15 every year!!!

DCThrowback said...

Dick Jauron posted a 13-3 season with the Bears in 2002. He can get win with no talent - should serve him well in the next year with the Bills.

The Drink said...

I really think that professional sports should take a look at the scheme used in europe for soccer.

Have multiple divisions. The NFL can add the CFL, MLB already has the system in place (i bet the AAA KC team could win more then the "major league" team. NBA, i think they have a developmental league now.

If you finish in the bottom 25%...the team is religated to the lower division...and the top 25% of the lower division get a shot to play with the big boys. This would allow for more that the bottom 30% would have to actually play to avoid religation (no more bringing up AA, AAA players to give them experience.

just my $0.02

oh...and my vote...NONE OF THE ABOVE. there is a reason these teams have sucked for DECADES!!! It starts at the top...and ends with the players. I bet the Texans win one before any of these teams. Possibly the LA expansion NFL team.

Anonymous said...

As much as it pains me to say it I say the Browns, with Romeo at the helm there is a system and a plan in place that will win ball games. Bills are the dark horse

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose GOOD teams' fans ever have to resort to saying stuff like, "If so-and-so ever remembers how to hit 30 HR and bat north of .275 ..."? Or, "If our team is able to trade Rising Star for pitching help ..."? That's the problem with teams like the Pirates and others on this list. Too often we have to cross our fingers and hope that guys like Kip Wells (two good seasons out of seven) and Ollie Perez (one good season out of four or five) and Burnitz and Casey "ever remember how ..."

Good teams' fans have the luxury of optimism. Bad teams' fans settle for wishful thinking.

The MLB teams on the list don't have a chance.

The NBA teams on the list have a better chance, because at least their league has a semi-sane financial structure, but there are too many good teams ahead of them.

Someone off the NFL list will probably win, and win this year (if by winning you'll count a wild-card spot), because the league's structure, from having four-team divisions right down to the scheduling, is designed to make it easy for them. The NFL always seems to get a cinderella team or two. I'll flip a three-sided coin and go with ... the Bills, if only because they're in a division with the Jets and Dolphins.

Enjoying your site, Mondesi.

Anonymous said...

D-Rays. Then all 25 of their fans will be happy.

PS. the only reason they get 16,000 in the trop is because a lot of people in Tampa are from other cities and go to root for their home teams.

Anonymous said...

The worst part about hoping AUbrey Huff remembers how to hit is that the D-Rays already traded him to Houston.