There are many, many cities and metropolitan areas that don’t have a single professional sports team, so harping on the black sheep in the places that have their own top-tier squad (the NBA, the NFL, the MLB, and the NHL) seems a little bit unfair. Nevertheless, intercity parity within pro sports teams is interesting enough to dive into. And so we dove. Apologies to Los Angeles, who still doesn’t have an NFL team.
It’s rare to find a sports city that has every team within their greater metropolitan area playing at a high level at the same time, and when they do, the city and their fans become completely and utterly insufferable (we say this as Boston fans who sat through “Title Town” with gritted teeth after decades of mediocrity). (Not-so) Luckily for everyone, few places actually exhibit that level of dominance on a regular basis. And out of the 11 major metropolitan areas that house at least one of each major sports teams, here are the ones that aren’t pulling their weight.
11. Texas Rangers, Dallas
With the MLB season concluded, it seems a little unfair to harp on the Rangers’ absolutely abysmal 65-97 record, particularly in light of the fact that they were about as injury-riddled as they could possibly be, but the Dallas-Fort Worth area is celebrating the Cowboy’s potential (they might not finish at .500 this year), and the Mavericks are always good. Come on, Rangers. Stop being hurt all the time.
10. New York Jets, New York City
The Jets can’t be good. It’s a natural law, and it’s what gives them the edge over similarly struggling squads like the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. In those cases, it’s possible to say that the country’s biggest media market is prone to overreaction, and that there’s some silver linings that aren’t being considered. That’s not true when it comes to the Jets, and that just feels right to us.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves, Minneapolis-St. Paul
In a pool that includes the Vikings, the Twins, and the Wild (you don’t have to lie to us, we know you didn’t know the Wild was a sports team), the Timberwolves stand out for their consistent mediocrity, and for their unfailing ability to refuse to put good teams around power forwards named Kevin.
8. Colorado Rockies, Denver
It’s got to be hard living in the shadow of the Denver Broncos, particularly while half of their teams (the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche) are rebuilding, but the Rockies finished 66 and 96, extending their playoff drought which started after 2007. That’s seven years of decidedly “meh” baseball, particularly after their tremendous run to the World Series that year.
7. Chicago Cubs, Chicago
Take heart, Bears fans, even when your team is self-destructing, there’s no chance that they’ll unseat the permanent symbol of mediocrity and failure that is the Chicago Cubs. They’re the greatest “loveable loser” in the history of sport, Joe Maddon or not.
6. Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia
The 76ers are tanking. Everyone knows this. It seems a little disingenuous to put a team that’s actively trying to be completely 100% awful on a list of Philly teams that are bad, but on the same token, they’re so bad they deserve to be described in italics. The hope is that eventually they’ll blossom into a beautiful basketball butterfly, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and for every Oklahoma City Thunder there’s an extended tanking session that didn’t work out.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix
To their credit, the Arizona Diamondbacks are the fastest expansion team to win a championship in Major League Baseball. So there’s that. That’s a good thing. But when the Cardinals look like a lock for the playoffs, the Suns are surprisingly competitive, and the Coyotes are well above 500, the Dbacks are the only team to blame. Plus, they’re kind of bad.
4. Oakland Raiders, The Bay Area (San Francisco + Oakland)
For the pedantic: Oakland and San Francisco are not in the same place. You’re right. Have a cookie. For the rest of us: We’ve only got a limited amount of time to celebrate the glorious awfulness that is the Raiders in the O.co. They’re probably gone in the very near future. Celebrate. Enjoy.
3. Florida Panthers, Miami
We were sorely tempted to put the ghost of the Miami Heat here, since they lost the best basketball player in the world over the offseason, but they’re still a pretty good team. The Dolphins show enough flashes of decency to will themselves off this list, and the Miami Marlins (who will always be the Florida Marlins in spirit) are bad, but not as bad as the Panthers, who are so unappealing no one is showing up to their games.
2. Boston Celtics, Boston
Consider this the hangover from the Title Town run of a decade ago — the Celtics, having closed their window by trading away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, are firmly languishing in the “awful” end of the spectrum. The Bruins are still good, the Patriots are still good, the Red Sox seem to oscillate between winning championships and completely combusting, but the Celtics are just bad. Like, giving-Evan-Turner-money-to-play-basketball bad.
1. Detroit Pistons, Detroit
We could’ve gone with the Lions here, but the Lions have Calvin Johnson. The Tigers are good. The Bears don’t play in Detroit. The Pistons, though, are still stuck in a rebuild 10 years after winning an NBA Championship with hard-nosed defense that was so severe the league had to change the rules to make the games more watchable. Now… well, there’s nothing particularly watchable about the Pistons, but for vastly different reasons.