Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Playoff Droughts As of Fall 2013

The Pittsburgh Pirates clinched a Playoff berth last night. So did the Cincinnati Reds.

When I was a kid, neither of these occurrences would have been considered a big deal — outside their markets, anyway.

The Pirates won the National League East in 1970, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75 and ’79, and almost did it in ’73, ’77 and ’78.

The Reds won the NL West in 1970, ’72, ’73, ’75, ’76 and ’79, and almost did it in ’74 and ’78.

They faced each other in the NL Championship Series in 1970, ’72, ’75 and ’79 (with the Reds winning all but the last).

Even now, the Reds making the Playoffs isn’t a big deal, as they’ve now done it in 3 of the last 4 seasons.

But the Pirates hadn’t made the Playoffs since George Bush was President.  The father, not the son.  September 1992.

How long has it been? Well, since I just did a “How Long Has It Been” piece for September 1992, on the last time the Yankees were this weak (or worse), you can check that out.

The Pirates’ management finally figured out that 20 years of being cheap wasn’t working.

And, yes,  Yankee Fans, I am well aware that  the Bucs’ roster includes former Yankees A.J. Burnett, Russell Martin and — ugh — Kyle Farnsworth.


The Pirates had the 2nd-longest Playoff drought of any current team in North American major league sports.  When it came to how recently they’d made the Playoffs, they were 121st out of 122.
(That counts MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL — but not the WNBA, MLS, or the Canadian Football League.)

Major League Sports Playoff Droughts

Last made their League’s Playoffs in 2013:

MLB, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indian, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds.

NBA, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks.

NHL, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs.

Last made Playoffs in 2012:

NFL (calendar-wise, after MLB, thus more recently), Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons,  Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins.

MLB, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals.

NBA, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz.

NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils,  Arizona Coyotes (formerly “Phoenix Coyotes”), Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators.

Last made Playoffs in 2011: Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers; Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks; New Orleans Pelicans (formerly Hornets), Portland Trail Blazers; Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning.

2010: Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles; Minnesota Twins; Charlotte Hornets (formerly Bobcats), Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns; Colorado Avalanche.
2009: Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers; Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Colorado Rockies; Detroit Pistons; Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets.

2008: Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans; Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs; Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards; Dallas Stars.

2007: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2006: New York Mets, San Diego Padres; Sacramento Kings; Edmonton Oilers.  This means the Mets have the longest Playoff drought of the New York Tri-State Area’s 9 teams.

2005: Houston Astros.

2004: St. Louis Rams; Minnesota Timberwolves.

2003: Miami Marlins (then Florida Marlins).

2002: Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders.

2001: Seattle Mariners.

1999: Buffalo Bills.  They haven’t made the Playoffs in this current century.

1996: Winnipeg Jets.  (The current team with the name made it as the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007.  The former team with the name made it in their last season in Winnipeg, before moving to become the Phoenix and now Arizona Coyotes.)

1993: Toronto Blue Jays.

1985: Kansas City Royals.  They got close this time, and haven’t officially been eliminated yet, but they’re 3 games out of the 2nd AL Wild Card slot with 6 games to go.  They haven’t made the Playoffs since the Reagan years, since portable phones were the size of a tape dispenser, since a desktop computer took up the entire top of your desk, since people were actually devoid enough of taste to listen to Duran Duran.


By City -- this time, I include all 4 major North American sports where I can:

Boston: 2013 Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins; 2012 Patriots.

Detroit: 2013 Tigers and Red Wings; 2011 Lions, 2010 Pistons -- that's right, the Lions (who haven't won a title since 1957 or even reached an NFC Title Game since 1991) have made the Playoffs more recently than the Pistons (who've won 3 titles and been to 2 other Finals since 1988).

San Francisco (inc. Oakland & San Jose): 2013 Athletics, Warriors and Sharks, 2012 Giants and 49ers, 2002 Raiders.

Tampa Bay: 2013 Rays, 2011 Lightning, 2007 Buccaneers.  Never had an NBA or ABA team.

Cleveland: 2013 Indians, 2010 Cavaliers, 2002 Browns.  Never made the NHL Playoffs with the 1977-78 Barons, but made the WHA Playoffs with the 1976 Crusaders.

Atlanta: 2013 Braves and Hawks, 2012 Falcons, 2007 Thrashers (now defunct).

St. Louis: 2013 Cardinals and Blues, 2004 Rams.  Made the ABA Playoffs with the 1975 Spirits, and the NBA Playoffs with the Hawks in 1968, their last season before moving to Atlanta.

Los Angeles (inc. Anaheim): 2013 Dodgers, Clippers, Lakers, Kings and Ducks; 2009 Angels; last made the NFL Playoffs with the 1993 Raiders, the Rams last making it in 1989.

Pittsburgh: 2013 Pirates and Penguins, 2011 Steelers.  The city has only once made the Playoffs in basketball in anything resembling "major league": The 1968 ABA Champion Pittsburgh Pipers.  The Pittsburgh Ironmen (whose best player was Press Maravich, future LSU coach and father of Pistol Pete) were charter members of the NBA in 1946-47, but that's Pittsburgh's only season in the NBA.

Cincinnati: 2013 Reds, 2012 Bengals.  Last made the NBA Playoffs with the 1967 Royals (now the Sacramento Kings).  Never had an NHL team, made the WHA Playoffs with the 1979 Stingers.

Miami: 2013 Heat, 2012 Panthers, 2008 Dolphins, 2003 Marlins.

San Antonio: 2013 Spurs.  Aside from the Saints' temporary stay at the Alamodome due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, San Antonio has never had a team in any of the other major league sports.

Indianapolis: 2013 Pacers, 2012 Colts, 1914 Hoosiers -- their only MLB team won the first Federal League Pennant, lost money, and moved to Newark (actually Harrison, their stadium was catty-corner from the current site of Red Bull Arena).  Never had an NHL team, made the WHA Playoffs with the 1977 Racers -- oddly, naming a team in one sport after another sport. 

Memphis: 2013 Grizzlies.  Didn't make the NFL Playoffs when the Titans played there in 1997-98, but made the USFL Playoffs with the 1985 Showboats.

Chicago: 2013 Blackhawks and Bulls, 2010 Bears, 2008 White Sox and Cubs.

New York (inc. New Jersey & Long Island): 2013 Knicks, Nets, Rangers and Islanders; 2012 Yankees and Devils; 2011 Giants; 2010 Jets; 2006 Mets.

Oklahoma City: 2013 Thunder.  Unless you count the USFL's Oklahoma Outlaws, who played the 1984 season in Tulsa, the Thunder are Oklahoma's only major league team ever.

Denver: 2013 Nuggets, 2012 Broncos, 2010 Avalanche, 2009 Rockies.

Houston: 2013 Rockets, 2012 Texans, 2005 Astros.  They've never had an NHL team, but the Aeros won the WHA title in 1974 and '75, and last made the Playoffs in 1978.

Milwaukee (inc. Green Bay): 2013 Bucks, 2012 Packers, 2011 Brewers.  They've never had an NHL or WHA team.

Ottawa: 2013 Senators.  In 2014, the Ottawa Redblacks will join the Canadian Football League, taking the place of the Rough Riders, who went out of business in 1996 and last made the CFL Playoffs in 1994.

Vancouver: 2013 Canucks, 2012 Lions (CFL).  The Grizzlies did not make the NBA Playoffs between their 1995 debut and their 2001 move to Memphis.

Washington: 2013 Capitals, 2012 Redskins and Nationals, 2008 Wizards.

Montreal: 2013 Canadiens, 2012 Alouettes.  Only in 1981 did the Expos actually play in the Playoffs.

Minnesota: 2013 Wild, 2012 Vikings, 2010 Twins, 2004 Timberwolves.

Toronto: 2013 Maple Leafs, 2012 Argonauts (won the Grey Cup), 2008 Raptors, 1993 Blue Jays.

Dallas: 2012 Rangers and Mavericks, 2009 Cowboys, 2008 Stars.

Baltimore: 2012 Ravens and Orioles.  The Bullets made the Playoffs in their last season in Baltimore, 1973.  Baltimore has never had an NHL team, and their sole WHA season, 1974-75, the Claws did not make the Playoffs.

Seattle: 2012 Seahawks, 2001 Mariners.  The SuperSonics last made the Playoffs in 2005 before moving in 2008, and the Metropolitans, Champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1917, were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, last reaching the postseason in 1924.

Calgary: 2012 Stampeders (lost last year's Grey Cup Final), 2009 Flames.

Edmonton: 2012 Eskimos, 2006 Oilers.

Regina: 2012 Roughriders.  (The "Saskatchewan" club has always spelled "Roughriders" as one word, the defunct Ottawa "Rough Riders" as two.)

Orlando: 2012 Magic.  The Florida Blazers, playing all their home games in Orlando, reached the World Football League title game (the World Bowl) in 1974.  That's Orlando's only team besides the Magic that could be called "major league."

Philadelphia: 2012 76ers and Flyers, 2011 Phillies, 2010 Eagles.

Utah: 2012 Jazz.  Salt Lake City has never had a major league team in any other sport.

Phoenix: 2012 Coyotes, 2011 Diamondbacks, 2010 Suns, 2009 Cardinals.

Nashville: 2012 Predators, 2008 Titans.  The city has never had an MLB or NBA team.

New Orleans: 2011 Saints and Pelicans.  The city has never had an MLB or NHL team.

Winnipeg: 2011 Blue Bombers, 1996 Jets.

Hamilton: 2011 Tiger-Cats.  The last major hockey team the city had was the 1925 Tigers, who finished first in the NHL, but refused to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs unless they were paid, and had their franchise revoked.

Portland: 2011 Trail Blazers.  Aside from the WFL's Storm and the USFL's Breakers, the city has never had any other teams.

Buffalo: 2011 Sabres, 1999 Bills.  The Braves last made the NBA Playoffs in 1976, before moving to become the Clippers.  The last Buffalo team in MLB was either the 1914-15 Bisons of the Federal League, or the National League Bisons of 1885.

Kansas City: 2010 Chiefs, 1985 Royals.  The Kings made the NBA Playoffs in 1984, before moving to Sacramento a year later.  The 1975 and '76 Scouts, now the Devils, did not make the Playoffs.

Carolina (counting Charlotte and Raleigh) 2010 Hornets, 2009 Hurricanes, 2008 Panthers.  Neither North nor South Carolina has ever had an MLB team.

San Diego: 2009 Chargers, 2006 Padres.  The Clippers never made the Playoffs in San Diego.  While the city has never had an NHL team, the Mariners made the Playoffs all 3 years they were in the WHA, lastly in 1977.

Columbus: 2009 Blue Jackets.  The Columbus Bullies won the title in the 1940-41 version of the American Football League, but that's as close as Ohio's capital has come to even winning a postseason round at the major league level.

Jacksonville: 2007 Jaguars.

Sacramento: 2006 Kings.

Birmingham: They've never had a team in MLB, the NBA or the NHL, but the 1984 and 1985 Stallions made the USFL Playoffs, and the Americans won the one and only World Bowl in 1974.

Honolulu: Only team ever that could possibly be called "major league" was the WFL's Hawaiians, who made that league's Playoffs in 1974.

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