What City Is Most Desperate for a Championship? [POLL]
The Cleveland Cavaliers are NBA champions. LeBron James carried the team, not to mention the burden of playing in a city that hadn't won a title in any major sport in 52 years, on his back. To say it's been a long time coming would be like saying the people of Cleveland -- long mired in a stretch of athletic frustration in a metropolis cruelly dubbed "The Mistake by the Lake" -- have forgiven James for bolting for Miami in 2010.
Cleveland can finally call itself a championship town once again. The last time it could Jim Brown was slashing through opposing defenses while LBJ was in the White House. Yes, it's been a long stretch of futility. Ending droughts without titles is one of the most magical things in sports -- just ask fans of the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox or Chicago Blackhawks.
In the case of Cleveland, though, there's something even more special at play. Call it civic pride. The Red Sox, Giants, White Sox and Blackhawks all played in cities where teams from other sports won championships, making the bitter pill of losing year after year perhaps a little easier to swallow. In Cleveland, it was a vicious cycle, season after season of the major teams falling short. But now? The Indians and Browns, while not fully excused from losing, do not have to be the flag bearers for winning it all in their respective leagues.
Which brings us to the question at hand: now that Cleveland has finally won another championship, which city is now most in need of winning one?
There is no scientific data to quantify it, especially since not all cities have the same amount of teams in the four major North American sports leagues, but look at the history of these metropolises coming out on the short end of the stick and it becomes clear the wait is only getting longer and longer. And no one likes to wait, right?
The city hasn't raised a championship flag since 1991 when the Redskins won the Super Bowl. The Capitals, who've never won a Stanley Cup, have shown a knack for disappointing in the playoffs in recent years, while the Wizards, with its lone title in 1978, took a step back this past season. The Redskins are trending in the right direction, but the Nationals (who've never won a World Series) may be the capital's best chance right now.
Hotlanta is a hot mess in baseball. The Braves, who won the city's last championship in 1995, are in serious rebuilding mode. The Falcons perpetually let down fans and the Hawks, while competitive, haven't been NBA champions since 1958 -- when they were in St. Louis.
Yes, the Phillies won a World Series in 2008, but this city's notoriously hot-headed fans are still bursting at the seams. The Eagles (1960), Flyers (1975) and annually tanking 76ers (1983) are in the midst of championship droughts that have the city teetering on the brink.
Poor Buffalo. The ghost of the Bills' four straight Super Bowl losses in the '90s still looms large. The city has no other major sports team and its love affair with the Bills is well-known. They've struggled in recent years, but their fans crave a title like you crave a greasy cheeseburger after a night of drinking.
At least there's great weather. The Padres have never won a World Series and the Chargers have won lone title -- back in 1963, when they played in the AFL. And who knows how much longer the Chargers will even be in town. Being a San Diego sports fan is a study in tolerance.
The Blue Jays' window is wide open right now. After back-to-back World Series in 1992-1993, the Jays stumbled through some lean years (okay, decades) before storming back to relevance last year. The Maple Leafs haven't hoisted the Stanley Cup since 1967 and the Raptors, fresh off its first-ever appearance in a conference finals, still have yet to make a real dent since entering the NBA in 1995. Yes, the city is due.
The Vikings have yet to win a Super Bowl, the Wild have yet to win a Stanley Cup, the Timberwolves have yet to win an NBA championship and the Twins haven't won a World Series since 1991. That's a Cleveland-like resume in the works. Someone has to help stop the bleeding for the people of the Twin Cities.
The Reds have mostly been an also-ran since their World Series victory in 1990 and the Bengals, while competitive in recent years, have never claimed the Vince Lombardi. Heck, they haven't even won a playoff game since 1991.
Wait, New York? Seriously? The Giants have won two Super Bowls in the last nine years and the Yankees have two World Series titles to their credit this century. But beyond that? It ain't pretty. The Jets (1969), Knicks (1973), Nets (1976), Rangers (1994), Islanders (1984) and Mets (1986) are all seeking to end long runs without championships.