Sometimes when I tell people I fear I'll never see the Vikings win a Super Bowl, they try to assure me that I will. I'm young, and there are a lot of years left--chances are they'll win a title sometime. But "Why?" I say. The Cubs haven't won a championship in 100 years--I'm sure some Cubs fans in the last century were assured by friends that the odds are they'll see a Cub World Series win, but most assuredly some of those Cubs fans are now dead.
So I've considered what I simply call a "Bad Luck Number." It's simple: if championships are simply random, and there are 32 teams in the league, then you'd think that in 32 years, your favorite team should win a championship. So, look at each franchise in the league, and note the number of years since:
a. it last won a championship.
b. it entered the league through expansion.
c. it relocated to its current location (because what do residents of Phoenix care about how bad the Cardinals were in St. Louis?).
If the number of years since either a., b., or c. occured is greater than the number of teams in the league at the time, then that franchise has a Bad Luck Number. Fans of those teams are tormented and unlucky.
Now, of course championships aren't just randomly selected from a hat. But assuming I've used this website correctly, over the course of 32 years in which each team has a 1 in 32 chance of winning, a particular team has a 63.8% chance of winning one or more championships. I'm just trying to look for a simple number to show fan suffering. If you root for a franchise that has had a longer championship drought (in its current location) than the number of teams in the league, you've certainly been miserable.
Here is a list of each franchise from the NFL, NBA, and MLB that has a Bad Luck Number. I am including AFL and ABA championships, which doesn't change the list but does change the number in the parentheses (which is the year of the team's relocation, expansion season, or last championship).
NFL (32 teams, 14 with no championships since 1976)
Atlanta Falcons (1966)
Buffalo Bills (1965)
Cincinnati Bengals (1968)
Cleveland Browns (1964)
Detroit Lions (1957)
Houston Texans (1961)*
Kansas City Chiefs (1969)
Miami Dolphins (1973)
Minnesota Vikings (1961)
New Orleans Saints (1967)
New York Jets (1968)
Philadelphia Eagles (1960)
San Diego Chargers (1963)
Seattle Seahawks (1976)
*Cleveland lost a team and then gained an expansion team, but I'm including that entire history. It seems fair that Houston, which lost a team then gained an expansion team during a similar time period, gets the same consideration, so the Oilers are considered. In each case, you could subtract the years they didn't have franchises (since they obviously had no chance of winning those years), but they would still have a Bad Luck Number.
MLB (30 teams, 8 teams with no championships since 1978)
Chicago Cubs (1908)
Cleveland Indians (1948)
Houston Astros (1962)
Milwaukee Brewers (1970)
San Diego Padres (1969)
San Francisco Giants (1958)
Seattle Mariners (1977)
Texas Rangers (1972)
NBA (30 teams, 11 with no championships since 1978)
Atlanta Hawks (1969)
Cleveland Cavaliers (1971)
Denver Nuggets (1968)
Golden State Warriors (1975)
Indiana Pacers (1973)
Milwaukee Bucks (1971)
New Jersey Nets (1978)*
New York Knicks (1973)
Phoenix Suns (1969)
Portland Trailblazers (1977)
Utah Jazz (1975)
*They were the New York Nets when they won an ABA title in 1976; I don't really know if the fanbase changed fundamentally when they became the New Jersey Nets.
The following cities/regions that have two teams with Bad Luck Numbers:
Atlanta (Falcons and Hawks)
Seattle (Seahawks and Mariners)
San Diego (Chargers and Padres)
Houston (Oilers/Texans and Astros)
Milwaukee (Bucks and Brewers)
Seattle will also add the Supersonics to their teams with Bad Luck Numbers in 2009--just before the Sonics move to Oklahoma, probably. There would likely be other cities listed here if I had included hockey teams.
But one city has THREE teams with Bad Luck Numbers:
Cleveland (Indians, Browns, Cavaliers)
Yes, Cleveland sports fans are the most tortured of all, rooting for a baseball team that last won a championship in 1948, a football team that last won a title in 1964, and a basketball team that began playing in 1970-71 and has never won a championship.
Each year, only one team in each league can win a championship, and of course nobody is entitled to championships. But if you root for a team that hasn't won a championship in as many years as there are teams in the league, then you can certainly whine about your lot.
(This data was incredibly easy to access using the sports-reference.com sites. These sites are brilliant. Their hockey reference site isn't ready yet, though, and the other sites I considered using for hockey franchises weren't organized in useful way for this post; I didn't feel like doing the work, so I skipped hockey for now. Stanley Cup championships may come up in possible future posts on the subject).