If you're anything like me, you get to thinking about the playoffs when September rolls around. As your mind meanders down the October road, you can't help feeling a bit sorry for the teams that haven't had a taste of the postseason in a dog's age. Unlike many other fans who tend to empathize with baseball's perennial losers, I know where to direct my sympathy. Every year, there is a lot of pity wasted on the Cubs and the Pirates. When you look at the franchise history of each club, neither has really had it all that bad when it comes to making appearances on the October stage.
Sure, the Pirates haven't finished over .500 since 1992 and that's a long time. But they actually have the highest World Series winning percentage among any franchise with at least 3 appearances (They've won 5 and lost 2). After winning their last Fall Classic in 1979, they made three consecutive appearances in the NLCS beginning in 1990. Furthermore, they dominated in the '70's before the wild card format was established, making the playoffs 6 times in that decade while capturing 2 world championships. I agree they've been in a long slump, but they do have an impressive history.
What about the Cubs? We've all heard about the billy goat thing. They haven't won a World Series since 1908, true, but at least they've had their chances. Entering the 2012 pennant stretch, the Cubs are currently ranked sixth among Major League franchises with 10 Fall Classic appearances. In the 2000's, they participated in 1 NLCS and 2 Division Series. During the '80's and '90's, they had three other chances to be the last club standing. And though it's true that a century is a long time to wait for a championship, it's hard to feel sorry for a team that has maintained a loyal fan base all along regardless of their order of finish.
So, who should we feel sorry for, you ask? In my opinion, there are at least three teams we should all develop a soft spot for:
1) The Milwaukee Brewers.
Established in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots, the Brew Crew has never won a World Series. In fact, they haven't even participated in one since 1982. In 2011, they made it as far as the NLCS and in 2008, they dropped the League Division Series in 4 games. Their dry spells have been extensive. From 1983 through 2007--nothing. From 1969 through 1980--nothing. Talk about being due...
2) The San Diego Padres.
The Padres also made their debut in '69. Like the Brewers, they've never won a World Series, though they've lost 2--in 1984 and 1998. Aside from those two seasons, they've never made it beyond the LDS (they've dropped 3 of those). The most telling statistic: In 44 years of existence, they've finished below .500 27 times. Ouch!
3) The Seattle Mariners
Among the most star-crossed franchises in the majors, Seattle has never even played in a World Series. After joining the American League in 1977, they didn't crack the .500 mark for 14 years. Furthermore, it seems very likely that when the 2012 season is over, the Mariners will have been excluded from postseason play for 11 straight seasons Whisper a prayer for them, won't you?
Worth at least one tear:
The Toronto Blue Jays. Okay, so they dominated in the early '90's, but since then, the Jays have done absolutely nothing. They're about to miss the playoffs for the 19th consecutive year. -Sniff Sniff-