Special Report

25 Hardest Teams to Root For

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Every sports franchise has its ups and downs, dynasties fade as star players leave or retire, and losing teams are afforded the chance to draft top-tier talent. But whether through bad luck, bad management, or some combination of both, there are some clubs that just can’t seem to catch a break.

24/7 Wall St. referred to the Sports Reference family of sites to review the modern-era histories of teams in the four major American sports leagues — NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL — to determine which teams were hardest to cheer for. Included in our analysis are the team’s winning record over time, their playoff appearances, championships, and years since making the playoffs. The ongoing incomplete NHL and NBA seasons were not considered.

Many factors can make a fanbase miserable. The most obvious, of course, is prolonged stretches of losing seasons. Any team in the playoffs has a shot at winning a championship, and even one postseason round can get fans excited. But teams like the Sacramento Kings and San Diego Padres haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade, while the Seattle Mariners are approaching two decades without a playoff appearance.

The pain of watching a team struggle is tough, but it doesn’t compare with the disappointment of losing a team all together. Franchise owners will sometimes move their team to a new city in the hopes of getting a better stadium, more tax revenue, or simply because they don’t like their current city — leaving fans who grew up rooting for that team with no one to cheer for. The Rams and Chargers of the NFL recently moved to Los Angeles — one of the best cities for sports fans — leaving the cities of St. Louis and San Diego with no hometown team to support.

These are the 25 hardest teams to root for.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

25. New York Mets
> World Series: 2
> Playoff appearances: 9
> Last playoff appearance: 2016
> Win-loss pct.: 48.0%

The New York Mets are frequently mocked for being dysfunctional in the front office, the clubhouse, and on the field. Even an attempt to sell the team fell through in February. The Mets have made the playoffs just nine times in their history. The team has lost 52% of their games, and they haven’t won a championship since 1986.

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Source: Ed Zurga / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

24. Kansas City Royals
> World Series: 2
> Playoff appearances: 9
> Last playoff appearance: 2015
> Win-loss pct.: 48.0%

The history of the Kansas City Royals has been feast or famine — mostly famine. After beginning to play in 1969, Kansas City made the postseason seven times from 1976-1985, winning the 1985 World Series. The team then missed the playoffs for nearly 30 consecutive years, until 2014, when they lost the World Series. The Royals would go on to win it in 2015, but they have not finished the season with a winning record since.

Source: Elsa / Getty Images

23. New York Jets
> Super Bowls: 1
> Playoff appearances: 14
> Last playoff appearance: 2011
> Win-loss pct.: 44.9%

The apex of the New York Jets franchise was the stunning upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. The Jets reached the AFC Championship game four times since then, most recently in consecutive years in 2010 and 2011, but have failed to return to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the Jets, they play in the same division as the New England Patriots, maybe the greatest football dynasty in NFL history. Although, with Tom Brady moving to Tampa Bay in the offseason, the Jets’ fortunes could finally be turning around.

Source: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

22. Colorado Rockies
> World Series: 0
> Playoff appearances: 5
> Last playoff appearance: 2018
> Win-loss pct.: 47.2%

One of the newer teams in the MLB, the Colorado Rockies have yet to make much of an impact. The team has made the playoffs just five times in 27 seasons. Four of those postseason trips ended in the first round, either in the divisional or wild card round. The best season the Rockies have had ended when they were swept in the 2007 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. Colorado has one of the lowest winning percentages throughout their history in the MLB, at 47.2%.

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Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

21. Milwaukee Brewers
> World Series: 0
> Playoff appearances: 6
> Last playoff appearance: 2019
> Win-loss pct.: 48.1%

The Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers in 1969. In the over five decades since, the Brewers have made the postseason six times and played in the World Series once, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in 1982. The Brewers have recently made the postseason two years in a row, however. They won the National League Central division in 2018 but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the championship series. They lost the wild card game to the Nationals in 2019.

Source: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

20. Baltimore Orioles
> World Series: 3
> Playoff appearances: 14
> Last playoff appearance: 2016
> Win-loss pct.: 47.4%

The Baltimore Orioles may not seem like a tough team to cheer for with three World Series titles, but the club also lost four championship series, and their latest World Series was more than three and a half decades ago.

The Orioles lost 115 games in 2018, the most since the team moved to Baltimore 66 years ago. They improved only slightly the following year, losing a still-horrific 108 games.

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Source: Adam Glanzman / Getty Images

19. Columbus Blue Jackets
> Stanley Cups: 0
> Playoff appearances: 5
> Last playoff appearance: 2019
> Point pct.: 49.6%

The Columbus Blue Jackets are one of just eight NHL teams that have taken fewer than 50% of possible points throughout their history. The team, which began playing in the NHL in 2000, has made five postseason appearances, not counting the current NHL play-in format. Four of those playoff berths ended in the first round, though the team did pull off a shocking upset of the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 playoffs.

Source: Jamie Sabau / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

18. Texas Rangers
> World Series: 0
> Playoff appearances: 8
> Last playoff appearance: 2016
> Win-loss pct.: 47.8%

During their first 35 years, from 1961-1995, the Texas Rangers franchise (formerly known as the Washington Senators) never made the playoffs. The team has made the playoffs eight times since, losing five times in the first round, once in the wild card round, and twice in the World Series. The Rangers are one of eight MLB teams that have won fewer than 48% of their games.

Source: Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images

17. Vancouver Canucks
> Stanley Cups: 0
> Playoff appearances: 27
> Last playoff appearance: 2015
> Point pct.: 48.8%

Despite having a number of quality teams and a number of current and future Hall of Famers, including Pavel Bure and the Sedin twins, Vancouver has never won a Stanley Cup. Fans may remember the team’s last best chance of winning, when Vancouver lost to Boston in the Stanley Cup finals in 2011.

The Canucks missed the playoffs in six of the last seven full seasons, including the last four in a row, although the team is currently in the play-in round in the league’s 24-team playoff format.

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Source: Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

16. Winnipeg Jets
> Stanley Cups: 0
> Playoff appearances: 4
> Last playoff appearance: 2019
> Point pct.: 49.6%

After losing the first iteration of the Jets, which went to Phoenix in 1996, Winnipeg got a team named the Jets back in 2011, when the Thrashers left Atlanta. Unfortunately for Jets fans, the Thrashers were one of the worst franchises in the NHL, making the playoffs only once in 11 seasons. Things are looking up for Winnipeg, though, as the Jets have made the playoffs in each of their last three seasons, most recently losing the play-in round to the Calgary Flames.

Source: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

15. Memphis Grizzlies
> Championships: 0
> Playoff appearances: 10
> Last playoff appearance: 2017
> Win-loss pct.: 41.4%

Before moving to Memphis after the 2000-01 season, the Vancouver Grizzlies were an abysmal expansion franchise. They never won more than 23 games in a season and never finished higher than sixth in their division. The Grizzlies have had some winning seasons since moving to Memphis, but they almost always lost in the first round of playoffs. The team has failed to make the playoffs the last two years.

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Source: Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

14. Arizona Cardinals
> Super Bowls: 0
> Playoff appearances: 10
> Last playoff appearance: 2016
> Win-loss pct.: 42.3%

The Arizona Cardinals may not jump to mind when thinking of the most downtrodden NFL franchises, but they’ve been difficult to cheer for in many ways. Initially from Chicago, the Cardinals moved to St. Louis after the 1959 season, then left for Arizona 29 years later. The Cardinals have struggled on the field, only making the playoffs eight times in the Super Bowl era, the fewest times of any team that has been around that long. They have failed to make the playoffs the last four seasons. The best season the Cardinals had ever had led to a heartbreaking last-minute loss in the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009.

Source: Harry How / Getty Images

13. Los Angeles Clippers
> Championships: 0
> Playoff appearances: 15
> Last playoff appearance: 2019
> Win-loss pct.: 41.0%

The Los Angeles Clippers were originally known as the Buffalo Braves before becoming the San Diego Clippers. They later moved to Los Angeles and have never been able to achieve the success or notoriety of their crosstown rivals, the Lakers. The Clippers were the laughing stock of the NBA for years, but they have made the playoffs more frequently in recent years. After acquiring Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, they currently are one of the best teams in the western conference.

Source: Stacy Revere / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

12. Charlotte Hornets
> Championships: 0
> Playoff appearances: 10
> Last playoff appearance: 2016
> Win-loss pct.: 43.8%

In the 30 years the Hornets have been in the National Basketball Association, they have made the playoffs 10 times but have never advanced beyond the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Hornets, paced by high-scoring forward Glen Rice, had their best regular-season record in 1996-97, winning 54 games.

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Source: Kevin Hoffman / Getty Images

11. Buffalo Sabres
> Stanley Cups: 0
> Playoff appearances: 29
> Last playoff appearance: 2011
> Point pct.: 53.3%

Buffalo Sabres fans have likely been some of the most miserable in the league in recent years. After a number of successful seasons in the ’90s and 2000s, including winning the President’s Trophy in 2007 with the league’s best record, the Sabres have missed the postseason in nine straight years.

Source: Quinn Harris / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

10. Chicago White Sox
> World Series: 3
> Playoff appearances: 9
> Last playoff appearance: 2008
> Win-loss pct.: 50.2%

The Chicago White Sox, a team that has been playing since 1901, has made it to the postseason just nine times. The team has not made it into the playoffs since 2008. The Sox had one of the longest championship droughts in American sports history, not winning a World Series between 1917 and 2005. Despite the postseason struggles, the White Sox have a winning percentage of greater than 50%.

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Source: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

9. Minnesota Timberwolves
> Championships: 0
> Playoff appearances: 9
> Last playoff appearance: 2018
> Win-loss pct.: 39.6%

The Minnesota Timberwolves are the epitome of a boom or bust franchise. The team missed the playoffs in its first seven seasons. After drafting Kevin Garnett, the T-wolves made the playoffs eight straight years but were bounced in the first round seven times. Since then, Minnesota had a 13-year playoff drought before snapping it in the 2017-2018 season, led by All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns. In the 2018-2019 season, the T-wolves reverted to form and failed to make the playoffs. This season, the team is one of the worst in the league, going 19-45 before the season was shut down.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/daverose215/

8. Philadelphia Phillies
> World Series: 2
> Playoff appearances: 14
> Last playoff appearance: 2011
> Win-loss pct.: 47.2%

Throughout their history, the Philadelphia Phillies have lost over 11,000 games — more than any other franchise in American professional sports. Despite playing since the 1880s, the Phillies have won the World Series just twice, in 1980 and 2006. Philadelphia is one of just seven MLB teams that have won less than 47.5% of their games, and they have only made it to the postseason about once a decade. The team has not made the postseason since losing the NLDS to St. Louis in 2011.

Source: Joe Robbins / Getty Images

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> Super Bowls: 1
> Playoff appearances: 10
> Last playoff appearance: 2008
> Win-loss pct.: 38.7%

Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their only Super Bowl in 2003, and they have not made the playoffs since 2007, when they lost the wild card game. The Bucs were hoping that quarterback Jameis Winston, drafted out of Florida State University, would return Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl. That did not work out as Winston has only led the Bucs to one winning season before signing with New Orleans. Now, with Super Bowl champions Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski on the team, Bucs fans have a reason to be excited.

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Source: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

6. Florida Panthers
> Stanley Cups: 0
> Playoff appearances: 5
> Last playoff appearance: 2016
> Point pct.: 49.9%

The Florida Panthers have made the playoffs just five times in the 24 years of the franchise’s existence. In the Panthers’ third season in 1995-96, the team made the Stanley Cup Finals but lost. Since then, they’ve never made it past the first round. They made it into the league’s unusual 24-team playoff format as a result of a COVID-19-shortened season in 2020, but they were eliminated in the play-in round by the Islanders in four games.

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

5. Sacramento Kings
> Championships: 1
> Playoff appearances: 29
> Last playoff appearance: 2006
> Win-loss pct.: 45.6%

No team in basketball has disappointed fans as much as the Sacramento Kings. Once a proud franchise that won a championship in 1951 as the Rochester Royals, the Kings have rarely made it to the playoffs since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. The Royals moved to Cincinnati, then Kansas City, before settling in California as the Kings in 1985.

The Kings made the playoffs eight straight times starting in 1999, but they never got to the NBA Finals. Since that run, the Kings have missed the playoffs for 13 straight years. It can be tough to stay engaged with a team that struggles so much.

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Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

4. Arizona Coyotes
> Stanley Cups: 0
> Playoff appearances: 19
> Last playoff appearance: 2012
> Point pct.: 47.9%

Arizona isn’t known for its cold weather nor for its hockey, so it may not be surprising that the Coyotes are a struggling NHL team. The Coyotes have never won a Stanley Cup or even appeared in the finals. Most of the Coyotes’ playoff appearances actually came when the franchise was known as the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets left Canada in 1996. Prior to this year, Arizona had not made the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2011-12 season. However, thanks to the expansion of teams eligible for the playoffs due to the coronavirus-shortened seasons, the 11th-in-the-West Coyotes, featuring recently acquired star Taylor Hall, made it into the play-in round.

Source: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

3. San Diego Padres
> World Series: 0
> Playoff appearances: 5
> Last playoff appearance: 2006
> Win-loss pct.: 46.1%

No team in Major League Baseball loses more frequently than the San Diego Padres. The team’s all-time winning percentage of .461 is the lowest of any franchise. The Padres only have been making the playoffs about once a decade on average. Led by Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, San Diego managed to get to two World Series, but the team played poorly in both. The Padres lost in five games in the 1984 World Series and were swept in the 1998 Fall Classic.

Source: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

2. Miami Marlins
> World Series: 2
> Playoff appearances: 2
> Last playoff appearance: 2003
> Win-loss pct.: 46.3%

The Marlins ownership apparently cannot stand prosperity. The team has won the World Series twice — the first time in 1997, just four years after the franchise came into existence. However, then-owner Wayne Huizenga sold or traded many of the players who delivered the first World Series title. In 2003, the Marlins won the championship again, but failing to reach a deal with the city for a new stadium, then-owner Jeffrey Loria also sold off players after 2005 to cut payroll.

New ownership led by former Yankee Derek Jeter has continued the tradition of trading star players such as former National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton.

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Source: Masterpress / Getty Images

1. Seattle Mariners
> World Series: 0
> Playoff appearances: 4
> Last playoff appearance: 2001
> Win-loss pct.: 47.0%

Despite having players such as Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Ichiro Suzuki in their primes, the Seattle Mariners have made the MLB playoffs just four times. Those four appearances came in a stretch of seven years and ended the year the team won 116 games — the most in any one season in baseball history. Still, the team lost in the American League Championship Series. They have not returned to the postseason in nearly two decades.

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