7 of the Most Depressing Streaks of Futility in Sports

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For the first time in 20 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates will finish with more wins than losses! The last time that happened, “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men stood atop the Billboard charts, Silence of the Lambs had won the Oscar for Best Picture, and Barry Bonds still looked like this.

Here are some of the worst season-by-season losing streaks in the wide wide world of sports.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (16 straight)

The baseball gods have not been kind to Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 38 percent of their games from 1918 to 1931. In 1932, they eked out just enough Ws to call it a winning season, promptly starting another marathon losing streak the next year. It lasted 16 years. If it weren’t for the 1932 club, the Phillies would have set a dismal record of 31 straight losing seasons. Ouch.

2. Vancouver Canucks (15 straight)

The Canucks failed to breach the .500 mark from 1976 to 1991. But that didn’t keep them from making a run at Lord Stanley’s cup. In 1982, despite finishing three games below, the Canucks still slipped into the playoffs and made it into the Stanley Cup Finals. The magic died there—the Islanders swept them away.

3. Sacramento Kings (15 straight)

Back in the day, the Kings were Kansas City’s basketball team. That’s where their paltry 15-year-long losing streak began. Two years into that slump, the Kings picked up their things and moved to California. They wouldn’t finish as winners until 1999—a year shortened by a lockout.  

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14 straight)

Most expansion football teams don’t start out as victors, but the Bucs outdid themselves. Despite a terrible inaugural 1976 season—where they finished 0-14—Tampa actually managed a few winning seasons. But it didn’t last. From 1983 to 1996, they failed to break .500, solidifying their beloved nickname as the “Yucks.”

5. Ottawa Rough Riders (17 straight at or below .500)

Founded in 1876, the professional Canadian Football team was one of the oldest and proudest sports organizations this side of the Atlantic. Then the '80s happened. For 17 straight years, the Riders finished at .500 or below, forcing them to fold in 1996.

6. Prairie View A&M Panthers Football (31 straight)

The Division I-AA school piled on 31 consecutive losing seasons from 1976 to 2006. Panthers’ fans would especially love to forget the '90s, when the team lost 80 straight games. Lately, though, things have been looking up. In 2009, Prairie View won the SWAC championship.

7. Oregon State Beavers Football (28 straight)

From 1971 to 1998, the Beavers could not rack up more than five wins per year, managing the worst season-by-season losing streak in Division I-A football. But they’ve turned it around since, making 10 bowl appearances.

Do you support a lovable loser? Share your favorite stories of woe below!

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September 4, 2013 - 5:00pm
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