Black holes in sports history: Teams and eras that have sucked the life out of fans
Being a sports fan is hard
Being a sports fan is hard. In most cases, you're rooting for a team with slim odds of winning a championship, and then you do it again and again and again. If you're lucky, you'll witness a few championships.
Then you get the teams who just seem to flounder in futility year after year. True black holes for their fanbases, where light isn't even allowed to enter and yet they're constantly sucked in by their gravitational pull. Anyone who has been using the word "rebuild" since 2000 knows this feeling, as they just wish that Y2K had ended it all. To celebrate the first ever photograph of a black hole in space being captured, we're recognizing the black holes that have already touched this earth, crushing their fanbases with their inescapable gravitational pull.
New York Knicks: The Dolan Years
The New York Knicks are a proud NBA franchise. Kind of. Every year, we talk about how this might be the one where they pull out of their tailspin and become relevant in an Eastern Conference ripe for the taking. And yet, every year, they end up in the lottery. This season, they're an astoundingly terrible 17-64. And yet, hope rages on. The talk right now is how the team will sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with their two max slots, but we all know it's actually going to be Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler.
All of this comes to the soundtrack of JD & The Straight Shots, a group of legitimately talented artists who Knicks owner James Dolan is intent on completely breaking spiritually.
ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER. Dolan has owned the Knicks since 2000 -- he acquired them a year after they went to the Finals. They've made the playoffs five times in that span, winning one(!) series and constantly crushing their fans' spirits in the process. Dolan's tenure has been catastrophic. We've reached the point where he'll kick any fan who suggests he should just cut his losses and sell the team out of Madison Square Garden.
Cleveland sports before LeBron James arrived
I want to make this clear: The Cleveland Browns have a ton of potential this year, but they aren't out of the woods yet. Before 2016, the Cavaliers were an absolute trainwreck. Before LeBron James came on the scene in 2003, they had won a grand total of four playoff series, including a conference finals appearance in 1992. Pre-LeBron, the best players in team history included Mark Price, Larry Nance and Brad Daugherty. After James left the first time, Kyrie Irving helped matters but they were still a lottery team, never topping 33 wins. Now, they're 19-63 in their first season in the second post-James era.
As for the Browns, that's a whole other thing. They were, of course, 1-31 in the two years leading up to last season, and Hue Jackson was a laughingstock. They went 0-16 in 2017, and the franchise's history was, to say the least, bleak. Baltimore had stolen their team -- and early history -- and since 1998 they have just one playoff appearance. The franchise has hope, though, . They went 7-8-1 last year and now have Odell Beckham to complement quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Then there are the Indians, a team that always seems to be on the cusp of something special but just doesn't seem to be able to get over the hump. They haven't won the World Series since 1948, and they blew a 3-1 lead to the Cubs in 2016. They were featured in "Major League," the best baseball movie ever (come at me), and that seems to be getting closer and closer to reality. They're currently not committing to extending superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, a move that is baffling baseball fans.
All of this is the perfect recipe for sadness. At least right now they have the Browns and that shiny 2016 championship trophy. No city deserved a LeBron James quite like Cleveland, because they put up with a lot for a very long time.
Chicago Cubs: 1908-2016
If you want to see a magical year, look no further than 2016. In addition to the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead to show Cleveland fans that black holes eventually collapse, the Indians also helped prove that fact. The Cubs had the weirdest kind of sadness. The curse of the billy goat lasted 108 years. It raged on during the invention of bread and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. To make matters worse, there is no bleakness like bleakness with slight twinkles of hope,. Every year felt like "the Cubs' year," but something always seemed to happen.
The Cubs collapsed in 2003 and were swept by the Mets in the 2015 NLCS. That's only recent examples of their misery. Take a look back in history and black cats even make appearances in the Cubs' misery lore. But in 2016 the Cubs did it. They won the World Series against all odds, and one of the oldest curses in sports was broken.
Buffalo Bills: 1990-1994
This is the kind of sadness we might never see again. The Bills made the Super Bowl four times in a row, having amazing runs year after year, and had their hopes crushed by the NFC East time and time again. From Super Bowls 25 to 28, with Jim Kelly under center, the Bills lost to the Giants and Redskins once and to the Cowboys twice.
By the third year, it just felt like an inevitability that the Bills would make it and lose. One of the characteristics of a black hole is that nothing -- not even light -- can escape its gravitational pull. Bills fans were trapped inside of this hole for four years, stuck in with the light -- in this case the hopes of a winning a Super Bowl -- only to see it move to a different void every time. You just can't manufacture that kind of sadness. This isn't a factory of sadness-- it's a refinery of it.
Edmonton Oilers: 2006-present
Oh Edmonton. The Oilers had the best hockey player of all time in Wayne Gretzky, and they got to enjoy those years. They joined the NHL in 1979, and they're five-time Stanley Cup champs. But since 2006, the Oilers have made the playoffs one time -- in 2017 -- and they won one series before being ousted.
Why is that so sad, you ask? Because there's nothing sadder than squandering a generational talent. The Connor McDavid-era is technically too young to be called an era-- he's only been around since 2016. But the Oilers very clearly lack direction. They suffered for 10 years before McDavid, and now they have to watch him and and Leon Draisaitl accrue all of these individual accolades while the team finishes out of the playoffs with a 35-38-9 record. The only hope is that whoever is running the new regime will bring better talent in. However, Daryl Katz's tenure as owner has done little to reinforce that hope.
Having a storied dynasty fall into this state of disrepair is particularly brutal, but as long as McDavid is there the Oilers can get their fans out of the void. On the other hand, it would only make it sadder if McDavid doesn't win anything in Edmonton.
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