Is Toronto the worst losing/cursed sports city? by Phil Schlenker

By  | February 28, 2013 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Sports
Left Frank Mahovlich Right: Red Kelly

Left Frank Mahovlich
Right: Red Kelly

It has been 20 years since a World Series win, 46 years since a Stanley Cup and not even flirting with an NBA championship in the Raptors’ existence (if I am comparing North American cities it isn’t fair to use the Argos in a Canadian Football league).  Is there a sports city more cursed than Toronto?  The first inclination would be Chicago.  After all the Cubs have waited since 1908 for another World Series crown.  In the meantime there have been highly publicized moments like the Billy goat in 1945, Leon Durham having the ball go between his legs in 1984 and poor Steve Bartman innocently interfering with a catchable foul ball in 2003.  Let’s face it, if a few balls bounce the other way for the Cubs we aren’t talking about their curse anymore.  However Chicago isn’t a loser city today.  The 1985 Bears won the Super Bowl with that vaunted defense that they still talk about to this day.  The Bulls – led by Michael Jordan – won 6 NBA championships in the 1990s, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and the White Sox won the World Series in 2005 for the first time since 1917, even before the Black Sox scandal of 1919.  Chicago fans have lots to be happy about lately, or at least more than Torontonians.  For that matter don’t even bother bringing up the Boston Red Sox or the city of Boston in general.  Sure it was fun to once talk about the “Curse of the Bambino” in between 1918 to 2004 but the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, Bill Buckner and the city of Boston kissed and made up (although he was hardly the reason for the 1986 debacle in the first place) and in the last decade the city of Boston has the luxury of winning in all 4 major North American sports which makes it worse if you loathe Tom Brady.  Cased closed, no one can call Boston a cursed sports city anymore.

So I dug a bit deeper.  I am left with Minnesota, Buffalo and Cleveland.  To be fair, Buffalo only has two of the four sports represented here but the fact that they have never won anything – and the way that they lost – gives me a little comfort to know Toronto is hardly alone.  The Bills have never won a Super Bowl.  They lost 4 straight in the early 1990s highlighted by Scott Norwood’s last second “wide right” botched field goal attempt.  Then the “Music City Miracle” against Tennessee in their last postseason appearance and who can forget the Sabres and the scandalous way the 1999 NHL season ended with Dallas scoring the Stanley Cup winner while Brett Hull’s foot was in the crease (although it was a silly rule anyway at the time)?  Buffalo fans have suffered miserably.  So has the city of Cleveland.  You can chalk it up to losing Lebron James only to see him win an NBA championship almost immediately, something the city of Cleveland has never seen.  The Browns have been lousy for so long in the NFL their last championship goes back to the Jim Brown days which predate the Super Bowl.  They had an NHL team for about two minutes before it folded and the Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948.  Yes, Cleveland is a losing sports city, that’s for sure.

I’ll close with Minnesota.  They haven’t won an NBA championship since 1954 when they were the Minneapolis Lakers.  They’ve yet to win a Super Bowl and with perhaps their greatest team – the 1998 Vikings – they had to endure a missed field goal by Gary Anderson that would have all but cemented at least a Super Bowl appearance that year.  The Twins won the World Series last in 1987 and 1991 which is similar to the Blue Jays and whether it has been the Northstars in the NHL or their second crack at a franchise in the Wild they have yet to sip champagne from the Stanley Cup.

To answer the original question I would probably put Cleveland at the top of any list of cursed sports cities but it gives me a little bit of comfort knowing Toronto isn’t all alone at the………bottom, I guess you could call it with the second tier ahead of Cleveland being Toronto, Buffalo, Minnesota and I’ll throw in Houston for the heck of it.  However, while I don’t have a lot of faith in the Maple Leafs and the Raptors I can see 2013 as the beginning of some good times for the Blue Jays and all I can do is call on them to win so we can get out of this funk and actually know what it feels like to have a parade down Yonge St. again.  Batter up!


My name is Phil Schlenker author of the book "Let's Talk Hockey: 50 Wonderful Debates." I am a hockey enthusiast and apologist and love discussing the history and current state of our great game that I have treasured since I was a young boy. I live in Kitchener with my wife and son.

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