Pittsburghers lost a 52-year punchline last week when Cleveland won its first world championship since the LBJ administration. The Cleveland Cavaliers finally gave their city the unfamiliar feeling of civic pride when they came back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals to overtake Golden State.
I’m sure it took them awhile to figure out what to do next. Nobody had contacted Cleveland’s Victory Parade Planning Committee since December 1964. Crapping on Cleveland always made us feel a little bit better about ourselves. It was fun while it lasted, Cleveland, but now we need new teams to belittle.
It shouldn’t be hard to find one. There are plenty of two-horse towns in this country filled with losers. Buffalo springs to mind immediately. The Bills won an AFL title in 1965; since then, there’s been nothing to celebrate. They lost four Super Bowls and came close to a Stanley Cup once, heartbreakingly close actually. But those beef-on-weck-eating, O.J- Simpson-jersey-wearing fans know nothing but defeat.
Then there’s Cincinnati. Not only have the Bengals never won a Super Bowl, they haven’t won a playoff game in more than 25 years. The Reds’ victory parade in 1990 was the last time the Queen City was on top. Milwaukee has churned out losers for more than 40 straight years. The Bucks won an NBA title in the early 1970s; the Brewers have never won anything, and last appeared in a World Series in 1982. San Diego won an AFL Championship in the early 1960s, when the entire team was on steroids, according to an ESPN report labeling that squad the first “steroid team.” It was the initial proof that, yes, steroids do make you better.
The new home of Loserville, USA, has to be a city with more than two teams who together are a collective failure. That’s why I think the clear winner is Washington, D.C.
The 1991 NFL season was the last time a team from Washington won anything, when its football team took its turn beating the Bills in a Super Bowl. Since then, Washington has been a complete disaster. It’s been a sea of bad drafts, bad public-relations gaffes and really bad free-agent signings. It doesn’t help that the teams are horrible at picking coaches. On the baseball side, Washington actually imported a bunch of losers. In 2005, the club lured the Montreal Expos to the city after that team went 36 years with just one playoff series. The Nationals are keeping that tradition alive by going to the playoffs, but choking when it matters. Overall, Washington’s teams have 47 years of history with nothing to show for it. The Washington Wizards, formerly known as the Bullets, are such a terrible organization that even Michael Jordan couldn’t help them.
Washington is also a good choice because Pittsburgh has contributed mightily to its futility. The Stanley Cup Champion Penguins have knocked the underachieving Capitals out of the playoffs seven times. The Capitals had the best record in hockey this year, but once again got home in time to watch other teams play for a trophy. A quarter-century of nothing but losers is D.C.’s contribution to the sports world. Throw in Congress, which has an approval rating of 7 percent, and it all comes together nicely. By the way, the Wizards wish they had a 7 percent approval rating.
Coming in a close second is Atlanta. Atlanta has one world championship since 1995 and none before that. It also has the indignity of losing a hockey team to Canada — twice. The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl. The NBA’s Hawks are one of those teams that nobody would notice if they just suddenly ceased to exist. And, the Braves won a World Series only because they played against Cleveland.
We’ll miss making fun of you, Cleveland. We had a good 52-year run, but nothing lasts forever. It’s a loss for us that we don’t have you to kick around anymore. Don’t get too excited; you’re still losers: The Browns have never been to a Super Bowl and the Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. But while you’re still 67 percent loser, we’ll give you a pass for awhile.