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How long must I wait?

Since I’m not feeling like writing much about politics today, I thought I’d take a look at the question of how long baseball teams have waited to win their first pennant and World Series, and how long it’s been since their last one. We all know that the Astros won their first pennant in 43 years of existence this year, while the White Sox ended a 46-year pennant drought and an 88-year titleless streak. So who else has had it so bad?

Using the Baseball Reference leagues page as my guide, I put together two lists, one which sorts teams by length of time before their first pennant, and the other which sorts them by lenght of time since their last pennant. Anyone who watched the National League Championship Series saw the oft-displayed graphic which stated that the Rangers (44 years and counting) have gone the longest among the expansion teams without a league title, followed by the Astros (43 years before the first one), Expos (36 and counting) and Mariners (28). The Angels came on board in 1961 and won their first crown in 2002. Of the original 16 franchises, the Saint Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles had the longest dry spell; they won their first pennant in 1944, 43 years after they were founded and 41 years after World Series play began.

That’s nothing compared to World Series frustration. The Philadelphia Phillies are the reigning champions of championshiplessness. They didn’t win a World Series until 1980, 77 years after the first one was played. It’s even worse when you look at the overall history, as Rob Neyer did during the 2002 season.

Since 1901, there have been exactly 200 league championships available; 100 for the National League, 100 for the American League. The Phillies have won five National League pennants since 1901; every other “original” eight National League team was won at least nine pennants. Over that same span, no circa 1901 American League franchise has won fewer than five pennants (thanks to the Yankees, who can fly 38 flags, the Indians and White Sox are still stuck on five).

The Phillies have won exactly one World Series; each of the circa 1901 major-league franchises can claim at least two World Series (yes, even the Indians and White Sox).

From 1916 through 1979, the Phillies won exactly zero World Series games; each of their peer franchises won at least eight World Series games during those 64 years.

See, Astros fans? It could be worse. Joining the Phillies in their start-of-life futility are the Browns/Orioles, who took 63 years to win the Series, and the Dodgers, who needed 52.

Of course, the mother of all streaks, wihout peer now that the two Soxes have put their demons to bed, belongs to the Cubs: 60 years since their last pennant, 97 years since their last World Series title. You could come up with some pretty evil marketing slogans for the 2008 Cubbies if present trends continue. Of the 25 other franchises which have won a pennant, every single one of them has claimed at least one since 1979. There are still two teams who can moan about longstanding Series frustrations, the Indians (last title in 1948) and the Giants (1954), plus eight expansion-era clubs led by the Rangers. But nobody can hold a candle to the Cubs. Who knows, maybe 2006 will see a third consecutive curse-busting postseason. Stranger things have happened.

See beneath the fold for the complete lists.

Team Debut Pennant Wait Title Wait =============================================== Pirates 1903 1903 0 1909 6 Red Sox 1903 1903 0 1903 0 Giants 1903 1904 1 1905 2 Athletics 1903 1905 2 1910 7 Cubs 1903 1906 3 1907 4 White Sox 1903 1906 3 1906 3 Diamondbacks 1998 2001 3 2001 3 Tigers 1903 1907 4 1935 32 Marlins 1993 1997 4 1997 4 Mets 1962 1969 7 1969 7 Devil Rays 1998 Never 7+ Never 7+ Braves 1903 1914 11 1914 11 Royals 1969 1980 11 1985 16 Phillies 1903 1915 12 1980 77 Rockies 1993 Never 12+ Never 12+ Dodgers 1903 1916 13 1955 52 Brewers 1969 1982 13 Never 36+ Blue Jays 1977 1992 15 1992 15 Padres 1969 1984 15 Never 36+ Reds 1903 1919 16 1919 16 Indians 1903 1920 17 1920 17 Yankees 1903 1921 18 1923 20 Senators 1903 1924 21 1924 21 Cardinals 1903 1926 23 1926 23 Mariners 1977 Never 28+ Never 28+ Expos 1969 Never 36+ Never 36+ Orioles 1903 1944 41 1966 63 Angels 1961 2002 41 2002 41 Astros 1962 2005 43 Never 43+ Rangers 1961 Never 44+ Never 44+ Team Last Pennant Wait Last WS Wait ================================================ White Sox 2005 0 2005 0 Astros 2005 0 Never 43+ Red Sox 2004 1 2004 1 Cardinals 2004 1 1982 23 Marlins 2003 2 2003 2 Yankees 2003 2 2000 5 Angels 2002 3 2002 3 Giants 2002 3 1951 54 Diamondbacks 2001 4 2001 4 Mets 2000 5 1986 19 Braves 1999 6 1995 10 Padres 1998 7 Never 36+ Indians 1997 8 1948 57 Blue Jays 1993 12 1993 12 Phillies 1993 12 1980 25 Twins 1991 14 1991 14 Reds 1990 15 1990 15 Athletics 1990 15 1989 16 Dodgers 1988 17 1988 17 Royals 1985 20 1985 20 Tigers 1984 21 1984 21 Orioles 1983 22 1983 22 Brewers 1982 23 Never 36+ Pirates 1979 26 1979 26 Cubs 1945 60 1908 97

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2 Comments

  1. y0rn0c says:

    You have no idea the ineptness of the Philadelphia Phillies. Let me just lead you to the following website: http://www.countdownto10000.com/

    They are now 121 losses away from 10,000 losses. They are the losing-ist team in the history of professional sports. Yet we continue to support them in this city, because they are OUR team.

    I was sick of hearing about the Boston Red Sox not winning a championship since 1918. If I remember correctly, the Patriots just won their third Super Bowl in a row! And what about the Celtics, they are the owners of the most NBA Championships. The Chicago White Sox hadn’t won a championship since 1917? So what? The Chicago Bulls won 6 Championships during the 90’s!

    In Philadelphia, none of our teams have won a championship since 1983. That’s 22 years of 0 championships for 4 major league teams. Thats 88 seasons of watching some other city celebrate it’s championship.

    But at least we get blamed for booing Santa Claus every year, so we’ve got that going for us…which is nice.

  2. Greg Wythe says:

    The flip side of this is noting that 7 different teams have won the WS over the past decade, 14 over the past two decades. A telling indicator of the success of free agency.

    Hope springs eternal ….