Breaking Down the 5 Worst Franchises in Professional Sports

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By: Michael Collins

When one of my editors came to me and asked me to do a piece on the five worst franchises in professional sports, my first reaction was, "Easy!! Love to spread the haterade!"  Then when I started to sit down and think about it, I realized how difficult it was going to be to remain somewhat objective on this.  Yes, a certain amount of opinion, both mine and the public at large, will enter into the equation, but so many other factors have to be taken into consideration.  

I decided the best thing to do would be to make it somewhat formulaic, and to lay down some hard criteria.  Give points for certain achievements, and take away points for certain negative items.  So here is what I came up with.

First of all, I had to decide whether we were going with a franchise through it's entire existence, or through the time they have been in their current city.  Since there is no constant as to whether a teams records travel with them to a city or not, it can complicate matters.  But I think looking at a franchise in whole is where we want to go with this.

I decided that teams who have won a world championship (or league championship in the case of the pre-merger eras in the NBA and NFL) are automatically excluded from this list.  Also, the team must be a minimum of 15 years old. Here are the teams that remain in the running: 

NFL - Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars

MLB -  San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos, Texas Rangers/Washington Senators, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers

NBA - Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, New Orleans/Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors, MinnesotaTimberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers 

NHL -  Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Vancouver Canucks

Teams have to be a minimum of 15 years old, and currently be in operation.   Teams that are owned/operated by a league are still eligible.  So here is the point system.  Every team starts with no points.

Moving from one city to another: -2 points (per move)

Filing bankruptcy and/or being taken over by the league: -2 points (per incident) 

Playing in post-season: +1 points 

Winning division championship: +2 points

Playing in world championship game/series: +3 points

League MVP's: +1 point each

League ROYs:  +1 point each

League Coach/Manager of the Year:  +1 point each

Head Coach/Manager Change: - 1 point for each change within 5 year period (not including interim coaches)

Subjectively, I've looked at stadiums, overall draft history, trade history, hall of fame players, management stability, and ability to retain or attract marquis free agents.

And here are

#5 - Seattle Seahawks (7 points): Consistently one of the average to below average teams in the NFL. Lost points for numerous head coaching changes, and for the lack of any real free agent acquisitions over the years.  Given some points for a great stadium and crowd, but offset by poor drafts and trades.  Outside of SteveLargent, there aren't a lot of big recognizable names that played for any great length of time with Seattle.  TheSeahawks also seemed to have become a haven for older players near the end of their careers at times.

#4 - Minnesota Timberwolves (3 points):  A team that has never really had an identity, outside of being ousted in the first round of the playoffs for seven straight seasons during the Kevin Garnett era.  Since KG's departure, Minnesota has yet to return to the post-season, and hasn't even managed a winning season.  Attendance is among the lowest in the NBA, and the Ricky Rubio fiasco hasn't helped the image of this beleaguered franchise. 

#3 - Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos (2 points):  This franchise has seemingly hobbled along from the very start.  Only one division title in 43 years of operation, and having the messy move from Montreal to Washington, where they spent time being owned by MLB.  Felipe Alouwas the franchises longest tenured manager - 10 years - but outside of Alou, they average a new manager every two to three seasons.  A veritable all-decade team departed from this club while they were in Montreal. 

#2 - Memphis/Vancouver Grizzlies (1 point):  17 Seasons, no division titles, and only four playoff appearances.  A move from Vancouver to Memphis, and trading Pau Gasol both cost the Grizzlies some points. They get a little boost in points for the last two seasons, but still not enough to make up for all of the past futility.  Ten head coaches in 17 years doesn't help either.   Despite many years of poor showings, they still have good attendance, so that gives them a little point boost.  Overall, still a sad franchise.

#1 - Los Angeles/San Diego Clippers/Buffalo Braves (-12 points):  It doesn't get much worse than this.  Founded in 1970 the Clippers have moved two times, and have (are you ready for this?) ZERO titles of any kind...not division, not conference, not league.  In their 43 years of operation, the Clippers have had 19 different head coaches (including three in one season during the 1976-77 season) and have only reached the post-season eight times.  The all-time win/loss record for the franchise is 1207-2123 (.362) and the post-season record is 20-27.  They have only ever won two playoff series (1976, 2006).  Even having five rookie of the year winners, and one MVP winner, the Clippers still couldn't even come close to breaking into positive points on our scale.  Truly, the Clippers are a model of modern inefficiency and futility.

Three things jump out at me about this list.  First, you have two teams that originated in Canada, and are non-hockey teams.  Second, three teams are in the NBA.  Perhaps it's time for a little contraction in a league that yelled so fervently about being in the red during this past off-season's lockout.  Third, no NHL teams were even close to being on this list.  

Honorable Mentions:  San Diego Padres (10 points), Jacksonville Jaguars (9 points), Milwaukee Brewers (9 points),  New Orleans/Charlotte Hornets (9 points), Colorado Rockies (9 points), Toronto Raptors (8 points)

Michael Collins is a contributor to, and is currently the featured columnist covering the Atlanta Falcons on  You can follow Michael on Twitter @GaSportsCraze and visit his website at

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