Minnesota sports fans are fatalists by nature. We expect the worst from our teams and athletes, but we hope for the best. When there’s an opportunity to fail, we just expect that they will find a way to. There’s been enough heartbreak over the years that it’s come the norm to expect the worst-case scenario to become reality.
Last weekend pretty much sums up that theory perfectly. The Timberwolves lost twice, the Wild lost twice, the Gophers men’s basketball team lost at Michigan for their fourth straight Big Ten loss. The Vikings weren’t playing, which some would consider a victory in itself, because they didn’t win enough to make the NFL playoffs.
The Timberwolves had lost 15 straight heading into Tuesday night, the Wild has lost 11 of its last 13 games. Since the start of 2015, Minnesota’s major sports are a combined 2-18. The Gophers men’s hockey team, ranked No. 1 to start the season, is all but out of the polls this week.
But feel better fans, these numbers are nothing in comparison to some of the worst streaks in sports history.
Cubs’ World Series Drought
The Chicago Cubs are the metaphorical punching bag of Major League Baseball. They haven’t won a World Series since 1908, more than 100 years, and never really been close other than the Steve Bartman controversy. The Cubs’ title drought is the worst in the history of the four major sports.
Twins’ World Series Drought
Sticking with baseball, the Minnesota Twins won World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. They are the last Minnesota team other than the WNBA’s Lynx to win a world title. They six division titles in nine years under Ron Gardenhire and reached the American League Championship series once, but haven’t gotten to the Fall Classic. Paul Molitor is now in charge of a club that has lost at least 90 games in each of the last four seasons.
Gopher Football’s Rose Bowl Drought
The University of Minnesota football team appears to be on the right track, but the Gophers have been stuck in mediocrity forever. They reached their first Jan. 1 bowl game in 2015, the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, since the 1962 Rose Bowl. They are coming off their second straight 8-5 season. After years of being average, coach Jerry Kill seems to have the program heading in the right direction.
Chris Dudley Misses 13 Straight Free Throws, 17 of 18
There’s a reason free throws should be easy to make: They’re free, uncontested shots. But if you start missing, then it’s all mental. Chris Dudley with the L.A. Clippers found that out the hard way in 1990. He missed 13 straight free throws and 17 of 18. That’s the worst of any NBA player ever with at least 1,200 tries.
Winnipeg Jets’ 25-Game Winless Streak
1980 was a rough season for the Winnipeg Jets. It makes the Wild’s current skid of 12 losses in 14 games look like the minor leagues. The Jets doubled that, going 25 straight games without a regulation victory. The skid last more than two months, involved the firing of their coach and five more losses before the streak finally ended. That season ended with a miserable 9-57-14 record.
Orioles Lose 21 Straight Games
Until 1988, the worst losing streak in baseball was 14 games. The Baltimore Orioles shattered the number that season, and it came at the worst possible time. The Orioles opened 1988 with 21 straight losses and were outscored in their first two games by a combined 15-0. Their first win didn’t come until the end of April. They finished the month 1-22 and the season 54-107.
Buccaneers Lose 26 Straight NFL Games
We all thought the Detroit Lions were horrible when they went 0-16, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have them beat, by a lot. The Buccaneers’ franchise started in 1976 with an 0-16 season. They didn’t get their first win until Week 13 of the following season. That marks 26 straight losses. They also didn’t score their first touchdown until Week 4 of of the 1976 season.
Pittsburgh Pirates Suffer Through 17 Straight Losing Seasons
If Twins fans thought they had it rough with four straight 90-plus loss seasons, we’ve got nothing on the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ve been a competitive team the last few years, but were horrible until the 2010 season. The organization suffered through 17 straight losing seasons, and the closest they game to a winning record in that time was in 1997, when they went 79-83. In 2009, they had the lowest team payroll at just more than $25 million.
California Institute Of Technology’s 207 Straight Losses
It’s really hard to lose a ton of games in a row. At some point, you have to catch some luck, get a good bounce and win a game. For one college basketball team, it didn’t happen for more than 10 years. The California Institute of Technology lost 207 straight games from 1996 to 2007. It’s a Division III school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships. The skid ended on Jan. 13, 2007, with an 81-52 win over Bard College.
Minnesota Vikings 0-4 In Super Bowls
Vikings fans have experienced plenty of postseason pain. There was the 1999 NFC title game loss to the Atlanta Falcons and Brett Favre throwing across his body for an interception against New Orleans. The Super Bowl started in 1967, and Minnesota fans know the local team’s record. The Vikings are 0-4 with losses to Kansas City (1970), Miami (1973), Pittsburgh (1974) and Oakland (1977). The Vikings are one of 13 teams in the NFL to have never won a Super Bowl in its 47 years, but at least they’ve been there. The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars have never been to the biggest game in sports.
So, take a breath Minnesota sports fans. Yes, we’re in a rut where almost all of our teams are struggling. But it could be worse. A lot worse.