Not long ago, this correspondent was moved to bemoan the forlorn fortunes of our local pro teams – 149 completed seasons, one championship. Now comes Forbes magazine to make like Smokey Robinson and second the emotion, and I do mean second it.
Forbes rates the nation’s most miserable sports cities, and Atlanta — that’s us, people! — is No. 2!
And who, you’re asking, would be ahead/behind us? Seattle would. And why? Writes Tom Van Riper:
The loss of its NBA club was just enough to nudge Seattle past Atlanta, a city with one sports title in 153 cumulative seasons, to the top of the misery list. Atlanta’s postseason misery is legendary, led by the Braves’ failure to take home a world championship in 13 of 14 playoff appearances from 1991 to 2004.
You might have noticed that Mr. Van Riper’s second sentence above contains an error. The Braves won 14 consecutive division titles over completed seasons — the 1994 season was truncated by the players’ strike — from 1991 through 2005. He also has the Atlanta Hawks reaching the Eastern Conference finals twice, when in fact they haven’t made the Eastern finals at all. (They did make the Western finals in 1969 and 1970.)
And I’m not sure how Mr. Van Riper comes up 153 pro seasons for Atlanta teams. The Braves and Falcons have each been here for 45 seasons, but we can’t count the 1994 baseball year as being completed, can we? The Hawks have logged 42 and the Thrashers 10 — we don’t count 2004-2005, lost to the NHL lockout — and the Flames were here for eight seasons. That adds up to 149 completed seasons, not 153. (I’m sensitive on this point because I, too, miscounted the first time around. We had to run a correction, and woe was I.)
The only way it adds up to 153 is if we count the aborted 1994 baseball season, throw in the NHL lockout and assume the Hawks and the Thrashers won’t win a championship in 2011. And that really would seem to fit the definition of misery: Being ruled out when there are still games to be played.
Oh, and maybe you’re asking: Where’s Cleveland? Astonishingly enough, that charming city ranks only eighth — this with no championships since 1964 — on the Forbes list.
I guess the good news is that the only way we could sink below Seattle is to lose one of our teams, and we all know that could never happen. Don’t we, Thrashers fans?
By Mark Bradley