Atlanta sports: So lousy we can’t even top the misery index

"Our one team is better than all four of yours!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

"Oh, yeah? Well, our one team is better than all four of yours!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

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.

  1. Seattle
  2. Atlanta
  3. Phoenix
  4. Buffalo
  5. San Diego
  6. Houston
  7. Kansas City
  8. Cleveland
  9. Denver
  10. Cincinnati

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

234 comments Add your comment

Doug

February 28th, 2011
2:37 pm

Billy Ray Valentine....Capricorn

February 28th, 2011
2:37 pm

What do we have over the rest of these places (with the potential exception of San Diego and Phoenix)? Great weather, pretty girls, and enough sense not to throw away our money following lousy teams. We’re not miserable, we’re indifferent, and that makes us stronger. When the Falcons bow out early, we don’t cry in our beer, knowing it’s another year before our pro team makes us happy. Instead, we go outside and play golf in January, or admire the sundresses in February.

Don’t worry fellow Atlantans, in the end, we win.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
2:38 pm

Kudos, Doug.

Outside Observer

February 28th, 2011
2:38 pm

So close and yet, so many comments away

Brayne Varner

February 28th, 2011
2:41 pm

cool article. im gonna go slit my wrists.

Dr. Warren

February 28th, 2011
2:41 pm

Seems like someone from Forbe’s “borrowed” MB’s article idea. What’s the Picasso line about mediocre artists borrow while great artists steal???

Buckeye

February 28th, 2011
2:41 pm

I hereby extend a warm invitation to join the Buckeye bandwagon. # 1 in NCAA basketball and likely # 1 seed in the Tourney. Consistent top 5 football program with back to back BCS wins and a National Championship that occured more recently than 1980. Come on board while the getting good. Hell, we’re even 1-9 against the SEC!

Brent

February 28th, 2011
2:44 pm

Well stated Billy Ray

Dr. Warren

February 28th, 2011
2:44 pm

Billy Ray, I was back in Atlanta in January. Seems more folks were shoveling snow than knocking golf balls. But if you take a look at that list, there are some very decent places to live. Atlanta, Denver, San Diego, and Seattle. Maybe a GA State professor can do some sort of associative study on that one.

Buckeye

February 28th, 2011
2:47 pm

Can’t we at least claim credit for The Masters? I mean, it’s here in Georgia after all.

Goldenrod

February 28th, 2011
2:48 pm

Luckily for Atlanta, Georgia Tech is far from miserable both on the football field, diamond and basketball court – well, after D-Rad FINALLY fires Paul Hewitt that is!

Gordon

February 28th, 2011
2:49 pm

It just makes it that much more special when we do win.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
2:49 pm

I’m pretty sure Forbes has been doing this a while, Dr. Warren.

Ryder

February 28th, 2011
2:49 pm

Billy Ray makes a great point. This city is nothing like Buffalo or Cleveland, in which fans have miserable weather to go with their miserable teams. To me Atlanta is a big market city and perhaps more should be expected, but I’d take this city over any others on the list. (OK, Houston is close)

If there’s one thing I am disappointed in, it’s that both the Atlanta Hawks and Braves had the Turner media machine behind them and only one one title. Today’s Hawks are more concerned with entertaining on the cheap that actually winning titles.

Fortunately the Braves and Falcons are building something nice for the next few years.

JR

February 28th, 2011
2:49 pm

Wow, Mark! You didn’t even wait two months before another piece of trash article on the state of Atlanta sports. As I said last time, your observations along with Forbes are 100% correct. But you are just way too good of a journalist to waste your efforts in such a crappy town like Atlanta. I am concerned with your mental state having to suffer year after year here in Atlanta writing about sorry sports teams. Please, please for your own mental state, find a job in another city that can better appreciate your talents. I’m really concerned for ya’, Mark. And by the way, “Has money changed you?”

Vixzilla

February 28th, 2011
2:50 pm

Billy Ray – you are wisdom shrouded in a bowl of imbeciles. Also – College football is supreme here. If that makes us lousy fans so what.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
2:52 pm

The one thing I would say (and do, when interviewed, which I occasionally am): The thing nobody from outside grasps is that Atlanta is the best big city for college football, and I’m not just counting Tech and Georgia but Auburn and Clemson and Florida State and Tennessee and Alabama and Florida and South Carolina. That’s where a large chunk of the Atlanta sports fan’s disposable income flows.

Phoenix Falcon

February 28th, 2011
2:52 pm

why is this even a ” story “?

thank you Billy Ray, and ditto what you said for the Great City Of Phoenix.

Fish Bisch

February 28th, 2011
2:52 pm

The Hawks should have drafted Chris Paul.

Magglio DiCapprio

February 28th, 2011
2:53 pm

Braves take it all in the fall!

You heard it here…

Speaking of coming out ahead — first?

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
2:54 pm

Can we please stop talking about Chris Paul?

(Sorry. Little joke.)

Phoenix Falcon

February 28th, 2011
2:56 pm

Enter your comments here

DC

February 28th, 2011
2:58 pm

hmmm DOL joke…

elroy

February 28th, 2011
2:59 pm

AJC- worst columnist in the country. Please make a trade!

Heath

February 28th, 2011
3:00 pm

On the other hand, if we lost the Hawks and Thrashers, we would only lose two championships every year. And you yourself Mark, said that the Falcons would be in the Super Bowl within 3 years, so we have that going for us!

bruce mac

February 28th, 2011
3:00 pm

Welcome to LOSERSVILLE. What a pathetic collection of also rans, near misses and whanabes.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
3:01 pm

Oh, yeah, Heath. Like I know anything. (But thanks for remembering. And they weren’t that far away this year.)

bruce mac

February 28th, 2011
3:02 pm

We could be so lucky as to lose the Thrashers and Hawks. Good ridance to both.

cantondawg

February 28th, 2011
3:02 pm

I think that Atlanta is a great sports town. However, we’ve had more than our share of lousy professional teams. Up until the 90’s , the braves were perenially the worst team in baseball. The Hawks went 7 or 8 years in the 2000’s being lousy and the Falcons never had back to back winning seasons before 2009-2010. However, when those teams were good the fans showed great support. We’re just more inclined to support college sports more than pro sports.

Paul H

February 28th, 2011
3:03 pm

Well said Billy Ray.

Mark, it should bear mentioning that Atlanta is also in the heart of SEC Country. College football reigns supreme here. The passion is directed to college sports first, pro sports second.

Mark Bradley`s Booster

February 28th, 2011
3:04 pm

Mark: I am still your Booster but I disagree with you
and the other writer. This is why: I say just because Atlanta teams do not win championships does not mean they are lousy. Consider all the division championships the Braves won and the Falcons and Hawks recent playoff appearances. Further, look at the winning season records as opposed to losing season records. I believe the definition of lousy teams are those such as the LA Clippers, KC Royals, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, NJ Nets, etc are the truly lousy teams.

Bryan G.

February 28th, 2011
3:05 pm

Mark – I hope you’re not trying to pick another fight with the “Mayor” of Cleveland.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
3:06 pm

I wouldn’t disagree, MB’s Booster. My original post was sort of a kneejerk reaction to the Falcons getting walloped by the Packers.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
3:07 pm

I believe the Mayor of Cleveland has other fish to fry, Bryan G. (Although he did, as I remember, refer to his metropolis as “the city of champions.”)

DC

February 28th, 2011
3:09 pm

Lets add up my favorite sports teams

NFL – Falcons – Disappointing
NBA – Hawks – Disappointing
NHL – Thrashers – Disappointing!
NCAA – Auburn – BCS NC baby!
MLB – Braves – Disappointing

Soccer – Arsenal – Disappointing (for those that dont follow soccer we haven’t won any silverware in over 6 years…thats like 30 years in soccer years….Gunners!)

1 out of 6…

This sucks. Doesn’t seem to be getting any better on the home front…

gtyj2

February 28th, 2011
3:09 pm

I would rather have 1 championship in 153 seasons than be a cleveland fan. How are they below us they havent won anything ever.

Chris Paul

February 28th, 2011
3:09 pm

Sucks to suck ATL

gdawginkalamazoo

February 28th, 2011
3:11 pm

Bradley, he is probably predicting 153 season which would be reasonable. You could write this story a few years and it would then be 153 seasons. At least Atlanta has hot cheerleaders and the weather.

cantondawg

February 28th, 2011
3:13 pm

Bruce Mac,

That’s ridiculous to want to lose a sports franchise. The Thrashers game experience is great but unfortunately the ticket prices are a little too high.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
3:13 pm

But Arsenal has a chance this year, DC. Four points back of Man U., ahead of Barcelona after the first leg.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
3:14 pm

Cleveland did win the the 1964 NFL championship game. Beat favored Baltimore 27-0. Gary Collins caught three touchdown passes. I can still name the Browns’ starters.

gdawginkalamazoo

February 28th, 2011
3:15 pm

What would really be hilarious is if my Detroit Lions make it to the Super Bowl before the Falcons.

The mayor of Cleveland is still plotting against King James.

Mark Bradley

February 28th, 2011
3:17 pm

What they say about hockey is absolutely true: It’s the one sport that is disproportionately better when viewed in person.

Scooby-Doo

February 28th, 2011
3:18 pm

With all of those venereal diseases burning his crotch, all of his lost million$ from Arthur Blank and his inability to now (legally) vote or own a firearm, I bet Michael Vick’s “Misery Index” is pretty high.

Of course, the nefarious, pot-smoking Vick is usually pretty “HIGH,” regardless.

DC

February 28th, 2011
3:20 pm

We lost to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final yesterday…it was absolutely pathetic. But, I’m trying to have faith in them..

Nonetheless, I think this list is little off…we are disappointing but not #2. My father living up in NY can attest that Buffalo is pretty bad.

gdawginkalamazoo

February 28th, 2011
3:21 pm

Hey Mark, where did you get that picture of Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers yelling at each other? Cool hat Matty Ice is wearing.

STOP THE NEW OUTDOOR STADIUM!

February 28th, 2011
3:22 pm

How is Houston or Cleveland better than Atlanta? We’ve actually made it the Super Bowl and several World Series.
We simply will not waste our money on crappy teams. Why don’t owners of Atlanta teams get that?
And Please will someone step forward to stop this idiotic plan for an outdoor Falcons stadium! The idea of sitting outdoors in December watching the Falcons choking again is not appealing. Yes Football is meant to be played outdoors……….in Green Bay! But not Atlanta!

Think about it

February 28th, 2011
3:25 pm

Atlanta sees pro-type athletics consistently on the college level with all the SEC schools within a car ride or short commuter flight distance, and even on the local high school scene. Also, as others have mentioned, we have great weather and lots of local recreational opportunities available to us that we prefer over sitting in an overpriced sports venue watching overpaid crybabies playing games. You dont watch bad TV shows because you are a fan of NBC or some other network, so why watch pro sports when the product isnt good?

ATL STEVE

February 28th, 2011
3:27 pm

Billy Ray…ain’t that the truth! Life does go on despite the lack of sports championships!

YardDawg

February 28th, 2011
3:28 pm

It’s about time for some Bobby fan to come on here and rave about all those division “pennants.” You know, the ones that MLB doesn’t even bother to award . . .