10 Longest Current World Series Championship Droughts

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The 2015 MLB postseason featured many teams with an unhappy bond; six of the 10 playoff teams had not won a World Series since at least the mid-1980s. The Royals, of course, ended their 30-year streak of futility by beating New York in the Fall Classic, leaving the Mets without a championship since 1986. Yet many baseball teams have gone far longer without a title, most notably the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908, when Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House. In the past decade or so, the Red Sox, White Sox and Giants all snapped lengthy droughts; will one of the following 10 teams be next?

The Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series title since 1908, but are in great shape to break that drought. © Nagel Photography

The Chicago Cubs locker room in late 2014. The Cubs have not won a World Series title since 1908, but could soon break that drought. © Nagel Photography

10. Baltimore Orioles

Seasons Since Last Championship: 32
Why They Haven’t Won: Many Orioles fans blame majority owner Peter Angelos, who purchased the team in 1993, but it’s hard to stick all the blame on one person. Recall that in the past 20 years, the Orioles have usually had to contend with very strong Yankees and Red Sox teams in their own division.
Why They Might Win Soon: Legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who was fond of saying the key to winning included the three-run homer, would have loved the 2015 O’s, who thumped the third-most home runs in the AL. There’s more to the game than that, obviously, and the Orioles ranked 12th in on-base percentage in 2015 while team pitching and fielding numbers were average at best. That explains the tumble from 96 wins in 2014 to 81 last season, for a team expected by many experts to at least win their division.

 

9. Pittsburgh Pirates

Seasons Since Last Championship: 36
Why They Haven’t Won: Inept and indifferent ownership and their location in a small market turned the Pirates into a glorified farm team for 20 straight losing seasons (1993-2012) the longest streak in U.S. sports history.
Why They Might Win Soon: With a talented young outfield anchored by Andrew McCutchen and a supporting cast featuring versatile infielders Jung Ho Kang and Josh Harrison, the Pirates won 98 games in 2015. But there is a sense in baseball circles that the Bucs overachieved, given the relatively thin starting rotation after ace Gerrit Cole. But this team will be back in the hunt for a fourth-straight postseason appearance in 2016.

 

8. Seattle Mariners

Seasons Since Last Championship: 39 seasons with no championships
Why They Haven’t Won: Hard to fathom why a team that has featured superstars such as Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Johnson has never made it to the World Series, let alone won one.
Why They Might Win Soon: The Mariners have invested a fortune in long-term contracts for Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz, but the team under-achieved in 2015. Predicted by many to at least win the AL West, Seattle instead stumbled to a 76-86 mark. There is way too much talent here for that to happen, and if the Mariners make the postseason, nobody wants to face King Felix in the playoffs.

 

5 (tie). Washington Nationals

Seasons Since Last Championship: 47 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: The Montreal Expos (the forerunners of the Nationals) were widely regarded as the team to beat in 1994, the year the series was cancelled by the strike. The team always had trouble attracting stars to relocate north of the border, but that’s changed since the move to Washington.
Why They Might Win Soon: The Nats were a popular pick to win the World Series in 2015, but fell apart. With a new manager aboard, and all the returning talent (Bryce Harper, several top-line starters) in place, expectations will once again be high in 2016.

 

5 (tie). San Diego Padres

Seasons Since Last Championship: 47 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: Apologies for the cliché, but sometimes you have to be “in it to win it.” Frankly, with only five postseason appearances since beginning play in 1969, the Padres have had few opportunities to get hot and win it all.
Why They Might Win Soon: The Padres retooled their roster before the 2015 season, and had high hopes, but the team somehow backslid. They should be better in 2016, but some worry the club is built around players like Matt Kemp who whiff far too often.

 

5 (tie). Milwaukee Brewers

Seasons Since Last Championship: 47 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: Think about all the great players you remember from Brewers history — Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Ryan Braun, etc. How many pitchers did you name, not counting Rollie Fingers? We thought so.
Why They Might Win Soon: That 2011 NLCS appearance seems eons ago, in the wake of the 68-94 mark in 2015. In a division with the Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs posting the top three records in baseball in 2015, the Brewers must first strive to be one of the best teams in their division before they can be the best team in baseball.

 

4. Houston Astros

Seasons Since Last Championship: 54 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: Houston has 10 postseason appearances since beginning play in 1962, and frankly, just got beat by a better team each time; five of those teams that beat the Astros went on to win the World Series. There’s no shame in that.
Why They Might Win Soon: This is a fun team to watch, with lots of thunder in the lineup, and young stars Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa anchoring the middle infield. It would be a huge surprise if they don’t return to the postseason in 2016.

 

3. Texas Rangers

Seasons Since Last Championship: 55 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: Through the years, some wondered if the lack of a baseball tradition in the Lone Star State, where football is king from middle school through the pro ranks, created a blasé atmosphere where fans, media, players and management alike came to accept mediocrity. If that were the case for the first few decades since the old Washington Senators moved to Arlington in 1972, the mood certainly has changed in recent years.
Why They Might Win Soon: Some feel the window of opportunity is slamming shut for the Rangers, with an aging core of players and key starters Colby Lewis and Yovani Gallardo eligible for free agency this offseason. Still, GM Jon Daniels has assembled a roster that has won 88 or more games five of the last six years. He knows what he’s doing.

 

2. Cleveland Indians

Seasons Since Last Championship: 67
Why They Haven’t Won: Those mid-to-late 1990s teams were very good, but lost two World Series. Yet you have to really feel bad for those squads from 1949-1956, which played close to .600 ball year after year (111 wins in 1954!), only to be beaten out for the AL pennant seven of those eight years by the New York Yankees dynasty.
Why They Might Win Soon: Picked by many to win the AL Central in 2015, Cleveland stumbled to an 81-80 record. The club has a strong top of the rotation, led by former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, and a solid core in 2B Jason Kipnis, SS Francisco Lindor, and LF Michael Brantley. If catcher Yan Gomes and first baseman Carlos Santana bounce back after down years, the Indians could be a huge surprise in the AL in 2016.

 

1. Chicago Cubs

Seasons Since Last Championship: 107
Why They Haven’t Won: It’s impossible to sum up more than a century of futility in a couple of sentences. We will not blame a goat, a young man wearing headphones in the bleachers or a time-traveling Michael J. Fox. Looking back, it’s hard to believe those Banks/Santo/Williams teams of the 1960s never even made the postseason.
Why They Might Win Soon: The Cubs had the third-best record in baseball in 2015, and the nucleus of that team, young stars Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell, is under contract for several years to come. Many baseball insiders believe this team, in the next year or two, will bring home a championship for the Cubs’ faithful.

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The author is a longtime professional journalist who has interviewed everyone from presidential contenders to hall of fame athletes to rock 'n' roll legends while covering politics, sports, and other topics for both local and national publications and websites. His latest passions are history, geography and travel. He's traveled extensively around the United States seeking out the hidden wonders of the country.