The Braves, amazingly, have done it. They’ve won the World Series. There really is nothing like your team winning a World Series. This is what you wait for. It is earth-shaking and brain-rattling when your team wins it all.
When you wait 26 years, like the Atlanta faithful had, it’s transcendent. The Braves had one of the most tortured fan bases in baseball. They’ve now alleviated that pain: They’ve made it all worthwhile.
Let’s look at seven franchises whose fans have to be thinking it is their turn soon.
To set the parameters for this exercise, we’re going to focus on teams that have gone a long time (or at least a long time as far as the fans are concerned) without winning a title and have made the postseason recently or are on the verge of doing so. Teams like the Orioles, or the Mariners, or the Pirates, or even the Tigers — their fans are desperate for a title, as well, but … well, let’s get them to the playoffs first, OK?
Here are your “suffering” seven:
The Brewers have been so close the past few years to reaching their first World Series since 1982, back when they were in the American League. It looked like it was going to happen in 2018, when they fell one game short against the Dodgers, and they seemed set up for a run this year before running into the Braves buzz saw. The pitching is becoming consistent enough to feel like a given moving forward, but it’s a little alarming that outfielder Christian Yelich, the superstar they were building around, is looking incredibly mortal these days.
The Brewers have never won a World Series despite a smart front office and several opportunities this past decade or so. The National League Central isn’t that imposing, particularly with the Cubs (and maybe the Reds) taking a step backward, but the Brewers’ farm system isn’t all that stacked and this will never be a wildly spending team. They best strike while the iron is hot.
After the Braves’ win, the soon-to-be-christened Guardians arguably should be at the top of the list. It has famously been 73 years since they won a World Series, and you might remember them coming awfully close in 2016. (Never forget Rajai Davis!) Unfortunately, they haven’t won a playoff series since then, and it’s difficult to argue they haven’t taken a step back.
I enjoyed that documentary on the 1986 Mets as much as everybody else did, but one couldn’t help but notice how grainy all the game videos were: It has been a long time since 1986!
The Mets just had, uh, a disappointing season, but there’s still a lot of talent here, and they have fans who are as ravenous for their team as any in sports. There are teams that have gone longer without winning a World Series than the Mets, but every season seems to age Mets fans a little bit more than every other fan base. It doesn’t help when two of their fiercest division rivals have won World Series in the past three seasons … and every other team in the division has won a championship since they have.
So 2021 did not go how it was supposed to. The Padres did everything you’d want your franchise to do: They added where they needed help, they extended their superstars, they went all in. It just didn’t work out.
Those great players are still all there, though, and now they have a manager in Bob Melvin who sure feels like the perfect fit. Can he teach this team how to win? The Padres have made two World Series and lost both of them, to two historically great teams in the 1984 Tigers and the 1998 Yankees. They’ve never had a better opportunity to return than right now. And they won’t have all this talent together forever.
At a certain level, for all the fun they’ve been having in St. Pete over the past few years, however impressive they have been, you eventually have to win one of these or you’re going to turn into the A’s: regular-season darlings who fall by the wayside in the playoffs. (The A’s, with everything that seems to be happening this offseason, now don’t even make this list, despite having put their fans through considerable October pain.)
The Rays’ unique approach has brought them success, but it hasn’t brought them a title. Until it does, they’ll always feel more like a novelty than a juggernaut. Is that fair? Nope! But that’s why winning a championship means so much. Ask the Braves. Once you win one, you don’t have to listen to the naysayers any longer.
The 2021 season, obviously, did not go as planned, but it shouldn’t make you forget that this team had made the playoffs three out of the previous four seasons and will always have grand ambitions, especially in that division. The problem is that the Twins haven’t won a single freaking playoff game since 2004, which, as it turns out, makes it difficult to win a World Series.
It’s up in the air what happens next with this franchise, but it’s tough to imagine how painful it must be for their fans to watch all these other teams, like the Braves, get on hot streaks that win them a title when the Twins can’t get enough of one going to win one game. In fact, maybe we pump the brakes on this a little bit: Let’s get a postseason win first and then start talking about the World Series.
OK, fine: It’s a little ridiculous to put the Yankees on here. There are literally 20 teams who haven’t won a World Series since 2009, when the Yankees last did. But try explaining that to a Yankees fan. The Yankees just went a whole decade without reaching the World Series for the first time in more than a century, and it has been so long since they won one that the youngest player in their starting lineup when they did was Melky Cabrera.
More to the point: This is an organization that has spent a lot of money, with some serious top-shelf expectations, to be not only not reaching the World Series, but finishing behind the Rays every year. Normal people like you and me think Yankees fans complaining is absurd, like they have to be kidding. But tune into a Yankees talk radio station after a playoff loss sometime. They sure don’t sound like they’re kidding to me.