There’s something magical about the competition that a good sports match provides. No matter what sports you like it’s always exciting to see the teams you support take the field, because the thrill of not knowing whether they’ll win or lose is what makes the experience so great. However, there’s a depressing exception: if you were a supporter of one of the following teams, you knew to expect only ineptitude.
10. 2003 Detroit Tigers
Most terrible sports teams are expansion franchises, which is understandable; it’s tough for a brand new team to compete with established squads. But the 2003 Tigers had no such excuse when they went 43-119 in 2003, becoming the second worst modern baseball team in the process. At least the Tigers have company, because as you’ll see later they’re not the only franchise to embarrass Detroit.
9. 1962 New York Mets
With the various failures of the modern Mets fresh in our minds, we sometimes forget that they were awful in the past as well. In their first season they set a modern major league record for most losses, giving up nearly 1000 runs in the process. Their manager, Casey Stengel, famously said that the team showed him “new ways to lose I never knew existed before.”
8. 1993 San Jose Sharks
One of two utterly incompetent expansion teams to join the NHL in the early 90s (the other being the very slightly less inept Ottawa Senators), the Sharks went 11-71-2 in their second year and still hold the record for the most losses in a single season. Also, they were forced to play in an arena called The Cow Palace, because with a team that bad there was no point in putting them anywhere dignified.
7. 1998 Denver Nuggets
Basketball can be a rough sport; if you don’t have a star player on your team you’re in for a long, long season. That was the case with the 1998 Nuggets, who went 11-71 and tied the record for the NBA’s longest losing streak: a pathetic 23 games. They gave up 101 points a game and only scored 89, which, if our math checks out, is a recipe for disaster. But at least they weren’t as bad as the…
6. 1973 Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers’ 1973 season was an unmitigated disaster. Their nine wins and .110 winning percentage are both modern NBA records that are unlikely to be broken anytime soon, and they also set a record for the farthest finish out of 1st place, at 59 games back. Their dismal performance earned them the nickname “The Nine and 73ers,” proving that people from Philadelphia are incapable of coming up with a joke that’s even remotely clever.
5. 1975 Washington Capitals
Another expansion franchise, the Capitals went 8-67-5 to set the record for the worst season in NHL history. Along the way, they also earned the title for most road losses (39 out of 40 games) and the longest losing streak (17 games). Their failings can be traced to the fact that they gave up an average of five and a half goals a game, which, if you’re not a hockey fan, can be best described as “a hell of a lot.”
4. 1960 Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are the most valuable franchise in North America (they’re worth about 1.65 billion dollars), but it was a long and painful journey to top spot. Their inaugural year was flat-out embarrassing; its only highlight was a tie game near the end of the season. They lost every other match, most by a large margin, to finish 0-11-1. Have we mentioned that expansion teams are hilariously awful? Because they totally are.
3. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of only two modern NFL teams to have an imperfect season, the Buccaneers would nearly go winless for two straight years, losing the first 12 games of their second season for an 0-26 start to the franchise. Yup, they’re another incompetent expansion team. To make matters worse, they had what is by far the most embarrassing logo on this list. We guess it’s supposed to be intimidating, but it just looks like he’s trying to seduce us.
2. 2008 Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions have a long and storied history of ineptitude. Most famous is their 0-16 season in 2008, but that wasn’t the first time the Lions have gone winless. They went 0-11 back in 1942, and, based on the current quality of their team, there’s little stopping them from pulling it off again in the near future. At least Detroit has the Red Wings, otherwise the sports teams alone would make people ashamed to admit they’re from Motor City.
1. 1899 Cleveland Spiders
We’re really reaching back into the history books for this one, but the story of the Cleveland Spiders is too ridiculous to not be worthy of top spot. In 1899 the team’s owners purchased a second franchise, the laughably named St. Louis Perfectos. Feeling that St. Louis was a more viable market, the owners sent all of the Spiders’ best players over to the Perfectos, meaning that Cleveland was forced to play with a short roster of weak players. The end result? A 20-134 season. They were so bad that other teams eventually refused to travel to Cleveland (they averaged just 145 fans a game), so the Spiders were forced to hit the road for the majority of their matches. That means their record of 101 road losses is impossible to break, and no matter how bad future teams are the Spiders will always be a part of baseball history for all the wrong reasons.