Which sports city is the saddest sports city of all? You're expecting us to say Cleveland. But it is not Cleveland. As it turns out, several Wire staffers come from very sad cities to be a sports fan; cities with the sort of sadness that makes one scoff at the fact that at least Cleveland got its precious (and still terrible) Browns to come back to them. So below, we present to you the best cases for why our hometowns are where sports franchise miracles go to die. And also, David Sims wanted to write about New York City.
New York City
Yeah, I hear you yelling from over here. The Yankees have a gazillion trophies and every time they throw money at stars and it doesn't pay off, the rest of the world celebrates! And the Giants have pulled off two improbable Super Bowl runs in the last seven years. FINE. But I don't care about teams in New Jersey (bye, NFL) and I hate the Yankees. The last time my Mets won the World Series (1986) was the year I was born, and now I root for a team that was bankrupted by Bernie Madoff and doesn't even have fan support from people who live next to its STADIUM.
My truest love is the Knicks, who have won two titles in their history, the last in 1973, and are universally regarded as having the worst owner in the league. [Ed. note: Well, now anyway.] The Knicks are the team that forged me in sports fan misery with their '94 Finals loss to the Rockets and '95 playoffs knockout by the Pacers. Yes, both the Mets and the Knicks have had their chances and blown ridiculous contract after ridiculous contract on over-the-hill superstars. But isn't it worse to have all the potential and money that comes with being a New York team and fail again and again? What's that? You want me to shut up? Oh, okay. - David Sims
What's the fourth-biggest city in the country? Phoenix? Philadelphia? After the Big Three, it gets a little muddled. Enter the self-esteem crisis that is Houston, Texas, a city with no universally recognized skyline, buildings, or attributes. Austin has its music, Dallas has its Cowboys, San Antonio has its Alamo, and Houston has no zoning.
This dearth of regard carries over most forcefully into sports, where Houston is, historically, the saddest of the sad. A football town in a football state, the Houston Oilers never once made the Super Bowl, blew the largest lead ever (in a playoff game no less), and fled town for Tennessee. Their replacements, the Houston Texans, lost 14 straight games last year. Their baseball team, the Astros (or Lastros or Disastros) made the World Series one time in five decades and were swept. In the last three seasons, the Astros became the only team in baseball's modern era to lose 100 games or more in the three consecutive years.
Houston's only championships are known best by their asterisk. Even the greatest glories that the Houston Rockets attained—Olajuwon over Ewing in 1994, Olajuwon over David Robinson on his way to besting Shaq in 1995—are obscured by one simple historical fact: Michael Jordan was off batting .202 in Birmingham when the Clutch City captured its two rings. That was 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Houston itself remains sad and unrecognizable. — Adam Chandler
The entire country of Canada
OK, let's get this out of the way quickly: Canada is not a city. It is, perhaps unbelievably, a rather large country. It does not have enough sports teams across the Big Four leagues to count in this discussion, though, so we consider Canada one solid, sad whole. A solid, sad whole that has not seen a Big Four title since 1993, when the Blue Jays won the World Series and the Montreal Canadiens became the last Canadian team to hoist the country's holy grail, the Stanley Cup. It has been nothing but gut punch after gut punch for the last 21 years. Grantland examined the most heartbreaking times Canada came to ending the Stanley Cup drought, and there are plenty. Read that if you need some schadenfreude to fill your afternoon, and then send it to your favorite Canadian friend and watch his or her face turn bright purple. (Most of my friends will read that and cry like babies. Me? I'm a Rangers fan — I've been public enemy #1 for the last two weeks and it felt great.)
But the heartbreak doesn't stop off the ice. Canada has other major sports teams, too. Or should I say "had"? Vancouver had a basketball team, the Grizzlies, who moved to Memphis in 2001 after seven short years of futility. The Montreal Expos would have been the favorites to win the 1994 World Series, with a roster of names who went on to Hall-of-Fame careers playing for other teams, if a work stoppage didn't cut the season short with the 'Spos in first place. Ten years later, the team moved to Washington, D.C. without ever winning a pennant. The two surviving non-hockey teams, the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays, haven't fared much better. The Raptors had a hero — and then they ran him out of town, and this year they got punked by Brooklyn in the playoffs. The Blue Jays haven't seen the post season since winning it all in 1993.
Some people want to move an NFL team to Toronto, which seems like a great idea on the surface. Toronto could support an NFL team, probably. The city is full of bandwagon fans anyway. But if it means more pain for my dear friend Joe and the city of Buffalo [see below], forget it. They've suffered enough. - Connor Simpson
In most ways, Jacksonville is more of an incredibly lucky place than a sad one. The city, just on that precipice of becoming a Major American Metropolis, has its own NFL team. That's really exciting! But instead of being allowed to enjoy that peacefully, Jacksonville has become a target of mockery across the country for its struggles with attendance and filling out its stadium. The Jaguars had awful attendance problems in 2009, when seven of eight home games were blacked out. Yikes. That essentially made Jacksonville synonymous with blackouts and attendance issues. "Oh hey, look it's the Jaguars' only fan!" is a common lame comeback from trash-talking fans of other teams.
In the proceeding years, though, it's become clear that this was not a problem specific to Jacksonville. Teams across the country — Tampa Bay, Miami, San Diego, Oakland — have had trouble selling out their stadiums, particularly in warm places where the majority of people grew up elsewhere rooting for another team. It's fairly obvious why: going to games sucks. Watching at home is free. There is better internet to check your fantasy teams. Beers don't cost $9.
The Jaguars haven't had any blackouts since 2009, a string of four consecutive years. Still, despite the fact that ticket problems are in every city, the Jaguars remain the butt of every attendance joke. It's unfair and rude, but it still is frustrating when another idiot ESPN talking head says to sign Tebow because he'll put fans in the seats, and Jacksonville really needs that! No. Jacksonville does not need that. Not anymore than a number of other cities and teams. And that makes me sad when people diss Jacksonville for dumb, ignorant reasons. — Eric Levenson
Let me set the scene: It's 1997, and the new owner of Connecticut's single major league team, the NHL's Hartford Whalers, is moving the hockey team to the Carolinas (where of course there's a HUGE hockey fan base, ha ha). Kevin Dineen scores the team's final goal, the Whalers become the Carolina Hurricanes, and Hartford suffers its biggest heartbreak since the team traded Ron Francis. Sad story (see: image at right), especially for a kid who grew up going to Whalers games, right? It gets worse.
Fast forward to one year later. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has agreed to move the Patriots to Hartford from the team's aging Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts. Although I'm a hockey and not a football fan, this is still pretty cool: unlike the Whalers, the Patriots actually have a chance of doing well (or even getting to the playoffs). The state's governor — whom many suspected always wanted to woo the Patriots, instead of keeping the Whalers — announced the deal in a joint press conference with Kraft. But two days before Kraft's deadline to pull out of the signed deal without penalty, the team announces that just kidding, they'll stay in Massachusetts after all, thanks to a pretty sweet counter offer worked up by the state once the fire was under their feet. What's it like to root for a team that may have used your city as a stepping stone to the deal they always wanted? Hartford knows.
There's a Guy Maddin film called My Winnipeg that is in no small part about the narrator's (and the city's) anguish after the loss of their beloved Jets. I saw it once, in an audience full of Hartford residents, and you could taste the sad empathy in the room. Except Winnipeg eventually got its Jets back. Hartford, on the other hand, is facing the possibility of even losing its minor league hockey team in the near future. But still, fitting with the heartbreaking OFFICIAL MOTTO OF THE CITY OF HARTFORD, "post nubila Phoebus" (after the clouds, the sun), fans still keep watch, hoping that maybe, just maybe, this is the season that an NHL hockey franchise will be lured back home. - Abby Ohlheiser
Buffalo is the saddest, most victimized, most put-upon and tortured sports city in America. I honestly can't believe we're having this conversation. Probably the only reason we are is because the NFL's Bills have been bottom-dwellers for so long that people have started to take their failure for granted. Back in the '90s, Buffalo's four consecutive Super Bowl losses made the city synonymous with sports futility. The true tragedy of the Buffalo sports fan, however, lies in the people who every year come back with the glimmer of hope that this is the year things all turn around. I call those people "Dad."
Buffalo is merely a two-sport town, so sometimes their futility gets lost amid cities like Cleveland and Minneapolis who have been failing in more sports. But sports failure is about quality, not quantity. And between the Bills and the NHL's Sabres, Buffalo has reaped the following: Four consecutive Super Bowl losses, one of which occurred after an agonizing missed field goal on the final play, a game so notorious it managed to inspire the plots of a Jim Carrey movieand a Vincent Gallo movie, not to mention a throwaway line in one of the most famous X-Files episodes of all time, wherein it was revealed that the Cigarette Smoking Man was responsible for the Bills' historic failures; Suffered a six-month span in 1999-2000 wherein the Bills lost a playoff game via the most improbable [Ed. Note: probably illegal] football play since the Immaculate Reception AND lost the Stanley Cup Finals via a goal that VERY CLEARLY should not have been allowed. The Bills won back-to-back AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 ... the last two years before the Super Bowl existed. The Sabres squandered the best record in the NHL in 2006/07. They've failed to deliver titles to all-time great athletes like Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, and Dominik Hasek. The most famous athlete to have ever played in Buffalo was O.J. Simpson. We're constantly victimized by weather bigotry, where talented players won't play in the cold weather. We're constantly under threat of our team leaving the comparably small and less prosperous Buffalo for apathetic nightmare towns like Toronto and Los Angeles. Jon Bon Jovi and Donald Trump want to buy the Bills AS WE SPEAK. I honestly could go on, but let's boil things back down to the basics: four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Vincent Gallo. O.J. Simpson. — Joe Reid
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
The Trump Foundation mostly takes in other people’s money, but it appears it doesn’t have legal permission to solicit donations.
The problem with telling people to follow the money is they just might take you up on it. Donald Trump’s campaign has adopted that mantra in reference to the Clinton Foundation, but it applies to him in uncomfortable ways, too.
First, there’s the fact that he won’t release his tax returns, making it hard to follow the money and raising questions about what might be hidden there. Second, there are his forays into Cuba, apparently in violation of the embargo. Third, there’s the latest scoop from The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who finds that the Donald J. Trump Foundation was operating without a required license.
As Fahrenthold previously reported, the Trump Foundation is peculiar: Unlike many other similar charities, it’s stocked with other people’s money. Trump himself has given barely any money to it since the mid-2000s, although he did direct income from places like Comedy Central to the charity, possibly without paying taxes on it. Instead, he has raised money from other donors, which he has used to, among other things, settle legal cases against him, all while basking in the glow of his apparent charity.
An etiquette update: Brevity is the highest virtue.
I recently cut the amount of time I spent on email by almost half, and I think a lot of people could do the same.
I’m sure my approach has made some people hate me, because I come off curt. But if everyone thought about email in the same way, what I’m suggesting wouldn’t be rude. Here are the basic guidelines that are working for me and, so, I propose for all of the world to adopt immediately:
Best? Cheers? Thanks?
None of the above. You can write your name if it feels too naked or abrupt not to have something down there. But it shouldn’t, and it wouldn’t if it were the norm.
Don’t waste time considering if “Dear,” or “Hey” or “[name]!” is appropriate. Just get right into it. Write the recipient’s name if you must. But most people already know their names. Like they already know your name.
With the death of Shimon Peres, Israel has lost its chief optimist. And the prime minister remains paralyzed by pessimism.
The Book of Proverbs teaches us that where there is no vision, the people perish. The people of Israel, now bereft of Shimon Peres, will not perish, because survival—or, at least, muddling through—is a Jewish specialty. But the death of Israel’s greatest visionary, a man who understood that it would never be morally or spiritually sufficient for the Jews to build for themselves the perfect ghetto and then wash their hands of the often-merciless world, means that Israel has lost its chief optimist.
Peres was, for so many years, a prophet without honor in his own country, but he was someone who, late in life, came to symbolize Israel’s big-hearted, free-thinking, inventive, and democratic promise. Peres came to this role in part because he had prescience, verbal acuity, a feel for poetry, and a restless curiosity, but also because, gradually but steadily, he became surrounded by small men. One of the distressing realities of Israel today is that, in so many fields—technology, medicine, agriculture, literature, music, cinema—the country is excelling. But to Israeli politics go the mediocrities.
The Commission on Presidential Debates issued a cryptic statement acknowledging some audio issues Monday night.
After critics savaged his performance at Monday’s first presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump alighted on several culprits: Hillary Clinton, the moderator, and especially his microphone.
The claim was met with some skepticism, but on Friday afternoon, the Commission on Presidential Debates seemed to confirm his claim, at least in part. The commission, which controls the debates, released a cryptic statement that reads in full:
Statement about first debate
Sep 30, 2016
Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall.
We’ve called the commission to ask what that means, but have not heard back yet. Presumably, they are receiving dozens of such queries.
Lawmakers overrode an Obama veto for the first time on Wednesday. A day later, they already had regrets.
The enactment on Wednesday of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act should have been a triumphant moment for Republican leaders in Congress. They had succeeded, after years of trying, in overriding a presidential veto for the first time and forcing a bill into law over the strenuous objections of Barack Obama.
But the morning after brought no such celebration for HouseSpeaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell—only pangs of regret.
“It appears as if there may be some unintended ramifications,” McConnell lamented at a press conference barely 24 hours after all but one senator voted to reject the president’s veto of the legislation, which would allow victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. court. On the other side of the Capitol, Ryan said that he hoped there could be a “fix” to the very law he allowed to pass through the House—one that would protect U.S. soldiers abroad from legal retribution that the Obama administration had warned for months would follow as a result of the law.
Tim Burton’s newest film, adapted from a popular young-adult novel, is a pretty but soulless adventure.
Not long after the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was published in 2011, it starteddrawingcomparisons to Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. On the one hand, many popular young-adult books get compared to one of those series at some point. But on the other, it made a lot of sense: Miss Peregrine is at its heart a dark, Gothic-tinged story about an ordinary boy discovering an extraordinary dimension to his life, one that whisks him away to a marvelous new world populated with marvelous inhabitants.
Given all the eerie fantasy elements at work, it’s little surprise then that Tim Burton was tasked with directing the film adaptation of Ransom Riggs’s first Miss Peregrine book. The director seems completely at home telling a story about a an enchanted wartime children’s orphanage, terrifying invisible monsters, and waif-like youths with giant eyes. The result is 124 minutes worth of CGI-embellished, time-traveling adventure that’s ambitious in scope and exasperating in execution. Part of that is because of the sheer amount of magical logic and backstory there is to explain, and the film’s wildly veering tone and pace. But perhaps most lacking in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is something the best children’s movies always have—a genuine emotional center. Or, put more simply, heart.
Terry Spraitz Ciszek, a homemaker in Fayetteville, North Carolina, talks about changing perceptions of women in the traditional economy and those who choose to leave their careers to raise a family.
For many women, the decision of whether or not to go back to work after having a child remains a fraught one. After all, returning to a job after maternity leave often means facing significant workplace challenges and even a decrease in earnings. On the other hand, there is also frequently a stigma attached to women who leave the workforce temporarily to raise their children or become long-term homemakers. Oftentimes, the decision for new mothers to rejoin the workforce can be seen as a reflection of the state of the economy. The number of stay-at-home mothers fell consistently for decades—from 49 percent in 1967 to a low of 23 percent in 1999—before bouncing back to 29 percent in 2012.
The ability for one parent to stay home, for kids or otherwise, is often viewed as a luxury of upper-middle class life. But even for the households that can afford it, the financial implications can extend beyond the loss of one steady income: A hypothetical 26-year-old female worker with a salary of $44,000 a year could lose about $707,000 in lifetime income ($220,000 in income, $265,000 in lifetime wage growth, and $222,000 in retirement benefits) from taking just five years off to care for a child.
After Andrea Wulf won the Royal Society’s highest honor for her book The Invention of Nature, a writer at The Guardian attributed it to a new fondness for “female-friendly” biographies among prize juries.
Last week, the Royal Society held its ceremony to honor the best popular-science book of the year. I was there, having had the good fortune to be one of the finalists for my recent book, The Hunt for Vulcan. I didn’t expect to win—partly because of my baseline pessimism, partly because of the strength of the competition, and partly because I had set out to write a kind of miniature, a brief book on a quirky topic. Whatever the reason, I was right: I didn’t.
The event itself was good fun. Each of the authors read a passage from their work; the head judge for the prize, author Bill Bryson, led us in a brief question-and-answer session, in which we compared notes on what moved us to write about science. Then came the moment of truth. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the president of the Royal Society, approached the podium, opened the envelope, and announced that Andrea Wulf had won for The Invention of Nature.
Despite an array of calculating tools, comparing financial-aid packages is still an incredibly dense and circular process.
As almost any parent of a high-school senior knows, figuring out the true college price tag is confusing. While the full annual sticker price can be as much as $60,000 or $70,000 at a private college and more than $55,000 at an out-of-state public college, experts say that many students will end up paying considerably less. Sizable merit and need-based aid packages take the sting out of those big numbers.
Students, however, typically have to wait until the spring, when their acceptance letters arrive, to learn the amount of those awards, making it difficult for families to effectively plan a long-term budget and posing significant obstacles for first-generation students who may not be aware of all the financial options.