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.
In his first extended press conference at the White House, the president railed against his critics and unspooled a series of bitter complaints.
Have you ever had a job you loved, but one where you felt like you’d achieved everything you could? So you looked for a new job, went through a fairly grueling application process, if you do say so yourself, got the offer. Then you started the job, and you hated it. Worse, all the tricks you’d learned in your old job seemed to be pretty much useless in the new one. Did you ever have that experience?
The president of the United States can sympathize.
Donald Trump held the first extended press conference of his presidency on Thursday, and it was a stunning, disorienting experience. He mused about nuclear war, escalated his feud with the press, continued to dwell on the vote count in November, asked whether a black reporter was friends with the Congressional Black Caucus, and, almost as an afterthought, announced his selection for secretary of labor.
Plagues, revolutions, massive wars, collapsed states—these are what reliably reduce economic disparities.
Calls to make America great again hark back to a time when income inequality receded even as the economy boomed and the middle class expanded. Yet it is all too easy to forget just how deeply this newfound equality was rooted in the cataclysm of the world wars.
The pressures of total war became a uniquely powerful catalyst of equalizing reform, spurring unionization, extensions of voting rights, and the creation of the welfare state. During and after wartime, aggressive government intervention in the private sector and disruptions to capital holdings wiped out upper-class wealth and funneled resources to workers; even in countries that escaped physical devastation and crippling inflation, marginal tax rates surged upward. Concentrated for the most part between 1914 and 1945, this “Great Compression” (as economists call it) of inequality took several more decades to fully run its course across the developed world until the 1970s and 1980s, when it stalled and began to go into reverse.
Neither truck drivers nor bankers would put up with a system like the one that influences medical residents’ schedules.
The path to becoming a doctor is notoriously difficult. Following pre-med studies and four years of medical school, freshly minted M.D.s must spend anywhere from three to seven years (depending on their chosen specialty) training as “residents” at an established teaching hospital. Medical residencies are institutional apprenticeships—and are therefore structured to serve the dual, often dueling, aims of training the profession’s next generation and minding the hospital’s labor needs.
How to manage this tension between “education and service” is a perennial question of residency training, according to Janis Orlowski, the chief health-care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Orlowski says that the amount of menial labor residents are required to perform, known in the profession as “scut work,” has decreased "tremendously" since she was a resident in the 1980s. But she acknowledges that even "institutions that are committed to education … constantly struggle with this,” trying to stay on the right side of the boundary between training and taking advantage of residents.
By excusing Donald Trump’s behavior, some evangelical leaders enabled the internet provocateur’s ascent.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) takes place this week near Washington, D.C., the first such gathering since Donald Trump took office. The conference purports to be a gathering for like-minded folks who believe, generally, in the well-established principles of the conservative movement, as enunciated by the American Conservative Union.
This year, aside from President Trump himself, activist Milo Yiannopoulos was briefly granted a featured speaking slot, and it caused a lot of disruption, garment-rending, gnashing of teeth, and in-fighting on the right.
Yiannopoulos, who prefers to go by MILO (yes, capitalized), is a controversial figure with dubious conservative credentials, most famous for being outrageous during speeches on his college campus tour, soberly called the “Dangerous Faggot” tour. Throughout the 2016 election, Yiannopoulos seemed to enjoy nothing quite so much as the crass, antagonistic side of candidate Trump. He didn’t just celebrate it; he rode it like a wave to greater stardom.
The Italian philosopher Julius Evola is an unlikely hero for defenders of the “Judeo-Christian West.”
In the summer of 2014, years before he became the White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon gave a lecture via Skype at a conference held inside the Vatican. He spoke about the need to defend the values of the “Judeo-Christian West”—a term he used 11 times—against crony capitalism and libertarian capitalism, secularization, and Islam. He also mentioned the late Julius Evola, a far-right Italian philosopher popular with the American alt-right movement. What he did not mention is that Evola hated not only Jews, but Christianity, too.
References to Evola abounded on websites such as Breitbart News, The Daily Stormer, and AltRight.com well before The New York Timesnoted the Bannon-Evola connection earlier this month. But few have discussed the fundamental oddity of Evola serving as an intellectual inspiration for the alt-right. Yes, the thinker was a virulent anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer who influenced far-right movements in Italy from the 1950s until his death in 1974, but shouldn’t his contempt for Christianity make him an unlikely hero for those purporting to defend “Judeo-Christian” values?
Rod Dreher makes a powerful argument for communal religious life in his book, The Benedict Option. But he has not wrestled with how to live side by side with people unlike him.
Donald Trump was elected president with the help of 81 percent of white evangelical voters. Mike Pence, the champion of Indiana’s controversial 2015 religious-freedom law, is his deputy. Neil Gorsuch, a judge deeply sympathetic to religious litigants, will likely be appointed to the Supreme Court. And Republicans hold both chambers of Congress and statehouses across the country. Right now, conservative Christians enjoy more influence on American politics than they have in decades.
And yet, Rod Dreher is terrified.
“Don’t be fooled,” he tells fellow Christians in his new book, The Benedict Option. “The upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable.”
It’s a great physics thought experiment—and an awful accident in 1978.
What would happen if you stuck your body inside a particle accelerator? The scenario seems like the start of a bad Marvel comic, but it happens to shed light on our intuitions about radiation, the vulnerability of the human body, and the very nature of matter. Particle accelerators allow physicists to study subatomic particles by speeding them up in powerful magnetic fields and then tracing the interactions that result from collisions. By delving into the mysteries of the universe, colliders have entered the zeitgeist and tapped the wonders and fears of our age.
Designers use “benevolent deception” to trick users into trusting the system.
In a fit of productivity, I did my taxes early this year. They were a bit more complex than usual, so I set aside some time to click through TurboTax and make sure I got everything right. Throughout the process, the online tax-preparation program repeatedly reassured me that it had helped me identify every possible tax deduction I qualify for, and made sure I didn’t make any mistakes. Attractively animated progress bars filled up while I waited for TurboTax to double- and triple-check my returns.
But as I watched one particularly slick animation, which showed a virtual tax form lighting up line by line—yellow or green—I wondered if what I was seeing actually reflected the progress of a real task being tackled in the background. Did it really take that long to “look over every detail” of my returns, which is what the page said it was doing? Hadn’t TurboTax been checking my work as we went?
Trump’s attacks on the free press don’t just threaten the media—they undermine the public’s capacity to think, act, and defend democracy.
Are Donald Trump’s latest attacks on the press really that bad? Are they that out-of-the-ordinary, given the famous record of complaints nearly all his predecessors have lodged? (Even George Washington had a hostile-press problem.)
Are the bellows of protest from reporters, editors, and others of my press colleagues justified? Or just another sign that the press is nearly as thin-skinned as Trump himself, along with being even less popular?
I could prolong the buildup, but here is the case I’m going to make: Yes, they’re that bad, and worse.
I think Trump’s first month in office, capped by his “enemy of the people” announcement about the press, has been even more ominous and destructive than the Trump of the campaign trail would have prepared us for, which is of course saying something. And his “lying media” campaign matters not only in itself, which it does, but also because it is part of what is effectively an assault by Trump on the fundamentals of democratic governance.