Is Toronto the most cursed sports city in North America?

It’s been a long time since Toronto won anything in sports. Four years ago we declared Toronto to be the “Armpit of Professional Sports.” Earlier this year, Toronto ranked second on a list of the most miserable sports cities in North America.

This week, the New York Times ranked the 13 most-cursed sports cities in the  U.S. Leading the way, as always, was Cleveland. Atlanta, somewhat surprisingly, ranked second. Buffalo came in third.

Some people wondered, well, where would Toronto fit on this list? It’s hard to tell, really. The ranking takes into account the past 50 years of sports, so there’s a distinct advantage to cities like Cleveland and Atlanta, who’ve hosted their teams for a longer collective period than Toronto. But considering the relative newness of some of Toronto’s franchises, the city performed remarkable well by comparison on the failure list.

The ranking took into account three main criteria: total seasons since a team won a championship, percentage of seasons in the last 50 years that ended in a championship, and close calls (number of times a team was in the final four, but lost).

Based on that criteria, Toronto looks to come in a good, solid third. It’s not as dire as Cleveland, where nobody has ever won anything; and while we like to think of the Atlanta Braves as a perennial division champion in the 1990’s, the fact is they only won one title, and the city’s basketball, hockey and football teams have been perennially mediocre, if not awful.

As usual, Toronto’s true terribleness is somewhat muted by the Blue Jays’ two World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. In total, 58 official seasons have passed between the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors since the Blue Jays’ last championship, with only four conference final appearances by the Maple Leafs offering any promise of winning anything ever again. The only other team in Toronto’s recent sports history to get that far was the 1985 Blue Jays.

Buffalo, which placed third on the New York Times list, may not have any real championships (they won an American Football League title in 1965), but thanks to the Buffalo Bills’ four straight Super Bowl appearances, as well as the Sabres’ frustrating Stanley Cup final loss to Dallas in 1999, they boast a better record of “almost there”, and Buffalo only has two major league teams, so its fans don’t have to suffer through as much frustration on an annual basis.

If it’s frustrating to imagine that Toronto can’t even win at being cursed, take solace: if the Cleveland Cavaliers win the 2015 NBA Finals, there’s a good chance Toronto will move up at least one spot on the list. There's always next year!

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