The common denominator for all my favorite professional sports teams is that they were losers during my childhood. The Green Bay Packers were the siberia of the NFL during the 70s and 80s until Reggie White started playing for them in 1993 and three years later won the Super Bowl. Ever since 1993 the Packers have been at or near the top of the NFL.
The Chicago Cubs were the epitome of “lovable losers” for a century. Even though the Cubs flirted with chances to make it to the World Series in 1984, 1989, and 2003 but it hasn’t been until the last five years that they have consistently been at or near the top of the league, and you know they won it all in 2016.
Like the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Red Wings were also once the dominant team in the NHL but during the 70s and 80s they were known as the “dead Wings.” The owners had to give away cars to get people to come to their games. In 1997 the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, and of my favorite teams they have won more championships in my life time, winning again in 1998, 2002, and 2008. Since the calendar turned to the 2010s the Wings have been in a rebuilding phase.
Finally, the Detroit Pistons where also perenial losers during my childhood but where the first of my faves that I witnessed winning a championship in 1989, and again in 1990 and 2004. Frankly, the championship they won in 2004 is one of the most gratifying because nobody really expected it and they upset the perenial champion Los Angeles Lakers. Like the Red Wings, the Pistons are rebuilding but apppear to be nearing returning to the tops of their league sooner than the Wings.
Over my life time I’ve seen the long road it takes to get from basement to top floor of a professional sports league. I’ve seen how it takes for a team to learn how to be a champion, particularly from the Red Wings who had huge playoff failures after being the best team in their league the entire season.
Of all my favorite teams, the Cubs have the most talent and I expect will have chances to win championships again in the foreseeable future. The MLB’s farm system enables a franchise to have more control over its future if they have the right leadership. The NHL is similar, which is why theirs and the MLB front offices have such a huge influence on their long term success, much more than in the NFL and NBA that seems to depend much more on health and luck.
I am dissappointed that the Chicago Cubs will not make the playoffs this year. I will always love the Cubbies, win or lose, but I much better like where they are now, a very good team that can disappoint than a bad team that surprises.