Each season begins with optimism across the 30 MLB fanbases, and each one ends with some level of disappointment for 29 of them.
Only one team can win the World Series every year, but some fan bases have been waiting a long time to see their team raise the Commissioner’s Trophy. The Braves had been on of those teams entering 2021, but they became the latest team to end a lengthy drought on Tuesday night, clinching their first title since 1995 by beating the Astros in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park.
Still, 15 of the 30 teams have gone at least the past 24 seasons -- since MLB's most recent expansion in 1998 -- without winning the World Series.
Here is a look at the longest active championship droughts, all of which go back to at least 1998.
Indians: 73 years (1949-2021)
Cleveland has had its chances during this time, but it lost World Series in 1954, ‘95, ‘97 and 2016 -- four of the club’s 12 postseason appearances since beating the Boston Braves in the 1948 Fall Classic. The Tribe is 0-4 in potential championship clinchers over its past two trips to the Series, having squandered a 3-1 advantage to the Cubs in 2016.
Rangers/Senators: 61 years (1961-2021)
The franchise didn’t make the postseason in its first 35 seasons (the first 11 in Washington) after arriving as an expansion team in 1961. The Rangers have since experienced their fair share of October agony, including back-to-back World Series losses in 2010-11 -- the latter featuring multiple instances in which Texas was one strike away from beating St. Louis and hoisting the trophy.
Brewers/Pilots: 53 years (1969-2021)
After one season in Seattle, the franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1970. It’s made just one Fall Classic, in '82, when the Brew Crew was unable to finish off a 3-2 lead against the Cardinals. Milwaukee since has made two National League Championship Series appearances.
Padres: 53 years (1969-2021)
An expansion team in 1969, San Diego has yet to bring home a title. There were World Series chances in '84 and ‘98, but the Padres won just one game in those years against the Tigers and Yankees, respectively.
Mariners: 45 years (1977-2021)
With the Nationals making it to the Fall Classic in 2019, that left the Mariners as the only franchise without an appearance in baseball’s championship event. Seattle made it as far as the American League Championship Series in 1995, 2000 and ‘01, when it won 116 regular-season games in its most recent trip to the playoffs.
Pirates: 42 years (1980-2021)
Only six franchises have won more championships than Pittsburgh (five), but it’s been a rough road for the franchise since Barry Bonds’ departure following a heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. The Bucs’ only three postseason appearances since then (2013-15) all fell short of the NLCS.
Orioles: 38 years (1984-2021)
Baltimore’s most recent trip to the World Series was its victory over the Phillies in 1983, when Cal Ripken Jr. was a 23-year-old who was only a year and a half into his consecutive-games streak. Since then, the O’s have fallen in the ALCS in 1996, ‘97 and 2014.
Tigers: 37 years (1985-2021)
Detroit’s last trip to the World Series came in 2012, when the Tigers were swept at the hands of the Giants. They’ve made it twice total since last winning in 1984. They also won the pennant in 2006, when they lost in five games to the 83-win Cardinals. In that span since the 1984 title, they’ve also found themselves on the precipice of the World Series three additional times -- losing the ALCS in 2013, 2011 and 1987.
Mets: 35 years (1987-2021)
It took a series of miracles for the Mets to come back in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series before eventually prevailing in Game 7. But the magic hasn’t been sufficient enough in the years since, though the Mets did enjoy plenty of memorable moments during their NL pennant runs in 2000 and ‘15. The franchise’s most recent Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza, was 18 years old when the Mets won it all in ‘86.
Athletics: 32 years (1990-2021)
The A’s have enjoyed as many dynastic runs as any team outside the Yankees over the breadth of Major League history, but the last three decades have been a dry period in Oakland. General manager Billy Beane’s innovative roster strategies have kept the A’s competitive on small-market budgets, particularly during the club’s “Moneyball” period in the early 2000s, but the franchise has reached just two ALCS since last winning the World Series in 1989. The A’s most recent ALCS appearance resulted in a sweep by the Tigers in ‘06.
Reds: 31 years (1991-2021)
The 1970s were dominated by the Big Red Machine, but aside from Cincinnati’s most recent title in 1990, it’s been a different story since in the Queen City. The Braves swept the Reds in the ‘95 NLCS, and the franchise has not advanced past the LDS since then.
Twins: 30 years (1992-2021)
The days of Jack Morris, Kirby Puckett and the "Homer Hanky" are growing further and further into the rearview mirror for the Twins. But the team has had its stars -- including Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Johan Santana -- who led Minnesota to six AL Central titles from 2002-10 before the club suffered early postseason exits. The Twins haven’t advanced past the LDS round since ‘02.
Rockies: 29 years (1993-2021)
Colorado had all the momentum in 2007, when "Rocktober" swept Denver and the team won eight straight postseason games and the NL pennant after prevailing over the Padres in a Game 163. But the Red Sox swept the Rockies that year in the franchise’s closest title attempt. Colorado has yet to capture an NL West division title.
Blue Jays: 28 years (1994-2021)
The road to the World Series title ran through Toronto at the beginning of the 1990s, but dynastic days north of the border subsided at the turn of the millennium. The Blue Jays fell in back-to-back ALCS in 2015-16, representing their closest recent attempts.
Rays: 24 years (1998-2021)
Tampa Bay debuted as the Devil Rays and began with some lean times, averaging 97 losses over its first 10 seasons. But the tide turned with a name change and new colors in 2008, when the franchise enjoyed a 31-win turnaround and claimed its first pennant before losing to the Phillies in five games in the World Series. They pushed the Dodgers one game further in '20, but still came up short in six games.
And here are the 10 longest World Series title droughts in MLB history that are no longer active (going back to the inaugural World Series in 1903):
Cubs: 107 years (1909-2015)
White Sox: 87 years (1918-2004)
Red Sox: 85 years (1919-2003)
Phillies: 77 years (1903-79)
Orioles/Browns: 63 years (1903-65)
Twins/Senators: 62 years (1925-86)
Astros: 55 years (1962-2016)
Giants: 55 years (1955-2009)
Dodgers: 52 years (1903-54)
Nationals/Expos: 50 years (1969-2018)