So, the Dodgers, at last, have done it. All those postseason failures, all those sad October nights watching the Giants celebrate titles without any of their own, all those times we thought Vin Scully would still be active and broadcasting the final World Series out ... it’s all over now. The Dodgers have their World Series championship.
The victory ends more than 30 years of waiting for that fanbase, and Dodgers fans should enjoy it as much and as safely as they can -- they’ve earned it. But it raises the question: Who’s next? Which fanbase has gone through its fair share of postseason pain and needs a breakthrough? Which fanbase has gone too many years without a title? Which fanbase gets its turn next?
Here are six franchises whose fans have to be thinking it is their turn soon. Now, to set the parameters for this exercise, we’re going to focus on teams that have gone a long time without winning a title and have made the postseason recently or are on the verge of doing so. Teams like the Orioles, or the Mariners, or the Pirates, or even the Tigers, their fans are desperate for a title as well, but ... well, let’s get them to the playoffs first, OK?
Here are your “suffering” six.
I’ve already written about how much Atlanta sports fans have been through, and how underrated a tortured sports city Atlanta is, and that was before the Braves' crushing National League Championship Series loss to the eventual champion Dodgers after holding a 3-1 series lead. The good news for Atlanta is that this does not seem to be a Falcons 28-3 situation, where the NFL team receded almost immediately and now appears to be farther away from a championship than they were in the first place. The Braves are overflowing with talent and presumably won’t be as ravaged by pitcher injuries as they were this year. Plus, they finally won a couple of playoff series this year, for the first time in nearly 20 years. The bad news: The Dodgers are going to be back next year, too.
Cleveland famously has the longest World Series drought in all of baseball; it has been since 1948 that the Indians last won a title. But it’s even more painful that they’ve come so close, from that incredible 1995 team losing to the Braves to the Edgar Renteria walk-off in 1997 to, most cruelly, falling just short in 2016, as the Cubs celebrated their own history right there on Cleveland’s home field. They also haven’t won a single playoff series since 2016 and have a difficult time keeping a roster together long term. The scary part here is that the window may be closing: The Twins are excellent, the White Sox are clearly on the rise, and the Tigers and Royals are slowly building their rosters up as well. The Indians have had four postseason chances in the last five years. Shortstop Francisco Lindor is eligible for free agency next winter. How many more chances will this group get?
Of all the teams on this list, the Twins have won two World Series most recently, following their 1987 title with another in '91. But that is very much overshadowed by the brutality of their postseason appearances. It actively hurts the soul to look at the Twins’ recent postseason history: Nine consecutive series losses, 17 consecutive games lost. This current incarnation of the Twins is one of the most powerful, stacked-with-talent teams in the history of the franchise. But in the postseason, they’re just like all the others. As the White Sox emerge, the Twins have the same problem as Cleveland: You don’t know how many more opportunities this core is going to get.
Definitely the most underrated of the tortured fanbases, the Brewers routinely draw more than 3 million fans a year, fans as dedicated as any in the sport. (Plus, they have Bob Uecker!) The last decade has been perhaps the best and most consistent in franchise history, with four playoff appearances and two advances to the NLCS, but they haven’t been able to break through. Their only World Series appearance was so long ago (1982) that they were in a different league, and actually played the Cardinals, a team in their division they are long sick of at this point. They made the playoffs this year, but with a losing record, and they were quickly dispatched by the Dodgers. You have to wonder if 2018, when they lost a Game 7 against the Dodgers in the NLCS, was as close as they were going to get.
New York Mets
You don’t need to persuade Mets fans that they’re tortured: They are fully aware. The Mets have actually only made the playoffs four times since the turn of the century (2000, 2006, 2015, 2016), a particularly galling fact considering how their seasons ended in 2007 and 2008, with painful collapses down the stretch. They are poised to welcome a new owner, so perhaps that will make a difference ... but you can forgive Mets fans for still having their guard up.
Now that it is rumored that longtime head of baseball operations Billy Beane could be leaving the franchise, it would be a cruel irony if the A’s finally had their postseason breakthrough with him gone. For all the "Moneyball" love, the A’s had a 2-11 postseason record in the Beane era, ending with an American League Division Series loss to the rival Astros this year. The A’s have always felt like the team that was always this close to having That Special Year. But they never quite made it. If they ever bust through, here’s hoping they give him a ring anyway.