Thursday, May 07, 2009

How Many Years Until the First Winning/Losing Season?

Currently, Real Salt Lake is in their 5th year of existence as an MLS team and they've yet to have a winning record (defined as having more wins than losses). It got me thinking, which teams in the five major American sports leagues have gone the longest before their first winning season?

I used the reference family of sites to figure this out (Baseball Reference, Football Reference, etc). Franchise histories in previous leagues (AFL, WHA, etc) were included.

Most Years Until First Winning Season

New Orleans Saints NFL 21
Seattle Mariners MLB 15
Denver Broncos NFL 14
New Jersey Devils NHL 14
Minnesota Twins MLB 12
Houston Astros MLB 11
Tampa Bay Rays MLB 11
Washington Nationals MLB 11
Philadelphia Eagles NFL 11
Milwaukee Brewers MLB 10
San Diego Padres MLB 10
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL 10
Houston Rockets NBA 10
Utah Jazz NBA 10

Yeah, I don't think RSL is going to join the company of those teams. Maybe they can shoot for the MLS record instead, which is held by the New England Revolution. They didn't have their first winning season until their 8th year in 2003. RSL will get to tie the New York Red Bulls (Metrostars) this year for second place among MLS teams at the very least. NY didn't have a winning record until their 5th season in 2000.

The Saints may have a lock on this one. They did have two 8-8 records during that time span. Two current franchises that have a chance of making the top ten in a couple years: Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) and Houston Texans (NFL).

Most Years Until First Losing Season

Green Bay Packers NFL 13
Cleveland Browns NFL 11
New York Rangers NHL 11
New York Knicks NBA 10
Chicago Bears NFL 10
Oakland Athletics MLB 8
Los Angeles Galaxy MLS 8
Los Angeles Lakers NBA 8
Sacramento Kings NBA 7
Arizona Cardinals NFL 7

Pretty good company for the Galaxy. The Houston Dynamo are already in their 4th year, so they could make a run. They're the only current franchise among the five leagues to never have a losing season.

So 2003 was the first year that the Revs were good and the Galaxy were bad. Amazing that both of those streaks lasted so long. The Chicago Fire and DC United are second for MLS teams with 5 years.

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