Back-to-back losers

The start of November is accentuated by two yearly events: the end of baseball season and post-Halloween rituals.

After Halloween, kids (and adults with a sweet tooth) sift through the left over trick-or-treat candy — the spoils of the season. Meanwhile, the carefully crafted jack-o-lanterns — which are often quite remarkable — are instantly irrelevant and are discarded, left by the curb to be smashed.

Just like Halloween, baseball’s World Series produced two teams that received similar fates. This year, the MLB playoffs were capped by an extremely exciting World Series, which saw the St. Louis Cardinals pitted against the Texas Rangers.

The Cardinals ended their Cinderella season with an unlikely championship, while a routine ninth-inning pop fly turned the favoured Rangers back into a pumpkin. For the second year in a row, the Rangers collapsed in the World Series and were left sitting on the curb like a tossed jack-o-lantern, watching the other team celebrate and enjoy the spoils of late October baseball.

They’re not the first team — and certainly won’t be the last — to remain top contenders for consecutive years, only to choke in the playoffs and have no championship to show for their regular season successes.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders made it to back-to-back Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010, only to lose to the Montreal Alouettes in both games. Granted, the Roughriders were champions in 2007, but the franchise has traditionally had the most unfortunate luck when it came to championship games. In fact, Saskatchewan holds the CFL record for most consecutive Grey Cup losses (five in a row between 1928 and 1932), and has only won three Grey Cups despite 18 appearances in the championship game over the past century.

The Atlanta Braves are also worth mentioning for their poor post-season performances. Despite winning a record 13 consecutive National League East Division titles from 1991 through 2004, the Braves only managed to win one World Series title, in 1995. During that span, their World Series record was 1-4.
But there’s no debating which team stands as the worst championship would-be team in the history of North American sport. The Buffalo Bills lost an incredible four straight Super Bowls from 1991-94. The streak started with Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood’s now infamous wide-right field goal attempt with eight seconds remaining while the New York Giants led 20-19.

Despite the devastating loss, the Bills would remain a contender for the next three seasons . . . only to lose in the Super Bowl three more times, once against the Washington Redskins and then twice against the Dallas Cowboys.

That the Bills had never made it to the Super Bowl prior to 1991 — and have yet to come close since their last appearance in 1994 — only adds to the pain and frustration for Bills fans, still haunted by what could have been.