In the annals of defeat, the Pirates now hold the dubious distinction of being the only franchise in North America's four major professional leagues to endure 17 consecutive losing seasons. Here are 16 other teams that have severely tested their fans' loyalty, patience and mental health.
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The Pirates may have taken them off the hook at 16, but if not for a 78-76 campaign in 1932, the Phillies would have subjected their faithful to a mindboggling run of 31 straight losing seasons that dated back to 1918.
Pictured is Chuck Klein (1933, 36-44 Phillies).
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Boston Red Sox
The Curse of the Bambino is often cited as the reason for Boston's extended misery after their trade of slugger Babe Ruth to the Yankees in December 1919, but the Red Sox had already begun a slide of 15 losing seasons by finishing 67-71-1 that year. They eventually ran their non-winning streak to 16 with a .500 season in 1934.
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It's easy to see why last season's return to the playoffs after a quarter century was so joyously received in Milwaukee. During that long wait, Brewers fans were subjected to 12 consecutive losing seasons, a skid snapped only by an 81-81 mark in 2005.
Pictured is Geoff Jenkins (1998-07 Brewers).
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Launched in 1977, the Mariners drifted for 14 years until they reached -- and exceeded -- the .500 mark with an 83-79 record in 1991. Their fans waited until 1995 for the M's to make a postseason appearance.
Pictured is Alvin Davis (1984-91 Mariners).
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs achieved unequaled infamy by losing the first 26 games in their history, but they also hold the NFL's black mark of 14 successive sub.-500 seasons.
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Called the Bungles for obvious reasons, Cincinnati's tiger-striped squad went 14 seasons without seeing the playoffs, and only two .500 campaigns (1996 and 2003) kept them from joining the Bucs in the NFL record book.
Inset is Corey Dillon (1997-03 Bengals).
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St Louis/Arizona Cardinals
A move to Phoenix in 1988 did not inspire these birds to break their schneid of 13 straight non-winning seasons. The best they could do during that unseemly run was an 8-8 record in 1994. A playoff appearance after their 9-7 season in 1998 proved to be a momentary break. The Cardinals went another nine years before participating the postseason again.
Pictured is Eric Hill (1989-98 Cardinals).
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Starting life in the AFL, the Broncos started losing and continued their woeful ways for 13 consecutive seasons that included their admission to the NFL in 1970.
Pictured is Floyd Little (1967-75 Broncos).
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New Orleans Saints
Known as the Aints and forever associated with paper-bag-wearing fans, New Orleans' sadsack franchise put together a streak of 12 losing seasons that would have hit 20 had Archie Manning not led them past the L.A. Rams on the final day of 1979 season. After that .500 campaign, the Saints did not have winning season or make a playoff appearance until 1987.
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Their fans surely did not enjoy that streak of 12 straight losing seasons, but even more depressing was the 25-year stretch from 1946 to 1971 when the Redskins failed to reach the playoffs.
Pictured (left) is Bobby Mitchell (1962-68 Redskins).
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Kansas City/Sacramento Kings
The Kings own the NBA's dubious mark of 15 straight losing seasons, but it at least includes a consolation prize of three playoff appearances. Then again, all three were first-round losses.
Pictured is Mitch Richmond (1991-98 Kings).
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San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers
A basketball shipwreck, the Clippers posted 12 straight losing seasons during an NBA-record streak of 15 without a playoff appearance (1976-91) that stretched back to their tenure in Buffalo as the Braves.
Pictured is Benoit Benjamin (1985-91 Clippers).
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Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were anything but golden during their run of 12 straight losing seasons without making the playoffs. They also subjected their fans to a streak of nine seasons (1977-86) without postseason action.
Pictured are Antawn Jamison (1998-03 Warriors) and Erick Dampier (1997-04 Warriors).
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New Jersey Devils
Branded ''a Mickey-Mouse operation'' by the great Wayne Gretzky in 1984, the Devils' streak of 13 losing seasons stretched back to their days as the Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies. It also included a record nine straight campaigns without making the playoffs. Only once (1978) did they see postseason play, and they were promptly shot down by the Flyers, two-games-to-none in the first round.
Pictured is goalie Glenn ''Chico'' Resch (1981-86 Rockies/Devils).
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Detroit Red Wings
Derided as the Dead Things, this proud old Original Six franchise endured a cruel two decades that included a stretch of 11 years during which it made the playoffs once (a first-round exit in 1970) and a run of 14 sub-.500 campaigns from 1973 to `87. (The 1976-91 Vancouver Canucks hold the NHL record of 15 straight losing seasons, but appeared in the playoffs nine times, thanks to a liberally inclusive format.) Detroit's 14 included four playoff appearances that culminated in the 1987 Western Conference Finals.
Pictured is Jim Rutherford (1970-71, 74-81, 83 Red Wings).
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It is the true mark of goaltender Al Rollins' excellence that he was awarded the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP in 1954 after toiling to a sorry squad that went 12-51-7 during an 11-year run of losing seasons that mercifully included a playoff appearance in 1953.
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Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Before the franchise's stunning run to the World Series in 2008, the 'Devil Rays' were the laughingstock of the major leagues. In its first 10 years of existence, Tampa Bay averaged 97.2 losses per season, including a franchise-worst 55-106 record in 2002 -- and didn't win more than 70 games once.
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