Despite the struggles and challenges, 2020 has seen it’s share of success stories in sports. It has also seen some stories of disappointment and failure. That’s what this article is – a look at 9 of the biggest losers in sports throughout this year.
Editor’s note – we all lost in 2020. It’s been a really difficult year for almost everyone. But I kept this list specifically focused on sports – no politics, no COVID, and no tragic events (ie – Kobe).
9. Fans of non-conference college football
COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of most non-conference college football games in 2020. Conferences felt it was more convenient to play teams that will all follow the same testing protocols and guidelines.
As a result, the following games were cancelled in 2020:
- Oregon vs Ohio State
- Notre Dame vs Wisconsin
- USC vs Alabama
- Washington vs Michigan
- Auburn vs North Carolina
- Penn State vs Virginia Tech
- Miami vs Michigan State
- Tennessee vs Oklahoma
- North Dakota St vs Oregon
Conference-only games dominated the 2020 season, which is unfortunate because all of these games (and many more) were cancelled.
Twins won the AL Central division, making the playoffs for a second straight year and third time in four years. Unfortunately, they were swept 2-0, increasing their historic playoff losing streak to 18 games. Twins haven’t won a playoff game since 2004.
Older Minnesota sports fans also watched teams who previously relocated win championships.
- Dallas Stars, who played as the North Stars from 1967-1993 in Minneapolis, won the 2020 Stanley Cup, their second since moving to Dallas.
- Lakers, who won 5 of the franchise’s 17 championships in Minnesota, won another in LA.
Normally, this type of issue wouldn’t be a problem, except the current NHL team (Wild) has never appeared in the Stanley Cup and the current NBA team (Timberwolves) has one playoff appearance since 2004, which is the year they won the franchise’s only playoff series.
More reasons why Minneapolis is the saddest sports city.
Boston has won 54 championships over the last 20 years (that’s a ROUGH estimate, but it feels that way, no?). 2020 was a loss for Boston, which probably makes the rest of the world happy.
The city lost two legends – Red Sox traded away 2018 MVP Mookie Betts and didn’t seem to receive a major haul in return. Betts then helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series, while the Red Sox finished among the worst teams in MLB.
Tom Brady, who helped the Patriots win 6 Super Bowls, departed as a free agent and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team with very little history of success He has been replaced by Cam Newton, who has had a pretty rocky season with zero offensive weapons around him.
Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years, but again failed to advance to the Finals (0-3 during that run).
Bruins finished with the most wins in the NHL regular season (44) and most points (100) but lost in 5 games to the eventual champion Lightning in the second round of the playoffs.
6. Cincinnati sports
Good news for the Bengals? They drafted Joe Burrow #1 overall and he was awesome! Bad news? He tore his ACL during a week 11 loss to Washington.
Good news for the Reds? They made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Bad news? They didn’t score a single run in 22 innings (outscored 6-0).
The city of Cincinnati has not won a playoff game/series since 1995, when the Reds won the NLDS (Bengals haven’t won a game since 1990).
Good news for Cincinnati Bearcats football? They are on pace to win the AAC Championship for the first time and finish the regular season with an undefeated record. Bad news? Despite having a historic season, they have no chance to not only win, but to even compete for a championship.
Good news for Bearcats basketball? They finished first place in the AAC during the regular season. Bad news? There was no NCAA Tournament so there was no 10th consecutive March Madness for the school.
5. Los Angeles
The Lakers and Dodgers won their respective championships, and that puts LA on the winner’s list. But with so many teams, they also qualify for the loser’s list.
- Clippers – still never made the conference finals. You can see in the tweet below, they held a huge lead entering the fourth quarter in Game 5 of their second round series against the Nuggets. Somehow, from point on, things unraveled. And I mean UNRAVELED! Clippers blew leads in each of the final three games and blew a 3-1 series lead, as the Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference Finals, despite the presence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
- Angels – 2020 was supposed to be the easiest path to the playoffs ever. Half the league qualified for the postseason in an expanded format. Angels hired former World Series champion Joe Maddon as their new manager. And still, despite the presence of the best player in the sport, Mike Trout putting up MVP-type numbers, Angels again failed to make the playoffs. Which means throughout Trout’s 9 year career, Angels have yet to win a playoff game.
- Kings – finished second in the lottery. That normally means two things – 1) you stunk during the season, which is true for the Kings. and 2) you are guaranteed one of the top players in the draft. While the second point is true, Alexis Lafrenière was considered the consensus top player, one of the best the NHL Draft has seen in many, many years.
Note – while the Kings missed out on Lafrenière, they may have still hit a homerun with Quinton Byfield.
- Rams/Chargers – the two NFL teams opened up beautiful $5 billion stadium, but have done so without fans all season.
4. Las Vegas
Congrats Vegas! You finally have an NFL team!!
Sorry Vegas residents, you can’t actually see the Raiders play in person.
It’s been an awkward transition from Oakland to Vegas for the Raiders since local fans haven’t been able to fully embrace them. Vegas has spent the 2020 season playing in a beautiful, but empty stadium, outside of an empty Strip in Las Vegas.
3. University of Oregon
Without an NCAA Tournament in March, the school lost out on two potential Final Four runs.
On the women’s side, Sabrina Ionescu was the best player in the country and the Ducks had a great shot at a second straight Final Four, to compete for the school’s first ever women’s title.
Payton Pritchard and the men’s Ducks, finished first in the PAC-12 during the regular season and in a wide-open bracket, had as good a chance as any team to make a run.
The football team was scheduled to host Ohio State, in a major non-conference game. This would have been an awesome game for fans to attend, creating an incredible atmosphere at Autzen Stadium and a magical experience for students. But instead, the pandemic canceled that. Oregon recently lost to Oregon State, after winning 11 of the last 12 against their state rivals. That loss ended the Ducks’ faint playoff hopes.
2. State of Texas football
Things have gone….not well for the entire state of Texas in the sport of football.
Let’s start with the NFL.
- Texans – In March, Texans traded Deandre Hopkins to the Cardinals for a washed up running back and a second (NOT FIRST) round draft pick. They fired GM/head coach/OC Bill O’Brien early in the season and are on track for a top 5 draft pick in 2021…except they don’t own their pick. The Dolphins possess both the Texans’ first AND second round picks in 2021, courtesy of a trade for LT Laremy Tunsil (made in 2019).
- Cowboys – 2020 has been a total disaster. Early in the year, the defense was historically awful and injuries have been an issue. Free agent-to-be Dak Prescott suffered a major foot injury during week 6 and the Cowboys are just 3-8.
- Texas is not back. They are 6-3 and will not play for the Big 12 championship. They last won the conference title in 2009.
- Baylor has been a disaster in 2020. One year after playing in the Big 12 Championship Game, Bears are 2-6, and 0-6 against teams not from Kansas.
- Houston has had 8 games postponed/rescheduled due to COVID. It’s been a weird and rough season for the Cougars.
- Texas Tech finished the season 4-6, and haven’t finished over .500 since going 7-6 in 2015
It’s worth noting, Texas A&M is having a great season, but likely won’t qualify for the playoffs.
1. College hoops fans
The cancellation of the NCAA Tournament is one of the worst sports stories of 2020. College hoops fans were deprived of their true love. Even non-fans, who follow for the gambling aspect.
Cancelling the tournament was the right decision, but that doesn’t make it any less sad or disappointing. Especially for seniors, or for men and women planning to depart school after the season – just a rough ending to their careers.
What I miss? Who do you think are the biggest sports losers of 2020?