The Washington Nationals dealt 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres at the MLB trade deadline, and Nats fans were borderline despondent. While they took some solace in the addition of several intriguing prospects, losing a potential all-time great hurts.
Given the Nationals’ immediate outlook — most experts don’t expect Washington to contend for a World Series for at least a couple of years — there’s a case to be made that Washington, D.C. has the worst sports franchises among major U.S. cities with several professional teams.
Bill Simmons, famously: “If your team wins a championship, you aren’t allowed to complain about anything for 5 years, because things can’t be THAT bad.”
The Washington Nationals: “Hold my beer.”
— Lenny Rubin (@lennyrubin) August 2, 2022
Let’s take a closer look at the top contenders for “cities with the worst sports franchises,” using sports betting title odds to guide the analysis. As a disclaimer, we narrowed the search to cities with at least three franchises across the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL.
Chicago’s sports franchises aren’t dumpster fires, but they aren’t exactly battling for championships either.
The Bulls are +5000 to win the NBA title on DraftKings, the 17th-shortest odds in the NBA. The Blackhawks are +100000 to win the Stanley Cup, tied with Arizona for the worst odds in the NHL. The Cubs are +200000 to win the World Series this fall, and while the White Sox are +4000, they came into the season with higher expectations in a winnable division. As for the Bears? Well, they’re +15000 to win the Super Bowl, tied for the third-longest odds in the NFL.
Chicago isn’t lower on the list because of historic success and reasons for future optimism. The Bulls posted a winning record in coach Billy Donovan’s second season, and they’re -320 to make the postseason in 2022-23 on FanDuel. Justin Fields is an exciting young quarterback for the Bears, and he’s entering his first season under new coach Matt Eberflus.
Thought #Bears QB Justin Fields had his best day today in terms of decision-making and getting rid of the ball quickly. Progress is evident.
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) August 10, 2022
While the immediate future isn’t all that bright, Chicago sports teams should improve in coming years. We’ll also factor in the Chicago Sky, who are +175 to win the WNBA title at bet365. The 2021 WNBA champions have given Chicago sports fans something to cheer about in recent seasons.
Fortunately for several of the cities on this list, their WNBA teams are competitive. Seattle is no exception, with the Storm (+500 to win the WNBA title at bet365) offering a positive light for sports fans in the Pacific Northwest.
Outside of the Storm, however, it’s hard to love the current state of Seattle sports.
Admittedly, the Mariners are a joy to watch, and I’m a proud Julio Rodriguez fantasy owner, but they’re still +3500 to win the World Series on BetMGM. The Mariners are a cool story, but they’re more of a solid playoff contender than a World Series threat.
Losing Russell Wilson to Denver all but guarantees a subpar season for the Seahawks. They’re an alarming +1800 on DraftKings to win the NFC West, which features legitimate contenders in the Rams, 49ers, and Cardinals. While the Bears have Justin Fields at quarterback — perhaps a future star — Seattle is stuck with Drew Lock.
We’ll give the Kraken a bit of an excuse as a new NHL franchise, but Seattle is still expected to be well out of Stanley Cup contention at +10000 on DraftKings to win it all. I’m not bullish on Seattle’s short-term future as a sports city, and neither are oddsmakers.
3. Minneapolis/St. Paul
Is there a more consistently average franchise than the Minnesota Vikings? In recent years it’s felt like the Vikings always come up as a trendy preseason pick to win the NFC, but they consistently fall short. Minnesota has never won a Super Bowl, and the franchise last appeared in one in 1976. When the team does put together a strong season, disappointment appears in the postseason.
The #Vikings have a higher win percentage than 16 other teams that have at least one Super Bowl win
— Adam Patrick (@Str8_Cash_Homey) August 11, 2022
Speaking of being a trendy preseason pick, CBS Sports recently pegged Minnesota as an NFL team that could surprise people in 2022. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Still, the Vikings aren’t atrocious, having won at least seven games in eight consecutive seasons. With +3500 odds to win the Super Bowl on PointsBet, the Vikings aren’t a joke, but we doubt any fans are bragging to friends about how their favorite team is moderately respectable.
Speaking of average, the Timberwolves are +3000 to win the NBA title in 2022-23 on DraftKings. They’re good enough to make the postseason, but the current roster isn’t making a run at an NBA title.
The Wild (+1900 to win the Stanley Cup on DraftKings) are another solid franchise, but they’ve lacked postseason success. Sensing a theme?
The Twins have a solid shot to win the AL Central (+170 on DraftKings), but that’s not a great barometer for postseason readiness (+7000 to win the World Series on DraftKings).
Don’t say Minnesota fans are completely without titles, however, as the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx won titles in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. That’s darned impressive, although they’re +10000 to win this year’s title on bet365.
2. Washington, D.C.
“This trade is going to be remembered as one of the worst moments in D.C. sports history because I truly think Juan Soto is gonna be an all-time great,” sports reporter Alex Flum said on a recent DC News Now TV broadcast. “This is going to be comparable with the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees.”
Soto has more than 500 career hits and 100 career home runs, and he’s only 23! The 2022 Home Run Derby champion is one of the best hitters in baseball despite his young age. Assuming he remains healthy, Soto could end his career as one of the best players of his generation, and Washington Nationals fans will be wondering about what could’ve happened if he stayed in the District.
Juan Soto's slash line through his first eight games:
— Jon Schaeffer (@jonschaeffer) August 11, 2022
Without Soto, the Nationals enter a full rebuild.
Elsewhere in the D.C. area, the Washington Commanders (+500 to win the NFC East and +7000 to win the Super Bowl on DraftKings) are a mess. Owner Dan Snyder has been accused of creating a toxic workplace culture, and the on-field product is often subpar. Attendance during down years is abysmal, but hey, they might have a sportsbook at FedEx Field soon, which could come in handy for fans wanting to bet against the home team.
The Washington Wizards seem lost in an uncomfortable middle ground of the NBA. The Wizards (+40000 to win the NBA title on Barstool Sportsbook) aren’t the worst team in the NBA, but they aren’t a title contender or even a consistent playoff participant (+380 to make the playoffs on DraftKings) either. That leaves them with average draft capital and a mediocre roster surrounding Bradley Beal.
Fortunately for D.C., the NHL’s Washington Capitals (+4000 to win the Stanley Cup on Caesars Sportsbook) are respectable. The 2017-18 champions have lost in the first round of the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, but making the playoffs is a step above most of the city’s teams.
In the WNBA, the Mystics won the title in 2019, and they’ve secured a playoff berth this season. They’re a solid team (+800 to win the 2022 title on bet365) that helps the city’s case for not being the absolute worst U.S. sports city.
The current state of Detroit sports is disappointing. Are the Lions actually the most promising franchise in the city?!
On the diamond, the Tigers sit in last place in the AL Central with +100000 odds to win the division on DraftKings. The team’s last winning season was in 2016, and the Tigers have gone since 2014 without a playoff appearance. Their last World Series title came in 1984.
The Red Wings used to be a consistent winner in the NHL, but they’re in rebuilding mode (+6000 to win the 2022-23 Stanley Cup on DraftKings).
In the early 2000s the Pistons were a legitimate force thanks to consistent defense and shotmakers like Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton. Cade Cunningham leads a group of young stars, but the Pistons are still +70000 to win the NBA title on DraftKings.
Dan Campbell seems to be loved by Lions fans, and the second-year head coach helped the Lions look competitive during a 3-13-1 season in 2021. Can Campbell and the Lions (+15000 to win the Super Bowl on DraftKings) take a legitimate step forward in the next two years? That may depend on the quarterback situation, with Jared Goff serving as the current starter. The Lions have never even played in a Super Bowl, and their last playoff win (they’re +400 to make the playoffs this year on DraftKings) was in 1992.
This video makes me want to die on the football field pic.twitter.com/vGd3fRnjBp
— Will Compton (@_willcompton) August 8, 2022
“The Pistons are doing some things, but I really like the Lions this year, more than usual,” WynnBET’s Andy Morrissey told MI Bets. “Their schedule is very easy. I think their division is attainable — I personally bet them to win the division at 12/1. They have a great offensive line, some weapons on the outside, and a quarterback that’s been to a Super Bowl.”
Congratulations, Detroit! The Motor City feels like the easy choice as the city with the worst sports franchises, and the future betting odds back that up.