There Are No Winners Without Losers

Nov 25, 2015
Originally published on November 25, 2015 11:49 am

When the Royals won the World Series, I, like most everyone else, was so happy for the good people of Kansas City, because I kept being reminded that the Royals hadn't won since 1985. Poor, poor little KC. Then it occurred to me: so what? That's exactly how long it should be, because there are 30 major league franchises, so for any team to win once every 30 years is just par for the course.

And the same for the NBA and the NHL, both of which also have 30 teams, and the NFL, which has 32. With this plethora of franchises, it's no big deal for any team to lose for oodles and oodles of seasons. In fact, there are plenty of teams that have never won their championship ever, ever.

Click the audio to hear Frank Deford's take on this issue.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Sports needs winners and losers. Commentator Frank Deford says it's time to honor the losers.

FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: When the Royals won the World Series, I, like most everyone else, was so happy for the good people of Kansas City because I kept being reminded that the Royals hadn't won since 1985. Poor, poor little KC. Then it occurred to me, so what? That's exactly how long it should be because there are 30 major league franchises, so for any team to win once every 30 years is just par for the course. And the same for the NBA and the NHL, both of which also have 30 teams, and the NFL, which has 32.

With this plethora of franchises, it's no big deal for any team to lose for oodles and oodles of seasons. In fact, there are plenty of teams that have never won their championship ever, ever. So let's stop with the bleeding heart history and learn from defeat. Suck it up America.

Well, yes, there are, of course, the two designated exceptions - the Cubs and the city of Cleveland. It is apparently a constitutional amendment that neither can ever be mentioned without an obligatory reference to their sustained futility. But as a good neighbor, let us now all especially sympathize with, yes, the whole country of Canada, which has not had a winner in any major North American league since 1993 despite fielding 12 - count them a dozen - different teams that have tried to win over a total of 192 seasons - 0 for 192, oh, Canada. This roster has included the Blue Jays, the Raptors, the Canadiens, the Maple Leafs, the Canucks, the Flames, the Oilers, the Jets, the Grizzlies, the Expos, the Nordiques and the Senators.

Happily, though, the Montreal Canadiens, one of the most distinct sports franchises in all the world, are back on top, led by a fabulous young goalie named Carey Price. Molson Beer owns the team again, as it did in the glory times, the days of the Beliveau and Plante, Harvey and Dryden, not to mention the Rocket and the Pocket-Rocket and the Flower and Boom Boom. Shoot that puck. Score that goal.

Canada celebrates its Thanksgiving back in October. So Canadians cannot give thanks tomorrow for Montreal's return to eminence, but may we turn away from our own turkey long enough to shout out a big thank you to all the sad sack teams that do their part as losers. Yes, every dog will have its day, even the Cubs and Cleveland - someday, well, maybe.

WERTHEIMER: Always a winner, commentator Frank Deford joins us here most Wednesdays. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.