The Worst Position Groups In Sports History

By Dave Dameshek   December 14, 2022 

The Worst Position Groups In Sports History

Last week we yin’d, so today let’s yang.

In case you missed it, seven days ago I offered up my Top 100 Position Groups by Franchise. Fair’s fair, so here they are, the ten worst Position Groups by Franchise. Apologies and condolences to those who root for them. 


Be it Scott Norwood’s push in Super Bowl XXV or Cody Parkey’s double doink in the 2018 W/C game, the phrase “just missed” is an all-too-familiar refrain for Buffalo and Chicago football fans…

10. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS centers…since Nate Thurmond Turned 30 in 1974

For the 20 million or so good things you can say about Wilt Chamberlain, he never won a title with the Dubs. That said, the franchise’s Philadelphia era can’t be included here because of Wilt, who dominated every contemporary not named Bill Russell – and in his prime, Thurmond was a HOF talent at both ends of the floor during a golden age for the position. Since then? Bogut. Foyle. Blech. And those are the good ones. As Steph Curry might say, shooters gotta shoot…but man, Golden State’s braintrust hasn’t caught much iron at the five over the last 50 years: They traded future HOFer Robert Parish & the 3rd pick – which Boston used on future HOFer Kevin McHale – so they could draft Joe Barry Carroll with 1980’s first overall pick. Worse yet, they made the trade on purpose.

Then there’s taking Russell Cross with the sixth pick in ’83…and Chris Washburn going third in ’86…and Clifford Rozier 16th in ’94…and Patrick O’Brien ninth in ’06…and Ekpe Udoh sixth in ’10…and now there’s super-bouncy, sweet-shooting seven-foot southpaw James Wiseman, taken second overall two years ago. As one of society’s foremost empaths, I’m certainly hoping the 21-year-old can come back 100% from his knee injury and reverse the Warriors’ center jinx…but I’m almost positive he can’t do it from his current home in the G League. One thing’s for sure: This franchise isn’t going anywhere ’til they figure this thing out. 

9. CINCINNATI REDS starting pitchers

When your best pitcher is named Homer, it's not a great sign.
When your best pitcher is named Homer, it’s not a great sign.

The Reds have had seven home ballparks. Won five World Series. 31 Hall of Famers have worn their uniform. But over their 141 years of existence, their pitchers have combined to win exactly one more Cy Young Award than I have. That’s weird. Go ‘head and search for ‘Best Reds pitchers of all-time’ – and at the top of that list you’ll find a fella named Eppa Rixey who, after eight seasons with the Phillies and a year serving in the Great War, went 179-148 for Cincy. Consider me underwhelmed (except by his name…same goes for fellow Reds pitchers Dolf Luque & Noodles Hahn). 

8. PITTSBURGH PIRATES starting pitchers…before they leave to become stars elswhere 

It can’t be something in the water, can it? Nah, the Penguins and the Steelers (usually) win too much for that to be true…but if you’ve watched any October baseball this millennium, it’s highly likely you saw a formerly mediocre Pirates pitcher-turned-postseason legend for a contending team. Since departing the banks of the Three Rivers, Joe Musgrove’s kept himself busy throwing no-hitters and winning playoff games in San Diego. Charlie Morton’s won seven playoff games for the Astros, Rays & Braves. Gerrit Cole served as an ace for perennial contenders in Houston and the Bronx. Jason Schmidt left Pittsburgh and became a 3-time all-star with the Giants. Ryan Vogelsong won a couple rings in San Francisco. Edinson Volquez started two World Series games for the Royals. Bronson Arroyo had double-digit wins eight times after Pittsburgh, and beat the Yanks & Cards for the Red Sox in ’04. The Buccos may have twice as many Cy Youngs of their Central neighbors in Cincy – a whopping two – but Pittsburgh being baseball’s version of Pete Davidson’s exes is ten times as vexing.


Okay, HOFer Bernie Parent was very good, but since his career was derailed in ‘76 by a stick to the eye, Flyers goaltending hasn’t been much to look at. Sure, Ron Hextall, Pelle Lindbergh, and Pete Peeters (who’s gotta still be mad at his parents for naming him Peter) had good rookie seasons…but when their first go-‘rounds stand as their best go-‘rounds, they’re really nothing but a cruel tease to their oh-so-classy fanbase who, not coincidentally, have been waiting almost a half century for another Cup. And that’s a shame. A real, real shame.


Have you ever met a Ducks fan? No, no you have not.
Have you ever met a Ducks fan? No, no you have not.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a quarter century now, and not once has anyone ever struck up a conversation with me about Southern California’s other NHL team. Never. Not even when they won the ’07 Stanley Cup. Matter of fact, the Ducks are the only title-winning team I can recall bribing fans to show up for the championship parade. Literally. They gave attendees wieners, cola & a chance to see the Governator hoist the Cup. C’mon, Gary Bettman – you’ve got something good going up the coast with the Kraken, Sharks & Canucks. Move the Ducks to Portland and watch the rivalries blossom. No bribes necessary.

5. DODGERS relief pitchers

This one may be a bit of curveball considering the Dodgers are one of baseball’s more successful franchises, but – if the measure of a player’s Hall of Fame candidacy is whether the story of the game can be told without him – the same oughta be true here, so consider the outsized number of times Dodger relievers have been on the wrong side of some of baseball’s most iconic moments: Ralph Branca gave up Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in ’51. Tom Niedenfuer gave up a game-losing HR to Ozzie Smith in Game Five of the ’85 NLCS…then gave up the series-losing HR to Jack Clark in Game Six.

Jonathan Broxton blew leads against the Mets in the decisive Game Three of the ’06 NLDS, against the Phillies in Game Four of the ’08 NLCS, and again against the Phillies in Game Six of the ’09 NLCS. Five relievers were needed to blow a four-run lead in Game Four of the ’18 World Series against the Red Sox. Even Clayton Kershaw, who’s had some infamous postseason struggles as a starting pitcher, has gotten touched up as a reliever, specifically in Game Five of the 2019 NLDS, when he came out of the pen with a two-run lead in the eighth and gave up two solo HRs before fellow Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly gave up a series-losing HR in the tenth. (Given all this evidence, maybe skipper Don Mattingly wasn’t that crazy for not going to the pen in 2014.)  

4. BEARS quarterbacks

Jay Cutler – JAY CUTLER – is the best quarterback the Bears have had in the 57 years of the Super Bowl era….and he had his best season when he was a Bronco. Then again, he did twice led the NFL in interceptions while he was a Bear, so there’s that. And no offense to naughty, punky ’82 first-round pick Jim McMahon, but aside from Walter Payton’s running, the ’85 Bears had just about no offense. Same goes for the ’90 Bears, who somehow won the division despite the Jim Harbaugh/Mike Tomczak QB-by-committee combining to throw 15 TDs & 13 INTs. And, of course, the tradition of playing with one phase tied behind their back peaked during the ’06 Super Bowl run, (not) starring ’03 first-rounder Rex Grossman. All those QBs, though, were better than ’99 first-rounder Cade McNown & ’17 second-overall pick Mitch Trubisky. On behalf of Justin Fields, here’s hoping that other curse about former Ohio State QBs in the NFL cancels this one out.

3. CLIPPERS centers

Bill Walton was a Clipper for a half dozen years…but by the time he made his return to SoCal from the Blazers, his best days were already over because of a bum foot. (He played in just 14 games over a four-yr stretch.) Chris Kaman made an all-star game once, and so did frequent alley-oop recipient DeAndre Jordan, but those two are human molehills compared to mountains of shame formed by 1985’s 3rd-overall pick Benoit Benjamin (taken in front of Mullin, Schrempf, Oakley & the Mailman) and’98’s first-overall pick – from the noted basketball factory at the University of the Pacific – Michael Olowakandi, who was so bad he almost makes you forget the high picks previously used on fives like Elmore Spencer and Joe Wolf. Basket half-full: At least they don’t play in an arena whose rafters are filled with names of HOF centers. Oh wait…

2. WASHINGTON GENERALS guards/forwards/centers 

Man, these guys are just terrible. I suppose the personnel department and coaching staff bears some responsibility for the ongoing ineptitude, but quite frankly this lands at the feet of the players. They’re so bad, I’ve seen them get their shorts pulled down by players on the other team. Worse yet, the Generals just stood there and took it, resigned to another beclowning like it was their job. Embarrassing stuff, especially since they nominally represent our nation’s capital.

1. CLEVELAND BROWNS quarterbacks

Spare me the Otto Graham jive. Perhaps it’s my callow cynicism, but I don’t really care how many titles a guy wearing #60(?!) won in something called the All-American Football Conference in the days following WWII. You’ve seen the jersey with all the names of the QBs since Bernie Kosar, so you know they’re a punchline…and so, clearly, do they: How else to explain the desperate stench that informed Jimmy Haslam and Andrew Berry trading draft picks, money and any sense of dignity in exchange for broken soul Deshaun Watson? By the way, Bernie – the guy to which all other Browns QBs are compared – was likable enough, but even in his prime, he wasn’t as good as his fellow AFC Central counterparts Warren Moon and Boomer Esiason. (PS – please feel free to point out 1980 MVP Brian Sipe so I can remind you of Red Right 88.)   



(2-7 last week, 96-74-2 on the season)

Dolphins +7.5

Vikes -4

Bengals -3.5

CIN/TB o43

PIT/CAR u38.5

DET/NYJ o44.5

Browns -2.5

Cardinals PICK

Falcons +4

Enjoy the games, and remember: I hope your team wins…unless they’re playing my team.

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