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Sports fans were right: We're due

SCOTT BARANCIK
Published February 14, 2004

If being a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Devil Rays or Lightning has caused you heartache over the years, there's a good reason.

A study of every professional football, baseball, hockey and basketball team in existence since 1954 has found that all three bay area squads rank among the top 10 most frustrating teams.

The frustration index is based on a team's average win-loss percentage and the number of championship seasons (or lack thereof).

In fact, the misery that bay area teams have inflicted during their combined 45 years of play led American City Business Journals to deem local sports fans the "most frustrated" among 37 cities nationwide. For the record, Tampa Bay area teams have won 830 games and one championship; lost 1,322, including 21 in overtime; and tied 105. Its teams have ended with a losing record in 34 of 45 seasons.

So the Devil Rays, Lightning and Buccaneers finished third, fourth and ninth in the team frustration rankings, respectively.

What about Chicago and Boston, home to the cursed Cubs and Red Sox? The two cities ranked a mere 14th and 32nd most frustrating. Among 115 individual teams, the Red Sox placed 90th, with 15 losing seasons during the past 50 years.

The least frustrating sports markets were San Antonio, Texas, and Montreal. San Antonio's only professional team, the basketball Spurs, has won 58 percent of its games and two championships in 27 years. Montreal's record is buoyed by the hockey Canadiens, which have won 17 Stanley Cups since 1954.

Although the study awards points for championships, it might not fully account for the psychological impact of the Buccaneers' Super Bowl victory in 2003, which relieved a championship drought for local teams. The Lightning hockey team also is enjoying a playoff run.

Other factors of the study's methodology created some dubious rankings. Thanks to the Utah Jazz's 20 winning seasons in 24 years, for example, Salt Lake City was ranked the third least frustrating sports city nationwide. But fans there might beg to differ, given the team's failure to bring home a single ring during that time.

American City Business Journals, which owns the Tampa Bay Business Journal, also didn't try to measure the correlation between fan frustration and stadium attendance. The empty seats at the Devil Rays' Tropicana Field suggest that's a promising area for further study.

- Scott Barancik can be reached at barancik@sptimes.com or 727 893-8751.

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