Welcome back to your monthly dose of Schadenfreude. Here at the Depressed Fan Base Committee, our job is to kick a city while it is down. And man, there are some down cities in this country. This month, 10 voters identified 35 cities as worthy of recognition. Along with the Top 10 list below, nominees included Detroit; Atlanta; Stillwater, Okla.; every city in Texas; the entire state of North Carolina; and the Three M's: Montreal, Manchester, and Milwaukee. (They still call those “The Three M's,” right?)
Disclaimer the First: We're not doing Happy Valley or Syracuse, so don't even ask. I had a whole slew of jokes lined up, but the Department of Justice flagged every single one. Come on, DoJ, don't you guys have something better to be flagging? I've got a neighbor who listens to Bruno Mars nonstop, and he doesn't even get audited by the IRS.
First off, anybody who clicked this blog post is a sick soul who likes to revel in the pain of others. The bad news is, that makes you an emotionally stunted human. The good news is, you're among friends.
One of our main gambits here at Grantland is to chronicle the misfortune of others, and I like to think we approach the task with just the right amount of glee. How else can you explain the dual act of convening a panel to vote on the city facing the toughest time in sports, and then mocking them? We're the bad guys in this movie, and there's no uplifting ending. In fact, the ending is the saddest part of all — the most depressed city. It's a little like Forrest Gump, if Gump had accidentally fallen into a manhole in the first 20 minutes and the rest of the movie was about Lieutenant Dan getting progressively angrier in a traffic jam.
And now it's November, which is a sad month in its own right, what with all those turkeys being hunted. So as you might guess, we're in pretty high spirits.
"September, I remember / A love once new has now grown old."
Those aren’t just the final lines in a lovely Simon & Garfunkel song, and they’re not just the latest anthem for the Red Sox Nation. They also signify a brand new month, and a brand new chance to christen the saddest, most lowdown fan base in America. (And relevant parts of Canada.) The good news for the schadenfreudists out there is that as winter threatens to descend, the October edition is extra depressing.
Here's how it works: The aristocracy of Grantland gathers (at a round table, I believe) to submit their individual lists. These are collected by a sort of hunchbacked, silent man with a somber face and an unnerving forehead scar, and he brings them to my cramped cubicle. At the same time, he delivers my slice of bread and a bowl of discolored, lukewarm water that the editors call “soup.” Anyhow, a first-place vote is worth eight points, a second-place vote is worth seven, and on and on until one. You get it.
Please note, the committee is concerned with cities that are currently the most depressed. Past history is relevant only if the ancient woes haven't been remedied, as with the ongoing Chicago Cubs drought. If a long dry spell is broken, a la the Boston Bruins, it ceases to matter.
Last month, Cleveland won a thriller over Seattle. This month, 28 cities were represented in the voting. Some of the lesser-knowns included Durham, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Syracuse, N.Y. (this voter must have stopped reading after "most depressed"), Columbus, Edmonton, Tampa, Fla. (a city so depressed that fans didn't go to the ballpark even before things got bad), Denver, and San Diego.
Just to give you an idea of how serious the October edition was taken by Grantland, here are some other fun facts:
One voter submitted three cities. One submitted seven. One submitted five. One submitted 10. I think they were supposed to submit eight, but I'm not even sure.
For the second straight month, more than half of the voters to submit “Minneapolis” referred to it as “Minnesota.” David Jacoby actually used the "Twin Cities," which I thought was a gentlemanly touch. I'm sure St. Paul appreciates it.
It took the better part of two weeks to receive everyone's vote. Time to put my spin doctor hat on: That's how hard they were deliberating!
The entire justification from the one committee member who voted for Durham was as follows: "fuck you, Shane." (I went to school there.)
Sarah Larimer indulged in some anti-Buffalo glee at the top of her list: "How hilarious is it that Buffalo whined about not making this list, and now the Bills are awesome. Suck it, Buffalo! You will never appear on the Most Depressed Fan Base list. NEVER."
Over Labor Day weekend, 10 of the ablest minds at Grantland briefly stopped typing their own names into a Google search bar and devoted themselves to a sad question: Which city's fan base is enduring the roughest stretch in sports right now? Where should the sympathetic among us direct our pity? Or, for the cruel at heart, our Schadenfreude?
Each member of the Most Depressed Fan Base Committee selected their top eight cities, based on factors known only to them, and point values were assigned on a 1-8 scale (most depressed earns eight points, least depressed earns one). The individual lists were then compiled into an overall ranking, which is presented below.
Before we get there, though, some clarification. We're concerned with which cities are suffering now, at this exact moment in time. As William Faulkner once wrote, "the past is dead." (I'm reciting that one from memory — hopefully I nailed it.) For example, the Red Sox World Series drought is irrelevant because it ended, while the Cubs drought holds weight because it's ongoing. You get the idea.
When the voting concluded, 31 cities/geographic areas were represented. Among those who earned just one vote and didn't make the final list were Lubbock, South Bend, San Diego, Baltimore, San Antonio, Chicago, Detroit, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Phoenix, Long Island, Vancouver, Denver, Tennessee, and St. Louis.
In case you were curious, Lubbock came from Chuck Klosterman, and it came without explanation. But his e-mail signature is a picture of Mike Leach as God in a parody of the "Creation of Adam" painting, so maybe that explains it. (In the painting, Chuck replaces Adam.)