Are You There, God? It’s Me, The Long-Suffering Detroit Sports Fan You Apparently Hate
Detroit sports fans are starved for a winner. All four pro sports franchises in the Motor City are amid lengthy playoff droughts.
The Tigers haven't qualified for the postseason in eight years. It's been seven years since the Red Wings last made the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lions narrowly missed the postseason last year, bringing their drought to six years. And the Pistons last made the playoffs four years ago.
That's a combined playoff drought of 25 years, which has to be the worst such ignominy among North America's major pro sports markets. It's also why I was convinced the Detroit Pistons would win last night's
Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes NBA Draft Lottery. Well, that and the fact that the Pistons finished dead last in the league standings.
You can understand, then, my reaction when Detroit drew the fifth selection.
"Why, God? Why have you forsaken all of us Detroit sports fans?"
I'm honestly out of answers.
The Red Wings have finished in the bottom eight of the NHL each of the past seven seasons, including four bottom-four finishes and dead last in 2019-2020. They've won the NHL Draft Lottery and gotten the No. 1 overall selection exactly zero times while averaging the sixth overall pick during that span.
The Pistons have finished dead last, third from last, second to last, and fifth from last over the past four seasons. Yes, they won the lottery in 2021 and drafted Cade Cunningham No. 1 overall. But their average draft position over that span, even with the top pick two years ago, is sixth. Sixth! For a team that finished in the bottom five all four years and in the bottom three in all but one of those seasons!
The draft lotteries in the NBA and NHL are broken. A system that produces such counter-intuitive results as the ones I outlined above is one that doesn't work. A system that gives the last-place NBA team better odds of drafting fifth overall (47.8 percent) than drafting first overall (14 percent) is broken.
And that's also what this entire pro sports market is. Broken.
In a true sign of the times, the Lions are Detroit's best hope, the team with the most trustworthy leadership and greatest chance to win. Give that little caveat a few seconds to seep in to make sure you appreciate the abject desolation of our situation.
Earlier I said that I'm out of answers. I suppose that's not entirely true. The only explanation I have left for the dejection that's come to define the state of being a Detroit sports fan is that we're cursed.
God has gone Old Testament God on our sports teams, and so we must wander the desert of North American professional sports futility for 40 years.