What other franchises can match Nats' playoff heartbreak?

There are many different kinds of miseries in sports. There's the misery that comes from repeated losing year in and year out, as any fan of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns can attest. There's the misery that comes from repeatedly coming oh-so-close to winning the big one, as any fan of the Buffalo Bills can attest. And then there's the misery that comes from repeatedly reaching the playoffs and then finding new ways to squander those opportunities, as any fan of the Kansas City Chiefs can certainly attest.

It was the Chiefs' 22-21 AFC Wild Card loss to the Titans yesterday that brought this notion to my head. Kansas City has now lost six consecutive home playoff games, many of them in agonizing fashion. The last time that franchise won a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium: Jan. 8, 1994, when Joe Montana - yep, remember when he played for the Chiefs? - led them to a 27-24 overtime victory over the Steelers.

After yesterday's game, Twitter follower Travis McGavin asked me if being a Chiefs fan is worse than being a Nationals fan, given both teams' penchant for losing playoff games at home in soul-crushing fashion. It's a good question, and it got me thinking: How many other major league franchises can stake claim to experiencing the same kind of October misery the Nats have experienced in recent years?

Some of the answers might surprise you.

harper-disappointed-nlds-dugoutrail-sidebar.jpgWe'll start with the Nats themselves. You already know they've lost all four postseason series they've participated in since coming to town. Officially, the franchise has lost five consecutive postseason series, with the last (and only) series victory coming in 1981 when the Expos beat the Phillies in the best-of-five National League Division Series that was added to the schedule to account for that year's midsummer strike.

Many of you get upset when any Expos history is attached to Nationals history, even though it's technically the same franchise, just as the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers are one and the same. So if you instead want to just look at Washington baseball history, then the streak of consecutive postseason series losses is six, with the Senators' losses in the 1925 and 1933 World Series added to the Nats' four losses. The only postseason series win in D.C. baseball history, of course, is the 1924 World Series seven-game thriller over the New York Giants.

So it's been a long time since Washington got to celebrate something in October, but there also have been several opportunities squandered, especially in recent years. How, though, does that compare to other major league franchises?

Well, the Twins have lost six consecutive postseason series (seven if you count the one-game American League wild card loss to the Yankees in October). Minnesota's last series win came back in the 2002 ALDS against the Athletics. So that's some playoff heartbreak, to be sure, though Twins fans can still sleep a little better with fond memories of their 1987 and 1991 World Series championships.

The Braves actually hold the current longest streak for postseason series losses at seven. (You can even claim it's eight with the 2012 wild card loss to the Cardinals.) Atlanta lost the NLDS in 2013, 2010, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002, plus the 2001 NLCS to the Diamondbacks, making for quite a lengthy run of October misery. (Again, though, that franchise will always have its World Series title from 1995 to fall back on.)

The Major League Baseball franchise that has gone the longest without a postseason series win is the Pirates. Yes, they won the 2013 wild card game over Dusty Baker's Reds, but the Bucs have lost their last four full postseason series and haven't won a full series since Willie Stargell and "The Family" beat the Orioles in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series. That's a long time to go without so much as winning one playoff series, longer than the Nationals/Expos drought by two years.

There are only two other MLB franchises with a series-winning drought that extends back into the 20th century. The Padres last won a postseason series in 1998 (they've only made the playoffs two times since). And the Reds last won a series in 1995 (they've made the playoffs three times since, counting that 2013 wild card).

So that means that 26 franchises have won at least one postseason series since the turn of the century, with the Nationals, Pirates, Padres and Reds on the outside looking in.

What about the other end of the spectrum? What franchises have gone the longest without losing a postseason series?

Well, obviously the Astros just won three straight series in October to capture their first World Series title, a nice run following their 2015 ALDS loss to the Royals. Kansas City, by the way, won its last three postseason series during its run to the 2015 World Series crown.

The Mariners haven't lost a postseason series since the 2001 ALCS to the Yankees. That's, of course, the last time Seattle reached the postseason, now the longest playoff drought in any of the four major American pro sports leagues, thanks to the Bills' dramatic clinch last weekend.

And then there are the Marlins. They may be regarded as one of the least successful, most poorly run franchises in all of sports, but you can't deny that they've made the most of what few playoff opportunities they've had. Miami has reached the postseason only twice in its 25 seasons of existence - and went on to win the World Series both times.

Yes, the Marlins (for all their gaffes, embarrassments and disasters over the years) are the only MLB franchise that has never lost a postseason series, has never experienced the kind of heartbreak Chiefs fans felt yesterday and Nationals fans have felt four times in the last six years.

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