Detroit’s Pro Sports Teams Have Been Even Worse Than You Thought

Written By Drew Ellis on April 12, 2022Last Updated on May 13, 2022
Mad Lions fan

The Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from playoff contention this past weekend.

While that’s not necessarily surprising news, it does mark another season without a championship for a Detroit pro sports team.

Even worse, it’s another season without a playoff victory for the city.

While we can all revel in the great history of the Detroit Shock, they left town with their three titles for Tulsa, Oklahoma. TULSA!

We’ve all made jokes and been the butt of plenty for Detroit’s futility when it comes to postseason success.

Just how bad has it actually been?

You might want to sit down.

Photo: Shutterstock / Illustration: Paul Costanzo

Time since Detroit last won a title: 5462 days 14 hours 44 minutes 8 seconds

It’s been more than 5,000 days since the city of Detroit was able to celebrate a pro sports championship.

That came on June 4, 2008 when the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Since then, 25 different sports cities have won a championship in one of the four major sports. Thirteen of those towns have won at least two. Boston/New England and Los Angeles have each won seven.

Not helping is the fact it’s been more than 3,100 days since a Detroit sports team has won a playoff series. That was back on Oct. 10, 2013 when the Detroit Tigers topped the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS in five games.

I don’t know about you, but a lot has happened to me since then.

Playinmichigan’s own Paul Costanzo has a daughter who was born on Dec. 14, 2013. She’s in second grade and has yet to witness any kind of Detroit pro sports success. Welcome to the club, kid. I’d like to say it gets better, but the numbers don’t lie.

Here’s a look at each team’s disappointment, starting with the biggest.

Time since the Lions last won a playoff game: 11457 days 17 hours 44 minutes 8 seconds

The Detroit Lions set the standard for disappointing sports franchises.

Not only have the Lions not won a Super Bowl, they have never appeared in one.

I remember my grandfather telling me when I was a small child that all he wanted was to see the Lions win the Super Bowl.

Sadly, he passed many years ago. However, I always told myself that I would get to enjoy that moment for the both of us. Now, I am not so sure.

The Lions have had some elite talent over history. Most notably have been Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. Yet, it has resulted in just one playoff win between the three.

Here are some notable (not positively) dates in Lions history.

  • Last NFL Championship: Dec. 29, 1957
  • Lasts Division Title: Jan. 2, 1994
  • Last Playoff Win: Jan. 5, 1992
  • Last Playoff Appearance: Jan. 7, 2017

The Lions are well over 10,000 days without any notable victory.

With Dan Campbell in his second season in 2022, the rebuild is on its seventh decade.

Time since the Tigers last won a playoff series: 3508 days 13 hours 46 minutes 8 seconds

The Motor City Kitties have a soft spot with everyone in Michigan.

This is definitely a baseball town and a baseball state. However, the Detroit Tigers have collected only four World Series titles in franchise history.

The Tigers were arguably the closest of the four franchises to a championship in “recent” history. But, that also adds to the pain that its most-talented roster didn’t get the job done.

Miguel Cabrera in his prime, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Prince Fielder, Papa Grande! Only to lay a Grande egg in the 2012 World Series.

While 1984 doesn’t seem that long ago, it is approaching 40 years now.

Here are the notable dates in Tigers’ playoff history:

  • Last World Series Championship: Oct. 14, 1984
  • Last World Series Appearance: Oct. 28, 2012
  • Last Division Championship: Sept. 28, 2014
  • Last Playoff Appearance: Oct. 5, 2014
  • Last Playoff Win: Oct. 16, 2013
  • Last Playoff Series Victory: Oct. 10, 2013

The 2022 Detroit Tigers have some optimism to compete for a playoff appearance, but still remain a longshot for a championship this year.

Time since the Red Wings last won a playoff series: 3659 days 12 hours 44 minutes 8 seconds

The Detroit Red Wings hold the distinction of being the last of the four to collect a championship. Yet, even that was more than 5,000 days ago.

The Hockeytown-Era provided a lot of great memories and gave the city of Detroit a lot of pride. Detroit’s hockey franchise has produced 11 championships, most of the big four.

But, heavy was the head that wears the crown.

As great as the championship runs were, this recent stretch has been just as bad for the Red Wings.

Six consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance doesn’t scream “Hockeytown”.

Here’s the tale of the tape for the Red Wings:

  • Last Stanley Cup: June 4, 2008
  • Last Stanley Cup Finals Appearance: June 12, 2009
  • Last Playoff Appearance: April 21, 2016
  • Last Playoff Win: April 17, 2016
  • Last Playoff Series Win: May 12, 2013 (game ended on May 13 in the Eastern time zone)
  • Last Division Title: April 10, 2011

With Steve Yzerman running the show of his former team, fans are optimistic things can turn around.

The Red Wings have great young talent, led by Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider.

Time since the Pistons last won a playoff series: 5484 days 15 hours 59 minutes 8 seconds

Detroit fans relate heavily to the Detroit Pistons, because the franchise has often been viewed as the anti-NBA team.

The Bad Boys that won NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990 were often cast out for being too physical.

The 2004 championship team is often viewed as one of the least-talented NBA Finals winners. They are the only championship squad not to be represented in the NBA’s 75 Greatest Players of All Time.

It fits the “Detroit vs. Everybody” motto.

The Pistons actually have the distinction of being the most recent team to reach the playoffs. But, even that was well over 1,000 days ago.

Here’s a look at the Pistons’ notable dates.

  • Last NBA Championship: June 15, 2004
  • Last NBA Finals Appearance: June 23, 2005
  • Last Playoff Appearance: April 22, 2019
  • Last Playoff Win: May 26, 2008
  • Last Playoff Series Win: May 13, 2008
  • Last Division Title: April 16, 2008

With Detroit finally winning the NBA Draft Lottery in 2021 and selecting Cade Cunningham, things could be starting to turn around.

The 2022 season didn’t show that much, but the Pistons could be the closest to bucking the playoff trend.

Photo by Paul Sancya / Associated Press
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of Playinmichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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