It feels like every year one of our teams hints at greatness but comes up just short. That’s even worse than just sucking, because we’re left wondering what could’ve been.
CONTENT WARNING: This article includes a deep, troubling recap of what it means to be a Wisconsin sports fan.
Here’s the breakdown:
We first experienced the Brewers’ rise and fall from prominence in the playoffs of 2011. After achieving their franchise-best-record of 96-66 at the time, they also went on to secure their first National Central Division Title.
That seems pretty promising for the rest of the playoffs, right? Well, they lost in six games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship series. Still impressive but no real title we’ll remember (except its absence).
It took the Brewers seven years to get another playoff birth, secure the National Central Division Title and reach the National League Championship after that 2011 rally. But, yet again, they lost there in seven games to the LA Dodgers. We did make it one more game in that series though!
Right now, we’re sitting atop NL Central with 6 wins on the Cubs. That’d be more promising if we were a playoff team. Which we’re not.
Badger basketball and football has shown some sparks in recent years, but few trophies.
After making a historic run in the 2015 March Madness Tournament–and beating Kentucky in the Final Four–the Badger basketball team went on to loose to Duke in the National Championship game 68-63. At least we got Frank the Tank out of it, who became a living Wisconsin legend in just one month.
In football, we’ve lost in four Rose Bowl games in the last decade. That’s three consecutive losses from 2010-2013 and the most heartbreaking yet in 2020 when the Badgers lost by one point to the Oregon Ducks. If that January 2020 game wasn’t foreshadowing for the problematic year that followed, I don’t know what is.
The Bucks’ recent playoff struggles are fresh memories to Wisconsinites.
Their 2018-2019 season wasn’t as painful because they were pretty mediocre for every year prior. They beat the Pistons with a four game sweep in the first round of the playoffs, beat the Celtics in five games in the next series and ultimately lost to future NBA Champions the Toronto Raptors despite winning the first two games in the series. Giannis was named league MVP and the franchise was in good hands. An electric year.
The 2019-2020 was more disappointing. After the promising year prior, fans had higher expectations–maybe some silverware? They coasted to the Conference Semifinals where they were upset by the Miami Heat. It hurt even worse that star Heat player Tyler Herro was once a Wisconsin Badger commit before defecting to Kentucky.
Even worse, there was talk of Giannis leaving MKE after the season ended, which created a panic before he signed a supermax contract.
I won’t rub in the Packers’ all-too-understood problems too much, but it’s becoming a common theme.
Despite a prolific history of winning, including nine pre-Super Bowl NFL titles and four Super Bowl titles–the Packers just can’t seal the deal anymore.
In 2015, they lost a playoff game to the Cardinals in overtime. In 2016, they won two rounds of playoffs before losing to the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. In 2019, they lost to the 49ers in the NFC Championship. in 2020, they lost to Brady’s–ugh, gross, Brady’s–Buccaneers in the NFC Championship.
That brutal 2020 season led Aaron Rodgers into a fight with the organization that now might lead him to opt out of the 2021 season entirely.
Recent Wisconsin sports history is plagued by captivating playoff runs, sudden playoff upsets and ultimately a star player debating his future in America’s Dairyland.
Will it change? Who knows. But at least we have passionate fans who will stick around regardless. And hey, the Bucks are still in the mix right now.