Look, you might think the teams in your town stink.
And there’s a good chance you might even be right. It’s much easier to disappoint a fanbase than please one, so odds are good you have jerseys of a few bad teams hanging in your closet right now.
But do me a favor: The next time you get down about another missed playoff spot or mourn a choked-away game, look up to the sky and thank heavens for just one thing.
That you’re not a fan of Miami sports teams.
Because, man, do they really stink.
Well, please accept our condolences because there isn’t a fan in any other town who would switch places with you — no matter how many days of sunshine are thrown in.
Seriously, what’s in that Atlantic Ocean water right now? And why do the few of you who dot the stands in South Florida keep showing up for franchises that don’t even show the slightest interest in winning?
Let’s start with the Dolphins, the impetus for writing this column and the current bane for the Miami sports fan (one of which just got charged $724 for two beers by a rogue beer vendor).
As you may have heard, the Dolphins are bad. Really bad. They lost their first four games by a combined score of 163-26 and are on pace to finish with a season point differential of minus-548.
Not only would that be a record, it’d be a record twice over. The 1981 Baltimore Colts are the current holders of the 16-game crown at minus-274, exactly half of the Dolphins’ current pace.
The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were at minus-287 after 14 games and any surviving members of that squad must be thrilled things are going so poorly in Miami. If the 1972 Dolphins never want anyone to share in their undefeated glory, the ’76 Bucs would be happy to give away their title of the worst NFL team ever.
And the 2019 Dolphins seem only too happy to take it. Miami is so bad that Dave Hyde, a local sports columnist, thinks they’re in the running for the worst team in sports history, not just the NFL.
The Dolphins franchise started out strong with the Don Shula Super Bowl years and then a good but ultimately unfulfilling run with the Dan Marino era.
Ever since? They’ve been the definition of mediocre — the team everyone forgot existed until Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin showed up with Bullygate for a few weeks in 2013.
But now they’re bad, which gets the Dolphins a national reputation and a deserved place among the rest of their Miami brethren.
Let’s briefly visit each, shall we?
• The Marlins are so dreadful, they’ve done what was once thought impossible: They’ve turned Derek Jeter into a loser.
The team has finished under .500 in 21 of their 27 years of existence (yet somehow still managed to win two World Series in the other six, pissing off countless fans everywhere else). Their old owners bilked taxpayers for a publicly funded stadium just before everyone else in the country wised up to that scheme and now that same ballpark sits largely empty, surrounded by neighbors who didn’t even want it there in the first place. The Marlins have ranked dead last in attendance these past two seasons, averaging just over 10,000 fans a night while losing 105 games in 2019.
• The Panthers are closer to Fort Lauderdale than South Beach, but they are still Miami’s hockey team. (And, yes, that still seems like a ridiculous sentence to type 26 years into their existence.)
Since making a fluke Stanley Cup Final appearance in just their third season, the Panthers have made the playoffs just four times since, losing in the first round each time. They play in an arena near a shopping mall and are made up primarily of people no longer wanted by the Chicago Blackhawks. They rank near the bottom of the league in attendance each year and would almost certainly be last if it weren’t for Canadian snow birds flying south each winter.
• The University of Miami football team had a good, long run atop college football, turning the old Orange Bowl into one of the indisputable places to find real sports-fan passion in South Florida.
Yet the new millennium hasn’t been great to the Hurricanes. They joined the ACC in 2004 and still haven’t won a conference title. They’ve also gone unranked in five of the 10 years this decade, including the current one.
• Then there’s the Heat. It’s hard to slam a team that started off the decade with two NBA Finals titles and four overall trips. This is by far the best run of Miami’s teams and perhaps the most reliable source of civic pride going forward.
At the same time, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are not walking through that door.
And we all believe in Jimmy Butler … right?
I feel bad for the real Miami sports fans, I really do. It’s got to be hard being in the middle of a battle between your teams’ owners and the rest of the nation’s sports fans to see who can respect you less.
At the same time, I feel bad for the rest of us who have to watch any time one of these sad-sack franchises comes to our town.
Sure, the victories are nice, but we usually have better things to do than to attend a pity party that has no end in sight.
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