Now that the Houston Astros have won the World Series, the first in their history, there are only seven franchises that have never won a championship. As anyone in Houston can tell you -- if you can hear them through all the screaming, if they can see you to respond through all the champagne in their eyes -- winning the World Series changes your life, changes the way you interact with your favorite team forever. It's just the greatest thing, and now only seven fan bases have never experienced it.
So when do the others get their chance? As we already all start transitioning into talking about 2018 and beyond, here's a look at the seven teams that have never won a World Series and their likelihood of winning one next.
San Diego Padres. I've always felt a little bad for Padres fans. Their team has made two World Series, and they were both against two of the best teams of the past 40 years (the 1984 Tigers and the '98 Yankees) and both ended in a sweep. General manager A.J. Preller is knee deep in the Padres' current rebuild, and they have quite the hill to climb. The hill is even steeper when you consider every advantage the Dodgers have over them, and that the D-backs and Rockies are far ahead of them, and the Giants are always going to have more money to spend even when they're in a down period. Even if the Padres are on their way back up, it's still a long climb.
Seattle Mariners. There is an undeniable sense that the Mariners' window might have closed without them getting a chance to step through it. The team that still has the longest playoff drought in baseball -- 16 years and counting now -- is making a habit of getting this close to ending that drought but not quite getting there. Now the team is getting older, and the front office is making the sort of win-now/pay-later trades (like sending Tyler O'Neill to St. Louis last July for … well, it's hard to be sure what it was for) that pushes them further away from a title rather than closer.
Colorado Rockies. The Rockies finally had their breakthrough year in 2017 … but all they got out of it was a road National League Wild Card Game against the D-backs that wasn't even that close. There are reasons to worry whether that success if replicable. They obviously have some studs in the lineup, with Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, and the rotation at last looked league average this year. But is it possible that 2017 was an isolated incident? The Dodgers and the D-backs will remain their superiors in the division. Teams like the Cardinals, Mets and Giants took big, but perhaps temporary, steps back as Wild Card contenders. The Brewers, Braves and even Phillies are about to make a charge. Some Rockies fans believe 2017 was just the start. But it's just as possible that 2017 was the blip.
Texas Rangers. The Rangers lost two straight World Series in their absolute prime -- that 2011 team was just stacked -- but that was only supposed to be the beginning. We were sort of talking about the Rangers at the beginning of this decade the way that we talk about the Astros now: full of young talent, with smart, innovative minds steering the ship. But now things have blown a bit off course. Besides the Astros, the American League West is not particularly imposing at this point, so it's possible that this team can get back a little momentum, but the Rangers have taken steps backward in recent years, rather than forward.
Tampa Bay Rays. Back when the AL Wild Card race had, like, eight teams competing for two spots, it looked like the Rays were the most complete team in the scrum. They finally got some offense this year, they had Chris Archer leading the rotation and, considering the flaws of all the other contenders, that appeared to be enough. Then they stopped hitting, and the Twins zoomed past them and everybody else. You can always count on the Rays to be PECOTA's hot team heading into the season, but they're always short on depth and you never know when the bats will go away again. Their division is helpful in that the Blue Jays and (especially) the Orioles are about to take a step back, but the Yankees and Red Sox are just starting to power up. They'll be the Sleeper Pick for roughly the sixth year running.
Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have made only one World Series, and it was 35 years ago against a team (the Cardinals) that's now a hated division rival. They were a legitimate contender most of this season before faltering late, but the smart management team made sure not to trade away any of their coming prospects just to help a team that was probably overachieving a bit. Milwaukee still finished second in the NL Central and, depending on what St. Louis does in the offseason, it will likely be picked second heading into 2018 as well. The Brewers, after their dip, are ready to contend again. The Cubs still stand in their way, and the Cards aren't going away either, but the Brewers' window is about to open, and it may stay open for a while.
Washington Nationals. I know it sounds silly to think the Nats have the best chance of winning the World Series when they still -- still! -- can't get out of the Division Series, but they're easily the best team on this list for 2018 and have a clear path to the playoffs thanks to their division. The questions: 1. Can they finally win the NLDS; and 2. Is 2018 their last chance? Sure they've got Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg under contract for a long time, but Bryce Harper will be a free agent at the end of next season. That division is getting better, which means eventually the Braves and the Phillies and the Mets are going to catch up. The Nationals have, without question, the best chance of anyone on this list to win the World Series in 2018. But '19? '20? We'll see.
* * *
Subscribe to Will's weekly newsletter; and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.