ESPN: ’03 Tigers, ’08 Lions worst in MLB, NFL history

The Detroit News

The 2008 Detroit Lions are close to having company.

With the Browns one defeat away from joining that Hololulu blue and silver edition as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams, ESPN took a look Tuesday at the worst franchise in the history of each of the four major sports.

Detroit, unfortunately for its fans, is well represented.

The 2008 Lions and 2003 Tigers are deemed the worst in NFL and Major League Baseball history, respectively, by ESPN, making the Motor City home to half of the most hapless.

And, while the Lions own the worst record in NFL history, the 2003 Tigers do not. That belongs to the 1962 Mets, who went 40-120 — one game worse than the 43-119 Tigers — but were an expansion team.

“(Detroit) was an established franchise that had spent 10 seasons building to be historically awful,” David Schoefield of ESPN writes. “It somehow finished 13 games worse than the 2002 team, which lost 106 games. It earned this dubious achievement.”

The Tigers were outscored by 337 runs, with Schoenfield noting they actually had a winning record in one-run games (19-18), but “it was 7-40 in games decided by five or more runs.”

From there, the Tigers rose from the ashes, thanks to free-agent signings (Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez), drafting future ace Justin Verlander and hiring manager Jim Leyland. The Tigers reached the World Series in 2006, and went to the playoffs four straight seasons from 2011-14.

That Rod Marinelli-coached Lions team, meanwhile, had issues on defense. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein notes they were last in the NFL in run defense, allowed 32.3 points per game, and only had four interceptions.

“Detroit’s biggest issue was it couldn’t stop anyone,” Rothstein writes.

The Lions have three playoff appearances since 2011, though there won’t be a fourth this season.

“... They are still in the world of mediocrity,” Rothstein writes. “Detroit has one playoff win in the Super Bowl era and has not won a division title since 1993.”

Joining the Lions and Tigers in the quartet are the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA, and the 1974-75 Washington Capitals of the NHL.