The biggest professional sports franchises out there are brands that are recognized in countries all around the world and even on continents never traveled. It is not, for one example, uncommon for European soccer stars to wear caps representing teams that call the United States home. Brands such as the New York Yankees, Real Madrid, Los Angeles Lakers, Manchester United, the Dallas Cowboys and Barcelona have become globalized due to international media rights deals, social media websites and also video streams for games that are not always as legal as they are convenient for fans located all around the world.
Just as with many other aspects of life and of society, the teams that are the most beloved throughout the world are also some of the more despised franchises that exist. Some of that hatred is a bit unfair, as the perceptions that have been floated out there about those teams do not always represent the reality of their situations. In other cases, however, teams seemingly go out of the way to earn their less-than-stellar reputations. Then, there are the teams that get dragged through the mud because of the fact that they rarely, if ever, win anything of merit.
It should come as no surprise that the top pro sports teams that have the worst reputations in all of the land reside in the United States. While there are arguments to be made that those organizations are matched by some well-known brands that have their homes in Europe, those sides do not routinely have the word “evil” associated with them as to the US clubs that are spotlighted in this piece. What is the most successful pro sports organization in all of North America is also one that does not, as per the rules of the league in which it plays, have to deal with a hard salary cap or with financial fair play, and thus it has worked hard to gain its negative reputation over the past couple of decades.
15 Cleveland Sports Teams
The city of Cleveland is commonly referred to as the “Mistake by the Lake,” and that largely stems from the fact that the town has not enjoyed a professional sports championship in over 50 years. When the Cleveland Indians aren't disappointing fans in October, the Cleveland Browns are having to deal with the team's general manager being suspended because he texted assistant coaches during games. The city's hopes now once again rest on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to end the title drought that has plagued a region that has some of the most passionate fans in the world.
14 Baltimore Ravens
Just what the heck goes on over at the Baltimore Ravens from time to time? Over a decade after linebacker Ray Lewis was linked with a murder case that saw the player negotiate a plea agreement and also pay out undisclosed amounts of settlements, the debacle involving running back Ray Rice put the Ravens and the National Football League under national spotlights throughout 2014. The Ravens recently cut running back Bernard Pierce after he was arrested on DUI charges, and Pierce was the third Baltimore player to be arrested during the current NFL offseason. Somebody at the club needs to establish some order inside of the locker room and soon.
13 Toronto Maple Leafs
Remember back to the days when the Toronto Maple Leafs were the top professional hockey franchise on the planet? Those of you who answered “yes” to that question unintentionally showed your age while doing so. It has been nearly five decades since the Maple Leafs last won a Stanley Cup, and the team does not seem to be at all close to once again achieving that goal anytime soon. Toronto firing head coaches is becoming a tradition that is repeated every other season, which is a true shame as that devoted fan base that sticks with the team deserves much better.
12 AC Milan
It does not seem as if it was all that long ago when AC Milan were one of the true powers in European football. They are now a once proud side that has been run right into the ground, so much so that fans have staged protests hoping to force the sale of the club that they believe will turn the team's fortunes around. Milan are, as of the posting of this piece, nowhere near the top of the Serie A table, and it has been widely reported that at least a few of the team's stars are fed up with how the club is being operated.
11 New York Mets
It's bad enough that fans of the club have to deal with the reality that the New York Mets are going to be the little brothers of the New York Yankees until the day before forever. That the Mets were forced to cut costs because majority owner Fred Wilpon lost so much money that was invested with Bernard Madoff in that infamous Ponzi scheme brought new-found shame to the Amazins, a team that is just now crawling out of that hole. Perhaps 2015 will be the year in which the Mets repair the team's reputation and flirt with a postseason berth.
It has been nearly a full decade since the 2006 Italian football scandal implicated Juventus among other clubs, and the current kings of Serie A have done well to recover from being relegated and having multiple titles stripped from the club's trophy cases. Juve are once again in the driver's seat to win another Serie A title, and yet the club still cannot avoid negative headlines regarding some within the team's fan base. Juventus fans have been accused of making racist chants/gestures as recently as March 2015, which is unfortunate considering the club's status in Italian club football and in the top club competition in the world, the Champions League.
9 Buffalo Bills
There is only one way that the Buffalo Bills will forever eliminate those “Boy I Love Losing Super Bowls” jokes that pop up every time that the team is eliminated from postseason play: Win the Super Bowl for the first time in the history of the franchise. Buffalo is in the middle of semi-reboot that includes a new ownership group taking the club over, a group that will keep the team where it belongs in Western New York, and former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan has now been tasked to leading the team to the mountaintop of the National Football League.
8 Real Madrid
Fans of the club may not have a problem with the practice, but those who have no affiliation with the team cannot stand that Real Madrid are able to buy any player the team wants during any transfer window even if that footballer is not a must-get for the club. Supporters of the club know next to nothing about what it means to be a suffering sports fan, something that is once again being proven to be true in that Real fans are booing Gareth Bale due to his lackluster play less than 12 months after the former Tottenham Hotspur star buried the match-winner in the Champions League Final for his new team.
7 New York Knicks
Stop me if you have heard this one before: The New York Knicks are in the middle of a rebuild. It is been over 40 years since the Knicks last won a championship, and the club is, on paper, at least two offseasons away before it will be able to hang with the best of the best in the Eastern Conference, which is weaker than the Western Conference. Legendary head coach Phil Jackson has been brought in to fix the Knicks, and part of that plan is to hope that the National Basketball Association draft lottery is especially kind to New York this time around.
Take to your favorite Internet search engine and put the words “Lazio” and “racism” together in your search. You will be rather busy examining all of the links that you discover. Lazio were punished for racism offenses that occurred during matches on four occasions during the 2012-13 campaign. Fans of the club apparently learned nothing from those incidents, however, as Lazio were forced to play behind closed doors in 2014 because of the actions of the team's supporters. There is no place for racism or any similar behavior at any pro sporting event in the world, and the supposed “neo-Fascist hooligans” who follow teams should be banned from attending matches.
The Blues are, for some fans of club football, everything that is wrong with the pro version of the beautiful game. Chelsea are owned by an eccentric billionaire who has proven time and time again that he will spend whatever money necessary to keep the club as one of the best in England and in all of Europe. Chelsea are also only one of a handful of teams out there able to afford a manager such as Jose Mourinho. There are also some ugly incidents that have involved pockets of Chelsea fans that have helped such a negative reputation hover over the club.
4 Chicago Cubs
Collect a group of North American pro sports fans into a room and mention the term “Loveable Losers” to those individuals. Most will immediately associate that term with the Chicago Cubs, the Major League Baseball club that last won a World Series all the way back in 1908. The presupposed curse that hovers over the pro sports team that play home games in Cleveland, Ohio comes up whenever one of those clubs fails to win a championship, but none of those teams are currently in a title drought that is even close to that from which the Cubs have not been able to escape for over a century.
3 Manchester City
City Football Group has gone from a big-money organization that wanted to turn the city's blue team into the top club in all of Manchester into an entity that is working to expand the City brand across multiple countries, most recently in the United States via Major League Soccer team New York City Football Club. While Manchester City do deserve credit for hoisting the Premier League trophy twice over the past three seasons, the club's reputation is that it has bought and not earned each of its successes, and that reputation took further hits due to the controversy involving City, NYCFC and Frank Lampard.
2 Oakland Raiders
What is the one comment that hits social media websites such as Twitter and also sports talk radio whenever a National Football League player hits the open market after he gets in trouble with the law? “He is on his way to the Oakland Raiders.” Think back to the early days of March 2015 when it was rumored that the Raiders could be in for both defensive end Greg Hardy and for running back Adrian Peterson. Those whispers had everything to do with Oakland's reputation, deserved or not, for grabbing players who have had legal troubles during their pro football careers.
1 New York Yankees
No other team on this list has earned the nickname “The Evil Empire,” although the Yankees have, to the club's credit, pulled back the offseason spending just a bit in recent memory. Take the winter months of 2015 as an example. New York theoretically has the cash to splash on big-name free agent pitchers such as Jon Lester, and yet the Yankees were seemingly not all bothered to allow Lester to make a massive amount of money upon signing with the Chicago Cubs. If, however, the much-maligned Alex Rodriguez makes a successful return to the field this spring, that “evil” word will continue to be linked with the Yanks for at least another year.