Wait lifters: Clubs look to end title droughts

Cubs on longest of dry spells; 8 clubs have never won

Wait lifters: Clubs look to end title droughts

Nobody knows the phrase "Wait till next year" better than the Cubs and their fans. But they're not the only ones entering Spring Training hoping this is the elusive "next year" when it comes to October glory.

After a season that took them just one step from reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945, the Cubs have a first title since 1908 in mind as 2016 begins. Despite the Cubs' well-documented decades of drought, eight franchises have never won it all, including two that have yet to make it to the big dance.

With preparations for "next year" ramping up, here's a look at the current wait status for big league ballclubs:

THE WAIT OF ALL WAITS

Once again, "Back to the Future II" finds itself in the realm of fiction rather than baseball oracle. The 2015 World Series title for the Cubs didn't come true -- although a remarkable season sure made many believe it might. The Cubs have reinforced last year's darlings with Jason Heyward, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist, and the hope on the North Side is that 1945 and perhaps even 1908 will become relegated to history as early as this October.

The American League version of the Cubs? That's the Indians, who have the second-longest wait for a title. The Tribe last went to the World Series in 1997 but Cleveland hasn't won one since 1948. The Browns last brought an NFL title to town in 1964 and the NBA's Cavaliers have yet to cash in, putting Cleveland's sports teams in a different category than Chicago's overall.

The 10 longest waits for teams that have won the World Series, not including the eight that never have:

TEAM, last World Series championship
CHC, 1908
CLE, 1948
PIT, 1979
BAL, 1983
DET, 1984
NYM, 1986
LAD, 1988
OAK, 1989
CIN, 1990
MIN, 1991

A SHORTER WAIT LIST

When the Blue Jays made the postseason last year, Toronto enjoyed its first October run since winning back-to-back World Series in 1992-93, ending a 21-year drought. When the Royals went from the AL Wild Card Game to the World Series in 2014, they ended a 29-year postseason drought.

That brings us to much shorter waits, and it leaves the Mariners with the longest of them. Having last made it to October in 2001 after their magical 116-win season, the Mariners are at 14 years and counting. In all, 24 franchises all have reached the playoffs in the last five years, and these are the only six that haven't made it in the last five years.

TEAM, last postseason appearance
SEA, 2001
MIA, 2003
SD, 2006
CWS, 2008
COL, 2009
MIN, 2010

NEVER BEEN KISSED

The Montreal Expos were one win -- heck, potentially one inning -- from reaching the World Series in 1981. But that was as close as they got before eventually becoming the Nationals, who have been stopped at the Division Series twice since bringing baseball back to Washington, D.C., in 2005. The Mariners, who hail from the state named after ol' George, are still pining to bring a pennant to Washington state.

TEAM, last World Series appearance
CHC, 1945
WAS, never (since 1969)
SEA, never (since 1977)
PIT, 1979
MIL, 1982
BAL, 1983
LAD, 1988
OAK, 1990
CIN, 1990
MIN, 1991

EIGHT TEAMS OUT

The Nats (MLB since '69, via Montreal) and Mariners ('77 expansion) are but two of the eight teams heading into 2016 without a World Series title in franchise history. The others: the Rays ('98) of the AL East, the Rangers ('61, via Washington Senators) and Astros ('62, nee Colt .45s) of the AL West, the Brewers ('69, via Seattle Pilots) of the NL Central and the Padres ('69) and Rockies ('93) of the NL West.

PAST EXPERIENCE

Heading into 2016, three teams with glowing World Series records are among those with the most years since their last trip to the Fall Classic.

The Dodgers, winners of 22 National League pennants dating back to their New York days and five of six total World Series titles since arriving on the West Coast, haven't been back to the final matchup since 1988. In that time, all four of what are now their NL West opponents have reached the World Series, the Giants winning three of five before last season and the Diamondbacks winning just four years into their existence. (The Reds, Braves and Astros -- NL West foes in 1988 -- have made it as well.)

Still, the Dodgers' current wait is shorter than that of two other teams with significant World Series resumes: the Orioles ('83), a regular participant in the late '60s and early '70s and three-time winner; and the Pirates ('79), with two of the most dramatic World Series victories on record.

WAIT NOT

As a tip of the cap to the other side of the ledger, the Cardinals are leading the pack in terms of keeping the postseason coming to town, having reached October five straight seasons and 13 of the 21 since the Wild Card round was introduced. The Yankees have an era edge by reaching 18 of 21 Wild Card postseasons, but last year's one-game postseason ended a two-year absence.

The Pirates and Dodgers are next after the Cards in terms of active postseason streaks with three straight, the longest in either's franchise history. All of them remain far short of the record 14 straight by the Braves that ended with their 2005 appearance.

As the Braves found out that next year, all it takes it one year out of October to leave 'em waiting. That's why all 10 teams that made the postseason last year are just as eager to make their October dreams come true again in 2016.

To one degree or another, they all know from past experience -- although none more than the Cubs -- that the waiting is the hardest part.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.