Finalists Falter a Year After

St. Louis Cardinals World Series TrophyMake it to the finals one year, end your season early the next.

This was a familiar scenario for all eight finalists of 2006 from the top four sports leagues in North America. What am I talking about? Here, take a look.

Let’s start off with Major League Baseball. In ’06, the St.Louis Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers to claim the World Series title. After the New York Yankees won last night, the Tigers were officially eliminated from the playoffs, joining their previous season final opponents, the Cards, who were out of playoff contention weeks ago.

Both teams will be watching the playoffs on their couch, as opposed to in the dugout. How’s the view, Pujols?

Having been the last two teams standing in the baseball world prior to this year, it’s guaranteed now that such a feat won’t repeat as the set-up for a new World Series champion is under way.

Carolina Hurricanes Stanley CupLet’s switch over to the NHL.

Here was the match-up. Edmonton vs Carolina, Stanley Cup finals 2006. Yes, it was about as entertaining as Seinfeld’s series finale. Luckily for hockey fans, they knew by March the next year that a repeat of this Stanley Cup finals was impossible.

Both the Oilers and the Hurricanes failed to make the playoffs this past season, making it the first time in NHL history where the champion and runner-up from the year before won’t compete in the post-regular season festivities. Instead, the Anaheim Ducks went on to claim Lord Stanley, leaving the Edmonton and Carolina organizations in shame.

In the NBA’s case, it was much the same.

However, the main difference was that both finalists from ’06 made it to the playoffs next season. Unfortunately for them, they were both gone in the first round.

The Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks entertained the basketball world in the finals as the team from the Sunshine State prevailed. But it was all upside down a year later. The Heat were swept in the first round, while the Mavs were embarrassed in a 4-2 series defeat, setting the stage for a San Antonio Spurs victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the ’07 Finals.

There was no repeat, no defense of the title, and no rematch from the year before. Sounding familiar eh.

Pittsburgh Steelers Super BowlDid you bet on that, Tim Donaghy?

How about the NFL.

Steelers and Seahawks battled it out during Super Bowl XL, with Pittsburgh coming out on top to claim football’s glory. Glory didn’t last long for them as Steel Town failed – common theme here – to make it to the playoffs in ’07, paving the way for an Indianapolis Colts championship in SB XLI.

Out of all eight teams mentioned in each respected league, the only squad to make it into the playoffs the season after and past the first round was the Seattle Seahawks, who was defeated by the Chicago Bears to determine the Divisional champions.

Imagine that. Being at the top of the league one season, but falling prey to failure the next. Is this going to start becoming a trend in this ever-changing world of sports? Is there still room for repeats? For back-to-backs? For dynasties?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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