There’s a difference between the regular season and the playoffs…and these gentlemen definitely prefer the former.
10. Andy Murray
Not yet 24, the UK’s latest great hope (a.k.a. “Tim Henman 2.0”) would seemingly have all the time in the world to achieve greatness…except that at 29 Roger Federer’s considered freakishly old for tennis and Andy’s been a fixture in the top five for years already. Still Grand Slam-less, he reached the Finals of the U.S. and Australian Open and was flattened by the Fed Express both times. For good measure, he crapped out at the 2008 Olympics in the first round.
9. Trevor Hoffman
This closer is the equal of Mariano Rivera (he actually holds the career saves record with 601)…except when the games matter. Yes, the Hoff has racked up two losses in just 12 postseason appearances compared to Mo’s one in seemingly billions. The World Series was particularly rough on Hoffman: lifetime, he’s 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA. Oh, and in 2007 he managed to blow two saves in four days to give the Colorado Rockies a playoff berth over his San Diego Padres.
8. Marcel Dionne
Not to be too hard on the Little Beaver, but when you’re an NHL Hall of Famer who scores 731 goals and collects 1,040 assists you probably should win a Stanley Cup at some point, particularly when your younger brother Gilbert manages to do it. (C’mon, Gilbert doesn’t even have a vaguely dirty nickname!)
7. Barry Bonds
Admittedly, he had a strong 2002 postseason, almost carrying the Giants to the title. (This was shortly after he suddenly doubled in size, as men in their 30s so often do.) But his other six playoff appearances were one and done, with performances so bad that even after factoring in 2002, his lifetime average in the playoffs is .245.
6. Peyton Manning
In the regular season, he is perfection itself and may well break all Brett Favre’s records while winning the hearts of fans everywhere by classily resisting the urge to show off his junk. Yet in seven of the 11 years he’s led his Colts to the playoffs, they immediately went home. Lifetime in the postseason he’s 9-10, with 29 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, and countless bland “we would’ve liked to score more points than them” press conferences.
5. Ted Williams
Teddy Ballgame batted under .300 twice: in his second to last season and when he played in the World Series. He hit .200 with no extra base hits in his lone postseason appearance in 1946 as Boston lost in seven games. That said, he did drill a legendary walk-off home run to win the 1941 All-Star game. (Take that, National League!)
4. Greg Norman
The British Open went pretty well for him, as he won it twice. The other three Slams? Not so much. The Shark repeatedly screwed himself out of titles in often spectacular fashion, managing multiple runner-ups at each. Incidentally, he managed to be number one in the world for 331 weeks, suggesting the PGA doesn’t find majors all that major.
3. Jersey Joe Walcott
The Garden State’s finest was 2-6 in heavyweight title bouts, losing his first four shots at the crown. Today he’s best known for spectacularly snatching defeat from victory when a dominant performance went for naught after Rocky Marciano destroyed him with a single shot in the 13th round. Later, while working as a referee, he choked again, losing track of the count after Muhammad Ali knocked Sonny Liston down in a heavyweight title match.
2. Harry Cooper
A PGA star from the 1920s through the 1940s, he won 31 titles, made the top five at a major 10 times, and collected exactly zero Grand Slam titles. That is 0 for a whole freakin’ lot.
1. Tracy McGrady
Say this for those other guys: at least sometimes they came close. T-Mac has seven All-Star appearances, seven All-NBA selections, and zero appearances in the playoffs’ second round. Even more embarrassing? The Houston Rockets finally advanced the year McGrady was injured and couldn’t play. Thankfully, this list lets him finally come out on top.