There is something about heartbreak as a sports fan that sticks with you above almost anything else, even the ultimate success.
As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, the 2003 season is just as vivid a memory for me as the 2016 World Series title, and every fanbase has that missed opportunity that haunts them even when the team is doing well.
Ahead we've revisited each MLB franchise's most heartbreaking team since 2000, focusing on teams that gave the fanbase tremendous hope, only to come up short.
As you take this painful trip down memory lane, take solace in the fact that every fanbase has a team that haunts them—you have company in misery.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: 2015
Coming off a 96-win season and their first division title since 1997, the Orioles returned essentially the same roster for the 2015 season. The only notable loss was slugger Nelson Cruz, yet they finished 81-81 and fell to third in the AL East standings. The 2016 season that ended with All-Star closer Zack Britton watching from the bullpen while Ubaldo Jiménez gave up the game-winning hit in the Wild Card Game is also worth a mention.
Boston Red Sox: 2003
With a 5-2 lead in Game 7 of the ALCS, the Red Sox left a tiring Pedro Martínez in too long, and he allowed three runs in the bottom of the eighth to eventually send the game to extra innings. Aaron Boone then launched the first pitch he saw from Tim Wakefield in the bottom of the 11th over the left field wall, clinching the series and the pennant. The 2011 team that collapsed with a 7-20 record in September also belongs in this conversation.
New York Yankees: 2004
A year after the Yankees crushed the Red Sox's hopes in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Boston returned the favor with arguably the greatest comeback in sports history. Down 3-0 in the ALCS, the Red Sox stormed back to win four straight behind a memorable steal from Dave Roberts, some all-time clutch hitting from David Ortiz and one bloody sock.
Tampa Bay Rays: 2010
The 2010 season was the end of an era for the Rays. All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford, slugger Carlos Peña, closer Rafael Soriano and several others would all depart in free agency that offseason. They captured the AL East title with 96 wins but were upended by the Texas Rangers in the ALDS as ace David Price took the loss in Games 1 and 5.
Toronto Blue Jays: 2013
Expectations were sky-high for the Blue Jays heading into the 2013 season after they swung a pair of blockbuster deals to acquire Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson from the Miami Marlins and reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. They ended up improving by just one win, finishing in the AL East cellar with a 74-88 record.