OK ~ so impeachment and all things political are occupying the news, but it’s the holiday season and enough is enough, at least until the after the first of the year. Besides, trying to have a reasoned discussion about Trump with a liberal is akin to making a square circle, can’t be done, so I thought I’d write about something infinitely more interesting–sports!
Comparing professional sports teams from different eras is a fun exercise but it’s nigh on impossible to really pin down which teams were the ‘best ever’ because there are just too many variables. How do you compare the ’76 Steelers to the ’85 Bears without putting them on the field together? Is the best hitting baseball team ever the ’27 Yankees or the ’76 Cincinnati Reds? And unless each team faces the same pitching there’s no way to really compare. And how can we compare the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls with the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors for ‘best ever’?
While such hypotheticals make for great barroom conversation the problem is always the same, measuring apples to apples. For example, how can we compare the legacy of teams that won championships before free agency with those that won championships after free agency? How do we compare the “original six” of the NHL with the 31 teams of today where the player pool may not be as deep? Of course the obverse argument is how do you evaluate the “original six” when 99% of the players came from Canada against today’s NHL with players hailing from three continents?
So rather than trying to evaluate teams of different eras, with different rules, different levels of competition, etc., etc., I thought I’d try to determine the most successful “sports town” in America in terms of major sports championships won vis-à-vis its population. To make this comparison I included only the four major professional men’s sports franchises, i.e., baseball, football, basketball and hockey.
Still, this was no easy task. The Chicago Bears began playing football 100 years ago, so is it fair to compare the number of championships the Bears have won to the Houston Texans who’ve only been in existence for 17 years? And is it fair to compare the number of championships in cities with just one professional sports franchise like San Antonio, with cities like New York that have nine (Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets (Brooklyn) Islanders, Devils (New Jersey) and the Rangers), and should the Devils really be considered a New York team?
Years ago a friend told me about a formula some enterprising sports fan devised to determine the best sports towns in America. It was an interesting system that factored in the population of the metropolitan area, the number of professional and college sports teams, season attendance, the amount of team merchandise sold and a few other criteria that elude me now. And on that basis it was no contest, Denver was by far the “best sports town in America.” (Hey, I didn’t make the criteria, I’m just repeating them.)
But I wanted an answer based on championships. And with that in mind, there’s really no contest as to which city boasts the most professional sports championships—it’s New York City with 54, (half of which were the Yankees 27 World Series championships.) But the greater New York area has twenty million residents while Green Bay has a little over 100,000, yet the Packers have won 13 NFL titles, which makes Green Bay almost 50 times more successful than New York on a per capita basis.
Now having said that if we look to the world of professional hockey Montreal is in a league of its own with 24 Stanley Cups. Meanwhile, In the NBA, the Celtics top the Lakers – 17 championships to 16. But wait, the Lakers won 5 of those championships while in Minneapolis, not LA. And speaking of Minnesota do the Twin Cities get credit for the Vikings’ lone NFL Championship even though they lost Super Bowl III before the NFL-AFL merger? And speaking of champions, while no city boasts winning all four major sports championships in one year, Detroit won three in 1935—the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings.
But when it’s all said and done, the best sports town in America vis-à-vis A) population, B) the number of teams, C) the diversity of sports teams and D) championships won is…drum roll please…Boston Massechuesetts! Bean Town has 39 professional sports championships, and while that’s no where near the “championships per capita” of Green Bay, and 15 fewer than New York, Green Bay is a one-sport town and the Big Apple boasts nine teams to Boston’s four with a population that’s 16 times greater.
So there you have it, and while I’m a die-hard Bronco, Cubs and Black Hawks fan—I must tip my hat to the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins because when it comes to championship teams, Boston is clearly #1!
Quote of the day: “If you watch a game it’s fun. If you play it, it’s recreation. If you work at it, it’s golf.”—Bob Hope