Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Championship Championships

After the Eagles lost Super Bowl XXXIX, we all read that Philadelphia holds the longest title drought among markets that have franchises in "all four major team sports." I guess hockey is still considered a major team sport. ("Better pull them pants up, Chief.") If it were up to me, I'd replace it with Arena football. At least you can count on those guys to play. Anyway, here are the title drought standings:

Boston 2004 Red Sox, Patriots
Detroit 2004 Pistons
Miami 2003 Marlins
Arizona 2001 Diamondbacks
Denver 2001 Avalanche
New York 2000 Yankees
Dallas 1999 Stars
Chicago 1998 Bulls
Atlanta 1995 Braves
Washington* 1991 Redskins
Minnesota 1991 Twins
Philadelphia 1983 76ers
*D.C., of course, has all four sports as of April 2005. Also, one could argue for including the Bay Area here, as it has the 49ers, Raiders, Giants, A's, Warriors and Sharks. If you insist on including it, I won't stop you. Last championship: 49ers, 1994.

As a native Minnesotan, I guess I'm rooting for the Eagles to keep losing, then.

Compiling that list got me wondering which city is the overall sports champion: all leagues, all years. So I put together a database of all title winners in the big four pro leagues going back to the beginning of the Super Bowl era. Here are your standings (see end of post for the specific championship years):

14New York3821
12Los Angeles1290
5San Francisco50----
4Long Island------4
3New Jersey----03
3St. Louis12--0
3Green Bay3------
2San Antonio----2--
2Kansas City110--

*NFL denotes Super Bowl champion, including the '68 Jets and '69 Chiefs of the AFL
(If a city had a franchise during the covered period but it won no titles, it gets a "0" for the sport. If the city had no franchise, the sport is marked with "--")

Obviously New York is always going to come out ahead, no matter how you count and how far back you go. The city has two football teams and two baseball teams, and all have won championships. Boston has had a hell of a run lately (Pats, Sox) and in the past (Celtics). L.A. has the Lakers. But ... Montreal? Sure, the Canadiens have historically been a dominant hockey team, but they haven't won the Cup since 1993. And now that Les Nationales are gone, the Habs are it for Montreal. I can't in good conscience equate an NHL title with a Super Bowl victory. So I tweaked these standings again.

Now, I'm sure that for a hockey player, a Stanley Cup championship is just as good as a Super Bowl victory. But I'm not a hockey player. I'm a sports fan, sitting on the couch. I decided to weight these titles according to their impact on the general sports population (meaning me, but I'm sure we can all agree on the principle). So let's weight them like this:

Super Bowl title = 3
World Series title = 3
NBA championship = 2
Stanley Cup title = 1

That seems about right to me. I'm not happy about equating baseball and football -- this is Down and Distance, after all, not Foul Line and Rosin Bag -- but I'm also a realist. OK, weighting the titles gives us this:

38   New York 10   Montreal 4   San Antonio
28   Boston 9   Philadelphia 4   Houston
27   Los Angeles 9   St. Louis 3   New Jersey
20   Pittsburgh 9   Green Bay 3   Anaheim
19   Oakland 9   Cincinnati 3   Arizona
16   Dallas 8   Denver 3   Atlanta
15   San Francisco 7   Toronto 2   Seattle
15   Detroit 6   Minnesota 2   Portland
15   Chicago 6   Kansas City 2   Milwaukee
12   Miami 4   Edmonton 1   Calgary
12   Baltimore 4   Long Island
10   Washington 4   Tampa

Oh man, we're getting warm. But there's one other factor to consider. Look at Anaheim and Arizona. The Angels are just two years removed from winning the World Series, the Diamondbacks just three years. Yet both trail Long Island, which is still coasting on decades-old Stanley Cup titles. That ain't right. Similarly, look at Atlanta. Yes, the city's lone World Series title was 10 years ago, but how can it be only one point behind Milwaukee, winner of the 1970 NBA title and nothing else? Obviously, we can't just weight for sport. We have to add in a time element.

I developed a formula that assigns points based on a) the sport in which each title was won, and b) the year in which it was won. The most recent title in each sport has a value 39 times that of the oldest title (there have been 39 years in the Super Bowl era). By sport, titles are valued in the same proportion as above: NFL 3, MLB 3, NBA 2, NHL 1.

The Patriots' 2004 NFL title, for example, is worth about twice as much as the Bears' title from 1985. That Bears title, meanwhile, is worth about the same as the Houston Rockets' NBA 1995 title and is worth more than any Stanley Cup. (The most recent Cup equates to the 1978 World Series and Super Bowl.)

So, finally, we have our standings:

.963   New York .246   Baltimore .133   Philadelphia
.813   Boston .214   Toronto .132   New Jersey
.763   Los Angeles .204   St. Louis .131   Green Bay
.531   Chicago .192   Tampa .115   Atlanta
.441   Detroit .185   Minnesota .092   Kansas City
.440   Dallas .185   San Antonio .085   Long Island
.427   San Francisco .177   Cincinnati .036   Seattle
.336   Denver .154   Montreal .031   Portland
.327   Miami .151   Houston .031   Calgary
.322   Pittsburgh .142   Anaheim .015   Milwaukee
.310   Oakland .140   Edmonton
.283   Washington .138   Arizona

Based on the weighting of the sports (3+3+2+1), there were 9 total points awarded. The fractions above don't add up to 9, however, because the .112 points reserved for the 1994 World Series winner are unclaimed.

Now, chew that over.

Each city's championship teams and years are as follows:

New York (Giants 90,86; Jets 68; Yankees 00,99,98,96,78,77; Mets 86,69; Knicks 73,70; Rangers 94)
Boston (Patriots 04,03,01; Red Sox 04; Celtics 86,84,81,76,74,69,68; Bruins 72,70)
Los Angeles (Raiders 84; Dodgers 88,81; Lakers 02,01,00,88,87,85,82,80,72)
Montreal (Canadiens 93,86,79,78,77,76,73,71,69,68)
Detroit (Tigers 84,68; Pistons 04,90,89; Red Wings 02,98,97)
Pittsburgh (Steelers 79,78,75,74; Pirates 79,71; Penguins 92,91)
Chicago (Bears 85; Bulls 98,97,96,93,92,91)
Oakland (Raiders 80,76; A's 89,74,73,72; Warriors 75)
Dallas (Cowboys 95,93,92,77,71; Stars 99)
Baltimore (Ravens 00; Colts 70; Orioles 83,70,66)
San Francisco (49ers 94,89,88,84,81)
Philadelphia (Phillies 80; 76ers 83,67; Flyers 75,74)
Edmonton (Oilers 90,88,87,85,84)
Miami (Dolphins 72,73; Marlins 03,97)
Denver (Broncos 98,97; Avalanche 01,96)
Washington (Redskins 91,87,82; Bullets 78)
Long Island (Islanders 83,82,81,80)
New Jersey (Devils 03,00,95)
St. Louis (Rams 99; Cardinals 82,67)
Green Bay (Packers 96,67,66)
Toronto (Blue Jays 93,92; Maple Leafs 67)
Cincinnati (Reds 90,76,75)
Tampa (Buccaneers 02; Lightning 04)
San Antonio (Spurs 03,99 )
Houston (Rockets 94,95 )
Minnesota (Twins 91,87)
Kansas City (Chiefs 69; Royals 85)
Anaheim (Angels 02)
Arizona (Diamondbacks 01)
Atlanta (Braves 95)
Calgary (Flames 89)
Seattle (SuperSonics 79)
Portland (Trail Blazers 77)
Milwaukee (Bucks 71)

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