Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fool for the Cit-ay.

The Sticks.
The City.
Yesterday, Frownie raised a justifiable concern that competitive imbalance in baseball may lead to increased antipathy toward the sport. His concern centered only on championships, pointing out that mainly large markets (a difficult term to concretely define) have gotten that ring. Using the list "media markets," let's take a look at the history of the big markets, using only the criteria of championships.

1. New York:
The Yankees. Duh. But none this millenium! The Curse of Boonitez is upon them!
The Mets. 2 championships in 47 years, the most recent being 1986.
2. L.A.:
The Dodgers Usually competitive ever since the franchise swapped coasts in 1958. But their last title was in 1988.
The Angels. Lumped in with the greater L.A. area although the O.C. is its own beast. Usually competitive over its history. 1 title, won in 2002.
3. Chicago:
The Cubs. Ha.
The White Sox. Won in 2005 for the first time since 1917, which is basically winning it for the first time.
4. Philly:
The Phightins won it all last year, giving the phranchise a phat total of 2 in their entire phlengthy existence.
5. Dallas: 0-0.
6. San Fran/Oakland:
The Giants have never won a World Series in San Fran, with their last title coming back in 1954 when they were still raising hell up in Harlem. Dipset.
The A's have had a better go of it, having won 4 titles since moving to the Yay Area while usually fielding a competitive squadron.
(This is also probably the weirdest and most disparate metro area in the country. San Fran has 809, 000 people. Oakland has 397,000. Around them are numerous towns of various wealth and size, but separated by massive bays, mountains, ports, amazing burrito production and deserted beaches. Lumped together as a metro area, the Yay area lands in at 6, but it sure doesn't feel like a common metro area like the other areas on this list.)
7. Boston. A title in 2004 and a title in 2007. I forget when their last title before 2004 was.
8. Atlanta. 1 title in 1995, their only title in the Dungeon Family's home, having won in 1957 in Milwaukee and 1914 in Boston.
9. Washington. 1 title in 1924. Although not technically included in D.C.'s 'media market,' Baltimore has, until this decade, been a competitive team, last winning it all in 1983.
10. Houston. 0-1. Didn't put up much of a fight in their lone appearance in 2005.

So outside the Yanks and A's, and recently the BoSox, not much of a impressive showing for the 15 teams that comprise this top 10 media markets list. Of course, the Yanks skew everything in baseball history. But outside the Yanks, none of these teams can be said to be title hogs.

Moreover, Oakland and Dallas provide good examples of why it is hard to classify cities as big or small market. For example, Montreal would rank 5th in population if it was an American city, yet the 'Spos were never thought of as a big market.

Outside the many periods of Yankee dominance, baseball can be proud of its championship distribution. The 1980's saw a different team win every year save for the Dodgers winning twice. The 00's are shaping up similarly. Moreover, while no champ in the 00's can be said to be truly from a small media market, it would be hard to say dollars won the day with any of the champs this decade save for the Yanks, and perhaps the 04 BoSawx and 01 Dbacks.

All of this is not to say that there is not financial imbalance in baseball. However, market size is not the major indicator of success. And anyways, if championship are to be the be-all and end-all in the context of competitive balance, I think it's important to look at the amount of different champions each sport produces aka Which sport has had the most fans bases sip the sizurp?

Baseball players won the right to outright free agency in December, 1975. Since then baseball has had 32 World Serieses, producing 19 different winners. 7 teams have never won a World Series in their current city.(the Tampa Bay Rays, the Seattle Mariners, the Texas Rangers, the Houston Astros, the Colorodo Rockies, the San Diego Padres, and the San Francisco Giants). Of the remaining 23 teams, three are suffering from droughts longer than a current young man/fan's experience (30 years), the Cubs (1908), the Indians (1948) and the Senators (1924).

For comparison, there have been 34 Super Bowls since December 1975, producing 14 different winners. 12 of the NFL's 32 teams have never won an NFL championship (Super Bowl or Pre) in their current city. (the Seattle Seahawks, the San Diego Chargers, the Arizona Cardinals, the Houston Texans, the New Orleans Saints, the Tennessee Titans, the Atlanta Falcons, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Carolina Panthers, the Cincy Bengals, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Buffalo Bills). Of the remaining 20 teams, 5 are suffering from droughts longer than a current young man/fan's experience, the Kansas City Chiefs (1969), the Detroit Lions (1957), the Cleveland Browns (1964), the New York Jets (1968), and the Philly Eagles (1960).

There have been 34 NBA championships since December 1975, producing 11 different winners. 17 of the NBA's 30 teams have NEVER won a NBA championship in their current city. (the Sacramento Kings, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz, the Denver Nuggets, the Dallas Mavericks, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Indiana Pacers, the Memphis Grizzlies, the New Orleans Hornets, the Orlando Magic, the Atlanta Hawks, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Toronto Raptors, and the New Jersey Nets). 5 of the 14 remaining teams, the Warriors 1975), the Blazers (1977), the Knicks (1973), the Wiz (1978), and the Bucks (1971), are working on some pretty serious "Mary Tyler Moore was the hottest dime in the game" droughts.

As with steroids, baseball as a sport catches flak where other sports don't.


Cleveland Frowns said...

This completely misses our point. We don't care how many different teams have won championships. The point is that smaller market teams in baseball don't win them, and this post does nothing to refute that.

Fine that different big market teams win in baseball, but the smaller market teams still don't win.

There are plenty of good reasons why the NBA is more prone to dynasty than the MLB, and we never said dynasties are a bad thing. We're just sad that, unlike in the NBA, a smaller market MLB team has no chance at one.

Cleveland Frowns said...

Again, we weren't looking at "competitive balance" generally, as you frame it. We were looking at one aspect of it, which explains our growing apathy toward the league.

coachie said...

I understand our points are different, but i still think it's important to point out that baseball is the most utilitarian sport, it provides the greatest happiness to the greatest amount of fans because it has the greatest amount of different teams winning it all.

You are right, to an extent, that the smallest market teams have a tougher go of it. But we are talking about 8 markets below cleveland's. It's not as if it's close to a majority (balance). One of those 8 is St. Louis. Another of those 8 is Colorado, which was in the World Series 2 years ago. Another is Milwaukee, a feisty team. Another is San Diego, until this year usually a competitive team.

And you know what, again looking at the recent World Series winners, is it that offensive if long-waiting teams like the Chisox, the Angels, and the BoSox instead of say, the Pirates or Royals? Does it make the sport better if a truly small town wins? Are they better fans? Are they more deserving? So be it, let the fans in those handful of small markets be apathetic then.

Baseball is still doing a better job of bringing the greatest joy to the greatest amount of fans.

Cleveland Frowns said...

You're right that most joy to the most people wasn't really the point, and I would be glad if baseball, in fact, does that. (Though the NFL most probably actually does that, where the MLB is probably closer to "most joy to the same kind of people," i.e., people who live in top media markets.).

Anyway, "most joy to the most people" is no answer to our suggestion as to how the game might further improve. Unless you're suggesting that a salary cap or more meaningful revenue sharing would somehow make for more fertile ground for dynasties in MLB, which would seem weird.

Bryan said...

This argument is silly.

Would anyone seriously argue that every baseball team has the same chance at winning the WS?

When the Indians signed David Dellucci to a 3 year, $11.5M contract and found out he sucked, they played him for MONTHS because he was eating up so much budget. He got 9th and 10th tries.

When the Red Sox paid Edgar Renteria 4 years $40M and found out he sucked, they shipped him to ATL and paid most of his remaining salary to get him off the team.

As long as MLB has such enormous gaps in team quality due for economic reasons, the sport will continue to be unfair. How long before an unfair sport falls out of favor with the public? Time will tell.