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.