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I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Best Pro Sports Teams, Cites, States

I've struggled with how to determine the following:
"What pro sports franchise can literally say 'we are the best'?"
"What is the best sports city?"
"What state is the king of sports?"

Depending on criteria, the answer can vary. Going back to when (1800's, WWII, 1990)? How do you handle cities with new teams (Orlando, Nashville, Charlotte) vs. established cities (Chicago, Philly, New York). How do you handle cities with more franchises like New York (2 baseball, 2 football, 2 hockey, 1 basketball) vs. San Antonio (1 basketball)? How do you handle titles in a 6 team league (old NHL) vs. a 32 team league (current NFL).

I believe I have concocted the most balanced scoring system possible. This exercise started with me at the city level. I was curious how cities for which I have been loyal (Baltimore, Houston) rank against so called sports towns of Philly and Boston? All ranking systems had to start at the team level (how did your teams do) and roll up to the city level (how have all your teams done). So I started with the teams. How do I compare a team like the Florida Marlins (2 titles since 1993 inception) vs. the Red Sox (2 titles since WWI)?

For starters, the time period really needed to be established. I decided most arbitrarily that the measurement shall be from the year of my birth forward. That's 1974 - today, championships played in that season (starting with Super Bowl VIII, rolling through NHL/NBA titles, ending with the 1974 World Series).

More ground rules, only the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL were considered. No ABA, WHL, USFL, MLS, WNBA, etc. The four majors.

Now how to handle expansion, league imbalance in terms of postseason, etc? Fear not sports fans, I figured it out. To take into account all factors, I came up with a poker approach:

Every year, every team in the four majors chips in $10 to the pot. If there are 22 teams, then the pot is $220. If there are 32, it's $320. The winner of the league gets 50% of the pot. The runner up gets 25%. The two league/conference finalists get 10% each. That would be your ALCS, NLCS, AFC, NFC, and Eastern/Western conference runners up. The final 5% is divided among the other playoff participants. That will vary from 0.42% for the current NBA/NHL to 1.25% for MLB. Keeping in mind that each team will contribute above 3% of the pot, making playoffs isn't going to do much for you. Getting to semifinals, finals, and titles is what gets the cash. And I think fairly. There were years in the NHL that 16 out of 21 teams made the playoffs, that's not money worthy. Making the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Final, or NBA Final and winning it makes a franchise success.

Administrative note, for the pre-6 division MLB days, the ALCS/NLCS losers take 12.5%, as there were no other playoff contenders to take pot (except in 1981, in which the strike half winners who didn't win the division got their cut).

More administration, each city/team is considered independent. The Baltimore Colts are not associated with the Indianapolis Colts. Nor the Montreal Expos and the Washington Nationals. This helps peel off the city factors for future study. Two oddities, there are two Oakland Raiders and two Cleveland Browns. They can easily be combined, but arbitrarily they represent some difference in franchise to me so they were kept separate.

There were two mergers, ABA/NBA, NHL/WHL. Both were 4 teams or less being absorbed, so they were considered expansions, which is really what they were. Obviously the more significant AL/NL and AFL/NFL mergers were well before 1974 (another reason to start after 1967).

The poker parameters can be tweaked, but the winners will still probably emerge the same as future blogs will outline. The only "bias" is that of dynasty. Is it easier to establish a dynasty in the NBA or MLB than the NFL or NHL? That is up to interpretation, the numbers that fall out will attest. But remember, it is a zero sum game, all leagues settle out their pots at the end of the year, so no league will all be at the top with others at the bottom. Standard deviation is the metric.

As the obvious first series posts of this blog, I plan to roll out the teams in sets of 30. There have been 147 city franchises since 1974, so start with 27, then go with 30's for five posts. Some of the fun is guessing who are the worst as well as the best. Where will your teams fall? Who are the Top 10 franchises?

After franchises are dispositioned, we'll explore cities and then states. I've run the preliminary numbers, am somewhat surprised at the #1 state, stay tuned!

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