Which sport reigns supreme in each major league city?

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Because I’m bored, let’s follow-up that Josh Hamilton post with a survey of each Major League Baseball city to see what sport — using my totally subjective There Can Only Be One criteria — reigns supreme in each city. Which team, if the city could vote and only keep one, would stay:

  • New York: High school hoops has a rich history, but professionally I think baseball. Specifically Yankees. Anyone really disagree?
  • Boston: Probably the most “all sports” town on the list, but I’d have to say Sox.
  • Toronto: Leafs, Leafs, Leafs, Leafs.
  • Baltimore: For a long time baseball, but I do a lot of sports radio in Baltimore and it seems like the Ravens have dominated for years. And really, before the 80s, the Colts probably did too.
  • Tampa Bay: Who knows? Anyone? Not the Rays, that’s for sure. Probably the Bucs. More probably shuffleboard and bocce ball.
  • Detroit: Great baseball town, but they seem to live and die with the Wings more. My relatives who live there all do anyway. I could be persuaded that Detroit is primarily a baseball town, though.
  • Cleveland: Browns. By far. Even when they didn’t exist for a few years.
  • Chicago: This is an interesting one. I feel like it’s a Bears city, but I’d like to hear arguments on it. Walking around there in the summer and the city just reeks baseball, so it’s probably closer than I imagine.
  • Kansas City: They don’t tailgate for the Royals like they do for the Chiefs and that’s not for lack of a parking lot.
  • Minneapolis: I assume the Vikings. Gleeman should weigh in, though. Youth hockey may trump it all.
  • Seattle: I really don’t know, but given that they’ve sent away a baseball team and a basketball team to other cities in the past, the Seahawks probably by default.
  • Oakland: Kind of weird because (a) they’re so close to San Francisco; and (b) the people who dress up and act insane for Raiders games all probably live outside of Oakland, but based just on what you see, the Raiders.
  • Houston: Texas = football. Even with the Oilers leaving.
  • Los Angeles: It’s a status city and good Lakers tickets have to be pretty high up there as far as status symbols go.
  • Dallas: Cowboys could go 1-15 and the Rangers could win the series and it’s still a Cowboys city.
  • Atlanta: Probably college football more than anything, but the Falcons pretty obviously trump the Braves. I think, as far as local support goes, it’s probably more of a front-running town than anything.
  • Philadelphia: I really don’t know. All sports, to be sure. But it may very well be a baseball town more. There are no shortage of Philly people here, so you tell me. Gun to my head I say the Phillies and Eagels are close, but I don’t know if that’s been the case for all that long a time.
  • Washington: It begins and ends with the Redskins and anyone who tells you differently is an insane person.
  • Miami: Well, I don’t think it’s controversial to say it’s not the Marlins. Dolphins all the time, the Heat are a big deal when they’re good.
  • St. Louis: Maybe the most baseball town of them all, even if I think that Best Fans in Baseball Thing is silly.
  • Cincinnati: I think it’s a Reds town. I don’t know too many people here in Ohio who disagree.
  • Milwaukee: It’s over 100 miles to Green Bay, but I bet it’s still more Packers than Brewers. If you disqualify the Packers for distance it’s the Brewers by default. Still a great baseball town, though. It’s not the Brewers fault that people go Packers crazy.
  • Pittsburgh: A good baseball town to be sure, but it’s the Steelers by far. They’ve become a regional thing, even. It stretches well into Ohio and many points north, south and east as well.
  • San Francisco: I think the Giants have to be it, at least since they moved to AT&T Park. And now the 49ers are moving out of the city, so it’ll probably become more pronounced.
  • San Diego: My brother isn’t the most reliable narrator in the world but he’s lived in San Diego for almost 20 years and says the Chargers are it. Having gone to a lot of Padres games I have to agree with him.
  • Denver: Broncos, Broncos, Broncos.
  • Phoenix: I really have no idea. Like, no sense at all. The Suns have tenure, obviously, but I’m not sure what that means. Spring training makes the whole city basebally for a while. I know people get behind the Dbacks when they win.  Man, I’m rather stumped on Phoenix.

So that’s my take. Talk amongst yourselves.

Meanwhile, on the cold, cold Hot Stove . . .

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It’s Hot Stove Season baby! You know what that means! Yep: time to watch some teams sign a few relievers to minor league deals and then wait everyone out until February while talking about the need to maintain financial flexibility! FEEL THE BURN.

In more specific news:

We’ve talked a lot about Betts this winter already, and that seems like madness. Bryant’s career with the Cubs began with business-side acrimony, it’s still simmering, and there is no sense that either side is amenable to a long-term deal before he hits free agency. The Indians have been signaling for some time that they have no interest in keeping Lindor long term.

It’s quite the thing when three teams who are supposed to be contending are, instead, looking to deal recent MVP award winners and candidates who are 27 and 26 years old, but these are the times in which we are living.

  • Joe Sheehan wrote an excellent column for Baseball America last week analyzing the attendance drop MLB experienced in 2019. Which is just the latest in a series of attendance drops. As Joe notes there is a very, very strong connection between teams (a) signaling to fans during the offseason that they are not interested in signing or retaining players or otherwise being competitive; and (b) teams suffering attendance losses.

As I wrote last offseason, there is an increasing disconnect between attendance and other proxies of broad fan interest and revenue. Which is to say that, as long as teams continue to get fat on long-term TV deals, side businesses like real estate development, and soaking a smaller and wealthier segment of the fan base with higher and higher prices, they really have no reason to care if several thousand common or casual fans become alienated by their teams’ lack of desire to compete.

Sullivan doesn’t offer ideas about how that can happen, but over the past couple of seasons we’ve seen a number of proposals, some broad, some specific, about how MLB can turn its free agency/trading period into frantic, 1-3 day scrambles-to-sign like we see in both the NBA and NFL. I’m sympathetic to that desire — it’s exciting! — but any attempt to do that in Major League Baseball, at least as things are currently set up, would be a disaster for the players.

In the NBA and NFL you have salary caps and floors and, in the NBA, you have max contracts. As a result, teams both have a set amount of money to spend and an incentive to spend that money. We can quibble with whether those incentives are the best ones or if they benefit the players as much as other systems might, but there’s at least something inherent in their systems which inspires teams to sign free agents.

In Major League Baseball, there is no such incentive. May teams want to keep payrolls as low as possible under the guise of rebuilding or tanking and there is no effective mechanism to keep them from doing so. Even nominal contenders — see the Cubs, Indians and Red sox in item 1 above — spend more time thinking about how to cut payroll rather than add talent. This is bolstered by the stuff in item 2 above in which attendance and even winning has less of an impact on the bottom line than it ever has.

So, why scramble to sign players by a set deadline? Under most of the scenarios I see floated — like the laughably horrible one MLB reportedly suggested to the MLBPA — teams would just wait out free agents until deadline day, give them crappy take-it-or-leave-it offers and then leave them all scrambling to sign one-year deals or to sit the season out.

For such a thing to happen — or for teams to want to keep their bright young stars or for the league to want to maintain fan interest and keep attendance from continuing to slide — there must be incentives put in place to make them want to sign and retain players. To make them want to win. To make them want to excite the fan base.

At present, such incentives are not there. And, as such, we are faced with yet another winter with a cold, cold stove.