Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Best Sports Franchise Ever

I was watching baseball the other night when announcer John Kruk made the claim that the Pittsburgh Steelers were the “best sports franchise ever.” I sort of had to wonder what his exact qualifications were for making that statement – beyond being a big fan of theirs, that is.

Well, I certainly couldn’t let that statement stand on its own without doing a little research, as well as making it a little more quantitative. So, here’s what I did:
  1. Looked at the world’s top team spectator sports (sorry, rugby)
  2. Identified the top leagues around the world (my apologies, Canadian football)
  3. Identified the team that had won that league the most time
And here’s what came up …

#5  Real Madrid – 10 (Soccer)

This was a tough one, as there are several leagues that are pretty good – the English Premier League, La Liga (in Spain), Serie A (in Italy), and the Bundesliga (in Germany). At least since 1955, though, each of these leagues (along with the rest of Europe) have participated in a championship to determine which team was the best. And that team that has done that the most times is Real Madrid, at 10. 

Honorable mention goes to Milan, with 7. BTW, if we go league by league, we get the following:

  • Real Madrid (La Liga) – 31 
  • Juventus (Serie A) – 30
  • Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) – 24
  • Manchester United (EPL) – 20 

#4  Green Bay Packers – 13 (Football)

Football championships can be traced all the way back to 1920. Up until 1933, though, all you had to do was finish first in the league. After that, there was a championship game, then (in 1966) the Super Bowl.

Put ‘em all together, and you get the Packers, in little Green Bay, WI. They’ve finished first no less than 13 times. The next closest are the Chicago Bear (with 9) and the New York Giants (with 8). 

The Steelers? They’ve done it 6 times. Interestingly, all of those just so happened to be Super Bowl victories (and they do, in fact, lead all other teams in those). Hmm, maybe I could have agreed with Krukkie if he had just said the “best modern American football franchise ever.”

#3  Boston Celtics – 17 (basketball)

Basketball championships date back to the 1940s. And Boston has been racking them up since 1957, winning 17 in total. In fact, they won 8 in a row back in the ‘60s and late ‘50s (and 11 of 13 from 1957 through 1969). The Minneapolis / Los Angeles Lakers are right on their heels, though, with 16. 

You might be wondering where the Chicago Bulls fall in all this. They’re actually 3rd, but with only 6. And all 6 of those came during the 1990s. In other words, Michael Jordan does not a franchise make.

#2  Montreal Canadiens – 20 (hockey)

Hockey championships actually go all the way back to 1893. It was all a little confusing, though, until the NHL formed, in 1927. Since then, the Montreal Canadiens have won 20 times. The fact that they haven’t won anything since 1993 tells you how dominant they were up to that point (and how far the great have fallen ... though they have been doing better lately).

Runners up? Only the Toronto Maple Leafs (with 13) and Detroit Red Wings (with 10) are in double figures.

#1  New York Yankees – 27 (baseball)

Really, John. You should know something like this. I think everyone knows this one.

Bet you didn’t know who’s second though. It’s the St. Louis Cardinals, with 11. No one else is in double figures. 

Of course, none of these totals count championships from before the advent of the World Series. Though sporadic, championship titles actually go all the way back to 1876. If we include these, 3 more teams get bumped up into double figures:

  • Braves – 14
  • Giants – 11
  • A’s – 10

As the Yankees didn’t get going until the 20th Century (and were woeful until they got Babe Ruth), their numbers are not affected. They've still won almost twice as many as the next best team.

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