Thursday, May 29, 2014

Which Teams Are "Big Clubs"?

Note: Despite 2 new championships having since been decided in the NBA and the NHL, and 1 each in MLB and the NFL, no significant changes have been made to this list. The Golden State Warriors' previous championship may have been 40 years earlier, but they had won one. They remain an "intermediate club."

Soccer fans, especially in England (where they get really pissy if you call their sport "soccer" instead of "football"), like to talk about how their favorite team is a "big club," while their arch-rival is a "small club."

But how is such a thing measured? Or is it completely subjective?

I decided to took at the 122 teams in North American major league sports, to see which ones were "big clubs," "intermediate clubs" and "small clubs."

I measured it three ways: The size of their market, the achievements in their history, and the apparent (thus keeping it partly subjective) size of their following -- local, regional, national. I judged each of these catgeories on a scale of 1 to 5, and totaled it up.

Here's what I came up with:

MLB:

RANKTEAMMarketHistoryFollowingTOTAL
1New York Yankees55515
2Los Angeles Dodgers54514
3Boston Red Sox44513
4Chicago Cubs53513
5St. Louis Cardinals44412
6San Francisco Giants53311
7Atlanta Braves43411
8New York Mets52411
9Baltimore Orioles43310
10Detroit Tigers43310
11Philadelphia Phillies42410
12Chicago White Sox5229
13Cincinnati Reds3339
14Colorado Rockies4239
15Minnesota Twins4239
16Pittsburgh Pirates3339
17Seattle Mariners4239
18Toronto Blue Jays4239
19Oakland Athletics3328
20Arizona Diamondbacks4228
21Houston Astros4228
22San Diego Padres4228
23Texas Rangers4228
24Los Angeles Angels3227
25Miami Marlins4217
26Tampa Bay Rays4217
27Cleveland Indians3227
28Kansas City Royals3227
29Washington Nationals4116
30Milwaukee Brewers2215

NFL:

RANKTEAMMarketHistoryFollowingTOTAL
1New York Giants54514
2Chicago Bears54514
3Dallas Cowboys44513
4New York Jets52512
5San Francisco 49ers54312
6Washington Redskins43512
7Pittsburgh Steelers34512
8Green Bay Packers34512
9Miami Dolphins43411
10Denver Broncos43411
11Oakland Raiders33410
12New England Patriots43310
13Philadelphia Eagles4239
14Cleveland Browns3339
15Atlanta Falcons4228
16San Diego Chargers4228
17Detroit Lions4228
18Seattle Seahawks 4228
19Minnesota Vikings4228
20St. Louis Rams4228
21Tampa Bay Buccaneers4228
22Baltimore Ravens4228
23Kansas City Chiefs3238
24New Orleans Saints3238
25Buffalo Bills3238
26Cincinnati Bengals3227
27Indianapolis Colts3227
28Houston Texans4116
29Arizona Cardinals4116
30Tennessee Titans3126
31Carolina Panthers3115
32Jacksonville Jaguars3115

NBA:

RANKTEAMMarketHistoryFollowingTOTAL
1Los Angeles Lakers55515
2Boston Celtics45413
3Chicago Bulls53513
4New York Knicks53412
5Miami Heat43411
6Philadelphia 76ers43310
7Detroit Pistons43310
8Dallas Mavericks4228
9Houston Rockets4228
10San Antonio Spurs3328
11Golden State Warriors5117
12Los Angeles Clippers5117
13Phoenix Suns4217
14Toronto Raptors4127
15Washington Wizards4127
16Atlanta Hawks4127
17Brooklyn Nets3126
18Minnesota Timberwolves4116
19Denver Nuggets4116
20Portland Trail Blazers3216
21Orlando Magic3216
22Indiana Pacers2226
23Utah Jazz2226
24Charlotte Hornets3115
25Sacramento Kings3115
26Cleveland Cavaliers3115
27Milwaukee Bucks2215
28Oklahoma City Thunder2125
29Memphis Grizzlies2114
30New Orleans Pelicans2114

NHL:

RANKTEAMMarketHistoryFollowingTOTAL
1Montreal Canadiens45514
2Boston Bruins44513
3Detroit Red Wings44513
4New York Rangers53412
5Chicago Blackhawks53412
6Toronto Maple Leafs43512
7Los Angeles Kings52310
8Philadelphia Flyers43310
9San Jose Sharks5139
10Pittsburgh Penguins3339
11Vancouver Canucks3249
12Edmonton Oilers2349
13New Jersey Devils4228
14St. Louis Blues4228
15Colorado Avalanche4228
16New York Islanders3328
17Calgary Flames2248
18Tampa Bay Lightning4217
19Dallas Stars4127
20Washington Capitals4127
21Anaheim Ducks3227
22Ottawa Senators2147
23Florida Panthers4116
24Arizona Coyotes4116
25Minnesota Wild4116
26Buffalo Sabres2226
27Winnipeg Jets1146
28Carolina Hurricanes2215
29Columbus Blue Jackets2125
30Nashville Predators2114

So it can be said that a "big club" scored from 10 to 15 points, an "intermediate club" from 7 to 9, and a "small club" from 0 to 6.

So here's my judgments. These are arranged first by sport, then in alphabetical order:

Big Clubs: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants; Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins; Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers; Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings (newly-promoted), Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs.

Intermediate Clubs: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays; Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Atlanta Hawks; Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards; Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals.

Small Clubs: Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals; Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans; Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz; Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets.

Only the Yankees and the Lakers got a perfect score of 15, while the Dodgers, football Giants, Bears and Canadiens just missed at 14.

This much is clear: The New York Mets, Jets, and Rangers; the Chicago Cubs, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Los Angeles Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs are Big Clubs only because of the size of their markets. Ditto at Intermediate level for the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels (possibly) and Clippers (definitely), Miami Marlins, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.

Yet even the Nets (we're only counting Brooklyn in their market, not the entire Tri-State Area) and Washington Nationals can't ride what appear to be big markets out of Small Club status: Hype aside, the Nets are the smallest club in the Tri-State Area, and not just because they're the only one of the Tri-State Nine to have never won a World Championship. (Their 2 ABA titles don't count.)

In case you're wondering: While the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder are both in the NBA's Conference Finals, reaching the NBA Finals would not lift them out of Small Club status. Winning the NBA title would move them in with the Intermediate Clubs, but not into the Big Clubs.

Among teams that ceased to exist within the last 30 years (all of them having moved), this is where they were at the time:

Big Clubs: Baltimore Colts, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle SuperSonics.

Intermediate Clubs: Montreal Expos, Houston Oilers, Hartford Whalers.

Small Clubs: St. Louis Cardinals (football edition), San Diego Clippers, Vancouver Grizzlies, Atlanta Thrashers, Quebec Nordiques. No, being a Canadian team in Canada's sport wouldn't have boosted the Nords much.

As for WNBA and MLS teams, sorry, but even the biggest of their teams -- the New York Liberty and Red Bulls, the Los Angeles Sparks and Galaxy, the Detroit Shock, the Seattle Sounders and D.C. United -- would only be Intermediate Clubs.

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