The last post got me to thinking about what cities in the US might be considered the best sports cities of all time. Though it's only my opinion, here's what I think are the best sports cities in the US, in no particular order:
BOSTON - I grew up less than an hour away from there so I'm obviously biased but I don't think anyone can argue here. Boston takes its sports very seriously as anyone familiar with the area will tell you. Combine the rabid fan base with the historical success of all four of its major sports teams and you could easily make a case that Boston is the best all-time sports city in the US.
Why it's great: The Splendid Splinter, Cy Young, Yaz, Fenway Park, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, Red Auerbach, Johnny Most, Tom Brady, Red Sox Nation, Ray Bourque, The Beanpot, Fisk's foul pole home run, The Impossible Dream, Johhny Most, the Gah-den, Celtics' Dynasty, Patriots' Dynasty, Flutie's Miracle, Boston Marathon, the bloody sock...too many more to name.
NEW YORK - Another no-brainer. The Yankees are possibly the most recognized pro sports team in the world. The fans are also rabid. Hell, they've got two baseball teams, two football teams and two hockey teams - but their basketball team has never enjoyed much success.
Why it's great: Mantle, Ruth, Gherig, LT, Broadway Joe's guarantee, Yogi Berra, "Holy Cow!", Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, The House That Ruth Built, Willis Reed's heroics, Murderer's Row, The Amazin' Mets, Rangers vs. Islanders, Yankees' Dynasty, Madison Square Garden...also too many more to name
PHILLY - Teams from Philly haven't had much success but no true sports fan can argue that they have the craziest, most dangerous fans in the US. Philly fans have booed Santa Claus, cheered when Michael Irvin lay on the field temporarily paralyzed after a big hit, and once tried to light the Easter Bunny on fire. That is a serious sports town.
Why it's great: Rocky, Wilt Chamberlain, Joe Frazier, Dr. J, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Connie Mack, The Big 5, The Broad Street Bullies, Kate Smith, 1980, Bobby Clarke, Chuck Bednarik, The Spectrum.
CHICAGO - Known as "the Second City", Chicago could make a case for the top spot as well. The Cubs are legendary losers, The Blackhawks are famous for having the loudest crowd in the NHL, "da Bears" are one of the oldest and most respected teams in the NFL...and then there's the Bulls and that MJ guy...
Why it's great: His Airness, Sweetness, Bobby Hull, Shoeless Joe, Ernie Banks, Dick Butkas, Bulls' Dynasty, Gale Sayers, George Halas, Harry Carey, "Let's Play Two!", 73-0, Crazy Legs, Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, Ditka.
DETROIT - The Lions notwithstanding, Detroit has certainly had its share of sports glory over the years. No sir, no lack of tradition and success here.
Why it's great: Gordie Howe, Ty Cobb, The Bad Boys, Barry Sanders, Stevie Y, Tiger Stadium, Doak Walker, Octopi, Denny Mclain wins 30, Michigan-Ohio St, Sergei Federov, Scotty Bowman, Jack Morris, Hank Greenberg, Sparky Anderson, The Roar of '84.
Now you may be asking yourself how I arrived at this cities and I'm sure there are people in several cities who are cursing me for not including them. While I don't have any specific criteria for what makes a city a great sports city, I do have certain criteria that automatically disqualify a city from being considered one the best. First on the list is that you MUST have at one team in each of the 4 major sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL). That automatically cancelled out several cities that might have made a good argument. Chief among these would be Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Pittsburgh is the hardest city to leave out, mostly based on the success and tremendous following of the Steelers and Pirates. LA makes a great case too due to teams like the Lakers, USC and UCLA but c'mon, a city with no NFL team could not possibly be considered one the elite. St Louis has a great baseball tradition but not much else. Atlanta never seems to care about its teams until they start winning - something they haven't done much of outside of the Braves. Dallas is interesting but, like St Louis, feature tradition in one sport only.
What sets the 5 cities above apart from other cities in the US is that they have a long and storied tradition in each of the 4 major sports, plus college sports to boot. That, combined with a passionate fan base, is what makes a great sports city.