Top five most successful sports cities

As a continuation from yesterday’s piece, I thought it might be interesting to reflect back on the last 15 years of sports champions. More specifically, I am ranking the top ten sports cities in the US since 2000. This includes the five largest sports leagues in America, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS. The rankings will mainly rely on championships won by a single city but I will also take into account appearances in the finals as well. Let’s see if your city cracked the top five.

#5 Chicago: 3 total titles in 6 total appearances
Chicago actually has fewer titles than San Antonio but gets the nod for the extra finals appearance and diversity across more than one sport. Chicago is home to the two-time finalist Fire of the MLS in 2000 and 2003. The Bears also claim the Windy City as home. Even though this NFL team hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1985, they did make it to 2007 Super Bowl. Despite the Cubs century long struggle to win the World Series, the White Sox claimed a title in 2005. The other two titles came from the NHL side. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013. Chicago has seen championship berths from the spread out across these 15 years. The Bulls, despite all the success in the 90s, have not made it to the finals since the turn of the century.

#4 Miami: 4 total titles in 6 total appearances
Florida’s major city clocks in at number four largely due to the success of the Miami Heat during this decade. The Heat made it to a NBA-record four straight NBA Finals, winning the middle two. The Heat also locked up a championship back in 2006 as well over the Dallas Mavericks. So yes, most of the credit goes to the NBA team but the baseball team based in Miami has a World Series title as well. The Marlins, who back then were only the Florida Marlins but still played in the city, won the 2003 World Series over the New York Yankees. The titles from two different sports gives Miami a boost. Now if only the Dolphins could help the city out. Soccer could be springing up as well soon as David Beckham seeks to set up a MLS expansion team. For now though, Miami is nowhere close to jumping over the top three cities on the list.

#3 Tri-State: 6 total titles in 15 total appearances
This seems like it is cheating a little bit but it is hard to differentiate New York and New Jersey. Despite being called the New York Giants, Jets and Red Bulls, all of these teams play in New Jersey, along with the Devils. Either way, The Giants locked up two Super Bowl titles in 2008 and 2012. The Red Bulls made a Cup run in 2008, falling short to Columbus. The Yankees won two World Series titles in 2000 and 2009, the 2000 one over the cross-town rival Mets. The Yanks also made the 2001 and 2003 Series. On the ice, the Devils have two Stanley Cups from runs in 2000 and 2003 to go along with losses in the 2001 and 2012 final. Even the Nets, who back then played in Jersey, made consecutive title appearances in 2002 and 2003. Worth noting, New Jersey based teams have accounted for 4 titles in 9 appearances while New York teams only have 2 championships in 6 showings. Looks like Jersey is holding up their end of the deal…

#2 Boston: 9 total titles in 18 total appearances
You know a city is dominant when they have more finals appearances than there are years in our criteria. Boston’s 18 championship runs is one less than the number one team on this list. The cities 9 titles are incredible though. The largest contributor has been the Patriots, with Super Bowl victories in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2015 and losses in 2008 and 2012. The Red Sox have held up their end of the bargain as well, delivering 3 World Series titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013. The Celtics and Bruins even locked up a title each in 2008 and 2011 respectively. The little known fact is that Revolution actually have contributed the second most title appearances, with five. The issue is that they have come up short every time in the MLS Final. Still Boston’s titles are very impressive. They just couldn’t edge out number one.

#1 Los Angeles: 14 total titles in 19 total appearances
Wow. 14 titles in 15 years. It’s no wonder stars love going to Los Angeles. With teams in every one of the sports being considered but football, LA probably solid chances of succeeding but still 13 championships in 15 years in unprecedented. The LA Galaxy have brought home 5 MLS Cups in 7 attempts in 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014. The Lakers have the same numbers with their titles coming in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010. The Kings have been stellar of late, nabbing two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. The Anaheim Ducks grabbed a trophy on the ice in 2007. The Anaheim Angeles added a World Series title in 2002 as well. When one city has three different teams winning titles in a single year (2002), there is really no discussion. This city has truly become Titletown since the year of 2000.

Disagree with the list, tell me who you think should have been included and who should have missed the cut.

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Should Brodeur have retired?

In December, Martin Brodeur made the decision to end rejoin the NHL only after a few short months. The Devils’ legend returned to the league, but not for his former team. This time, he donned a Saint Louis Blues’ uniform. Recently though, Brodeur asked the organization for some time off to mull his decision to come back. He has struggled mightily in his return putting up less than stellar numbers and in many ways ruining his image as a lifelong Devil. I decided to take a look at how much Brodeur’s play has dropped in his return and discuss if maybe the 42-year old would have been better off staying at home.

Brodeur absolutely ranks as one of the best, if not the best, net minder in NHL history. He only allowed 2.19 goals per game in his 20 years in New Jersey, which was the seventh best mark of all time. In playing just 7 games this year, Brodeur has allowed 17 goals and had his goals per game average jump to 2.24. That number is still phenomenal but it drops Marty 2 spots down the all-time list. Brodeur is saving 89.9 percent though which is not too far off from what he traditionally did in a Devils’ uniform. It has not affected his career average at all. The issue is that Brodeur’s declining play will likely continue to drop. He has played over 200 hundred more games played than any other goalie in history with 1266 appearances. That many games takes a toll on your body. It will continue to plague Brodeur as he continues to push himself. He might be the winningest goalie of all time but that is not the player the Blues have now. Brodeur is only 3-3 in games he has played the majority of the goalie minutes. The reality is that he is not getting any better and it is disappointing to see a legend of his caliber struggle.

Brodeur also looks wrong with a Blues’ logo emblazoned on his chest. For two full decades, Marty wore the Devils’ red and became the iconic centerpiece of their franchise. You cannot fault a guy for wanting to play longer but it is sure disappointing that the last image we will have of Brodeur will not be of him in New Jersey. He transformed in a legend at the Rock, earning four Vezina Trophy’s and winning five Eastern Conference championships and three Stanley Cups with the Devils. Brodeur joining the Blues does not negate nor replace any of that but it does somewhat tarnish his legacy, not as a hockey player but as a Devils’ legend. From now on, he will have NJ-STL written next to his name rather than just the NJ.

From the standpoint of the Blues as well, this just is not working. Saint Louis’ regular starter, Brian Elliot, is allowing only 1.86 goals against on average this season, the best mark in the NHL. Brodeur’s 2.87 goals against average represents a full goal per game more allowed when he is in net versus Elliot. That represents one of the largest drop offs of any team in the league. If you look at games where Brodeur has played the majority of the minutes he is only saving 89.3% of shots against him, 4 full points below Elliot’s number of 93.4% when he plays the majority of the minutes. The disparity has to make Saint Louis nervous about playing Brodeur in net. In many ways, starting him can easily be the difference between a win and a loss for the Blues.

Looking at the whole picture, it seems like Brodeur should have retired. I think he knows it too, which is why he is taking this time away from the team to reconsider everything that has gone on over the last six weeks. I think Brodeur is still a great player and one of the best goalies in NHL history but this decision to keep playing was absolutely a mistake. He hurt his image as a Devils’ great, does not give his new team a fair chance to compete on the level of the guy starting ahead of him and simply is not capable of playing as well as we have come to expect from Brodeur in the past. Marty made a great run but as it is for all great athletes, a time comes where it is time to walk off into the sunset.

What are the Devils looking for?

On December 26, the New Jersey Devils’ front office informed coach Peter DeBoer that he was being let go. It was a move that made sense based on where the Devils sat in the standings but I fail to understand the firing past that. I am not saying that DeBoer should have been kept on past this season but I do not know what New Jersey was thinking severing ties before even reaching the midpoint of the season. It is time to take a second look at DeBoer’s dismissal.

Now, I understand that DeBoer was struggling to get positive results from his team, as New Jersey went 12-17-3 this year with him as the coach. The Devils ranked among the bottom teams in the league in terms of goals per game and goals allowed per game. New Jersey’s special teams were struggling as well as the penalty kill ranked in the bottom third of the league. The Devils are also tied for most shorthanded goals allowed with five. All of the shortcomings were abundantly clear for DeBoer’s ability to morph the Devils into a competitive team. Clearly, he was not getting it done any more as the lead man in New Jersey. The Devils organization recognized that and took care of it. That is not the issue. The issue is New Jersey’s course of action after the front office has taken in the days following DeBoer’s release.

It is becoming painfully more obvious by the day that the Devils’ organization did not have a plan in place for how they would proceed following DeBoer’s firing. The team, now more than a week later, has still not announced a head coach. General Manager Lou Lamoriello hinted that the front office might not name anyone head coach for the remainder of the season and instead will have three coaches picking of the slack, making them all assistant head coaches. Not only is that unconventional, it just does not make sense. I understand that DeBoer was struggling as the coach but why would you fire him if you do not intend to replace him. I fail to grasp the logic behind the move.

It has not lead to any newfound success either. The Devils have gone 1-3 since firing DeBoer and are dropping further down the standings. New Jersey now sits 11 points behind the rival Rangers for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While that margin is not insurmountable, it is highly unlikely that the Devils earn twelve more points than New York the rest of the way. So, it does not seem like the Devils’ organization fired DeBoer to make a run at the playoffs either, making this move even more head-scratching. New Jersey does not have enough easy games in January either to make me think that it could potentially climb back into the playoff conversation. The Devils only play three teams this month that do not have more wins than loses. That does not exactly make me too confident.

So once again, the Devils had every right to fire DeBoer. I am not in any way questioning the motive behind the move. I am just perplexed by the handling of the ensuing situation. The New Jersey front office needs to find some stability at head coach because this new model for coaching they are implementing is not very effective. I hardly think that this team stood a chance of turning itself around if DeBoer had stayed on. However, as New Jersey regains star Patrick Elias from illness, thus making the team infinitely more competitive, it makes me think that the Devils would have been better off keeping DeBoer for the time being and waiting until season’s end to let him go. As of right now, I see a team with no direction and no hopes of finding one without a legitimate head coach.