Fans of ‘sport’ typically fall into one of three categories- the diehard, name every player on the roster, fanatics; the mild interest, check the scores once a week, fans and finally, the bandwagon, I support X because it’s trendy/I want to connect with someone and they like sport so I’m going to make the effort to learn about something they like. There is no shame or issue about being in any one of these groups (although members of said categories will tell you otherwise). But that’s not what this blog is about- this blog is for the success seekers, those looking to jump on a bandwagon.
As a success seeker, looking to align yourself with a consistently successful team, you may be wondering who to even support in the first place; what sport to invest yourself in. Well luckily for you, I have complied the data for nine US cities who host a baseball, hockey and basketball team (I would have included football but its inclusion reduces the number of viable samples to seven) and turned the data into an easy to understand guide to who you should support for maximum success.
Boston, Massachusetts is home to the Red Sox of baseball, the Bruins of hockey and the Celtics of basketball. The city has long been considered a successful powerhouse of the east coast, with the three teams collecting 23 championships between them since 1946, including the Celtics winning every NBA championship of the 1960s bar one.
As for who to the support, the graph of season by season records shows that Boston offers the potential of choosing any of the three teams. Some things to note- as the green line shows, the Celtics have a precedent for a cycle of boom and bust, with stretches of prosperity nose-diving to a sub-.500 season or even an extended run of losing seasons. This unpredictability could be off-putting if success is your main focus as a fan. The Red Sox are a typical safe bet with a losing season being rarity for them but all-in-all, the Bruins are your best bet for a Boston area success team. They haven’t had a sub-.500 season since 2006-07 and since then, they’ve only failed to make the playoffs twice. All three teams appear to be improving season by season as of the last three or four seasons but your safest bet would be to back the Bruins.
Chicago, Illinois is home to the Cubs and White Sox of baseball, the Bulls of basketball and the Blackhawks of hockey. Sports fame for the city has largely stemmed from the mythos surrounded the teams that have played in the city- the Cubs Curse, the 1919 World Series Scandal, Michael Jordan, the Wirtz dynasty and the continuing controversy over the Blackhawks’ name. There’s a lot going on with Chicago’s sport teams.
There is a reason that this graph looks so chaotic- most of Chicago’s teams have a very similar record when it comes to the late 20th Century. The Cubs, White Sox and Blackhawks never spent more than a few seasons either side of the .500 line at any one time. Closer to the present, the trends become a little clearer as the Bulls are on a downward slide and looking for their first division title since 2012 (and their first championship since 1998) while the Cubs are the feel-good story with their sensational 2016 World Series victory. However, it is once again hockey that brings you your best bet of following a successful team- the Blackhawks’ last sub-.500 season was in 2006 and since then they have won three Stanley Cups and only missed the playoffs once.
Denver, Colorado is home to the Rockies of baseball, the Nuggets of the basketball and the Avalanche of hockey. Denver has not always been a sports hub- while it is the long time home of the NFL’s broncos and has hosted the Nuggets since the 1960s, it was only granted an MLB and NHL franchise in the mid-90s. Aside from the Bronco’s Super Bowl win in Super Bowl 50, the last major championship for the city came from the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup in the 2000-01 NHL season.
As could be inferred from the lacklustre introduction of the Mile High City, there is nothing spectacularly about the city’s baseball, basketball or hockey. The Rockies haven’t recorded a winning season since 2010 (although they look on course do so in 2017) while the Nuggets are on the cusp of breaking .500 after a steady decline since 2011. Meanwhile, the Avalanche has crashed in a series of increasingly worse seasons. If I had to a pick team to recommend, I’d choose the Nuggets or the Rockies. Or the Broncos, go off book and support football.
Detroit, Michigan is home to the Red Wings of hockey, the Tigers of baseball and the Pistons of basketball. The city and surrounding area was once the heart of the American automotive industry and strong, robust sporting franchises. While the industry has gone, the sport has remained and many denizens of the city embrace the Red Wings, with the affinity for hockey strong enough for the city to be nicknamed ‘Hockeytown’.
Of all 10 cities I looked at, Detroit maybe the hardest to gauge. The Red Wings the dominant sports powerhouse for years but have shown consistent decline since the early 2000s while the Pistons fell from their highest point and are still slowly rebuilding. The Tigers are generally successful but when they fall below .500, they either fall hard or they tend to stay below .500 for a substantial period. At the conclusion of 2016, all three had reached something of a crossroads, with the Tigers and Pistons rising above .500 and the Red Wings slipping below it. While Denver was a case of letting you pick the lesser of three disappointments, Detroit is more a case of picking one and hoping for the best.
Los Angeles, California is home to the Dodgers of baseball, the Kings of hockey and the Clippers and Lakers of basketball. LA is the punchline to most jokes about the relocation of sports teams. The Dodgers originated in Brooklyn; the Clippers came from Buffalo via San Diego and the Lakers started life in Minneapolis. Only the Kings and the NFL team, the Rams, started life in LA.
LA is a story of haves and have-nots. Despite enjoying extended periods of success, the Lakers crashed to well below .500 and have only just begun to pull themselves back up towards success. Inversely, after spending a majority of their time in LA below .500, the Clippers are currently the most successful team in LA, although they have been on a shallow decline in winningness over the last three or four seasons. The Kings are similar to Chicago’s teams in the manner they hug the .500 line, barring their recent spike in success and the Dodgers are a reliably successful team, whose last foray into sub-.500 territory was over a decade ago.
New York, New York is currently home to the Yankees and Mets of baseball, the Knicks and (not included in this article for moving too recently) Nets of basketball and the Islanders and Rangers of hockey. New York and the surrounding area is famous being the starting place for many of modern professional sports teams, many of which appear on this list.
Much like Chicago, New York is home to a number of sports teams who boast very similar franchise-long records. Every team has seen its share of failure and success. The Knicks are the only team to rule themselves out of being your bandwagon success team with their crash and subsequent sub-.500 rebuild. Of the four teams who are currently sitting above .500, only the Rangers are currently on an upward trend with the other the currently seeing periods of shallow yet consistent decline.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to the Phillies of baseball, the 76ers of basketball and the Flyers of hockey. Philadelphia has a long history of sport, in part to the character credit the city received for Rocky. It is especially well-known for its raucous fans and maybe the single most annoying mascot in history, the Phanatic.
The city’s teams’ records bear a similarity to a number of cities we’ve seen previously. The 76ers have never decided whether they want to be successful or not while the Flyers have maintained a consistent success as the Phillies flirt with .500 line. Despite being on a downward trend, the Flyers have been the only team above .500 for the last years, making them the obvious choice to be your success bandwagon team.
Toronto, Ontario is home to the Raptors of basketball, the Maple Leafs of hockey and the Blue Jays of baseball. Toronto is the home of Canada’s first MLB team and the Raptors were one of two Canadian basketball teams to join the NBA in 1995.
Toronto may be the most interesting city on this. With exception of the Raptors relatively poor performance until a turn around and rebuild towards success in 2010, the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs have been fairly consistent teams over the last 20 years. The Blue Jays won back to back World Series in the early 90s and the Maple Leafs are a staple of the NHL. All three teams are currently a safe distance above .500 so once more, the choice is yours. A want of consistency would lean you towards the Maple Leafs; room for disappointment would put you towards the Blue Jays and riding the coat-tails of the break out star would place you squarely in the Raptors camp.
Washington DC is home to the Nationals of baseball, the Captials of hockey and the Wizards of basketball. DC is home to the youngest team in the article, when the Montreal Expos moved to the nation’s capital and became the Washington Nationals before the 2005 MLB season.
Washington is a city that leaves you spoiled for choice. All three of its teams have been above .500 for four or five seasons with Wizards and Nationals on the rise after seasons of breaking even. The Captials continue to be dominant and hold high-flying NHL numbers. This is certainly an occasional when any one of these teams would suit the needs of your success bandwagon.