Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sports/Decade Countdown: #5

We continue now with our #5 city/decade on our list of the top 10 cities and decades of the past 110 years. For an overview/explanation of the rankings, and the system used to get them, click here.

The list so far:
#10: Boston, 1970s
#9: Boston, 1980s
#8: Detroit, 1940s
#7: Detroit, 1950s
#6: Boston, 2000s

If these first five seem a little repetitive--well, I can't help how the data comes out. I can only be the sad bearer of bad news, at least for those of you who live in cities other than Boston and Detroit. It's one of the interesting perils in doing research, being unable to control the data to make it look some way that would look "pretty." Can you imagine if SportsCenter had a top-10 that consisted of plays made by ONE team? It would never happen! But, what if those 10 plays were actually the 10 best of the day (weekend, year, whatever)? Well, then, it's my duty as an objective journalist to start the research, and let the numbers tell me the rest. Fear not, though, more cities make appearances. Starting here at number 5, to be precise--one of the most interesting cities on the list, because of the timing of the whole thing. Confused? Interesting thing about life in the 1920s, at least in regard to sports: there was no such thing as an official Most Valuable Player award. Sure, Hugh Chalmers gave away cars for a few years, but it wasn't until 1931 that the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) gave their first official awards to Lefty Grove and Frankie Frish. But that still wasn't a problem for...

5) New York, 1920s (Score: 255.78)—0 MVPs/6 Titles/13 Finals/15 Playoffs/56.6 W%
Babe Ruth, admiring one of his 714 home runs
No, no MVP awards for this decade, but they have a pass—none of the leagues gave out MVP awards until baseball in the 1930s. The 13 title appearances split between 5 teams is impressive, especially considering both the football Giants and hockey's Rangers were in their first years of play, with the Rangers managing to pull off a championship in their first decade of existence. The name of the game in this town was baseball, however, with Babe Ruth’s (left) Yankees bringing home 3 titles and Bancroft’s Giants bringing home another two. The .566 winning % was tied for fourth on our list of finalists, which bumped the decade up two spots for the final margin. One has to wonder how high this decade could have gone if the awards had been given out, and this certainly a flaw in the formula. I couldn't start awarding MVP awards to players like Babe Ruth solely because I thought they "deserved" them, nor could I take those major awards out of the formula entirely, since star power is an important factor in determining which city would have had the best experience. Call it rationalization or not, but I figured that not having the MVP awards was a detriment to the decade. Think about what those awards do to sports journalists and fans alike--from as early as a few weeks into any season, MVP candidates are already being discussed, debated, and dismissed. Players rise and fall into the discussion on a near-daily basis, and having "former MVP..." in front of your name is an instant moneymaker, especially when it comes to contract negotiations. So, in that line of thinking, not having MVP awards in that time period, to those of us who know what they are, take away from the overall experience. Part of being a sports fan, and loving the spirit of competition, involves the spirit of debate and discussion--and without awards, there's far less for us to debate.

The Countdown Continues Here: #4

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