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Is D.C. the Worst Major League City?

I wrote something on this topic about two months ago for the paper, but I never followed up, so here is the follow-up.

I wanted to find a way to measure which Major League City, defined by having at least one franchise in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, had the worst year in 2005-2006. I chose to do this by ranking each franchise, 1-30, on their regular season finishes within their league. I chose to do this in 2006, because this was the first calendar year we've had D.C. teams in all those four sports. (In 2005, we had baseball but no hockey.) And what I found, in late July, was that we weren't quite the worst. We were second-to-worst, 11th out of the 12 metropolitan areas which have at least one team in each of those four leagues.

Some blogger friends of mine, such as CapsNut, were none too pleased with my methodology, pointing out that regular season finishes are kind of bunk. To which I'd say, true, but for months upon months of local misery, regular season loserness is probably as apt a measure as any. I also heard from a statistician from a local university, who pointed out that, statistically speaking, my plan was stupid. To which I'd say, that's probably true.

(Strangely, I didn't hear from any DCU fans, pointing out that their club could raise our civic pride, but if I had, I'd have responded that a 12-team league can't fairly be compared to four leagues that each have about 30 teams.)

(I also didn't deal with colleges, because that's too bloody complicated. Although it's our salvation lately, eh? Your defending national champion Maryland field hockey team is ranked first in the nation.)

Anyhow, when I did the math after the MLB season ended, I came up with some depressing news: we're still not No. 12. Despite a late run by the Atlanta Braves, our Southern peers still play in the all-around worst Major League City.

Thing is, I realized that maybe I'm counting the wrong NFL season. This year's NFL season ends on Dec. 31, 2006, so maybe the way to do this is to count the 2006 NFL regular season, in which case, barring a miracle finish by the 'Skins or a collapse by the Falcons, we would likely finish 12th out of 12, with only one playoff team in the four pro leagues. Which, I think, would be fine; you have to reach the bottom before you can start climbing toward the top, or something like that.

For the record, Kids Post columnist Fred Bowen did something similar a few years back, but if I'm reading his methodology right, it was even dumber than mine. He essentially penalized cities that had fewer pro franchises, which hurt our at-the-time Nat-less city. But I won't be too hard on Fred, since it was just after Gibbs returned and he had some stars in his eyes. Like so:

"Everyone expects the Hall of Fame football coach to lead the Skins back to their winning ways and maybe even to the Super Bowl before long," he wrote.

Right.

Anyhow, college basketball, people. It's all about college basketball. Plus the ABA. We're gonna rule the ABA. The NightHawks are gonna totally crush those Wootton High students and teachers this week.

(Speaking of the ABA, the Minnesota Ripknees just signed the son of Ted Cottrell, who played tight end for the Vikings last year. Sort of the reverse Antonio Gates phenomenon.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 23, 2006; 6:27 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Nats , Redskins , Wizards  
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