Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Washington, DC: The Decade's Biggest Loser...Can the Caps Save Us?

About a year ago, our friends at MisterIrrelevant determined that D.C. was, in fact, America's worst professional sports city. The data was pulled mostly from the 2008 calender year but included the beginning portions of the 2007-2008 NHL and NBA seasons.

In a similar fashion, I evaluated America's four-sport cities over the past decade. I began this task with the awareness that my greatest fear - ten years of utterly hopeless fanaticism - might be confirmed. Yet, that feeling didn't overwhelm my curiosity enough to withdraw from the exercise. So on I went.

The results weren't depressing; they were demoralizing.

Notes to consider before reading on:

  • Only the Washington/Montreal baseball franchise was included. Sorry, O's fans.
  • There were nine NHL seasons this decade due to the 2004-2005 strike.
  • For cities in which two teams exist within one sport (e.g. baseball in Chicago), performance was averaged for each particular year.
  • The team with the best year among the 12 cities received a scored of 1. The team with the worst year among the 12 cities received a score of 12.
  • Success was determined by playoff success first. Regular season records were used as tie-breakers.
  • Rankings are only relative to the 12 cities being evaluated.
[Click tables to enlarge]

    For those of you more graphically gifted, the image on the right should provide some insight. For those who aren't, I'll explain. That light blue area? That abnormally large protuberance from the wonderfully average red area? That represents the amount that D.C. sports have sucked over the last 10 years. Notice how it's hilariously close to being about 150% as large as the average, meaning our ineptitude has deemed us about half as bad as average this decade. My head is spinning, but not from the math.

    And here's the breakdown by sport (analysis following):



    Breakdown by Year


    Breakdown by Year

    Breakdown by Year


    Breakdown by Year

    There it is. So next time you're at the water cooler chatting with that choch from Philly who frosts his tips and wears sunglasses at night, your biggest validation as a D.C. sports fan will be that you've rooted for only the 5th worst hockey team out of the 12 major sports cities over the last decade. Gross.

    The implications of this are simple: this year's Capitals team is our only hope to salvage what little dignity we have left as D.C. sports fans this decade. With the Wizards middling well below mediocrity, the Redskins in more disarray than a bag of cockroaches, and the Nationals at least two years away from fielding a major league baseball team, more and more of the town's focus will be centered around the Caps' performance this year. And with that focus comes pressure.

    General Manager George McPhee made a relatively large splash yesterday in trading Captain Cadaver and Juice for a speedy winger and $2 million in cap space. With the extra wiggle room, an even bigger move could be in the works.

    Which may be exactly what this Caps team needs to reach the pinnacle of the sport; which might be this city's one saving grace in a decade beyond the realm of disappointment.


    1. Any guesses as to what the big move may be? Neidermayer? Phaneuf (I hope)? Kaberle? Kovulchuck? None of the above? More importantly, how do we make such a big move without losing our best prospects/semin?

    2. Might as well add/mention the O's, they have been abysmal this decade and would probably only drag down our ranking.....I mean push us further into the cellar.

    3. Niedermayer ($6 mil) and Kovalchuk ($7.5 mil) are both UFA's after this year and thus pretty expensive rentals. I don't see the need for Kovalchuk, but obviously Nidermayer would provide immediate help (and 30 min/game) on the blue line. Kaberle has $4.25 mil on the books for this season and next, and in my mind would cost more than he's worth - especially with Brian Burke running the show in Toronto. Phaneuf - not a chance. He's locked up until 2014 and making upwards of $6 mil a year. Do not want.

      It's hard to speculate the player GMGM will be targeting. If you asked me a week ago, I never would have guess Jason Chimera would be a Cap. But here he is. If I had to guess, a grizzled veteran defenseman will be in Washington by the trade deadline.


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