One of the other Dirty Hippies posed the following question yesterday:
Here’s the scenario. You’re a pro athlete. One day the coach calls you in and says “son, you’ve been traded to ___________.”
What the worst team you can fill in the blank with? Four leagues, and feel free to elaborate on why if you feel so led.
In thinking about this, a few things jumped to mind right off the bat, but then I stepped back to think more about it. Is this just about a team that I hate (NY Rangers)? Is this about a team that has been mismanaged horrifically but I like them (Knicks)? Is this about a team that consistently has good young talent but trades it away (Pittsburgh Pirates)? Is it about a mediocre team that seems to be around .500 but never inspires the city/fans and has little shot at going deep in the playoffs in the foreseeable future?
In making my decision, I took a combination of the above – since there are a few factors at play here: state of franchise now/last 5-10 years and potential for winning in the next 5 or so, fan base, ownership/mgmt, city life and other sports teams (would be a plus in GB, not so much somewhere else with no other teams) and a few “intangibles” based on nothing other than my own (relatively) uninformed opinions.
With that being said, here is what I came up with and why:
MLB: Kansas City Royals. Owner David Glass has run this franchise into the ground in the 11 years he has owned the team. Only one winning season in the past 15 years. Phenom Zach Greinke is sure to be the next star to leave – following Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, David Cone, Mike Sweeney and Jermaine Dye (ok, so Cone was before Glass). The team ownership makes little effort in actually building a strategy for winning and keeping a core together – witness how the Marlins have done it more than once, for example. A depressing team which was once a proud franchise packed with all stars. While I’ve never been to Kansas City (and am sure I’d love the ribs), the only other sports team is the Chiefs which is a minus for me in terms of overall pro sports. And no hope for the future really either.
NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars. Not a horrible team by any stretch. But not a good team and not really an inspiring team either – not by a long shot. Buried in a division with Jeff Fisher’s
Oilers Titans and Peyton Manning’s Colts, it is nearly impossible to make the playoffs consistently, if at all – at least not for a while. A few good seasons lately (2 playoff appearances since 2005 and one playoff win since 1999), but almost exactly a .500 record over the past 8 seasons, which won’t do much. No other sports teams in Jacksonville and a city that, while in “sunny” Florida, is fairly cold, pretty dreary and has little else going on. I once took a day trip (flight) to Jacksonville for a meeting, had lunch “downtown” and couldn’t get back to the airport soon enough. Nothing horrible, but very little redeeming – not for the team, not for the city, not for the future.
NBA:Memphis Grizzlies. I almost picked the Indiana Pacers or Toronto Raptors here, but Toronto breaks a few of my rules, given that the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays are in Toronto and it is a great city (from all I have been told). With Memphis, a city that I’ve never been to and probably is a fine city, there is no other sports, I am NOT a fan of NASCAR and the Grizzlies are woeful other than a 3 year stretch a few years ago but have won less than 25 games in 3 of the past 4 years. The potential to not suck is there with a couple of solid players (Gay, Randolph, Conley) so maybe things will turn around. And just in case they do, I’ll put the Pacers as my runner-up, who have been similarly horrific over the past 7 years, are in a city that fits a lot of the profile above (auto racing, other sports teams – except here it is all Colts who likely relegate the Pacers to minor league status nowadays, etc).
NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets. This was the toughest one. I thought Nashville initially, but they have been real good lately. Then I thought Calgary (because I’ve been there in the winter) but they’ve made the playoffs almost every season. And even my Islanders are in NY with a bit of promise, even though the history and ownership over the past 15 years make this ripe for a choice, so there is hope there. I picked Columbus because there is no tradition whatsoever and expansion/team movement has hurt hockey more than any other sport in my mind, because the little tradition they have since 2000 includes one playoff appearance and one .500 record, and because Ohio already has college football, college basketball, Cincinnati and Cleveland for other sports (even though there is no hockey in either city) and I’m not sure that Columbus, Ohio is a real “hot spot”.
So there you have it. Apologies to any residents of these cities that I pissed off – and that’s more because they have to deal with these shitty-ass franchises.
What are your thoughts?