So anyhow, I'm writing this as a rebuttal of sorts to Joe's recent post, My Town Sucks, about his sports teams and their woes as of late. Please see below as he documents his loathing for Pittsburgh because they've had some winning years as of late and his hopes to crush his friends spirits by finding joy in their favorite teams failings.
I supposed that I understand how people would dislike Pittsburgh sports teams/sports fans because they are currently on top of two sports. But I would like to point out that really, Pittsburgh is a champion for small-market cities that generally have no chance to win in sports. Let's look at the traditionally good.... no great teams in sports.
NBA - LA Lakers are World Champions, have won 14 championships all time, only 2nd to Boston, with 17 championships- most recently last year. Both are big market cities, with lots of money and every advantage to win year in and out.
MLB- Seemingly the NY Yankees have won 1/2 of the championships ever and the best team in the past 5 years has been the Boston Red Sox.
NHL - Detroit won last year, Pittsburgh this year.
NFL - Pittsburgh current champs. New York last year. New England (Boston) has been the best team overall for the recent past.
What do most of these teams have in common? They are big-market teams with flashy owners and lots of money. Seemingly players would much rather live in New York, Chicago, LA, or Boston than they would Pittsburgh, Detroit, or Green Bay- thus making the big-market teams even more attractive to top-level free agents. Big-market teams are able to buy big-named players for their squads. Small-market teams have to depend on building teams through the draft and their farm systems. Lastly, small market teams often have family-run ownership with many years of stability. Large-market can have this too (Steinbrenner) but those teams would be much more likely to be bought up by businessmen looking to make more money off of a team than teams in Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City or Pittsburgh.
It is reasons like these that I would think that fans of a small market team from any city should root for a Pittsburgh team (or any other small market) before they'd ever root for a big-market team. Let's take a look at this year's 2 championship teams in Pittsburgh, shall we?
1. The Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL Stanley Cup Champions - Small Market franchise. Top Players - Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jordan Staal... each a first-round draft pick from 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. They don't go after flashy free agents, their top free agent this year acquired from another team? Ruslan Fedotenko - who is 7th on the team in scoring. Head coach - Dan Bylsma - a first-time coach who started the year in the minors and never coached at any level prior to this year.
Owner? Mario Lemieux - who is the only reason that this team isn't the Kansas City Penguins. They were bankrupt 5 years ago and have the worst arena in the league. If he didn't care so much to keep the team he loved in Pittsburgh, it wouldn't be here anymore.
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL Super Bowl Champions - Small Market Franchise. Top Player- Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Santonio Holmes, and James Harrison. Each of these players were either drafted by the Steelers, or signed as an undrafted rookie free agent (both Parker and Harrison). Top Free agent signed this year? Mewelde Moore, 3rd string RB and kick-returner. Their coach - Mike Tomlin, a man with one year of coordinator experience from another small market team. Owner - Dan Rooney, generally respected as one of the best owners in sports ever.
My points here are pretty clearly spelled out. Pittsburgh franchises go about things in the right way. They are small-market teams that build their teams through the draft and spend money on players that came up with their team, not using other small market teams as their own farm system. They have stable owners who are more interested in winning and tradition than they are in making money. In my opinion, any fan of a small market team should be appreciative of these traits, root for small market teams vs big market clubs, and hope that their teams can someday follow Pittsburgh's blueprint and win their own World Championship.
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