According to the City of Pittsburgh, 650,000 people crammed into Downtown on June 14 to celebrate the Pittsburgh Penguins’ fifth Stanley Cup win.
This second-consecutive Cup makes the Pens one of the most successful American sports franchises of the past 50 years. Hashtags like #BurghProud, #PensParade and #BacktoBack began trending as fans celebrated the city’s 13th world title since 1967. The fact is, we are winners and winners get parades; losers don’t get parades unless they’re being chased out of town for being losers.
So, in honor of the Penguins’ fifth Stanley Cup, here are five of the winningest sports cities and five of the worst.
New York has 21 world championships in the past 50 years, but it has eight franchises. A third of the championships come from the Evil Empire known as the Yankees. The Islanders won four Cups, and the Giants have four Super Bowl rings. We must respect the Giants because Tom Brady would have seven titles if not for them. The Knicks have won twice, but not since Nixon was president; the Mets have two rings, but none in 31 years; the Jets have one, thanks to Beaver County’s Joe Namath; and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup just once in 77 years.
Boston is a winner whether we want to admit it or not. On 19 occasions the city has stopped complaining bitterly about something to enjoy a parade. The Patriots have five and the Red Sox and Bruins have won three each. The Celtics are kings of the city with eight trophies in 50 years and another nine before that.
Los Angeles has sung “We Are the Champions” 18 times, but it took eight franchises to get it done. Eleven of those belong to the Lakers; the Dodgers and the Kings chipped in two each, and the Ducks and the Angels got lucky once each.
Pittsburgh has had 13 parades with just three teams. That’s not counting the Mazeroski World Series that happened nearly 60 years ago. My favorite stat, though, is that while Pittsburgh currently has the 26th largest metro area in the country, it has the fourth-most championships. We have the highest parade-to-person ration in the nation, if that’s a thing.
Chicago has two more teams than us, but two fewer titles. The Bulls’ Michael Jordan is responsible for six of those, with assists going to Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, our goodwill ambassador to North Korea. The Blackhawks have recently become winners, with three Cups this decade, but the city’s other teams don’t routinely bring pride to the Windy City. The Bears have one Super Bowl, the Cubs have one title in the past 109 years, and the White Sox have one World Series in 99 years.
Phoenix has four times more franchises than championships. The only time the city ever went out and bought a shirt with the word “Champions” on it was in 2001, when the Diamondbacks upset the Yankees. The Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes (are they even still a team?) have never won anything. Imagine how much that Santonio Holmes Super Bowl catch must haunt them in their nightmares.
Even though they haven’t won much, Atlanta is prolific at losing. The Hawks went 40 seasons without advancing to the second round of the playoffs. The Falcons had a 25-3 lead in the Super Bowl and still lost. The Braves’ 1995 world title happened only because they faced an even bigger loser, the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland winning an NBA world championship last year removed their biggest-loser status. Congratulations. Just like Phoenix and Atlanta, the city has won only once since 1967. But at least Cleveland now has competitive teams (besides the Browns). Just this year they lost both the NBA Finals and the World Series.
Thanks to the Twins, Minneapolis has had two victory parades, but the most recent was 26 years ago. The Vikings lost four times in the Super Bowl in the 1970s (once to the Steelers) and the North Stars went to the NHL finals once (and lost to the Penguins).
Houston, we have a loser. Houston is tied with Tampa and Toronto as the fifth-biggest loser in sports. All three cities have three teams and two world championships. Houston grabbed two NBA titles while Jordan was retired (or suspended for gambling). The Astros have been to only one World Series, and lost to the White Sox. The stupidly named Texans never win, and the Oilers came up dry every year they were there. Toronto had two from the Blue Jays in 92-93 and that’s it. The Maple Leafs and Raptors also never win. Tampa got lucky once with the Lightning, and once with the Buccaneers.