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Which sport reigns supreme in each major league city?

Feb 18, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

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Because I’m bored, let’s follow-up that Josh Hamilton post with a survey of each Major League Baseball city to see what sport — using my totally subjective There Can Only Be One criteria — reigns supreme in each city. Which team, if the city could vote and only keep one, would stay:

  • New York: High school hoops has a rich history, but professionally I think baseball. Specifically Yankees. Anyone really disagree?
  • Boston: Probably the most “all sports” town on the list, but I’d have to say Sox.
  • Toronto: Leafs, Leafs, Leafs, Leafs.
  • Baltimore: For a long time baseball, but I do a lot of sports radio in Baltimore and it seems like the Ravens have dominated for years. And really, before the 80s, the Colts probably did too.
  • Tampa Bay: Who knows? Anyone? Not the Rays, that’s for sure. Probably the Bucs. More probably shuffleboard and bocce ball.
  • Detroit: Great baseball town, but they seem to live and die with the Wings more. My relatives who live there all do anyway. I could be persuaded that Detroit is primarily a baseball town, though.
  • Cleveland: Browns. By far. Even when they didn’t exist for a few years.
  • Chicago: This is an interesting one. I feel like it’s a Bears city, but I’d like to hear arguments on it. Walking around there in the summer and the city just reeks baseball, so it’s probably closer than I imagine.
  • Kansas City: They don’t tailgate for the Royals like they do for the Chiefs and that’s not for lack of a parking lot.
  • Minneapolis: I assume the Vikings. Gleeman should weigh in, though. Youth hockey may trump it all.
  • Seattle: I really don’t know, but given that they’ve sent away a baseball team and a basketball team to other cities in the past, the Seahawks probably by default.
  • Oakland: Kind of weird because (a) they’re so close to San Francisco; and (b) the people who dress up and act insane for Raiders games all probably live outside of Oakland, but based just on what you see, the Raiders.
  • Houston: Texas = football. Even with the Oilers leaving.
  • Los Angeles: It’s a status city and good Lakers tickets have to be pretty high up there as far as status symbols go.
  • Dallas: Cowboys could go 1-15 and the Rangers could win the series and it’s still a Cowboys city.
  • Atlanta: Probably college football more than anything, but the Falcons pretty obviously trump the Braves. I think, as far as local support goes, it’s probably more of a front-running town than anything.
  • Philadelphia: I really don’t know. All sports, to be sure. But it may very well be a baseball town more. There are no shortage of Philly people here, so you tell me. Gun to my head I say the Phillies and Eagels are close, but I don’t know if that’s been the case for all that long a time.
  • Washington: It begins and ends with the Redskins and anyone who tells you differently is an insane person.
  • Miami: Well, I don’t think it’s controversial to say it’s not the Marlins. Dolphins all the time, the Heat are a big deal when they’re good.
  • St. Louis: Maybe the most baseball town of them all, even if I think that Best Fans in Baseball Thing is silly.
  • Cincinnati: I think it’s a Reds town. I don’t know too many people here in Ohio who disagree.
  • Milwaukee: It’s over 100 miles to Green Bay, but I bet it’s still more Packers than Brewers. If you disqualify the Packers for distance it’s the Brewers by default. Still a great baseball town, though. It’s not the Brewers fault that people go Packers crazy.
  • Pittsburgh: A good baseball town to be sure, but it’s the Steelers by far. They’ve become a regional thing, even. It stretches well into Ohio and many points north, south and east as well.
  • San Francisco: I think the Giants have to be it, at least since they moved to AT&T Park. And now the 49ers are moving out of the city, so it’ll probably become more pronounced.
  • San Diego: My brother isn’t the most reliable narrator in the world but he’s lived in San Diego for almost 20 years and says the Chargers are it. Having gone to a lot of Padres games I have to agree with him.
  • Denver: Broncos, Broncos, Broncos.
  • Phoenix: I really have no idea. Like, no sense at all. The Suns have tenure, obviously, but I’m not sure what that means. Spring training makes the whole city basebally for a while. I know people get behind the Dbacks when they win.  Man, I’m rather stumped on Phoenix.

So that’s my take. Talk amongst yourselves.

215 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. gwhempel - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Milwaukee is close. We are 100 miles from Green Bay, but we’re also 90 miles from Chicago. No doubt, it leans toward the Packers, and that’s what the local news covers, but there are a lot of Bears fans here.

    In the summer, you can’t walk 10 feet around town without seeing a several people in Brewers gear.

    • mncharm - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      Agree there are plenty of Bears fans in Milwaukee, but to label it (or any other part of Wiso) as “close” is just wrong. Wisconsin is INSANE about the Packers and beer.

      In fact, I’m fairly certain there is a covert program to send kids to Chicago and the Twin Cities after college with the express purpose of settling there and annoying Bears/Vikings fans. We do appreciate the tax dollars they contibute, of course.

    • sandwiches4ever - Feb 18, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      It doesn’t really matter where in Wisconsin you are, it’s Packers country through and through. I knew people here were nuts about football before I moved out here, but holy crap, it blew my mind once I actually was here.

      It’d probably be something like Packers, Badger football, Brewers, Badger basketball, Badger hockey…then the Bucks. But I’m probably overestimating UW’s reach being closer to Madison than Milwaukee.

  2. jimmylegz - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Minneapolis is an interesting one, because all four of the biggest professional sports teams are non-localized “Minnesota” teams, and I would interpret their statewide popularity levels differently than I would here in Minneapolis (or St. Paul, in the case of the Wild). Despite Minnesota being a “hockey state,” I’d say the most popular team has to be either the Vikings or the Twins. Actually, its gotta be the Vikes. But living in Minneapolis, I’ve always felt that the Twins were a bigger deal in the city (though I may just be seeing what I want to see, as a baseball fan).

    • Tim OShenko - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      Once you get outside the Twin Cities, it becomes evident that Minnesota is all about the Vikings. Driving through small towns and past farms, you’ll see Vikings flags, Vikings parking signs, purple & gold lawn furniture, etc. This despite the Vikes stinking on ice for much of the past decade. Folks still follow baseball and love explaining just how they’d fix the team, but football is what they’re passionate about.

  3. Tim's Neighbor - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Atlanta is:
    College Football
    That one pro basketball team

    • hockeyfan28 - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      Got friends of mine who moved to Georgia years ago and it’s pretty much the Braves then Georgia football
      then Falcons…..the guy who wrote this has obviously never been near the state of Georgia…I actually think football wise there might be more Cowboys fans in Georgia then Falcons fans

      • Alex K - Feb 18, 2013 at 9:36 PM

        You realize that after switching the two top sports you list is exactly the same as his, right?

        And I can vouch that the guy that wrote that 100% lives in Atlanta.

      • hockeyfan28 - Feb 19, 2013 at 4:25 AM

        So the guy who made this original article and says the falcons are more popular then the braves actually is from the state of Georgia? Not likely there’s more Cowboy fans in Atlanta then Falcons fans but the Braves mean more to Atlanta then any other sport and it’s been that way since they made their 1991 run to the World Series

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      What??!! How about their TWO NHL teams?? Yeah, OK, they currently call Calgary and Winnipeg home, but still…

  4. raysfan1 - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Pretty much all of FL is college football first. For pro sports, Bucs first. However, most Floridians are not native to the state, and they bring their original loyalties with them. You’ll find A LOT of Yankees fans in Tampa.

  5. belichickrulz - Feb 18, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    “cardsfanandi – Feb 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    You can disagree if you want, but you’re wrong. I lived a block and a half from Fenway for 3 years, and I’ve never seen the pandamonium that is Kenmore square when the Sox are in town. I’ve gone to Bruins games and Celtics games, but there’s absolutely nothing like a Sox game in the city. I’ve never actually been to a Pats game, but from what I hear, it just isn’t on the same level. I knew I couldn’t wear my Cardinals gear walking around town without getting harassed, but I wore my Rams shirts and never heard a word from anyone. That’s a pretty big indicator with Massholes.”

    If you’ve never been to a Pats game, then you’re talking out of your hat. You have no basis for comparison. Of course Kenmore Square is pandemonium when the Sox are in town. Look at the geography!

    As for your Cardinals gear, I’m guessing you were wearing that in 2004, because that’s the only time in my lifetime that anyone in Boston gave enough of a crap about the Cardinals to say anything to their fans.

  6. ccmf69 - Feb 18, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    Well, since I usually wear a Giants jacket, a Niners’ sweat shirt, and a Ford Mustang baseball cap, you might say I’m a little schizophrenic…That’s not bad, is it?…Oh, and I watch the A’s, and the Raiders. too whenever they don’t conflict with the other Bay Area teams…

  7. crnvic847 - Feb 18, 2013 at 2:33 PM


    You mad bro?

    Mark my words that if the Cubs are completely out of the playoff race come the all-star break some of those crickets will be in the bleachers drinking mai tai’s and old style and urinating in the horse troughs.

  8. dadawg77 - Feb 18, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Coming from a life long Chicagoan, its easily Bears town because its only the Bears in football. In baseball the city is divided and since one side doesn’t really want to hear about the other, the Bears will draw more ratings. Now Football vs Baseball is a different story, where I think they are about equal.

  9. chicitybulls - Feb 18, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    First off I’d like to say Craig, excellent topic. You got a lot of good discussion going.

    As far as sports in Chicago goes, it’s really hard to say. Bears would probably be first (as it is in most nfl cities). From there it could really be a toss up. I’ve read a lot of comments from Chicagoans and I can find fault with them all. I’m sure they can find fault with mine. But the Bulls is a major draw. Even after the Jordan years when they were bad they still had good attendance. There’s currently a waiting list for season tickets and they have one of the best sell out streaks in the league going. Years long. In the summer baseball reigns supreme. It’s difficult because there’s 2 cities and that divides allegiances. For people saying the Sox is not a draw, they might remember some years ago when Reinsdorf threatened to leave the city and take the team to Sarasota for good unless funds for a stadium was raised. Well the Sox are still in the city in a new ball park (well newer than old Comiskey Park). The Hawks are one of the original 6 and have one of the best if not the best sweater in the league. They’re playing great right now and would imagine they front page news right now. I would imagine when does Derrick Rose get back is more of a story than how good the Hawks are playing.

    • dadawg77 - Feb 18, 2013 at 2:59 PM

      People forget history quickly. Chicago was mostly a White Sox town from the end of WWII to 1970’s. What happen then was rise of TV in sports. The Cubs handle this transition better then the Sox, as the Sox went to paid TV well before it was common place moving from UHF which no one ever really got good reception for. If the Sox stayed on WGN, the fan base would be a lot closer. Another way TV helped the Cubs was since the Cubs played in the day, TV allowed kids to watch the last innings of a game when they got home from school. However if it came down to a vote of which team would be voted off, it all game theory then. If a person had only one vote, what team would leave might come down to which way would baseball fans vote? I could see some pretty strange results as the Bears losing as everyone thought everyone else was voting for the Bears. If everyone had to pick four teams out of the five, the results would be Bears, Bulls, Hawks, Cubs then Sox.

    • johnnynewguy - Feb 18, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Chicago sports is so super easy. Its baseball. Its not even close. The question posed isn’t which team reigns supreme in the city it is which sport does. Its baseball. Having lived here for my whole life of almost 25 years it is baseball. That isn’t to say that people aren’t passionate about the other teams or sports but Chicago lives and dies with their baseball teams probably because of the amount of futility that both teams have had during their history. Men’s Health magazine a few years back did a little story about places to visit during the summer that would be easier on the pocket book then say south beach. Chicago was one of those places. I bring this up only because at the end of each city the magazine gave a little “tip” to help blend in with locals. Chicago’s tip was stated as such, “Grab a cap and pick a side. Chicago is a baseball mad town.” If you listen to Chicago’s sports talk radio daily (as I do) you’ll see its baseball without question. The Bears have a new coach, the Bulls have the 2nd best record in the conference, and the Blackhawks are off to the 2nd best start in NHL history and last week they talked more baseball then anything else. Why? ‘Cause its baseball first and everything else second.

  10. brianabbe - Feb 18, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Honestly, this is a moot point either way. If the cities support multiple teams, that’s a strong fan base. The bigger question we should ask is which metro areas are oversaturated with teams and which areas need more? For my money, Florida needs to lose several teams, and San Antonio, Austin, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver could stand to add 2-3 relocated franchises. The Jaguars are hideous, and the Bucs finished in the bottom five in NFL attendance several times recently. The Rays could offer a lap dance to every fan from Kate Upton, and they still wouldn’t draw. A friend of mine living in the Tampa area once told me a story about the ’04 Stanley Cup Game 7. The bar he went to watch it had NO IDEA the game was even on that day. The entire Tampa metro area is apathetic. It’s harder to pin down Miami though. If it wasn’t for Scrooge Loria, the Marlins might actually have a fan base closer to the Heat and Dolphins. I think it goes without saying that the NHL needs to pull every non-Dallas team out of the south and move them somewhere where people might actually care though.

    • martyb30 - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      Well then, wake up man, it’s not 2004. From what I hear, and from the ratings that I see, Tampa is getting more and more into the Lightning. And “every non-Dallas team”? Like the Stars are the hottest team in the southern part of the country. I don’t know what planet you’re on; the support for the Lightning has been way better than for the Stars in recent years.

  11. beachnbaseball - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Thanks to Peter Angeloser, Baltimore is a Ravens town. The Orioles are 2nd fiddle and now they are carping about the Nats being in their backyard. Last year was an aberration and Buck’s Birds will be plucked. The manager’s initials sum it up nicely: BS

  12. mianfr - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    I really like that you brought youth teams into the picture, particularly in Minnesota (how did it take so long to replace the North Stars there?).

    I can only really speak for New York and New England, so I’ll address those.

    New York is first and foremost a baseball town, and, as you said, a Yankee town. Think about all the headlines during the run up to the Super Bowl about A-Rod. If you want to say that was because of a major story, how about all the ones about the Death of the Yankees because they’re being fiscally careful this year? Championships in the other sports are an added bonus, but I think people tend to feel everything is in order a bit more when the Yankees are winning World Series championships. Then it’s football, then some combination of Knicks, Rangers, and Mets (I think they’re equally preferable among fans, maybe slight edge to the Mets), then some pick of Devils/Nets, then Islanders.

    The Boston sports divide really comes down to how you want to mark your geography. South of Boston, but still in New England, it’s probably the Pats, but that’s because it’s so much easier for Connecticut residents to get to their games than, say, Bruins ones. This leads to weird sports pairings like Yankees and Patriots, which just doesn’t feel right. Boston and north, though, it’s so thoroughly Red Sox Nation there may as well not even be another team to root for. It’s like English soccer.

    • mncharm - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      There is zero doubt in my mind that Minnesota would happily let the NHL leave before amatuer hockey. Zero. Don’t get me wrong, people were pissed when the North Stars left, but at the same time, there was a significant amount of hockey fans who shrugged and said “we’ve got better hockey to watch here anyway.”

      Think of it this way: the only DI teams (that come to mind) in Minnesota outside the University of Minnesota are all hockey teams — and there are four of them.

      • mianfr - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        Great insight, I appreciate hearing about that. I’ve never been to Minnesota, but I’ve always loved what I’ve heard about their passion for amateur hockey, so it’s good to hear that confirmed.

    • dparker713 - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Sorry, but if you forced people to pick one team from the area the Mets would not be struggling to be fourth.

  13. ddavis83 - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    •Detroit: Great baseball town, but they seem to live and die with the Wings more. My relatives who live there all do anyway. I could be persuaded that Detroit is primarily a baseball town, though.

    Not even close. Maybe in the late 90’s when the Wings were the only Detroit team doing ANYTHING positive but this is by far a Tigers/Lions town. Lions have been the most pathetic franchise in pro sports for years but one 10-6 season last year and they owned this town.

    Listen to sports talk radio here and you will not hear a Red Wings call until the playoffs and that will be just to complain about the goalie. All people are talking about now is NFL draft because well, we usually have a pretty high pick.

  14. nothanksimdriving123 - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Did I miss something, or is there really no mention of Anaheim? Despite their silly name, they are the Anaheim Angels and they share their town with a recent Stanley Cup champion, the Anaheim Ducks. And Mickey Mouse.

  15. anxovies - Feb 18, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    As a Yankee fan who lived in St. Louis for several years and went to a lot of Cardinal games I can say that the Redbirds have the most supportive fans that I have seen. Compare the comments on the Yankee and St. Louis official websites. All Yankee fans do is rag on ARod or whoever is the flavor of the day or moan doom and gloom. Card fans are a lot more positive.

    • mscxvd - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:09 AM


  16. kw27p - Feb 18, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    From mass here. Sorry but some guy said bruins rank of above the patriots after the sox.. Maybe they did before 1993 when Robert Kraft took over over the team but since ’93 bruins r behind the pats. Me and my dad waited 11 years on the pats season ticket waiting list til we got them 2 years ago. Enough said. Also I’d say its a toss up between sox and pats for #1 these days.

  17. El Bravo - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Chicago (currently):

    1. Bears
    2. Bulls
    3. Hawks
    4. Cubs
    5. Sox

    Notre Dame is probably three actually….Cubs and Sox are much closer now than in the last ten years too.

    Also, correcton:

    SF is a f’ing Niners town no matter how far they are from downtown. Giants town? smh….that’s pure baseball bias right there. Three words: Montana. Rice. Young.

  18. cosanostra71 - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Los Angeles is definitely a Lakers town. After that it’s probably the Dodgers, then USC football and UCLA basketball interchangeably, the Kings and finally the Clippers. Although the Clippers might be moving past the Kings.

  19. packersfansuck - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    100% accurate on the twin cities. VIQUEENS!

  20. proudliberal85392 - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Here in Phoenix, I’d say the Cardinals.

  21. kiwicricket - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    I really don’t get the comparison or competition between Football and Baseball. One is played in winter, the other in summer.
    No other country on earth gives a crap about comparing a winter sport to a summer sport, but it’s obsessive in the US. I just don’t get it.

    • indaburg - Feb 18, 2013 at 7:13 PM

      Don’t try to understand. Just go with it.

      So, what’s most popular in NZ?

      • kiwicricket - Feb 18, 2013 at 7:31 PM

        Rugby is most popular. But out of all the Commonwealth countries(ignoring Canada) and the rest of the world, no comparisons are made like this. Its separated into seasonal sports.

        Christchurch NZ is probably the Rugby capital of the earth, but is never trumpeted over any other sort of sport as being superior. Lawn Bowls and Netball would not like that.

        If you compared Football(Soccer) to Cricket in England, they would think you are odd in the head. Football/Soccer is far and away more popular in Europe, Africa and South America, but it’s never made in comparison to another sport, especially to a summer sport. Its an Apples and Oranges comparison.

        I really don’t understand why people give a dam which is more popular. The financial success of a particular professional league/monopoly has no bearing on anything besides it’s fans (who fork over money to billionaires for stuff) wanting to feel better/superior.

        Football and Hockey or Basketball I can almost understand. But sports in completely different seasons is bizarre.

  22. phillytj - Feb 18, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Philadelphia: it’s between Eagles and Phillies. Ten years ago I’d have said 80-20 Eagles. Now it’s more like 60-40, or maybe even closer. Everything about the Phillies as an organization is more likable, but the sport of football better personifies the Philadelphia spirit.

  23. phillytj - Feb 18, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    If I had money to go to only one live game a year though, in Philly I’d go to a Flyers game…

  24. yudawils - Feb 18, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    I just found out lterally 2 minutes ago,that Tom Brady (shady) died in a car accident along with the driver after the car spun into the barrier HOLY FUCK

  25. mancave001 - Feb 18, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    It’s not even a question…Philly is a football town. Look at the ratings. It’s not even close.

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