Many power rank teams, but few rank cities. Halftime hopes to change that. This ranking will look at the five cities which have had the best month in sports, and the one which can take comfort in the fact that at least it is not Cleveland. It will be biased, arbitrary and confusing, but maybe it can give you some ammunition in your arguments with your roommate from Florida over whose teams are better. The criteria are loose and open to change, but generally this list will measure how well a city’s teams have played in the past month. Playoffs matter more than the regular season, and the weight of individual teams’ accomplishments vary based on their importance to their fan bases. So, an NFL team matters more than an MLB team for most cities, and a college basketball team in Boston will receive less significance than a college basketball team in Kentucky. All of this will be highly subjective. With that out of the way, let us see who had a May worth remembering.
1. Los Angeles:
It must be a strange time for Los Angeles fans. Non-traditional powers have taken a lead role, as the Dodgers hold an unspectacular 30-28 record and the best basketball team in the city does not wear purple and gold. The clearest evidence of a revolution is the fact that the best team in the city, the Kings, plays a sport foreign to the region. But here we are, and the Kings have knocked off the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks to claim a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. They will face the New York Rangers for a chance at their second Cup in three years. In the NBA, the Clippers, long a sad sideshow to the more storied Lakers, have emerged as a legitimate NBA contender. They fell short against the Thunder, but if moral victories exist in sports, the ousting of Donald Sterling would be a prime example. LA gets credit for the excellence of its teams as well as the long overdue end of the reign of the worst owner in sports. Although to be fair to Sterling, he does make a pretty convincing case for himself.
2. San Francisco:
The Giants boast the best record in the MLB at 37-20, and they lead the NL West by 7.5 games. The A’s hold the second best record, helping the Bay Area to dominate this early baseball season. Maybe this will help all of those Sharks fans forget about what happened in the playoffs, with yet another excellent regular season failing to translate into a deep playoff run. Despite that, San Francisco might have challenged for the top spot, but looking through MLB.com just reminded me of the looming mid-July sports dead zone. You know, the stretch in which Sportscenter airs 43 minutes of double-plays and 17 of early NFL camp coverage. Until that time, I want to enjoy sports that are not our nation’s pastime while I still can. With that said, one metropolitan area has the two best teams in baseball, and that fact gives San Francisco the #2 spot. Maybe San Francisco could move up in these rankings if the A’s could find a way to rid themselves of the Oakland Coliseum, which I like to think of as the Donald Sterling of baseball parks-aging, obsolete, and full of shit.
3. San Antonio
The model small-market team, the Spurs find themselves in the NBA Finals yet again. It is hard to overstate the consistent success of Coach Greg Popovich’s team, even if they constantly run the risk of becoming so well known for being underrated that they become overrated. Having knocked off the upstart Clippers, San Antonio then stopped the Kevin Durant-led Thunder in a battle of NBA mid-majors. Now the Spurs have the chance to avenge last year’s Finals loss to the Heat, as Popovich’s system will clash with the individual brilliance of LeBron James and his teammates.
4. New York:
The Yankees are good-not-great, the Mets sit in 4th in the NL East, and the Islanders still exist. But the Rangers have surged to the Stanley Cup Finals, giving themselves the chance to end a 21-year championship drought. Henrik Lundqvist has been brilliant in goal, leading the Rangers on a surprisingly deep playoff run. In the MLB, the Yankees sit in second place in the AL East, within striking distance of the division-leading Blue Jays without really looking all that threatening. But as good as the Rangers have been, in a city of nine MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA franchises, one of them is bound to win once in a while. Because of that, it is hard to give them the same credit as I would give to a team like the San Antonio Spurs, who carry the sports banner for their city alone.
Wait, Cleveland? The team that I almost made a permanent member of the “worst” category, like a UN Security Council of terrible sports cities? To be honest, none of Cleveland’s teams look great right now. Actually, the only active one, the Indians, is fourth in the AL Central. But ignore that, because the Browns just drafted Johnny Football, and together, they are going to “wreck this league”. For the first time since some guy who is decent at basketball left for Miami, people are legitimately excited about a Cleveland sports figure. This will all probably end in disappointment and only serve to hurt fans in the long run, but for now, there is hope. For now, Manziel could still save this city, and although no Cleveland team actually achieved anything in May, the lack of crushing loss serves as a sort of victory, and this might just be my only chance to include Cleveland in the positive section of these rankings.
The Bruins just bowed out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs a little earlier than expected at the hands of their bitter, Quebecois rivals, and both the team and its fans came off not looking so hot, but conference semi-finals counts for something, right? For their part, the Patriots had an uninspiring draft, although a former tight of theirs has been all over the news lately, and not for the best reasons. In other sports, the Celtics finished with the fourth worst record in the Eastern Conference, and the Red Sox look nothing like the World Champions of last year. On the bright side, the Sox did manage to pull themselves out of a mid-month nosedive which saw them lose 10 straight, although they are still looking up at .500. But hey-the Revolution are good this year. Like New Yorkers, Bostonians have a lot of teams to choose from, except few of them have looked very appealing during this past month.