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|01-26-2009, 06:41 AM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Steelers among world’s best sports franchises
Monday, Jan 26, 2009
Posted on Mon, Jan. 26, 2009
Steelers among world’s best sports franchises
By MAC ENGEL
Everything about Pittsburgh screams quaint — it ranks 59th among U.S. cities in population, is the 22nd-largest TV market and its most famous neighborhood is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Yet amid the city’s massive amounts of bridges, steel and famous three rivers, its citizens celebrate a football team that is just about as successful as any professional sports franchise in the world.
The Steelers do not have the NFL’s highest revenues and they play in a city that is far from a glamour spot such as New York, Los Angeles or Madrid. But because of their success, the Steelers have created something that even those celebrity cities don’t have.
If the Steelers defeat the Cardinals on Sunday, they will have won 14 percent of the NFL’s Super Bowl titles.
In terms of on-the-field production, the Steelers are arguably the greatest sports franchise in the world.
Case for: Since the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970, the Steelers have won five Super Bowls and, in the ’70s, assembled arguably the most storied dynasty the sport has known.
Case against: There was a bit of a lull; after winning a Super Bowl in 1979, the Steelers didn’t win another until 2005.
All-time names: Chuck Noll, Mean Joe Greene, Franco Harris
Case for: The Celtics have 17 NBA titles, tops in basketball. Since the time of their inception, no basketball franchise has been consistently as dominant as the Celtics. Plus, they are fresh off a 2008 NBA title and
a good pick to return to the Finals in ’09.
Case against: Until winning the title in 2008, the Celtics had been mired in a Rick Pitino-, Danny Ainge-aided slump.
Their previous title was in 1986.
All-time names: Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell,
Tokyo Yomiuri Giants
League: Japan’s Central League
Case For: The franchise was established in the 1930s and came to monopolize Japanese professional baseball. The Giants have won 31 league championships and 20 Japanese Series titles. The team is the equivalent of the Yankees; Yomiuri is a media conglomerate that likes to spend big money on the league’s top players.
Case against: The Giants had a 2-0 lead in the Japan Series last year, but lost in seven games. They haven’t won a Japan Series since 2002.
All-time names: Sadaharu Oh, Hideki Matsui, Shigeo Nagashima
League: AFL (Australian Rules Football)
Case for: One of the most successful franchises in AFL history, the Magpies have won 14 premierships. They usually lead the league in attendance as well.
Case against: Essendon
and Carlton have won more titles — 16 each — and since 1990, the Maggies haven’t been as dominant.
All-time names: Paul
Medhurst, Dane Swan
Case for: The Canadiens have 24 Stanley Cup titles, and boast some of the game’s most celebrated names, including Maurice Richard, Bob Gainey and Patrick Roy. They were the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup.
Case against: The last time they made a conference finals was the last time they won the Cup — 1993. Since that time the Canadiens have, at best, been a good franchise and have been surpassed by the likes of the Red Wings as the league’s great team.
All-time names: Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante, Maurice "Rocket" Richard
League: La Liga (Spain)
Case for: Of all the pro soccer teams in the world, Los Blancos remain the premier franchise. They have won nine European titles and 31 La Liga titles. In all, they have won nearly 60 domestic championships.
Case against: Manchester United has won 10 Premier League (England) titles since 1992, and other franchises such as Chelsea have closed the gap.
All-time names: Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane
New York Yankees
Case for: Hate them as much as you want, but 26 World Series titles says a lot. They are the most decorated sports franchise in the world and have created the single most lucrative business model in their field. The
St. Louis Cardinals are the next closest franchise in terms of titles with 10.
Case against: The Yankees haven’t been the same since they signed A-Rod. Despite enormously bloated payrolls, the Yankees missed the playoffs in 2008, have not won a World Series since 2000 and have been passed in the standings by their nemesis, the Red Sox.
All-time names: Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig
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