January 28, 2005


Rumblings & Grumblkings (Jayson Stark, January 28, 2005, ESPN.com)

Here's something to ponder: Football is the sport that's always praised for its spectacular competitive balance. But as loyal reader David Hallstrom reports, five different baseball teams have won the World Series over the last five years. Think that happens all the time in football? Think again.

In the NFL's 39-year Super Bowl era, there has been exactly one five-year period in which five different teams won a title -- 1984-88. And even if you include the pre-Supe era, that's the only five-year span in which the NFL can make that claim over its last 57 seasons.

# Then there's this year's Super Bowl matchup -- which didn't exactly come out of nowhere. It matches one team going for its third title in four years (the Patriots) versus another team (the Eagles) that has made it to four straight conference finals.

In other words, for a sport that's supposed to be so wide open, there sure has been a lot of regularity to the NFL's postseason final four.

In fact, it turns out the NFL's final four teams actually have been more predictable over the last four years than baseball's final four. In baseball, 12 of the 30 franchises have made it to a League Championship Series over the past four seasons. In football, only 10 have been to a conference final.

# Or let's take this back even more years. Over the last eight baseball postseasons, 16 of the 30 MLB franchises have been to at least one LCS (53.3 percent). That's virtually exactly the same percentage as the NFL (17 of 32, 53.1 percent).

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 28, 2005 9:10 PM

Am I the only sports fan who doesn't like "parity"?

Consecutive championships are evidence of true greatness, and are especially welcome in an era when the concept of The Team -- and the sense of loyalty that goes with it -- is diluted by players flitting about from city to city.

History doesn't look back with any interest on a period in which a Tampa Bay win is followed by a Tennessee win is followed by a Seattle win, etc. That becomes just a disposable jumble of names on a list.

But history does look back with affection on something like the Chicago Bulls dominating the NBA for years. And it's cool to witness something that history will look back on with affection. It's cool to live through something that you know will remain important and stand the test of time.

I think dynasties are a wonderful thing. (Unless they involve Duke basketball.)

Posted by: Semolina at January 28, 2005 9:28 PM

In the NFL's 39-year Super Bowl era, there has been exactly one five-year period in which five different teams won a title -- 1984-88.


We have, for starters:

Super Bowls II-VI (Packers, Jets, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys)

Super Bowls III-VII (Jets, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins)

Super Bowls XVII-XXI (Redskins, Raiders, Forty-Niners, Bears, Giants)

Super Bowls XXXIII-XXXVII (Broncos, Rams, Ravens, Patriots, Buccaneers)

Even if you grant that he screwed up and meant to say six-year periods, he's still wrong because Super Bowls II-VII had six different winners.

Did I misunderstand this guy's statement, or am I missing some obvious point here?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2005 10:41 PM

"I think dynasties are a wonderful thing."

The attitude which makes Yankee fans so tiresome. (Well, one of many...)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 28, 2005 11:00 PM

In the NFL a crappy team like the Steelers can go 6-10, pick up a couple new players and then go 15-1 and make it to the playoffs and conference championship.

The lowly Tampa Bay and Green Bay franchises can make themselves into playoff contenders with a good coach, a free agent or three and some good draft years.

In Baseball, there is No Hope for the Pirates, the Royals, the Brewers, the Reds, the Padres. The Yankee pitching staff will make more than the entire roster of several teams. Its not like the Pirates don't want to put a winner on the field.

Posted by: AML at January 29, 2005 1:36 AM

In the NFL even an involved fan needs a scorecard these days to figure out who is playing on their favorite team each September.

Parity means too much turnever. Ultimately bad for fan loyalty.

Will we ever see teams like the Bears/Redskins/Giants/49ers of the 80s that fielded the same players -- especialy those Bear and Giant defenses, year in and year out fro 10 years?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 29, 2005 1:57 AM

I'll add for the Yankee haters out there that the Yankees spending has only gone thru the roof, compared to the rest of the league, since 2001.

During which time, they've won no World Series.

By the way, the Royals nearly won the AL central in 2003, and the Padres had a competetive team last year.

If the Yankees don't keep winning 100 games a year, which they won't given the age of the team, then they won't fill seats and they won't sell advertising on their network, and they wont be able to afford the ridiculous free agents anymore.

The fact that they were able to spend so much the past few years is the product of their success -- with relatively few free agents and a normal payroll -- in the late 1990s.

God forbid tho that anyone should be successful.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 29, 2005 2:04 AM

I think the single game playoff structure in the NFL gives the Super Bowl an apperance of greater parity than baseball's multi-game championship series.

Take the Vikings this year. They pulled off a miracle win in the first-round game against a Green Bay team that had beaten them handily twice in the regular season. If they had to go best two out of three, they wouldn't have advanced.

Posted by: Chris B at January 29, 2005 10:00 AM


Why? Both teams stunk.

Posted by: oj at January 29, 2005 10:11 AM

Parity was intended to give crappy teams a chance to improve. However, it is working in the opposite manner. The Cardinals will continue to stink and the Giants will continue to be mediocre. The reason is that their organizations are weak. Parity and the salary cap create parameters which reward the capable over the incapable. If you decide to take the dummy's way of rebuilding your franchise, by signing a few superstars and surrounding them with ham-and-eggers, you get killed. Just ask Little Danny Snyder. If you focus on winning the battle up front, signing decent but not great players in the marquee positions especially at wideout(all football positions require 'skill'), you win.

Organizations that put a premium on teaching the game of football and on finding players who have an upside and who are capable of learning how to play will defeat organizations that rely on Mel Kiper, Jr type thinking. A scouting combine only tells you so much and when football is played in shorts and without pads, then I'll worry about some guy's 40 time in shorts and without pads.

Posted by: Bart at January 29, 2005 12:25 PM

The author's head is firmly inserted into his rectal cavity. While the New York Yankees have won about 10 bajillion of the last 100 World Series, no NFL team even comes close. I wonder what kind of mind this guy has, to sit down and try to convince his readers of something that's obviously not true (football is no more competitive than baseball). I guess some people just like lying for sport.

Posted by: Tom at January 29, 2005 7:54 PM

When did the Yankees win last?

Posted by: oj at January 29, 2005 9:36 PM