Ranking the best sports cities is clearly a subjective undertaking. However, objective criteria can be used to give the rankings more value. In our rankings, we look at sports history, sport venues, fan interest and team performance.
Boston — This is a city that has had a passionate love affair with its teams for decades. We use the phrase love affair because it is completely appropriate. Love often involves pain, and Boston sports fans have endured more than their share. Nothing was more painful than the ground ball that went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series against the Mets that became the Red Sox‘s most symbolic moment until they ended 86 years of frustration by winning the 2004 World Series. The Bruins have had their painful moments, most notably the too many men on the ice penalty that cost them a 1979 playoff series against their archrival Montreal Canadiens. Bruins fans were crying in their chowder for more than three decades until they finally won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
St. Louis — The St. Louis Cardinals have won 11 World Series championships, more than any other National League team and second behind the New York Yankees. Busch Stadium attracts sellout crowds throughout the summer and you must see a Cardinal game when visiting St. Louis to understand the city’s baseball-crazed psyche. Cardinal fans are like Stepford Wives in their devotion to their team. As the evidence of Mark McGwire’s performance-enhancing regimen mounted, Cardinal fans continued to shower him with support. It was as if Tony LaRussa had altered their minds and taken away their free will. “We love you, Big Mac, and we always will no matter how much you cheat.”
New York — The Yankees are the city’s showpiece and fans seem to love them or hate them with no middle ground. The Yankees have won 27 World Series championships and Yankee icons Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter are among the greatest icons in baseball history. The New York Giants played in the 1958 NFL title game against the Baltimore Colts in a game that many football fans consider to be the greatest of all time. New York fans are at the top of the list when it comes to arrogance. No sports fans can get under an opponent’s collective skin like New York fans. Their memorable “Who’s Your Daddy?” chant to Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez gets an A-plus for snarkiness.
Chicago — While Chicago has not won the same number of championships as New York or Boston, the city’s fans embrace the sports teams. The Chicago Bears are clearly at the top of the food chain and the 1985 Bears may have been the most dominant team in football history. The Chicago Cubs can’t win but they the most beloved losers in the history of sports. They have not won a World Series since 1908 and have been making excuses ever since. Probably the lowest moment came in 2003 when Cub fan Steve Bartman got his hands on a foul pop in the sixth game of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins and kept Moises Alou from catching it. Did the Cubs work past this faux pas? No, they just fell apart and felt sorry for themselves. Cubs fans love to suffer and seem to enjoy their own pain. “Oh well,” they tell themselves, “there’s always next year.”