In the wake of the Warriors improbable rise to the top of the basketball world yesterday, I started thinking about a 1980’s-90’s ongoing No Cal vs So Cal argument that I used to carry on with my late uncle Alan, aka Uncle Al The Kiddies Pal, over which region had the better professional sports teams. Alan lived in Santa Ana and used to love to describe his smoggy urban sprawl as “Title Town”, much to my irritation. Back in the 80’s, he had his Showtime Lakers and his deplorable Dodgers keeping him in business while I had to rely on the Niners and A’s to mount a defense. Generally, after the standard greetings at family events, it wouldn’t take long for the Title Town debate to resume and the verbal jousting to get animated.
To give you a description of Alan, picture the facial features of Jack Nicholson, the quick wit of a stand up comedian and the swagger of Rodney Dangerfield’s character, Al Czervik, in Caddyshack. My dear Uncle Al was a country club man to the core and was a master at telling jokes, gambling and getting into somebody’s head. He always controlled me like a puppet-master in any form of debate or competition, but that never stopped me from initiating the game because even losing to him was fun.
So as I was watching Doris Burke conduct the always awkward winners interview with the delirious Warriors in the very subdued Quicken Loans Arena, I suddenly had a moment of clarity where my thoughts drifted to the notion of Title Town. Seriously, with the Giants winning 3 World Series titles in 5 years and the Warriors now champions, is it safe to say that the Bay Area has reached the mythical status of Title Town? “Yes!” said the resounding voice in my head, “I’m officially living in Title Town and there is nothing that Uncle Al can do from the great 19th hole in the sky to change my mind on this fine June evening.” Or so I thought.
This morning, to confirm my hunch, I sat down at the computer to see who really can lay claim to living in Title Town, USA. I was too lazy to go all the way back to the beginning of time so I picked 40 years back in honor of the last Warrior championship to track titles by City for the three major pro sports teams, plus the NHL just to make it more entertaining. My hunch was it was going to be a battle between NYC, the Bay Area, Boston and Chicago (or Chiraq), but I was hoping that our recent wave of good fortune would have tipped the scales in favor of the Yay Area.
Like Coach Jim Harbaugh used to say, “Who has it better than us?…….NOBODY.”
When I tallied the numbers, my first thought was, “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” I could hear the distinct laugh of Uncle Al reverberating through my head. Yes, this whole 40 year fantasy scenario was going South in a hurry and I had visions of Uncle Al slapping down an improbable winning hand of cards followed by a statement such as “Read ‘em and Weep!” Much to my chagrin, LA, and their cousins in Anaheim, have won 16 titles over the past 40 years, 2 more than any other city. Uncle Al is still pulling my strings.
Here is the quick breakdown:
LA – 16 Titles (10 by the mighty Lakers)
NYC – 14 Titles (0 by the feeble Knickerbockers)
Bay Area/Boston – 13 Titles each. (Boston is very impressive because they hit this number with 4 teams, unlike the 8 that LA and NYC have been able lay claim to and the 6 that have presided in the Bay. So theoretically, Boston may just be title town, but I’m sticking to the simple solution of outright titles.)
Chicago – 11 titles (Thanks MJ. Ditka, Bears, Ditka, Polish Sausage, Da Bulls)
Pittsburgh – 10 titles (The Steelers 6 titles over the past 40 is the most for NFL teams and for some reason I can still picture ‘‘Pops” Stargell and Dave Parker celebrating the ‘79 World Series title while Sister Sledge’s hit, “We Are Family” was playing in the background)
Detroit – 8 titles (Tough City- Tough teams)
Dallas/Montreal – 6 titles each for the football mad fans of the Lone Star State and the hockey crazed Quebecois.
Edmonton – 5 Titles for The Great Gretzky
DC/Miami/Philly/St Louis/San Antonio – 4 Titles
Final Thought: If I would have just gone back 3 years further I could have included the Oakland A’s titles in ‘72, ‘73 and ‘74, but I made the rules and blindly walked right into yet another trap that Uncle Al set for me. Very fitting.
Uncle Al, wherever you are you still got it!