Yes, Los Angeles Sports Fans, You Can Sing “We’re Number 1” – Orange County Register

Four decades ago, in response to the “I (Heart) New York” slogan becoming ubiquitous on T-shirts, bumper stickers, etc., the country’s second-largest metro area decided it had to respond with its own pep talk: “LA is the place.”

Yes, that didn’t go down the way the Chamber of Commerce and the city fathers might have intended. But when it comes to Los Angeles’ status as a sports city, it’s perhaps more true than ever.

Personal finance website WalletHub, which regularly publishes rankings on all sorts of topics, released its updated list of the country’s top sports cities last week, grouped by size (over 300,000, 100,000 to 300,000 and under 100,000). And if you’re an LA fanatic, and especially one who’s been irritated by your relatives’ (or relocated neighbors’) years of bragging rights from New England, feel free to brag yourself. The top of the big city ranking is in this order:

Los Angeles.

Boston.

New York.

Pittsburgh.

Dallas.

We will come to the methodology and explanation shortly. In the meantime, you can bask in the glory. Even the setbacks, like last month’s Dodgers playoff flameout, the Lakers’ dismal start and the Rams’ post-championship struggles, should only slightly dampen the impulse for bragging rights.

First some memories. LAFC are the new champions of Major League Soccer. The Rams are still defending the Super Bowl champions. The Dodgers and Lakers both won titles in 2020, although in the Lakers’ case that seems like a long time ago. (A team that no longer exists also won one in 2021, the rugby Giltinis.) And fitting for a geographic area that has two of almost everything, the Chargers and Clippers are in positions to make noise.

More? USC and UCLA football are still in the mix – longshots, but in the mix – for the college football playoffs that – Hm – will be held at the SoFi Stadium on January 9th. UCLA has reached the Final Four and Elite Eight in consecutive men’s basketball seasons, while USC is two years away from its own Elite Eight run.

Also consider: Since 2012, LA teams have won eight championships across the five major league sports (Kings 2, Lakers 1, Dodgers 1, Rams 1, LAFC 1, Galaxy 1). Boston/New England? Five, two by the Red Sox and three by the Patriots, and none since the 2018 season.

And that statistic makes me think of the fan at Atlanta Airport the morning after the Patriots defeated the Rams in Super Bowl LIII in February 2019, wearing this shirt: “Championship. Parade. To repeat. Boston.” Have you seen duck boats lately, mate?

It’s also time to recall that Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy noted ahead of last June’s Warriors-Celtics NBA Finals that his region went “three long years” without the confetti that comes with a championship comes along. The “drought” continues.

I am sorry. I can not help myself. New Englanders – and especially the transplant recipients who live among us – have spent so much time fooling everyone else when they were at the forefront of the sporting world that giving a little back is irresistible. (But before you tear me apart, New England Clam Chowder beats Manhattan seven days a week.)

Oh, and as for New York? A championship in that span, NYCFC won the MLS Cup in 2021. The Giants won Super Bowl XLVI for the 2011 season, so we’re going to be magnanimous and give the city that title.

Of course it is deceptive to measure only by championships. WalletHub uses multiple categories for each sport in its methodology, including on-pitch success, Hall of Fame managers and coaches, fan engagement, average ticket price, attendance, facility sizes, and “popularity,” which seems to be a kind of vague metric. (It’s somewhat similar to the stew of categories we use for our State of SoCal Sports leaderboard, although arguably more scientific and less superficial.)

Multiply it across five sports and not just major league franchises, but minor league and collegiate teams as well, giving different importance to the different categories, and you have a pretty exhaustive process. Another problem: The sports are weighted differently, with football making up 54% of the score, basketball 16%, baseball 13%, soccer 11% and hockey 6%. Having multiple teams in the same city is an advantage in this calculation.

These numbers should give an overall picture. They’re also guaranteed to pick fights, whether it’s at a bar, on social media, or at Thanksgiving dinner. (As for the latter, a debate about sport would probably be an improvement.)

LA ranked #1 in basketball and soccer, #3 in baseball, #5 in football, and #24 in hockey in this poll. But remember that only the Kings were credited to LA. Anaheim finished 16th in hockey, but hold off on the boastful Ducks fans.

LA’s total score was 50.91, three-hundredths of a point ahead of Boston, who placed first in hockey, second in basketball, fourth in football, fifth in baseball, and 13th in soccer.

I prefer the mastery metric – for one, it’s easier to keep track of, and the trophies, banners, and rings are really what it’s all about – but whatever.

And yes, there are some quirks. Anaheim, with an underperforming NHL team, a Yes, really underperforming baseball team and no notable NCAA teams within city limits, ranked 61st and last in the major city rankings. Amazingly, Riverside (56) and Long Beach (58) were higher in the 300,000+ category based on their collegiate basketball, baseball and football teams.

(Riversider, you don’t get many opportunities to talk trash with your neighbors farther west on 91. You might as well rock it.)

On the overall list, which includes cities of all sizes from 1 to 392, Irvine ranks 259th (and no, it doesn’t acknowledge that the Ducks’ practice facility is within its city limits). Malibu ranks 274th, Riverside 275, Fullerton 287, Anaheim 308, Rancho Cucamonga 361, San Bernardino 362, and Lake Elsinore 372. (Somehow Ontario got dropped from the list, suggesting hockey counts less in the minor leagues than baseball in the minor leagues.)

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