Friday, December 11, 2009

Fandom by the numbers

A little while back, GeekSoapBox decided to look at the teams rooted fr over the years and how they've done, with some help from being a long-suffering Mets/Islanders/Jets fan. It was interesting to figure the overall winning rates and how credible the "long-suffering" description can be.

It seemed like an interesting idea, so I figured I'd write it up. Eventually. Like, now, perhaps.

My situation is a bit different, as I converted on all teams from my old home to my new home at almost the same time, but still good to review. I moved to Atlanta for school in 1995, but it wasn't until the early 2000's once I got married that I made the "official" conversions - and the fact that the NY team did something in each case to tick me off probably lent an assist as well.

So, let's see how we stack up in the four major sports:

1. Baseball

NY Yankees, 1985-2003: 1672-1332, .557; World Series Champs 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000; World Series 2001, 2003; Playoffs 1995, 1997, 2002
Atlanta Braves, 2004-2009, 507-464, .522; Playoffs 2004, 2005
Total: 2179-1796, .548; 4 World Series Titles, 6 World Series Berths, 11 Playoff Berths

Easily far and away the best record, but those Yankee records include a few down years in the early 90's when I went to the majority of my games. I still miss the bleacher creature days.

The big catalyst here for finally switching was a problem most people have with the Yankees: free-agent signings. Until this point I'd been comfortable with the players they signed, as they weren't necessarily bad guys to the general public. However, after the 2003 season, they signed A-Rod (ROID ALERT!), Gary Sheffield (mopey and a tendency to quit on games) and Kevin Brown (whiny, self-absorbed prima donna). I hated these signings a much of the popular 90's crew was fading out of the clubhouse, and finally switched to the Braves. While the Braves haven't been as prolific in the playoffs as the Yankees, it has been fun to root for the Braves and against the Yankees whenever they were on - which worked GREAT until this past October.

2. Hockey
NY Islanders, 1991-2000; 264-365-87, .421; Playoff berths in 1992, 1993, 1994
Atlanta Thrashers, 2000-2009; 288-378-101, .441; Playoff berth in 2007
Total: 527-732-185, .429; 4 Playoff berths

This one was hard to define. Atlanta did not have a team when I moved here. Switching to the new expansion team was quite simple and justifiable, considering the Islanders had been so inept in management (see Spano, John, Maloney, Don, and Milbury, Mike) and it was an expansion team that I switched to.

Between the woeful Islanders and the Thrashers' expansion pains, this is easily my worst winning percentage among the four sports. Surprisingly, neither of these teams has the worst record of teams I have rooted on. The Thrashers are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, so they could get their second playoff berth this year as things may be on an upward slope.

3. Basketball
NY Knicks, 1985-2004, 822-704, .539; 2 Finals appearances (1994, 1999); 9 other playoff berths (1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001)
Atlanta Hawks, 2004-2009, 168-263; 2 playoff berths (2008, 2009)
Total: 990-967, .506, 9 playoff berths

I started following the Knicks after the Patrick Ewing draft, back when Knicks games were still available on local channels, before the MSG network even existed. Some dry years in the mid and late 80's became a strong run in the 90's which unfortunately happened at the same time as Jordan's ascendancy. Their best chance disappeared in 1994, with a Game 5 preempted by the O.J. chase and a Game 7 highlighted by John Starks' 2-for-18 shooting. The Riley years were fun; the Van Gundy years were somewhat entertaining but I tired of them during the tenure of Scott Layden and swore them off entire when Isiah Thomas came in to run the show during the 2003 season. I'm counting the entire 2003-2004 season for New York, though, and starting the Hawks' tally with a lovely 13-69 season in 2004-2005.

The Hawks "lead the way" with the worst winning percentage among all teams I've rooted for, sitting at .390 over 5 1/4 seasons.

Surprisingly, this may have the brightest future, as the often woeful Hawks are among the league leaders in many categories and have a 15-6 record a quarter of the way through the season.

4. Football

I save this for last, because it was the last team that I switched. And boy, what interesting timing that was.

New York Jets, 1986-2005, 141-177-1, .444; 2 division titles (1998, 2002), 4 wild card berths (1986, 1991, 2001, 2004)
Atlanta Falcons, 2006-2009; 28-32, .467; 1 wild card berth (2008)
Totals: 169-209-1, .447; 2 division titles, 5 wild card berths

Yes, I was a Jets fans when the Giants won Super Bowls XXI and XXV. Lemme tell ya, it doesn't beat the fun of the Joe Walton/Bruce Coslet/Pete Carroll/Rich Kotite coaching carousel!

Thankfully, the dark times were replaced by good times under Bill Parcells, with two division titles and two other wild-card berths thanks to the players brought in - even though he left in 2002 and Herm Edwards took over, most of the players were from that time, when the team was actually halfway decent. Plus, it was much more fun to watch Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin that it was to watch Ken O'Brien/Browning Nagle/Boomer Esiason/Neil O'Donnell.

I was starting to get tired of the relapse to the "same old Jets" and when the Jets screwed up their draft in 2006 after another losing season (following a couple seasons of schizophrenic results) I swore them off forever and switched to the Falcons - just in time to have one sub par Falcons season and the eruption of the Vick scandal.

So there you have it - a lot of playoff berths, in both cities, but only the four titles of the Yankees' late-90's dynasty. Thankfully, all of the teams I root for now either have good prospects for the future or are already contending for playoff spots. It really is getting to be a better time to be an Atlanta sports fan - the Braves contended for a wild-card spot until there was one week left in the season, the Falcons sit one game out of a wild-card spot, and the Hawks and Thrashers would make the playoffs is their seasons ended today.

Meanwhile, the teams I left have not won any titles either, up until about 2 months ago. I don't think I have ever rooted so hard for the Phillies in my life. Hopefully the Yankees' 2009 title won't be the start of another dynasty of titles but will just be a blip on the screen.

If nothing else, this was a fun little trip down memory lane. For the most part, it hasn't been very much long-suffering as much as a long parade of mediocrity with wild swings between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

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