Here’s What’s Wrong With ESPN’s “Best Sports Region” Methodology

In the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine—sickeningly dubbed “The Bay Area Issue”—the World Wide Leader crowned the Bay Area as the best sports region during the last calendar year. The title was determined based on a number of factors from overall record to postseason performance to regular season finish in the major sports, college sports, and the WNBA and MLS (separated from the rest, and worth far less overall because who cares about soccer and women’s basketball…).

I’m alright with the San Fran/Oakland region being given the title, they deserved it—a world series win (Giants), Super Bowl runner-up (49ers), a Rose Bowl win (Stanford), and the best record in the AL over that span (A’s)—and they ran far and away with it—their 360 “points” was more than 100 “points” better than the next closest regions.

What I’m not alright with is the next two regions that were on the list, particularly the one that came in second: Baltimore/Washington.

Last year, this same issue was dedicated to B’more/DC, and was just as sickening. What I don’t get though, is why these two cities, with two distinct fan bases are constantly being clumped together? (Granted, Oakland and San Fran are the same way, it’s pretty clear that one city is carrying the torch there, and they, literally, are separated by only a 1.7 mile bridge.) Comparing these two cities, their sports teams, their fans, hell even their cultures, is like comparing apples and oranges.

My allegiance belongs to an entirely different region, but I’ve been living amongst the fans in the nation’s capital long enough that I feel like I’m able to speak on their behalf in this regard. Baltimore and DC people don’t necessarily like each other. Go to a Ravens-‘Skins game when they happen every four years. Purple and Burgundy don’t mesh well. Go to a Nats-O’s game when they renew the “Battle of the Beltways” every year during interleague play. It’s not cordial to say the least. So why are we going to clump them together on a consistent basis and act like Baltimore and Washington, DC, are one in the same?

The two towns are a good hour-drive away from one another. While people in DC are worried about politics and working their shoe leather on the Hill, people in Baltimore are busy crabbing in the Chesapeake. One is an actually city with a downtown and skyscrapers; the other has a 12-story height restriction for buildings and free and open monuments and museums. One has a tourist attraction located on a harbor that gets everyone away from the bad parts of town; the other is constantly overrun by tourists who can’t actually visit the free and open monuments and museums right now because our government sucks. One is filled with people who actually live and work in the city and are die-hard fans of their sports teams no matter how much they suck; the other sees its population boom during the work week (only 28 percent of the people employed in DC actually live in the District), and the fans are some of the most bandwaggon you’ll find—I’m lookin’ at you, you grumpy asshole Nats fan. Christ, they’re even in separate “states.”

Both are surrounded by large beltways though, and just a short drive from one to the next! Oh, and there’s that airport smack in the middle of them that they share (BWI). But that’s about all they have in common.

If proximity to one another is all that ESPN cares about, then how about we group together Philly and New York? They could count as a sports region if that’s what we’re going by—and they’d be one of the most dominant. It’s only an extra half-hour drive between those two cities than it is from DC to Baltimore.

dc to bmore and philly to ny

Hell, it’s even a shorter drive than the “region” they made up that finished third in this ridiculous listing—Louisville/Cincinnati.

louisville to cincy

We don’t group Philly and New York into a region because it sounds ridiculous. When it comes to sports, and most other things in life, the two cities absolutely hate each other. Baltimore and Washington aren’t quite on that level, but Uncle Sam certainly doesn’t want his little District sneaking around with that dirty, disgusting, disease infested neighbor’s son.

So please, for the love of God, DC fans, and Baltimore fans (and Cincinnati and Louisville fans for that matter), can we stop trying to mix oil and water in the same cup over and over?

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