Ranking Best/Worst Sports Cities of 2018

As 2018 winds down, let’s look back at the 5 best and 5 worst cities in sports

5. Cleveland 

A moderate level of success for Cleveland. In the MLB, Indians made playoffs for a third straight year but were swept out of the first round. Cavaliers made the NBA Finals for a 4th straight year (and also got swept). But most importantly, the Browns won, not just 1 game, but as of week 15, they have won 6 games! 

4. Los Angeles 

No championships in 2018, but the Dodgers did make a run at the World Series, where they lost for the second straight season. The Lakers, following a fifth playoff-less season, added Lebron James as a free agent. And as the NFL season winds down, the Rams and Chargers are among the best teams in the league in 2018. The only thing holding LA back is the team with the most recent championship, the Kings, and also the poor basketball and football performances of USC and UCLA. 

3. Buffalo 

Bills made the playoffs for the first time since 1999, snapping an 18 year playoff-less drought, the longest in sports at the time. While the Sabres didn’t have much success at the end of last season, they drafted Dasmus Rahlin with the #1 overall pick and now have the third most wins in the NHL. University of Buffalo won their first ever NCAA Tournament game, upsetting Arizona and the women’s team made the Sweet 16. The football team won 10 games for the first time ever and played for the MAC Championship. 

2. Boston 

Boston went 1-1 in championship situations – the Red Sox won the World Series and the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Eagles. Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season, but lost to the Cavs. And the Bruins made the playoffs and won their first round series vs Maple Leafs, before losing in round two. 

1. Philadelphia

What a year for Philly. All four major sports teams had a level of success, plus their main college team.

For the first time in franchise history, the Eagles won the Super Bowl. For the second time in three years, Villanova won the NCAA Tournament. The 76ers returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2012, winning 52 games, their most since 2001. The Phillies missed the playoffs, but did win 80 games for the first time since 2012. And the Flyers made the playoffs, after missing them in 2017. 

Stuck in the middle

These cities have seen a combination of success and failure in 2018.

Washington DC

For the first time in franchise history, the Capitals won the NHL’s Stanley Cup. But as the year comes to a close the Nationals, who missed the playoffs, seem to be prepared to lose superstar Bryce Harper. The Wizards are an absolute mess. And the Redskins, who started out strong, have been completely derailed by injuries and are likely to miss the playoffs. 

Minneapolis

At the beginning of 2018, the Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game, but got blown out by the Eagles. They are currently on track to make the playoffs in 2019, but their $86 million QB has been a mixed bag. After making the playoffs in 2017, the Twins finished 78-84. The Wild lost in the first round of the NHL playoffs for a third straight year, despite finishing with over 100 points. And than there is the Timberwolves. They snapped their NBA-high 13 year playoff drought to end last season but spent the beginning of this season dealing with Jimmy Butler drama that just ended poorly. 

THE WORST

Honorable Mention – St. Louis

STL just missed the cut. The Blues missed the NHL playoffs. The Cardinals missed the MLB playoffs and fired their manager mid-season, something they never do. And since the Rams left town, they are 22-8 the last two seasons. 

5. Atlanta 

The great news is the Braves proved to be a year ahead of schedule, making the MLB playoffs for the first time since 2013. They lost in the first round 3-1. Beyond that, the Atlanta Hawks have the second fewest wins in the NBA. Not only that, but they drafted 2019 Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic and traded him. And the Falcons, who came into the season with playoffss expectations, are a major disappointment at 5-9. 

4. Phoenix 

Cardinals are tied for the NFL-worst 3-11 and have looked clueless when it comes to utilizing their offensive weapons. Suns finished with worst record in the NBA last season and currently have the second worst record this year. Diamondbacks were a disappointment, missing the playoffs after a breakthrough season in 2017. And to the surprise of noone, Coyotes missed the playoffs for a 6th striaght year and finished with the NHL’s second worst record. Hey, at least the weather in Arizona is nice!  

3. Detroit 

After 25 straight years in the playoffs, from 1990-2016, the Red Wings missed the postseason for a second straight season. Tigers won just 63 games. Pistons finished 4 games under .500 and missed playoffs for a second straight season. Lions are 5-9 and will finish below .500 for first time since 2015 and may lose double figure games for the first time since 2012. 

 2. Chicago

The performance of Khalil Mack and the Bears has been amazing as they return to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2010. But that only carries so much weight. The Cubs lost in the one-game NL Wild Card playoff game to the Rockies, a disappointing ending. On the other side of Chicago, the White Sox missed the playoffs for a 10th straight season and lost 100 games for the first time since 1932!

The Bulls finished last year with the 8th worst record in the NBA and currently have the worst this year and have already fired their coach. The Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, a disappointing ending to an amazing run in hockey. 

1. New York 

New York’s football teams, Jets and Giants, have combined for 9 wins and 19 losses. Knicks missed the playoffs for the 5th straight season. Nets, not only missed the playoffs, but didn’t have their first round draft pick. Rangers streak of 7 straight playoff years came to an end. Islanders missed the playoffs and a couple months after their season ended, their captain John Tavares departed via free agency. In baseball, the Mets stunk. Sorry, there’s no politer way to say it. The only silver lining for New Yor was the Yankees, who did make the playoffs. They beat Oakland in the one game Wild Card round but lost to their rival Red Sox and than saw Boston win the World Series. 

Which city do you think had the best year in 2018? Or the worst year? 

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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