Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Dirty Dozen

Part one of our rankings lists the 12 worse franchises in pro sports. These teams have successfully been able to make watching sports...unbearable.

92. New Orleans Hornets
~Why they're here: Congrats to the worst team in pro sports! You have successfully managed to be bad in almost every aspect. George Shinn may be the worst owner in sports. He has already moved this franchise once, and may do so once again do to losing money by moving to a town which cannot support 2 teams. They have on bright spot in Chris Paul, but he is quickly approaching free agency (Hello LA Lakers!). They left for one year and took residence in another city and actually stated how happy they were to be there, only to decide to move back. Their arena is terrible and will not be filled this year. The front office is shaky at best (Tim Floyd for a few years? After coaching the Bulls? Are you even trying??). And now they are locked into a few big money, long term contracts which will keep them from being players in the free agent market. Thanks again to Peja and his bad back.
~How it could change: Chris Paul, David West, and Tyson Chandler. Three young, budding stars who could grow together to make something special. Peja is a big scoring threat, when healthy. And Byron Scott had been to the finals as a coach and player. And really, after seeing the Saints last year, the city could rally around this team-if it plays well.

91. Atlanta Falcons
~Why they're here: The Georgia Dome is...well it isn't anything special. And the fans define what it means to be a bandwagoner. The team really doesn't have much of a tradition. There was of Course the Superbowl (cough...Eugene Robinson...cough). And the best quarterback in the history of the franchise is Steve Bartkowski. Most of the current team is either overpriced, over the hill, or unproven. Bobby Petrino looks like a genius now, but so has every other college coach that has come to the NFL. Oh yea by the way MICHAEL VICK MICHAEL VICK MICHAEL VICK
~How it could change: I really do like Arthur Blank. The man was heart broken over the Vick scandal. He really put his faith in that guy. But now I think he's going to build this franchise the right now. He'll put quality people in charge and Rich McKay will help him do that. Petrino could be the guy to break the trend of college coaches failing in the NFL. And don't forget, the city of Atlanta was hurt by Vick. If, and I mean If the Falcons start winning, it would be one of the best stories in the NFL and these fans may finally start to rally around this team and root for the team, not just individual players.

90. Charlotte Bobcats
~Why they're here: Quite possibly the worst start up of an expansion team since the Tampa Bay Bucs. There isn't much this team has done right. It started its own TV network to air the games (and failed). Drafted Okafur as the cornerstone of the franchise only to see him consistently hurt. They've had salary cap room but have failed to land that big free agent. Talent wise most of the team is young and very inconsistent. Some of the draft picks (Sean "I played great in the national championship game but I look like I ate a house" May) are on the verge of officially being busts. Even the fans aren't consistently showing up, and these are Carolina basketball fans! Some of the best in the country! To top it off, owner Robert Johnson just handed to fate of his franchise to Michael Jordan. Somewhere Abe Pollin, Doug Collins, and Kwame Brown are sharing a bottle of scotch and laughing. At least its not them anymore.
~How it could change: MJ was bad...really bad in Washington. But Bill Bellichek was terrible in Cleveland. So, you never know. The talent, while young, is there. You got to figure with enough of those guys, some of them have to start to come through and develop into proven players. Plus, they already have some nice role players like Matt Carrol. If all of this eventually comes through, you know those Carolina fans will come out and support this team.

89. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
~Why they're here: Does the average fan even know one D-Ray? How about anyone who EVER played for them? And that my friend is the problem. This is a franchise with no identity. It tried to build around veterans (see Alverez, Wilson; Vaughn, Greg; and and Stocker, Kevin). Bad idea. Then it started going for young talent. But at times, you got to wonder where that talent is. (How can Greg Norton be playing every day?) Most of Tampa is. They are too busy following the Yankees to know what the heck the Rays are doing. And who could blame them? Would you go to a game in the Trop? And to think the Indians, Giants, and White all used that Dome as a viable alternative if their cities wouldn't have given them a stadium.
~How it could change: Finally the young talent has arrived. Kazmir is a stud. Delmon Young and BJ Upton are viable cornerstone pieces of a team. Carlos Pena basically fell into their lap. Manager Joe Madden is highly respected and has shown a great amount of patience with his club. I also like the change in who is running the club. Andrew Friedman has big dreams for Tampa. This could definitely be a fun team to watch over the next few years.

88. Florida Marlins
~Why they're here: It seemed like a great idea. Baseball in the state where spring training has thrived for years. Better yet, lets put it in the biggest city in the state which just so happens to have a large Latino population-who love baseball. Oops. What MLB didn't realize is most of these folks already had teams they rooted for-since they moved from the north. And, drawing them into a stadium more suited for football wasn't going to do it. Today, the Marlins play to small crowds and have the small payroll to prove it. There is also a sense of instability in the organization. Firing a manager of the year after his first year on the job would do that. Moving is a possibility, attempts to get a new stadium built in South Florida have been rebuffed. Baseball wise, knowing that inevitably Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis will leave isn't exactly promising. But hey at least they were the first franchise to successfully buy a championship (old feelings die hard as a Tribe supporter)
~How it could change: This franchise has proven time and time again it can produce talent, pitching especially. Since pitching wins championships...the Marlins will be in good shape. Larry Beinfest is incredibly underrated. Its only a matter of time before some large market team steals him away. Progress has also recently been made on the stadium front. If that stadium is built, those fans may finally come. That could be the upturn this franchise so desperately needs.

87. Chicago White Sox
~Why they're here: Can you think of another franchise that fluked their way to a championship more than the Sox? Podsednick? Carl Everett? AJ Pierzinski? Not exactly players GMs look at and go "thats the last piece we need to win it all." The owner seems to care more about the Bulls and getting out of MJ's shadow. Ozzie Guillen is entertaining, and may know baseball, but is there any doubt that one day he's just going to lose it? Kenny Williams seems to make as many good moves, as he does head scratchers. Overall though, it may never matter. Chicago will always be a Cubs town
~How that could change: Does it matter how they won the World Series? Do you think Kenny Williams would care if he "fluked" his way there every year? Obviously something went right that year, and it wasn't that long ago. Namely, what went right is their pitching and Williams knows thats where he has to make some changes. If he does, the offense is good enough to win. With winning will bring back out those fans (they've actually drawn pretty good over the last few years). So while they may not be set up for the long run, a few changes may bring the Sox back into contention next year.

86. Seattle (for now) Sonics
~Why they're here: Man from city looking for pro sports franchise buys team in town looking for a new arena because theirs is greatly outdated. Owner asks for new arena and is denied. Owner decides to look into moving and makes the fan base upset. What is the next logical step here; hello Okalahoma City! Right now, in this city, this franchise is doomed, flat out doomed.
~How that could change: Kevin Durant could grow into a big time star in this league. Kid can flat out ball. With some other young guns around him like Jeff Green and Luke Ridnour this team has a chance to grow into something special. Lets not forget either that Sam Presti is running this team and will mold it in the image of the Spurs. Pretty good model for a franchise.

85. New Jersey Nets:
~Why they're here: J Kidd, RJ, and Vince is a great combination to lead a team....if this was about 5 years ago. Still all very good, none of them have ever won a sausage. Now they are still good players, but vastly overpaid. The team is also playing the will they/won't they move to Brooklyn game. Bruce Ratner wants to, but it seems as if his project there cannot get off the ground. So they too are a franchise in limbo. Jersey fans are okay, but the Arena is terrible. And, does anyone else just get that feeling that they are missing that little something that made their 2 Finals teams so special?
~How it could change: We saw it last year. The Net pushed the eastern conference champion Cavaliers to the brink. There are some young players who have a chance to grow into the role players the Nets need to put around their stars. Josh Boone is big and athletic and their point guard Williams was highly reguarded coming out of college. Lawrence Frank, a very underrated coach, can mold these guys back into winners. Don't forget either, Nenad Kristic will be back next year. If only the Brooklyn deal could just get done, then these Nets would rocket up the rankings.

84. Orlando Magic
~Why they're here: If you're Disney, why don't you buy this franchise? Its in your backyard, and you wouldn't even have to think twice about dropped $400 million for a new arena in the Wide World of Sports area of the park. But, as it stands this franchise is still seeking a new arena (familiar trend for NBA teams, huh?). Their fans, like most other Florida fans, are transplants who follow other teams, and Florida isn't exactly a hotbed for basketball. The roster as it stands right now is okay, nothing special though. I mean Rashard Lewis is a nice player, but not a max guy. That one single contract will kill this team-mark my words. Their head coach is a former porn star, Ron Jeremy. Oh wait, I'm sorry that Stan van Gundy. Their GM is some guy named Otis Thorpe, but not the former NBA player. Yawn... The Magic are an incredibly ordinary franchise in a city that doesn't seem to care.
~How it could change: Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard. Outside of Lebron, this is the man most GM's would pick to start their franchise today. Great player, even better person. He could grow into that guy who can single handedly carry this franchise into greatness. Maybe then Orlando would get over the fact Shaq and Penny aren't coming back and build this team the new facility it needs to survive.

83. Atlanta Hawks
~Why they're here: Does anyone remember Wayne Fontes, former coach of the Lions? Chris Berman used to make jokes about how he always just managed to hang onto his job somehow. Well, I'm starting to believe Billy Knight may be a cousin of his with the way he keeps hanging onto that GM job. I mean, how many young players are they going to stockpile? Every player is a clone, young, athletic, knows nothing about fundamentals, and can't shoot. The city of Atlanta hasn't shown up since Mookie, Stacey Augmen, and Tyrone Corbin were leading the charge to 2nd round playoff defeats year after year. You have to believe that eventually they will put it together in the weak eastern conference...don't you?
~How it could change: Joe Johnson is about as much of an after thought as anyone when it comes to good NBA players. If he stays healthy and some of this guys develop into role players, they Hawks have a shot of improving. Al Horford and Sheldwin Williams finally bring some toughness and grit onto the team. Mike Woodson just needs to put it all together.

82. Texas Rangers
~Why they're here: They've come a long ways since the steroid pumping teams of the late 90's were winning the weak western division each year. But the story is still the same, no pitching. Arlington is the place where pitching goes to die. GM Jon Daniels looks like he's finally got the right idea after pulling off a few nice deals this year (Gagne). The ballpark is still of the best out there, but the fans have understandibly not shown up to watch this last place team. Owner Tom Hicks can also be his own worst enemy, overspending on veterans (Chan Ho Park).
~How it could change: Check the standings, this team could actually climb out of the basement this year. Ron Washington has his boys playing well and the young talent has actually started to produce. And...pitching help may be on the way. So to might be the fans if this team puts it together next year.

81. Arizona Cardinals:
~Why they're here: History says they won't ever consistently win....because its never happened. They have next to no fans out there in the desert either. Bidwell is a joke of an owner.
~How that could change: Put any other name on this franchise I would feel much better. Good coach, better O-Line, young QB, talented defense, state of the art stadium. But, I just can't quite get over the fact they are still the Arizona Cardinals.

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