Commentary

Who will challenge Pittsburgh?

Updated: June 15, 2009, 4:28 PM ET
By DJ Gallo | Page 2

Pittsburgh is "City of Champions" once again. With the Penguins winning their third championship on Friday night, Pittsburgh becomes the first city to ever hold the Lombardi and Stanley Cup trophies at the same time.

That success could continue, too. The Super Bowl-champion Steelers have a young core, and the Penguins -- led by 21-year-old Sidney Crosby and 22-year-old Evgeni Malkin -- have an even younger one. Pitt basketball is now a perennial national title contender. Heck, some especially daft morons even think the Pirates will be good soon.

But as Pittsburgh well knows, as the original "City of Champions" in the 1970s, the title can quickly come and go. In the three days since the Penguins won the Cup, another major sports championship has already been awarded.

Here are four cities with the best shot at succeeding Pittsburgh.

Los Angeles

[+] EnlargePau Gasol
AP Photo/David J. PhillipLet's be serious for a second. There's absolutely no way that Pau Gasol could check Meadowlark Lemon.
The Lakers are the reigning world champs of basketball. (Although that might change if they stopped ducking the Pittsburgh Pisces. Meadowlark Lemon would destroy Pau Gasol down low. You know it. I know it.)

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball and are a favorite for the World Series -- where they could possibly meet the Angels, their crosstown (cough -- not really -- cough) rival.

As for hockey, the Kings unfortunately have a bit of a Pittsburgh Pirates vibe going and haven't made the NHL playoffs since 2002 -- a distinction almost as pathetic as the Pirates' 16 consecutive losing seasons. Of course, the Anaheim Ducks are perennial Cup contenders but, unlike the Angels, the Ducks' marketing department isn't geographically challenged. So they don't count.

And that's it. Because, like Pittsburgh, L.A. is only a three-sport town. Pittsburgh's CBA team, the Xplosion, folded in 2008, while USC continues to maintain that it's not a professional football team.

Philadelphia

The Phillies, owners of the third-best record in baseball, are putting up a strong defense of their World Series title. That title ended Philadelphia's "100-season" championship drought last October … and then the city watched rival Pittsburgh win two titles before the Phillies even got to defend theirs. Ouch.

The Sixers failed to get out of the first round of the NBA playoffs this season. But Kobe Bryant grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, so maybe Philly can claim a share of his championship. Although that would be kind of desperate. (Not as desperate as holding a parade for the 2008 Arena League champion Philadelphia Soul. But desperate.) As for basketball actually played in the area, Villanova won the Big East tournament last year and made it to the Final Four. The Wildcats will be a national title contender in 2009-10.

Then there are the Eagles and Flyers, two quality franchises that routinely make the playoffs. True, their consistent postseason failures make it seem as if they may never help Philadelphia earn the name "City of Champions." But "City of Teams That Champions Must Go Through in the Playoffs" has a nice ring to it, too.

Boston

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesWe hope Boston isn't expecting David Ortiz to carry the Red Sox to another World Series title this fall.
Boston was the most recent "City of Champions" until Pittsburgh wrested away the title. With the Lakers' victory on Sunday officially ending the Celtics' reign, Boston is without a champion for one of the few times this decade.

But it has all the pieces in place to take the "City of Champions" title back -- in all four sports.

The Red Sox have the best record in the American League and are clearly eyeing their third World Series title since 2004. (Dryly eyeing it, in David Ortiz's case.) The Patriots get Tom Brady back this year, and Gisele will no doubt demand diamond-studded championship rings to use as collars on each of her teacup darlings. So that could be three titles right there -- even more should her dogs breed. (Do dogs that size breed? I always figured they were sterile and created in labs by mad scientists wearing pink lab coats covered in lacy ribbons and bows. And that they kept the lab extra cold so the dogs would shiver and tremble from the moment they were created. But I digress.)

By earning the No. 1 seed in the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs, the Bruins politely reminded many Bostonians that the city has a hockey team. They will be good again next year. And Kevin Garnett recently screamed to Celtics ownership that NBA titles are guaranteed for 2010 and 2011.

So by my count, that's 10-12 championships for Boston in the next few years. And that's an insultingly conservative estimate according to many Boston fans, I know.

New York City

With four professional teams -- six if you count the two NFL teams in New Jersey, and seven if you count the Islanders -- New York always has a shot at multiple champions … and also multiple losers. In fact, even with two champions, 71 percent of New York's teams would still be losers. And, in that way, I guess we'd all feel like champions.

DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He also is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is on sale now.

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