In this two-part series of the Top 10 Greatest North American Sports Franchises Since The Millennium, I’ll explain to you which organizations of all four major North American professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA) have taken their teams from great to elite over the past 13-14 years.
I have separated every team from each league based on three categories: a team’s total playoff appearances, division titles, and league titles since the 1999-2000 season. Things like the divisions they played in, or even the sport that the play, came into consideration when I ranked these organizations from 10-1, ten being the lowest, and one being the highest.
So without further ado, here is part one of my list, beginning with number ten:
10. New York Giants
I had a hard time choosing between the New York Giants or the San Francisco Giants for which franchise would be my 10th and final franchise on this list. Both franchises have had the same amount of division titles and league titles since 2000. The major factor that separated New York from San Francisco was that the two Super Bowl victories the New York Giants have won since 2000 were against a team that is in my top 5 greatest franchises (New England Patriots).
Since 99-00, the Giants have won four division titles in the all-time toughest division in football, the NFC East. The four division titles since 99-00 are twice as many as the Dallas Cowboys, or “America’s Team,” have earned.
The “GEE-MEN” as ESPN Anchor Chris Berman likes to call them, made the playoffs 7 out of the 14 seasons since the new millennium. In other words, the Giants organization have blessed the New York Giants’ fans with a playoff appearance 50% of the time since Y2K.
Three trips to the title game over the last 14 years has put the Giants franchise into a tie at second place with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl appearances since 2000, only behind the New England Patriots. Just in case you were wondering what do these three franchises all have in common? Well, they all happen to be on this list.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
The reason why the Steelers franchise is ahead of the New York Giants franchise is because of two reasons: They have more playoff appearances and more division titles than the Giants since the new millennium.
The Steelers have made the playoffs in 8 out of the 14 seasons since Y2K, and 6 of those 8 seasons they were crowned division champions. The Steelers franchise has a rich history and have always been known to compete for a Super Bowl title with their black-and-blue style of play.
After former Steeler’s head coach Bill Cowher resigned from his position 11 months after his first ever Super Bowl victory with the team, the Steeler’s organization went after a man named Mike Tomlin, who is is the third youngest head coach in any of the four major North American professional sports and was the 10th ever African-American head coach in NFL history (first in Steelers history).
Since 2007, Tomlin has a regular season record of 66-33, four playoff appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl title. I think it’s safe to say that Tomlin has fit right into place for this Pittsburgh Steelers organization.
8. New Jersey Devils
Since 99-00, the New Jersey Devils have owned the Eastern Conference of the NHL. In 13 seasons (they had a lockout season in 04-05) the Devils made the playoffs 11 times, winning the division 6 of those 11 times. They have appeared in the Stanley Cup four times since 2000, coming home with the title twice in their four tries.
You know you’re franchise is elite when your goaltender has more total regular season wins then some franchises in the NHL have altogether.
Current New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has a total of 669 wins, which is more regular season victories than seven franchises currently in the NHL. Those seven franchises are: The Columbus Blue Jackets (366), Winnipeg Jets (403), Minnesota Wild (431), Nashville Predators (519), Florida Panthers (588), Tampa Bay Lightning (606) and the Anaheim Ducks (668).
Can anyone say G.G.O.A.T, “The greatest goalie of all-time?”
7. Miami Heat
Too soon? Well before you think my Miami Heat selection is premature, let me throw out a couple facts to back up my pick and then you can make your own decision.
Since the 99-00 season, the Heat have made the playoffs a total of 11 times, 7 of those 11 times they were the division champions. There has been 14 NBA seasons played since 99-00, which means the Heat have blessed Miami fans with not only a playoff appearance, but a division title 50% of the time since the new millennium.
But we all know where division titles will take you when you’re talking about being in the elite category, just ask LeBron James. He’ll tell you that if you want to be the best, you have to win a ring, or two, or three, four, five, or six.
Now the Heat may not have six NBA Championships since the new millennium, but they do have three, which earns my respect. And as long as the Heat franchise have the greatest athlete in the universe putting on their Miami uniform, I don’t see them falling out of my top ten. If it’s anything, they’ll be moving up into my top 5.
6. St. Louis Cardinals
When I think of all the things the St. Louis Cardinals franchise has accomplished since Y2K, I think it would only be right to “tip my cap” to the whole organization.
The Cardinals have made the postseason in 9 of the 13 seasons they have played since 99-00. The Cardinals have taken home the division title in six of those nine seasons. The Cardinals have made it to the World Series three times since the new millennium, winning the title two out of those three tries.
First, think about the fact that MLB has the toughest route to making the playoffs from all four major sports, seeing that before last year, they only allowed four teams from each conference (usually 16 teams in the National League) to make it to the postseason. Four out of 16 teams meant that 25% of the teams in the whole conference could make the playoffs. The next lowest percentage for teams to make the playoffs from the four major sports is the NFL with a 37.5%, or 6 out of 16. The NBA and the NHL send close to 50% of their teams to the playoffs, which is basically double the amount in the MLB.
But that is not even the impressive part.
The thing that shocks me about the Cardinals franchise is that they accomplish all of this with a payroll that is drastically less than teams like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinal’s payroll is closer to the Chicago Cubs payroll than it is to any of those teams previously mentioned. And yet, the Cardinals franchise is tied with the New York Yankees for the most World Series titles since the new millennium. Now that deserves respect.
Make sure to tune in tomorrow for part 2 of this series where I will give you my top 5 Greatest North American Sports Franchises Since the Millennium.