Or does it?
The Sporting News recently released its 16th annual Best Sports Cities rankings, and it's no surprise that Pittsburgh landed at the top of the list, forcing Boston to abdicate the throne. But there's no way Pittsburgh will manage to maintain the honor in 2010. No, 2010 will be Boston's year once again.
Think about it. Beantown has Kevin Garnett; Pittsburgh has nobody (because it doesn't even have an NBA team). Boston has the Charles River. Pittsburgh has no river that anyone outside of Pittsburgh can readily identify. Boston has a baseball team that has a good chance of posting a plus-.500 record next season. Pittsburgh has a team that has not finished above .500 since Boys II Men and Sir Mix-A-Lot held the No. 1 and 2 spots on the Top 40 chart.
There are plenty of reasons Boston will regain its rightful place atop the Best Sports Cities list, but we narrowed it down to 10.
10. Pittsburgh has no MLS team and no NBA team.
Yes, Foxborough is dominated by one team and one team only – the New England Patriots. But some info for you hard-core football fans out there: There's another kind of football being played locally, and the New England Revolution make a few cameo appearances at Gillette Stadium every year. Pittsburgh doesn't even have a soccer team. Nor does it have a professional basketball team. What does that mean? Boston's NBA and MLS teams both have a 100 percent chance of finishing the 2009 season ahead of Pittsburgh.
9. The Penguins may be better than the Bruins, but …
OK, given the outcome of the first leg of the 2009-10 NHL season, it's a little early to claim that the Bruins are going to blow the Stanley Cup champion Penguins out of the proverbial water. But here's the thing: The B's may have a better chance of winning the Cup this year just because Pittsburgh's chances of repeating as champs aren't too good. The last team to win back-to-back Cups was Detroit in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Repeats don't happen every day. And they're not about to happen now. Better luck next year, Pens.
8. The Charles River trumps all three rivers in Pittsburgh.
Everyone knows the Charles River exists, and not only because Tom Brady almost drowned in it. Pittsburgh's got the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio running through it, but there's no way Ben Roethlisberger would ever dream of spending a nice spring afternoon kayaking through any of them. The Charles has history, collegiate regattas and celebrity fans. It wins, hands down.
7. Pittsburgh doesn't have cool celebrity fans.
Aside from Three Rivers (not to be confused with Five Towns), Pittsburgh doesn't have much of a Hollywood claim to fame. While it seems like this little tidbit is completely unrelated to athletics, it's not: If famous people aren't filming their latest projects in a city — like, say, Ben Affleck, Blake Lively, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz — then there's no way for the city's teams to make the leap into pop culture territory. Think about it. How many people became Red Sox fans once they saw photos of Affleck and Matt Damon at Fenway? How many Celtics fans blossomed after seeing Mark Wahlberg sitting courtside at the Garden? Celebrity endorsements help. Pittsburgh's got a long way to go on that front.
6. Sam Adams > Iron City.
Boston's legendary brewery may be more than 100 years younger than Pittsburgh's, but no game at Fenway or the Garden would be the same without a Sam Adams vendor. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh fans are still trying to figure out whether or not Iron City is even the best home-brewed beer they have. At least Bostonians know where their loyalties lay.
5. Boston is a college hockey utopia.
So Pittsburgh may be the home of the latest Stanley Cup champion, but Boston is the home of the previous two NCAA hockey champions. Boston College trumped Notre Dame in 2007-08, and Boston University prevailed over Miami University last year. Either BC or BU has been in the Frozen Four finals in 10 of the last 16 years. The last time the University of Pittsburgh was in the Frozen Four finals was never. It does not have a Division I hockey team.
4. After much debate, it's true: BC football is better than Pitt football.
Statistically speaking, that is. In light of the latest Virginia Tech debacle, now may not be the greatest time to pose this argument, but still …
Over the past five years, the Eagles have lost more than three games just once and have made an appearance in the conference championship game for two consecutive years. The Panthers have finished above .500 just twice in that span. BC has gone 48-17 since 2004. Pitt has gone 33-27. And if that wasn't enough to put the Eagles one step ahead, the supremacy of Frank Spaziani's mustache over Dave Wannstedt's should help.
3. Fan devotion.
It's true that the level of devotion Bostonians feel toward their squads can border on psychotic at times. Meanwhile, there are probably very few Pittsburgh fans who have toilet paper stamped with Cardinals logos or bumper stickers that say, I don't brake for Bengals fans. Boston is home to some of the best rivalries in sports, and from that grows an insane but everlasting passion for all of the city's teams. Steelers and Penguins fans could maybe compete with Patriots and Bruins fans, but given the fact that nobody cares about the Pirates and there is no NBA fan base to put up a fight, Boston fans take this category by a landslide, just by sheer numbers alone.
2. Speaking of the Patriots and the Steelers …
Last year, the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Congratulations. But it's not 2008 anymore. Tom Brady is back, and the Patriots are ready for business once again. Right now, the two squads are deadlocked at 3-2, but we'd still take Brady-Moss–Belichick any day over Roethlisberger-Holmes–Tomlin. Again, it's too early to tell how this NFL season is going to pan out, but when the AFC championship rolls around, the Pats will show Pittsburgh what to do with their Terrible Towels (assuming, of course, that the Steelers haven't already lost to the Colts).
1. This is a baseball country, and — shocker — the Pirates just don't cut it.
Maybe 2009 wasn't the Red Sox' year, but it doesn't seem like any year is the Pirates' year. They did make history, though, becoming the first team in professional sports to finish below .500 for 17 consecutive seasons. And given the fact that general manager Neal Huntington seems to have an affinity for trading away each and every promising player that comes through his organization (thanks for Jason Bay, by the way), it's going to take another 17 years for Pittsburgh to cultivate enough talent to reach the .500 mark. In the words of Adam Lambert, it's time for miracles, Pittsburgh.