Best (and Worst) Monikered Markets in the Big Four

As an afterthought to our recent moniker rankings of each league in the Big Four, let’s look at which markets are the best monikered and which are the worst.

The best monikered market for pro sports is….read on to find out. Unless you’re an expert at skyline identification.


To determine the ranks, we averaged the rankings of all the teams within a given market to come up with a number.  There is certainly some gray area here, so I’ll lay out the criteria:

-By saying ‘markets,’ I’m referring to cities or regions that are the either the same or correlative from league to league.  I used no objective system (such as TV markets) but rather made judgement calls when in doubt.  The easiest example would  be a market like Detroit, where the teams represented are the Lions, Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings.  Easy.  Lumping a team like the New England Patriots in with the Boston clubs is a no-brainer as well.  North Carolina claims the Bobcats and the Panthers.  Tennessee claims the Memphis Grizzlies and the Titans/Predators of Nashville.  Wisconsin includes the Bucks and Brewers, but also the Green Bay Packers.  The Texas Rangers of Arlington are certainly within the Dallas market.  I chose to separate San Francisco and Oakland as individual markets, though I decided that the Golden State Warriors count for both.  I was tempted to create one “Bay Area” market that would also include the San Jose Sharks (and maybe the Sacramento Kings) but decided against it.

-To qualify, an individual market must have at least two teams in the Big Four.  For the record, I decided against lumping Jacksonville and Orlando into one.  Same goes for Calgary and Edmonton.  Since the Blue Jackets claim Columbus rather than Ohio, they are in not linked to the Cleveland or Cincinnati markets.  The disqualified markets with only one team representative are: Jacksonville, Orlando, Sacramento, Portland, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Utah, New Jersey, San Jose, Edmonton, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Columbus.  

-New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are the three cities that have multiple teams of a given sport within their domain.  New York claims the Giants, Jets, Mets, Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Islanders, and Rangers.  They do not claim the New Jersey Devils as they play in Newark, an independent market.  Chicago obviously claims both the Cubs and Sox along with the Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks.  Los Angeles claims all teams in LA proper and Anaheim, so that’s the Dodgers, Angels, Clippers, Lakers, Kings, and Ducks.

-Each market had an individual score within a particular league, meaning that the large cities get an average of the teams within it’s league.  For instance, in our NFL rankings, the Giants were ranked number 1 and the Jets were ranked number 17.  1+17=18 divided by 2=9.  The score of the New York market within the NFL is 9.

Here are links that open new tabs to Sport Change moniker rankings:

For MLB, click here

For the NFL, click here

For the NBA, click here

For the NHL, click here

-The league scores of each market are averaged together to produce a final score.  An easy one is the Dallas market.  The Cowboys were ranked 7th, the Rangers were ranked 5th, the Mavericks were ranked 7th, and the Stars were ranked 9th.  That’s easy math.  7+5+7+9=28 divided by 4=the average market score of 7.  Easy.  The score are then simply ranked from 1 to 32.  There were two ties.

-There are obvious flaws within this system, as it operates more like an electoral college than a popular vote.  For instance, the NFL has much better monikers overall than the NBA or NHL.  The 15th ranked NFL team may be better than the 8th ranked NBA team.  A better system might to be to rank all 122 monikers in the Big Four collectively, then extract the numbers.  For now, we’re going to use this system.  The rankings and criteria are somewhat arbitrary anyway, so what the hell.


Alright, another instance of Sport Change over-explaining things.  Now let’s get right into it, starting at the top:

The ‘Lou has a good group of nicknames, but there’s no Gateway Arch in that skyline picture.


1. Pittsburgh.  The Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins were all ranked in the top ten of their respective leagues.  The Steel City is number one by a good margin.  Average score: 4.33

2. St. Louis.  Rams, Cardinals, and Blues were all top ten.  The Cardinals skate by on some history, but St. Louis has great monikers overall.  If they still had the NBA’s Hawks, they might have even done better.  Average score: 5.66

3. Chicago.  Bears and Bulls are exceptional nicknames–no market has two nicknames ranked higher (#2 and #1) within their leagues.  Cubs and Sox combined for a score of 9, but both are historical skaters, as are the Blackhawks.  Average score: 6

4. Dallas.  The only market with a top ten team in each of the Big Four.  Rangers, Cowboys, Mavericks, and Stars are all solid monikers.  Average score: 7

5. Wisconsin.  Bucks is a very good nickname, and the Packers and Brewers both have blue-collar cred.  Average score: 7.66

The cheese state manages to produce a string of non-cheesy nicknames.

6. Detroit.  Lions and Tigers are terrific nicknames.  Red Wings and Pistons do not disappoint.  Average score: 7.75.

7. Philadelphia.  Eagles and Flyers are very good.  Phillies and 76ers are questionable–they mostly skate by on history.  Average score: 10.25

8. San Francisco.  Giants and Warriors are top tier, but 49ers is questionable at face value.  Frisco just edges out the other big Bay Area market.  Average score: 11

9. Oakland.  Warriors is top tier, of course.  Raiders is above average, whereas Athletics is bland and middling.  If the Bay Area (with San Jose Sharks included) were viewed as one market, it would be ranked 7th–just ahead of Philadelphia.  Average score: 11.66

The Bay Bridge connects the two cities that share the Golden State designation. Both benefit from the excellent Warriors moniker.

10. Boston.  Just about each team here skates by on history.  The Bruins have nice alliteration, but none of the teams (Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox) have an appropriate pro moniker when viewed at face value.  Average score: 11.75

11. Los Angeles.  The Kings have a phenomenal nickname.  Angels, Ducks, and Clippers are very middling.  Lakers and Dodgers have history going for them, but little else.  Average score: 13.5

12-tie. Atlanta.  Hawks is a nice moniker.  Braves and Falcons are alright.  The NFL has so many great nicknames that it’s hard to believe that Falcons slipped to 19th of 32.  If pressed to choose, I’d give Atlanta the slight tiebreaker over Cleveland due to the tomahawk chop being only slightly less offensive than Chief Wahoo.  Average score: 14.33

12-tie. Cleveland.  The Cavaliers score high in the NBA, but that’s not saying much.  The Browns have a nice nickname that went underappreciated in the electoral system.  Overappreciation and underappreciation makes for a pretty average score.  Average score: 14.33

14. Tennessee.  Titans is a terrific handle, but Grizzlies and Predators leave something to be desired.  Average score: 14.66

Grizzlies and sabre-toothed tigers. Two animals you shouldn’t expect to see in Tennessee.

15. Kansas City.  Talk about a perfectly average market.  Chiefs was ranked 14th and Royals was 16th.  An average market at the 15th spot.  Average score: 15

16. New York.  Giants is the only truly good nickname in the largest of the markets.  Jets, Nets, and Mets are all middling.  Yankees, Rangers and Knickerbockers are all historical skaters with little face value.  Islanders is marooned on an island of mediocrity.  Average score: 15.6

17. Miami.  Florida Panthers is nice, though they could change to Miami Panthers.  Dolphins and Marlins are very appropriate for the market, if somewhat fishy.  The Heat are the best of the NBA’s non-singularable/non-pluralable monikers, but those are the worst of the worst.  Average score: 17

18. Cincinnati.  The tale of two opposites.   Reds ranked 4th in Major League Baseball, whereas the Bengals ranked 31st in the NFL.  Average score: 17.5


One moniker is magnificent, while the other is Cincinnasty.

19. North Carolina.  The Carolina Panthers have a good moniker, whereas the Bobcats are little more semipro.  The Hurricanes drag the average down a bit.  Average score: 18

20. New Orleans.  The Saints were ranked low, but in other leagues they would’ve been higher.  Hornets is a pretty good basketball nickname.  Average score: 18.5

21. Toronto.  The Blue Jays are solid and the Maple Leafs have history.  It’s those darn velociraptors that drag down Ontario.  Average score: 19

22. Minnesota.  Vikings is a nice nickname and Timberwolves is above average.  The Twins and Wild monikers are the dead weight here.  Average score: 19.75

23. Baltimore.  Orioles is fun and unique, whereas Ravens fell victim to the deep NFL moniker pool. Average score: 20.5

The Orioles and Ravens nicknames are about equally decent. The depth of great nicknames in the NFL doomed both blackbirds to the lower quadrant.

24. Seattle.  Mariners is a solid moniker, but Seahawks is maybe a bit of stretch for a pro team.  If the Sonics return or if a new NHL chooses a good nickname (Grays!) then the average ticks back up.  Average score: 21

25. Buffalo.  The overly-clever Bills ranked 22nd in the NFL, and the overly-classy Sabres ranked 22nd in the NHL.  That’s good for 25th best.  Average score: 22

26. Colorado.  Broncos and Nuggets are fun, if unimpressive.  Rockies and Avalanche cause the average to tumble down the mountainside.  Average score: 22.25

27. Tampa.  Buccaneers is pretty good, but the NFL is deep.  Rays is decent, but Lightning is crap.  Average score: 23

28. Houston.  Rockets is a pretty good moniker, but Texans is bland and Astros….they might as well be called Ass-tros.  Average score: 23.33

Astros makes a flighty nickname like Rockets look tame. Texans grounds all Houston monikers.

29-tie. Arizona.  Suns is the best one here, and that’s not saying much.  Diamondbacks and Coyotes are pretty sad, but I’ll give them a slight tiebreaker over Indy due to the fact that the NFL’s Cardinals nickname is the oldest in football–if in a strange place.  Average score: 24.5

29-tie. Indiana.  Just lower tier.  Colts is questionable and Pacers is the epitome of a mediocre moniker.  Average score: 24.5

31. Washington.  Capitals is the best moniker in the Capital.  Yikes.  Nationals is boring.  Wizards is embarrassing.  Redskins is unacceptably offensive.  If San Diego had more than two pro sports teams, Washington would likely be last.  Average score: 24.75

32. San Diego.  Nothing especially good here.  Chargers is bland enough to tumble in the deep NFL pool, and the lovable ‘Padres’ is a minor league nickname masquerading as a pro nickname.  Having only two teams makes for a touchy average.  Even if they still had the Clippers (ranked 22 of 30 in the NBA) they wouldn’t be in last place.  And that’s the Clippers!  Damn the electoral college!   Average score: 25

The Swinging Friar may be lovable, but he’s not enough to save San Diego’s moniker ranking.


There are some interesting thoughts provoked by this study.  Once we hit number 7 (Philadelphia) the average scores only increased gradually, building to a highest score of 25.  What’s dramatic is the leap between #6 (Detroit at 7.75) to Philadelphia (10.25) at #7.  From that, I’m going to jump to the conclusion that there are six and only six markets with truly solid monikers throughout each of their sports.  These markets are: Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas, Wisconsin, and Detroit.


Alright.  Got that out of my system.  Been plugging away at the list of best and worst overall monikers in the Big Four combined, so stay alert for upcoming posts.  Got to love Thanksgiving break…enough time to justify staring at averages for the rankings of sports nicknames.  Only on Sport Change.



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