In the next couple of months, the sports world will be inundated with the "Team of the Decade" article. So, to beat them all to the punch, I'll offer up my take. Here we go.
The Contenders: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees
Actually, this one wasn't as close as I imagined it to be. The Yankees won 2 World Series and so did the Red Sox. However, the Yankees appeared in 4 World Series and won the pennant 4 times. The Red Sox won the pennant and World Series twice. The Yankees won the AL East division title 8 times, while the Red Sox only won it once. Also, over the decade, the Yankees won 965 games to 653 losses while the Red Sox had a 920-699 record. No other team approached the Yankees and Red Sox, with the Cardinals and Angels coming closest.
...and still champion, the New York Yankees. While the Red Sox made a lot of noise and had a great decade, in nearly every facet, the Yankees were their superior.
The Contenders: Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts
Going from 2000 through 2008 and discounting this season, the Patriots would have the advantage due to most Super Bowl wins. However, they haven't won it since the 2004-2005 season, and lost the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. Meanwhile, the Steelers have won their 2 Super Bowls recently and should they win this season would tie the Patriots in number of Super Bowl wins at 3. The Colts, on the other hand, as Don Banks of SI.com writes, entered this season one win behind the leading Patriots in number of wins with 101 this decade (and as of this writing, have the lead). However they've only won won Super Bowl and only appeared in one as well.
Should the Colts win the Super Bowl this year, they would enter the team of the decade discussion with 2 Super Bowls as well as 8 straight playoff appearances, and best winning percentage. The Steelers and Patriots would not be able to make either of those claims. On the other hand, the Patriots would still have appeared in more Super Bowls overall.
Even if the Steelers or Colts win the Super Bowl this year, the New England Patriots would still have played in 4 Super Bowl, winning 3. They have an astonishing 14-3 postseason record right now and can win a game in a variety of ways. Again, should the Colts or Steelers win it all this year, they would be in the discussion, but ultimately, the Patriots take the crown.
The Contenders: San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers
Frankly this one is kinda easy. Sure the San Antonio Spurs won 3 times, which normally, in any sport would get you team of the decade. Heck, the Sporting News voted them team of the decade earlier this year. However, when the Los Angeles Lakers are in the discussion, all bets are off. Going from 1999-2000 to now, the Lakers have won the title 4 times and have been in 6. Even if you start with the 2000-2001 season, the Lakers still have been in 5, winning 3. However, the Spurs have the decided advantage over the Lakers in games won, either starting with the 1999-2000 season (659-624) or with the 2000-2001 season (605-542) and never won less than 53 games in any season. Consistency, rather than sporadic greatness counts for something—ask Henry Aaron.
You just can't argue with all the championship appearances. Sorry, Sporting News, but you have to give it to the team that consistently made it to the finals. In a close one, The Lakers.
The Contenders: USC, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State
At first look, it would seem easy: USC. However, a closer look reveals its not as easy as all that. Sure, USC, heading into this season, went 93-22 since 2000, including 88-15 under Pete Carroll. And yes, the Trojans have had 3 Heisman Trophy winners. That said, they've only won the big game only once, back in the 2004-2005 season (I'm not counting the split AP nonsense in 2003—just BCS championships). LSU and Florida, on the other hand have won it twice. Ohio State won once, and has been in three. And while Oklahoma, also, has only one once, they have been in 4, the most of any program.
Counting overall wins; LSU has gone 90-27, and Florida has gone 87-29, including 44-9 under Urban Meyer. And that doesn't include this season, where Florida is 9-0 and LSU matches USC at 7-2. Ohio State, since 2000 has gone 91-23. Oklahoma, however, tops them all, going 102-19 under Bob Stoops since 2000—only winning in the single digits only once. They have also had 2 Heisman winners.
Sorry, USC, going 93-22 is nice, but playing in the not-too-tough Pac -10 hasn't properly prepared you for the big games. And same for you, Oklahoma. Sure playing Texas is tough and you've gone 6-4 against them, but Iowa State, Baylor, Texas A&M? Those games pad your record. Ohio State, being in 3 big games is nice, but getting blown out by two other teams on this list disqualifies you.
Playing in the cut-throat SEC, however, is a different matter. Both LSU and Florida play in the toughest conference in CFB and have done well. But the final edge goes to Florida. They have a Heisman winner and the best shot to win it all this year. It was very, very close, but Florida wins it all.
The Contenders: North Carolina, Michigan State, Florida, Duke, Kansas
Duke, the team of the 90s won more games than any other NCAA team this decade, with Kansas coming in second. They have 4 ACC regular season titles—one less than North Carolina, but have an astonishing 7 ACC tournament championships. North Carolina only has 2. Michigan State, which has the worst overall record of any of the contenders, does however—like Duke and Kansas—have 10 NCCA final berths. Duke, Kansas and Michigan State also measure up with the 3 most Sweet Sixteen Appearances—with 8 for Duke, 7 for Kansas and 6 for Michigan State.
This is where it gets interesting though. Even though Florida only got into 3 Sweet Sixteens, it won 2 championships and played for a 3rd. Talk about making the most of your chances. North Carolina, also won the Dance twice this decade, showing up in 4 Final Fours.
At the final assessment, however, what you do in the final games is what counts, so although Duke and Kansas had stellar records, they showed up in less Final Fours than North Carolina and Michigan State and as many as Florida, though Kansas won less than Florida. And while Michigan State appeared in 4 Final Fours, they won less than North Carolina and Florida. Confused yet?
The Winner: In the end, North Carolina edges Florida by virtue of more ACC league titles—in a much tougher division than Florida—and more Sweet Sixteen and Final Four appearances—meaning they excelled more consistently than Florida. So, its Tar Heels as team of the decade.
That's my list: Yankees, Patriots, Lakers, Florida, North Carolina. Pls write in with your opinions on these choices.
To come in a future post, all these teams duke it out for the title of ultimate AAPTBNL Team of the Decade. Sweet.