Monday, August 4, 2008

Movin' On Up???

Curiosity struck recently. I wondered how the movement of a pro sports franchise from one city to another has historically impacted a team's winning the next season. I expected to find something profound, either excellent news or a death sentence for Oklahoma City fans. I found neither. However, there may be some good news for the Ford Center faithful. Take a look at the franchises from "The Big 4" that have moved in the last 25 years and how their winning percentage changed from one city to the other.

2005: Montreal Expos (67-95) to Washington Nationals (81-81) (Up .086)

1984: Baltimore Colts (7-9) to Indianapolis Colts (4-12) (Down .188)
1988: St. Louis Cardinals (7-8) to Arizona Cardinals (7-9) (Down .029)
1995: Los Angeles Rams (4-12) to St. Louis Rams (7-9) (Up .188)
1995: Los Angeles Raiders (9-7) to Oakland Raiders (8-8) (Down .063)
1996: Cleveland Browns (5-11) to Baltimore Ravens (4-12) (Down.063)
1997: Houston Oilers (8-8) to Tennessee Oilers (8-8) (Push)

1984: San Diego Clippers (30-52) to Los Angeles Clippers (31-51) (Up .012)
1985: Kansas City Kings (31-51) to Sacramento Kings (37-45) (Up .073)
2001: Vancouver Grizzlies (23-59) to Memphis Grizzlies (23-59) (Push)
2002: Charlotte Hornets (44-38) to New Orleans Hornets (47-35) (Up .036)
2005: New Orleans Hornets (18-64) to New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (38-44) (Up .243)

1993: Minnesota North Stars (36-38-10) to Dallas Stars (42-29-13) (Up .089)
1995: Quebec Nordiques (30-13-5) to Colorado Avalanche (47-25-10) (Down .043)
1996: Winnipeg Jets (36-40-6) to Phoenix Coyotes (38-37-7) (Up .030)
1997: Hartford Whalers (32-39-11) to Carolina Hurricanes (33-41-8) (Down .006)

The notorious Colts 'Midnight Mayflower' incident.

The average win% improved by .023 percent, which sounds decent but for an NBA club, that's a difference of a little less than 2 games. Thus, in the grand scheme of pro sports, a move means very little, showing that the players make the ultimate difference, not necessarily a change in scenery.

There are reasons to be optimistic for the Oklahoma City team, though. As one can see, when the Hornets had to relocate to Oklahoma City due to Katrina, it made the biggest impact (both positive or negative) by far among any other movers in the past 25 years. I think this truly is a testament to the fans here. I mean, OKC residents probably aren't the most knowledgeable NBA crowd as a whole, but years of college fandom has made them as passionate in their cheering as any other fanbase.

Also, OKC fans can take refuge in knowing that in the past 25 years the NBA seems to be the kindest to relocating teams. Of all 5 basketball teams that changed their address, none of them deproved from the previous season. So there's no way this team can do any worse! Not that you could possibly get any worse than last season.

All in all, I think the numbers show that one shouldn't expect any miracles just because we've ditched Key Arena. Yeah, I think a slight improvement is in the works, but nothing major. Like I said earlier, its the players that make the biggest difference, and staring down this roster...well...don't worry about saving up for your playoff tickets.