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The Maryland Regional Sports Power Rankings

I was thinking earlier today about “power rankings” and how they’re basically silly. And yet, silly in kind of a fun way. They provide fodder for debate and discussion, and it’s cool sometimes to take a 10,000 foot view (so to speak).

That led me to the idea of creating power rankings of my own. While The Loss Column skews heavily towards the Orioles and Ravens, that’s more a product of circumstance than design. I’d love to spend more time analyzing and writing about the rest of our regional teams. Something like this could be a nice way to do that. It’d also provide a place to get some discussion going about teams/sports that we don’t address often enough.

Assuming that the relevant teams are Orioles, Ravens, Terps basketball, Terps football, Caps, Wizards, Nationals, and Redskins, here’s what I came up with:

1. Ravens
Is there even a contest? They’re the only team currently enjoying a sustained track record of success, and they’re the only team that doesn’t face any major questions about the future.

2. Terps basketball
The one team that, at present, could possibly unseat the Ravens. It would take an ignominious Ravens playoff exit and theTerps following that with a deep (or even deep-ish) run into March Madness™. As long as Gary Williams is there, this team will be better-than-average at worst. Only problem is that lately they haven’t been much better than that.

3. Capitals
They’ve got one of hockey’s two biggest stars in Alex Ovechkin. They’re a virtual lock for a good playoff seed every year. They enjoy great attendance. They’re fun to watch. Thanks to them, hockey is on the map in DC and, to some extent, the region as a whole.

Only problem is, they underachieved in the playoffs last year by losing in the first round to Montreal despite enjoying the #1 overall seed. They’ve got to do better.

4. Nationals
The Stephen Strasburg injury was a huge setback but they’ve got a solid young core and they made big waves in free agency by signing Jayson Werth. They – like the Orioles – are unlikely to contend this year, but they have what appears to be a very decent chance at getting there soon.

5. Orioles
I’d feel a lot better about them if they’d finally sign a first baseman and a veteran starter, but neither would change their ranking. I believe them to be a team on the rise, but there are (as we know too well) still way more questions than answers.

6. Wizards
They’re currently 7-22, and as a result I can’t rank them any higher than this. But they’ve got John Wall, and he should eventually be special. They’ve got Ted Leonsis in the owner’s box, and he knows how to make things happen (see #3 above). This isn’t their year but from what I’ve been able to gather they’re setting themselves up well.

7. Redskins
The Haynesworth debacle. The McNabb debacle. The losing record. The switch to a 3-4 defense coupled with the wrong personnel to execute it.

Good news is that they’re in the NFL and, as such, have a great chance at rebounding next year. If there’s football next year.

8. Terps football
I don’t care that they’re coming off a winning season and I don’t care about the Military Bowl. They utterly botched the firing of Ralph Friedgen and are facing a potentially huge disruption with the transition to a new coach. That and, well, they don’t really generate much excitement outside of College Park. The bottom spot is theirs because, at the moment, they don’t really matter.

So there you have it. I figure I’ll do a list like this maybe every couple of months, especially if the concept generates any interest. Comments are officially open.

10 comments to The Maryland Regional Sports Power Rankings

  • Dan H

    Neal, one correction: the Caps lost in the first round to the Habs last year in seven. The Habs turned around and knocked out the Pens (in seven I believe). And they were the number one seed by far.

    I’m not sure I would rank the Nats higher than the O’s. They are damn close, but the actual jump might have to wait until Strasburg is healthy and Harper is up to see what he can do.

    As messed up as the Skins are, I would still rank them above the Wiz, however I don’t claim to be an expert on either.

    I had a thought a while ago about doing a ranking of all D1 bball schools in the Baltimore/Wash region, possibly even extend it to Philly, Delaware and Virginia. But I never did anything with it.

    Good post.

  • Andrew

    @ Dan H:
    there is no power that can compete with Youppi!

  • neal s

    @ Dan H: Thanks for the catch — I was looking at ’09 instead of ’10. I knew it didn’t sound right but I went with with it anyway. I’ll update the post.

    I think you could easily make the case for putting the Skins above the Wiz. I didn’t allow myself to have ties, but that one was close.

    So was Nats and O’s. Right now I have to give the Nats a slight edge. It’s hard to explain exactly why, but I think you can feel the progress a little more down there. For now, at least.

  • Kevin

    .@ neal s: As far as last year is concerned, I think I would leave the Nats SLIGHTLY above the O’s. We all knew that Stras was gonna be up and Dan and I even went to his first game. As of last year, the O’s didn’t have that big name to draw crowds in. Any time Stras pitched, they sold out where the O’s needed NY or Boston to sell out

  • dan the man

    This list sounds about right to me. The Nats and O’s are in a race to see who will become relevant first. To me, it’s the Nats right now, but it would only take breakout years from Jones/Wieters/Calvalry and some Bucky Ball to change that.

    The Wizards… jesus. I feel good about them in the long-term because of Ted Leonsis, but they are a damn mess. I like that they blew up the Big Three, but they didn’t really get any younger since they now have Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis. And the young players they do have outside of Wall have been “showing flashes” for years now, and it seems more likely that they are simply athletic and have no idea how to actually play basketball. Teddy’s list for the offseason is: 1. Fire Ernie. 1A. Trade Andray Blatche and whatever else you can. 2. Consider finding yet another head coach because Flip isn’t the right guy.

  • Mike R

    I feel like Terps football will move up this list next year, probably ahead of Skins and Wiz. Maybe Nats. Jayson Werth isn’t going to put more fans in the seats like Strasburg will in 2012 when he returns. Debbie Yow created the debacle in the Terps coaching situation. It’s unfourtunate because Ralph has been there a while, but you can’t recruit if your getting 1 year extentions every year. The new AD Kevin Anderson realized this, and realized Fridge isn’t the long term answer. I hope Ralph has success wherever he lands next.

    If Mike Leach is head coach next year, and brings that air raid offense with him, expect the Terps to be exciting, win 10+ games, be a staple in the top 25, fill the seats, and get more TV face time.

  • neal s

    @ Mike R: I don’t know, man, that’s pretty optimistic. Terps football has a long way to go before it’s regionally relevant. Even if they’re in the top 25 next year — which seems like a stretch — I think folks outside of the hardcore fan base would still need to see some sustained success before they start to really care. I’d be surprised if they do anything to move out of the bottom three on this list before 2012.

  • Tomás

    Yeah…the O’s made The Onion.

  • Mike R

    @ neal s:
    Yeah, I know it’ll take some work, they won’t move up far on this list, but I could see them being more interesting then the Wizards atleast. Possibly playing in an ACC title game, which with the offense they have in place now, plus a Mike Leach style, that isn’t out of the question, will garner some attention.

  • dan the man

    O’s get Lee for 1B for 1 year. Our lineup is officially legitimate. No Izturis, no Lugo, no Atkins, and to a lesser degree no Miggles. We’ve added power without sacrificing defense. They were able to get a real 1B stopgap without having to go multiple years. And the infield is completely rebuilt having only sacrificed David Hernandez and some spare parts. I think you have to be pretty pleased at the offseason thus far with a lot of time left to tinker and add bullpen arms, etc.

    If Lee bounces back next year, we’re talking about 3 guys in the lineup that could potentially hit 30 HRs in Lee, Scott, and Reynolds.