Last Thursday was 2018’s first “Sports Equinox”; a day in which all 4 major North American sports have at least one game together on the same day. If you’re a sports fan and have a good TV provider, it can be one of the best days of the year. The Sports Equinox is rare because even though the NBA, NFL, and NHL have plenty of overlap, the MLB and NFL only play in September and October. Even then, football only happens 3 days a week.
Though it’s rare, this does actually happen on a fairly predicable basis. Last year, there were 2 Equinoxes, and there has been an average of a little less than one per year since 2009. Changes in the NBA and NHL’s scheduling, as well as Thursday Night Football becoming a weekly event, have helped. This year, there will be a second Equinox if the World Series goes to a 5th game. All of this got me thinking about something even more rare: A Championship Equinox.
Growing up just a train ride away from Boston, I’ve had my fair amount of celebrations over the past two decades. The thought of winning all 4 major championships at once has crossed my mind from time to time, but never like it has this year.
The Celtics are one of the favorites to win the NBA Championship, the Red Sox are in the World Series and hold a 2-0 lead, the Patriots are yet again Super Bowl favorites in the AFC, and the Bruins look strong enough to make a run at the Stanley Cup in the early weeks of the season. Could Boston actually hold all 4 trophies at once? Has it ever been done before? Has anyone even gotten close?
The short answer is no.
The last city to win multiple championships in the same year was the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014-2015 when the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors won the World Series and NBA Finals respectively.
If you don’t count the SF Bay Area as one city, then the answer becomes Pittsburgh. In 2009, they won Super Bowl XLIII, and the Stanley Cup, in the same year. And though a city winning multiple titles at once has happened plenty of times, no city has held more than 2 at a time since the advent of the modern NBA Finals in 1946-47.
The odds are stupidly low. Not quite as low as the Powerball (Big jackpots this week, weren’t they?), but for most cities, it might as well be. The odds, according to Vegas, of Boston winning all 4 championships this year is about 1/830, or a little less than 0.12%.
But that’s still miles ahead of the other current candidate: Los Angeles. Their chances are about 1/3300 despite having the 7-0 Rams AND the 5-2 Chargers, as well as 2 NHL teams (I include Anaheim) and 2 NBA teams still able to win their titles.
The cities that can achieve the championship equinox are Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles/Anaheim, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington DC. So, if you’re from any of these cities, the hope is at least there. But after Boston and LA, the odds are basically 0.
Take New York for instance; Sure, the Yankees will be a World Series favorite in 2019, but they don’t have any other title contenders. Chicago has a resurgent Bears team, and the Cubs are great, but the Bulls and Blackhawks aren’t anywhere near championship level. The time for Chicago to win the Championship Equinox was when Michael Jordan was still in town.
Even Washington, who has the current Stanley Cup Champions, a 4-2 NFL team, and a Wizards team that is on the cusp of a possible deep playoff run, isn’t even close. As soon as Bryce Harper leaves, the Nationals will be BAD. Even if he does end up staying, the Nationals crumbled this season, and the American League just keeps getting better. It’s looking very likely that their Stanley Cup win is the most DC fans are gonna get for a long time.
It’s just too difficult for any city to get close to the ultimate sports prize of a Championship Equinox. Think about how hard it is for a team to win the Super Bowl. A World Series. A Stanley Cup. An NBA Championship (for anyone not named Golden State or LeBron James). Now do all 4 at the same time.
Boston and LA have a rare opportunity to do it this year. Most of their teams are good too great. Even Los Angeles has more than 270 times the average city’s chances of winning them all. But now down 2-0 in the World Series, their chances get smaller by the day. As for Boston, they’re on the cusp of the first trophy. The Red Sox are close to winning what has statistically been the hardest of Boston’s 4 championships to win: the World Series. From there, we await Super Bowl LIII.
If Tom Brady and the Patriots win their 6th Lombardi this February, then we would be on the verge of something never seen before. This kind of hope is why we’re all sports fans. The hope. The success. The parades. Oh, and imagine the bragging rights.
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Photo Credit: Chicago Blackhawks, Sports Illustrated, Getty Images, the Boston Globe, Associated Press