The Penguins are currently in the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals, and you know what that means?
That means if you were born prior to October of 1971, when the Pirates played the Orioles in the World Series, you've been alive for 15 championship appearances by Pittsburgh's professional sports teams over the past 45 years.
I'm no math wiz, but I'm smart enough to know that works out to one championship (or series/ finals) appearance every three years.
When it comes to championships, if the Penguins, who are currently up two games to one over the San Jose Sharks, go on to capture Lord Stanley, that would give Pittsburgh an astounding 12 league titles since President Nixon's first term.
In the interest of not being a jinx, let's just focus on those 11 professional sports titles (six Super Bowls, three Stanley Cups and two World Series). When you consider that Pittsburgh has only had three professional teams since the 1960s, pound-for-pound, is there really any city that compares?
Take a look at Cleveland, another burg with only three major professional sports franchises. Everyone knows about the town's title drought that began 52 years ago, when the Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship with a 27-0 blow-out over the Colts, but even the championship appearances have been few and far between. Over the past five decades, the City of Cleveland has only witnessed a championship game or series five times. The Browns are one of a handful of teams that have never advanced to the Super Bowl, the Indians have been to the World Series twice (1995 and 1997), while the NBA's Cavaliers have advanced to the Finals three times (2007, 2015 and 2016---LeBron and Co. currently trail the Golden State Warriers, 2-0 in this year's finals).
Houston, another city with three major pro sports teams, can only boast of the Rockets back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. The Astros have been to the World Series once since the city was awarded a baseball team in 1962, while the old Oilers (now the Titans) famously came up short of reaching the Super Bowl many times before moving to Tennessee--including losses to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game in 1978 and 1979. The Texans, who made their NFL debut in 2002, have yet to advance as far as the conference championship game, even if their home stadium is set to host its second Super Bowl next February.
Comparing Pittsburgh to some three team cities might be unfair. For example, Tampa's history as a sports city is pretty new. While the Buccaneers have been around for 40 years, the Lightning (1992) and Rays (1998) are mere toddlers in the grand scheme of things.
But what about Atlanta's three franchises? They've all been city tenants since the 1960s, yet there's only been one parade during that time (the Braves won the 1995 World Series). The Falcons have appeared in just one Super Bowl, and the NBA's Hawks haven't been to or won a championship since 1958.
I can go on with the three team comparisons, but that's really not necessary.
Pittsburgh is clearly the best in that category.
What about those cities like New York and Los Angeles that can boast of more titles over the past 45 years?
For example, New York's professional sports teams have won 22 titles since 1970 (I stretched it a little to include the Knicks 1970 NBA crown). Kudos to the Big Apple, but the New York Metro-area has nine teams playing in the four major professional sports leagues. In other words, if you throw enough stuff against the wall, some things will stick.
How about the City of Los Angeles? Its teams can boast of 17 championships since 1972. Good point, but 11 of those titles belong to the Lakers, while the Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Rams, Kings and Ducks have combined to win six.
What about big, bad Chicago? The city has hosted 11 championship parades since 1985, which is quite impressive. However, the Bulls, who won six NBA titles in the 1990s, were the guests of honor in over half of them.
Boston, a four team city, has had quite the run of titles, with 16 since 1974. But in-terms of efficiency, that town can't even compare to Pittsburgh. The Patriots, alone, have lost four Super Bowls since 1985, while Pittsburgh's sports teams have combined to lose three championships since 1971 (the Steelers lost Super Bowls XXX and XLV, while the Penguins fell to the Red Wings, 4-2, in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals).
What about Pittsburgh's cross-state rival, Philadelphia, a four team city that likes to compare itself to the big boys in both population and championship success?
Philadelphia might be superior to Pittsburgh when talking population (5,595,000 compared to 1,730,0000), but in terms of titles.....while Pittsburgh was won 11 titles over the past 45 years, Philly has only claimed five.
Add to those professional championships Pitt's 1976 National Title, Tony Dorsett's Heisman Trophy won that same year, the seven NHL MVPs since 1988, the three National League MVPs since 1990, plus the 12 Hall of Famers that have played for the Steelers since 1969, and Pittsburgh has been one lucky sports city.
It's also more than earned its unofficial title of City of Champions.