15 Sports Franchises That Are More Like Bullies (And Why)
Bullying is unfortunately everywhere in our society, not even sports escapes it. We've conveniently set up three tiers of bullying in sports today. See which one works for you:
Tier One: Financial Bully
New York Yankees
First on this list for a reason. Major League Baseball has no salary cap, meaning the richest teams can sign the best players, and the Yankees are the poster child for poaching superstars from small market teams. Brad Pitt and Aaron Sorkin made a whole movie about it, the one where Jonah Hill was confident in weight rooms? The Yankees are the bad guys in that movie. And real life. Especially to minor league teams.
Boston Red Sox
Don't yell at us, Boston, you know it's true. The team that was once so cheap they sold Babe Ruth to fund a musical is a recognizable global brand, probably thanks to Ben Affleck's wardrobe choices. The BoSox routinely have some of the highest payrolls in the league and are a destination franchise. We recognize that Moneyball is only sort of based on true events, but the film does start with the Yankees poaching A's players and ends with the Red Sox trying to poach the A's GM. Just saying.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers once added $260 million to their payroll in a single trade. Do we need to extrapolate how the team in the second-largest media market in the US is a rich team?
Financial bullying is difficult in the NBA, but doable. The NBA has a salary cap, but you can go over it if you're willing to pay what's called a luxury tax, basically an extra dollar to the league for every dollar over the cap you spend. The Miami Heat, owned by cruise ship magnate Micky Arison, are sometimes willing to pay the tax. And speaking of tax, the fact that Florida doesn't have a state income tax is high on the list of things team president Pat Riley mentions to free agents, presumably right after plopping his championship rings on the negotiating table.
The New Money of The English Premier League
For a league with built-in relegation and promotion, the EPL sure is a league of haves and have-nots (more on that later). But an influx of cash from UAE prime minister Sheikh Mansour and Thai billionaires has opened up opportunities for other clubs. Manchester City especially seems to relish no longer being the little brother to Man United, tossing around cash and winning five championships since 2012.
Tier Two: Legacy Bullies
The Old Powers of The English Premier League
Only four teams won a Premier League championship for nearly 20 years. Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea threw their riches and glamour around, bullying a league where elite glory is theoretically achievable even by the lowest-relegated teams, but practically reserved for the very few. The recent influx of money to other clubs means more parity, but history's history. There's a reason Ted Lasso's boy-os freak out in Manchester.
Their stadium is literally bad for punters because of its jumboer-than-jumbo Jumbotron (LBJ would be proud). They are a team defined by brash garnishness, an everything-in-bigger-in-Texas, God-and-football attitude that's so easy to loathe. We've never even heard Jerry Jones speak, but it has be pitch perfect Jon Voight's character in Varsity Blues, right?
*Ron Burgundy speaking in impressed tones about Brick's trident throwing prowess voice* Ray Lewis killed a guy! Probably not, actually, but the families of the victims sure weren't comforted by Lewis's “God has a plan” hand-waving. Anyway, the Baltimore Ravens spent the next decade as one of the staunchest, most brutal defenses in the NFL, anchored by Ray “are we sure he didn't kill a guy?" Lewis. Marketing your team around a defense anchored by an alleged murderer is basically staring other teams in the face and reminding them their deaths would mean nothing and their loved ones would forget them.
This is about Jerry Reinsdorf. The man who chose loyalty to Jerry Krause over Michael Jordan after the Bulls' run of six championships seemingly cemented their status as one of the elite franchises in the NBA. But an unwillingness to spend money (there's a whole Bulls podcast derisively called Cash Considerations) despite being the third-largest media market in the US means the Bulls have never even come close to that 90s glory. Then there's the whole matter of the team's owner saying “finish in second place every year” because the fans will love it. When your team owner treats fans like a drug dealer introducing a new strain, your team's a bully in the worst way.
Tier Three: Stylistically Bullies
The Detroit “Bad Boy” Pistons
Some of these players were actually skilled at the fundamentals of the game of basketball. Most, though, were really great at hitting people. People love to wonder how players from different eras would fare in today's game, with its emphasis on diversity of skills, but no one ever wonders that about the Bad Boy Pistons.
The Oakland A's Bash Brothers
Literally had the word “bash” in their nickname, famous for crushing things with baseball bats. If they seem like snarling, be-mulleted, roided-up 80s movie villains come to life, well, that's because they were. Shoutout Lonely Island.
The 80s Chicago Bears: The Monsters of the Midway
Sure, the original Monsters of the Midway moniker goes back to the 40s, but the ‘80s revival is the icon. A defense so suffocating they’d occasionally take the field on offense to ram the ball down opponents' throats.
The New Orleans Saints' Bounty Scandal
When you turn your defense into literal headhunters, like some sort of football version of the Predator, you make the “bullies” list.
The San Fransisco 49ers and Everyone Else Blacklisting Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick should still be *NFL announcer voice* playing professional football games in the National Football League.