In an audacious money grab that was almost universally hated by anyone connected to the sport and which fell apart in about 48 hours — aside from that, it was great — the European “Super League” proposed to take 12 of the biggest and richest overseas football clubs and form a theoretically valuable breakaway product.
That it failed with such speed that I didn’t even have time to write about it while it was alive and am only getting to it after it shuffled off this mortal pitch — For sale; Super League cleats; never worn — will not deter me from engaging in a similar thought exercise in regard to major U.S. pro leagues.
The premise: If each of the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and WNBA formed a Super League of 12 teams — if only for a few days before the horrible idea was shouted down — how many Minnesota teams would make the cut?
*The WNBA only has 12 teams to begin with, so all of them would obviously make the cut. And even if they trimmed the league in half, the Lynx would easily make it as one of the WNBA’s model franchises.
*The Wolves have the lowest winning percentage in the history of major North American sports teams (this record is still intact since they have a .375 winning percentage since the calculation was determined). They routinely are in the bottom third of the league in attendance. They would get nowhere near a 12-team Super League in the NBA.
Borderline but out
*Wild: Fans support the Wild, and there would be an outcry if the State of Hockey didn’t make the cut. But is this really one of the 12 most prestigious teams in the NHL? Nope. Not in terms of franchise value, results or media market. It’s close, but the Wild misses the cut and winds up in whatever lower-tier league springs up.
*Twins: There will be a lot more country music concerts at Target Field with revenue to generate and the Twins relegated to some second-tier professional baseball league. At least now they might win a playoff game?
Borderline but in
*Vikings: They have the seventh-best winning percentage in NFL history, a sizable following and a new stadium. It’s close, but they make the final cut of 12.
*Minnesota United: The Loons lack the history of some other MLS clubs, but that might not be a bad thing. They have a brand new soccer-specific stadium and are emerging as a top-tier market in the league. They get to stay.
None of this, of course, would ever happen because here’s the dirty little secret: the top teams in every league need the bottom teams in every league to prop themselves up.
If you take away the lesser teams, a lot of teams used to winning suddenly become very ordinary.