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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

June 30, 1997|MIKE PENNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: The Sporting News' Best Sports City Rankings

Denver, Dallas and Miami rank 1-2-3 in the The Sporting News' fourth annual poll of Best Sports Cities, which has been expanded from a top 30 to a top 238, enabling the likes of Macon, Ga., and Montgomery, Ala., to crash the party.

My first thought: Where's Barcelona?

Huge stadium; cup-winning soccer team; famous bullfights; world's best soccer player (Ronaldo); pretty fair basketball team; host of the '92 Olympics; newly crowned champions of the World League of American Football, the Barcelona Dragons. And, the sports bars serve sangria and sparkling cava until 4 in the morning.

Beat that, Detroit (No. 6 in The Sporting News poll).

Sadly, the Sporting News' rankings are wholly provincial--to be ranked, a city needs "at least" a Division I basketball team. To rank No. 1, a city must have one team in all four "major professional sports" (these being football, basketball, ice hockey and baseball) and a college that plays Division I-A football and Division I basketball.

That rules out all of Europe--and bumps Los Angeles-Anaheim all the way to No. 8.

We are not worthy, basically, because we have no NFL team, a grievous shortcoming that, as you know, has been keeping Angelenos up nights since 1994. Also, we get points taken off for "the Kings; fans leaving in the seventh inning; the Clippers."

OK, no argument there.

But, Denver No. 1?

Home of the Perpetual Super Bowl Choke, the 5.83 team earned-run average, the NBA franchise nobody wants to coach, the unfit-to-repeat Avalanche?

Total Denver all-time professional championships: one.

Never mind L.A.-Anaheim; Inglewood alone beats Denver at that game, 6-1.

Alas, we have no NFL team.

Better get that stadium built then. No more of this lagging around behind Chicago, Oakland-San Francisco-San Jose and Baltimore-Washington.

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