ESPN the Magazine, or Highlights for sports fans as I like to call it, has finally released its highly-anticipated 9th-annual Ultimate Standings. If you’re unfamiliar, the Ultimate Standings are a guide to determining which sports franchises of the four major North American leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) offer their fans the best experience, from cost to winning. Ultimately, it’s probably the most scientific method of telling us what we already know.
ESPN’s brain trust determined the standings with 8 categories:
Bang For The Buck (BNG): Wins during the past three years (regular season plus postseason) per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules.
Fan Relations (FRL): Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management.
Ownership (OWN): Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.
Affordability (AFF): Price of tickets, parking and concessions.
Stadium Experience (STX): Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment.
Players (PLA): Effort on the field and likability off it.
Coaching (CCH): Strength of on-field leadership.
Title Track (TTR): Championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans.
This year’s standings revealed no surprises, either, as the Green Bay Packers are the best franchise in professional sports, and Toronto is officially the worst sports city in North America. By combining the cumulative score of the three Toronto sports franchises – the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays – it was determined that no city expects less from its teams and suffers more because of them, despite what people from Cleveland want us to believe.
Originally, I was going to launch into a rant defending the fine people of Toronto and their painful modern sports history. Sure, the Blue Jays (No. 63) had to suffer through the J.P. Ricciardi era and the Maple Leafs (No. 120) haven’t won a Stanley Cup in 44 years. And the Raptors (No. 116), well those poor fools just keep getting stuck with “the best player on a terrible team” (See: McGrady, Tracy; Carter, Vince; and cross-reference with Bosh, Chris). But if you look at the tail end of these standings, you’ll see that Washington D.C. may have it worse. It’s close, but the argument is there.
The Washington Redskins (No. 121) are the second worst team in all of professional sports, behind the rock bottom Cincinnati Bengals (No. 122), and the Washington Wizards and Nationals rank at 110 and 78, respectively. Then I remembered the Capitals (No. 27), which is a common mistake for me, because I hardly recognize hockey as a sport as it is. Still, it’s not fair to judge a city with a storied Stanley Cup history (Toronto has 13 titles) and two modern expansion teams against a solid sports city like DC, with four franchises.
But then I remembered that Toronto essentially has a NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, and they rank 107. So my argument basically went to hell. Sucks for you, Toronto, but let’s not go torching police cars over the Goofus and Gallant of sports articles, OK?