ESPN The Magazine has unveiled its annual Ultimate Team Rankings, which measure “how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them.” The franchises were evaluated on eight criteria, including “bang for the buck,” the stadium atmosphere, the on-field product, and past championships and the prospects of winning others in this lifetime.
As you can imagine, the Ravens were ranked pretty highly on this list, which will be in the magazine when it hits newsstands on Friday. The Orioles? Well, not so much. But they are on the rise, according to ESPN.
The Ravens were No. 21 on the list, down from No. 20 a year ago. They were in the top 25 in ownership (10th), players (18th), bang for the buck (23rd) and their title chances going forward (24th).
“The Ravens were recession-savvy by holding steady their ticket prices, and Baltimore continued its home sellout streak, now at 153 games and counting. On the field, the Ravens earned their keep, making the playoffs for a team-record third straight season. John Harbaugh also became the first head coach in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons,” ESPN's Anna Katherine Clemmons wrote. “Curiously, Baltimore's Stadium Experience dipped despite the installation of high-def RavensVision boards inside M&T Bank Stadium. … Maybe being at the game is becoming too much like watching at home.”
The Orioles were No. 67, up 35 spots from 2010. They were 11th in fan experience at Camden Yards and their coaching staff under new manager Buck Showalter was ranked 17th.
“Forget Bang for the Buck. Baltimore fans are pretty well satisfied by how much Buck for the Buck they're getting. New manager Buck Showalter is one of only three active skippers to win multiple Manager of the Year awards,” ESPN The Magazine's Eddie Matz wrote. “His no-nonsense approach took 'dem O's on a 34-23 run as soon as he came on board last July.”
The Baltimore Blast, Charm and Mariners were not considered for this list. If they were, they would probably rank above the Bengals, who were dead-last in this year's ESPN Ultimate Team Rankings.