A sportsnation ranks the Yanks poorly

Burnett glides as Yanks take Blue Jays 4-2
Happy Birthday, Big Stein

Every year ESPN The Magazine ranks all of the sports franchises across the four major sports leagues for their Ultimate Team Rankings feature. Each team is graded against eight categories — title track, ownership, coaching, players, fan relations, affordability, stadium experience and overall bang for the buck — and the magazine publishes the standings.

Earlier this week, the Worldwide Leaders released the 2009 edition of the Ultimate Team Rankings, and the Yankees did not perform so well. The team is ranked an absurdly low 107, ahead of also-rans and disasters such as the Knicks, Clippers, Bengals and Islanders. They are ranked just 27th in the “title track” department, despite a lofty payroll and the third best record in Major League baseball, and they find themselves far behind the Angels, the overall No. 1 team, the Red Sox (58) and even the hapless Mets (82).

A few months ago, as ESPN was putting together this list, I spoke with Eddie Matz, the reporter assigned to write up the piece on the Yankees. At the time, the team was struggling, and people were complaining about the new stadium. Furthermore, with no George Steinbrenner-type figure atop the Yankee Front Office, even the ownership seemed in flux. In the end though, the new stadium dragged down the team. Matz writes:

How do you replace a legend? You don’t. That’s what fans are saying about the new Yankee Stadium, which ranked a surprising 37 spots lower than Babe’s house did a year ago. (Among outdoor AL parks, only Oakland’s, Minny’s and Tampa’s rated worse!) Sure, the new crib has double-wide concourses that circle the park. Yeah, the seats have as many as 10 inches more legroom, and the 101-foot-wide scoreboard is seven times larger than its predecessor. Plus there’s a Hard Rock Cafe and cupholders and family bathrooms. So what’s missing? A certain je ne sais quoi. “It just doesn’t have that same feel,” says Ben Kabak of fansite RiverAveBlues.com.

In fact, the only feeling most fans have is the need to knock off a bank to pay for a date with the Bombers: For the price of an average Yanks ticket ($72.97, up 76% and the most in baseball by more than 20 bucks), you could buy five — count ’em, five — average seats (a lot more if you were going for the cheapos) at a D-backs game. Steak sandwiches for $15 from Lobel’s don’t cut the mustard either. Yes, it’s tough replacing a legend. And right now the sound filling Yankee Stadium isn’t the actual Voice of God (retired PA announcer Bob Sheppard) but an honest-to-goodness Bronx cheer.

The use of “right now” in that last sentence is certainly out-dated. As the Yanks find themselves just a few games out of first, the stadium has been filled with cheers of a different nature. Meanwhile, fans have come to embrace the new stadium for what it is: a spot to watch the Yankees play baseball. It may not be the old Yankee Stadium, but it is home.

Take a look at ESPN’s final Yankee rankings:

Title Track: 27
Ownership: 64
Coaching: 83
Players: 81
Fan Relations: 101
Affordability: 121
Stadium Experience: 84
Bang for the Buck: 119

That affordability number is completely skewed by the expensive seats. True, the average ticket price is up, but it’s easy to find an affordable seat at Yankee Stadium. The team has also made an effort to improve their fan relations, and the players — one of the more talented collection in any sport — deserve higher than 81.

In the end, this seems to be more Yankee negativity coming out of Bristol. It’s far better for sales if the Yanks are ranked lower. Everyone likes to beat up on the Bombers because everyone is jealous of them. It just makes winning that much sweeter.

Burnett glides as Yanks take Blue Jays 4-2
Happy Birthday, Big Stein
  • J.E.

    This is the type of article ESPN focuses on that really annoys me. It is totally subjective, and more importantly, totally pointless. The other day, ESPN.com had a front page story about newly released Lou Gehrig personal letters. I thought to myself, “Now THIS is what ESPN should be all about.” The letters were a really interesting story and a terrific get by ESPN. Unfortunately, the story last only a few hours as the top story on ESPN.com, being replaced by who knows what else. ESPN is by far the most expensive basic level cable channel, and every new contract negotiation they try to jack up their prices even more– for what? Another round of Who’s Now? 5 more daily episodes of NFL Live in May or June? As much as I think the My Wish segments are really great for the kids, does it really need to be broadcasted? Can’t ESPN eat the cost without shamelessly plugging it all summer for ratings purposes? If ESPN would just focus on hard sports news, stories like the Lou Gehrig letters, and actual live sporting events (I hate soccer, but I think it’s a good thing that ESPN covers it. They should even get the NHL back), they’d be doing their fans right way more than they are now.

    • ArodMVP217 Retire 51

      In their defense, they have their target audiences; People love talking football in the summer

      But yes, BK, very unfair ratings. and it will be soooo much sweeter.

    • Zach

      I agree with most of what you said.

      But those ‘My Wish’ segments should absolutely be broadcasted, and if you want to call ESPN out on stuff thats fine, but that’s the last time you should be complaining about

      • Zach

        that’s the last thing*


    they did this to get ppl riled up

  • Tank Foster

    I almost never like it when sports magazines publish rankings, of anything. It’s idiotic. It’s either totally subjective and just a numeric editorial of the author, or it’s pseudo-quantitative garbage. This one seems like a little of both. When ESPN embraced the fan/jock/locker room approach to running their business 10-15 years ago, they started a downhill spiral. They are circling the drain at the moment, they are so bad. Ok, so they do cover lots of sports and have good programming, but it’s all the rest of the stuff they do that seems to make them look so bad.

  • Zach

    maybe the Yankees need to run some lame elections for ‘governors’ of Yankee universe in order to meet the awesomeness that is RSN.

  • Bobby

    so Bob Sheppard formally retired i thought that was just a rumor?

  • pete

    how are the angels ranked ahead of the cardinals in coaching? they are always by far the most talented team in a weak division so they win a bunch of games but their give-away-outs style of play would get chewed to pieces if it faced the AL East regularly. But of course everyone thinks that every team should steal and 1st-to-3rd and hit-and-run all the time b/c all the announcers hate home runs. In fact its hard to argue that any baseball coaching staff belongs in the top 10 just because its so hard to judge how good they are, but does any major league coach have a better track record that Dave Duncan or Tony LaRussa?

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    Hate the Yankees write up, love the Devils write up.

  • Jake H

    ESPN sucks. I hate that network now. I watch 1 show, PTI. That is it. Most of my friends who aren’t yankee fans dislike ESPN too. They talk about how ESPN just loves East coast teams and how they swoon over the Sox.

  • paul

    If these rankings are true, why don’t we hear more of people traveling to go to Angels or Diamondback games games than say Cubs, Yankees or Boston? I’ve been to Anaheim and Phoenix and I wasn’t really impressed honesty. I read the article and it more or less leans heavily on cost of going to games. Yankees tix are expensive and I hope that the Yanks seriously consider the economic times and cut the cost on seats.

  • DSFC

    Yankees 107, Natinals 97. Want more silliness? The LA Kings outrank the Canadiens on this thing. It’s typical ESPN rubbish. The “players” column, for instance, is supposedly based on “effort on the field and likability off of the field”. In other words, it’s invented crap. But let’s play along…..the Yankees get a 101 in the likability. For what, ARod? One guy? Who else is so despised on this team?

    Title track is defined as “championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans”. Here’s the list of baseball teams outranking the Yanks in this category: Angels, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Marlins, Diamondbacks, White Sox. The Angels have won precisely once in nearly fifty years of baseball. The Diamondbacks won once, 8 years ago, and are absolutely putrid right now. The White Sox have won one title since the end of World War I, aren’t a real contender right now, and are a very old team. Hell, Tampa’s ranked behind the Yankees in this category, and that’s even more ridiculous with the talent they have.

    And some of these I swear must have been done with a dartboard. Look at the coaching category, and you enter a bizarro world where Jeff Fisher, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Singletary and Mike Smith (combined Super Bowl wins : zero) outrank Tom Coughlin; the third best coach in hockey is Bruce Boudreau; and the top two managers in baseball are Tony LaRussa and Cito freaking Gaston.

    I know what this stupid list is, but this is really absurd.

  • yankeegirl49

    In the end, the people that matter (US!!!) really dont care what ESPN or any other sports outlet has to say..WE love our team and thats all that matters.

  • A.D.

    Classic ESPN. The Red Sox players are fairly highly rated for “likeable” however the Yankees players aren’t likeable….WTF?

  • Steve S

    I’m disappointment you guys even gave this thing any time or additional exposure. I glanced at this thing the other day and its absolutely ludicrous. Its not sports relevant, its really fringe sports economics related. The whole concept is like a bad women’s magazine article based on random surveys and subjective opinions with very little fact supporting any of the alleged rankings.

    • Steve S

      Correction: “I’m disappointed”

  • Stevis

    Why even dignify this offal
    As usual everyone is JEALOUS of New York and The Greatest
    Sports franchise..THe New York Yankees

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    The certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ is a championship. Get some October moments in this building, and fans will call it ‘home’ pretty quickly.

    The bottom line is that people don’t like change, but the powers that be like to force it on us.

  • Jeff

    “Among outdoor AL parks, only Oakland’s, Minny’s and Tampa’s rated worse!”

    haha.. I’ll liked this line. Aren’t Minny and Tampa indoors? Nice fact checking.

    • Zach


  • Jorgie Juiced One

    I really don’t know what these “rankings” mean in any way that can even be engaged.

    However, I do find all this talk about the stadium/attendance somewhat detached from reality when you consider the fact the Yankees have led the majors in home (and overall) attendance the last 6 years and are leading in attendance again this year.

  • Mike HC

    ESPN loves to rank shit. It tends to get people irrationally angry that their team was not heaped with praise. The eight categories are ridiculous and far too subjective to mean anything. For Stadium experience, were the Yanks the only team judged against the old Yankee Stadium? How does Citi Field stack up against the old Stadium? The Kansas City Royals are ranked 42 with a 5 for stadium experience? Come on. This can’t be taken seriously.

    • Zach

      They have a mini-golf course inside their stadium

  • bonestock94

    ESPN, enough said.

  • Tank the Frank

    Who. Cares.

  • matt

    How does ESPN rank the Yankees as being number 27 for Title Track? And 81 for players when they have one of the best teams talent wise in all of sports? I mean, they have Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod, CC, and Mariano to name just the big stars they have on their team. The Memphis Grizzlies are ranked number 80 for players. ESPN has some serious problems.

  • pete

    in ideal world, this would be it for ESPN, because the BCA (broadcasting credibility association, and no it doesn’t exist), would revoke their broadcasting license for this shit.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I have a feeling that Ben is going to be one of those 80 year old guys who tells his grandkids,

    “When I was younger we used to go to Old Yankee Stadium and it shook. They had to stop the train during games because they feared it would jump its tracks. Even though the Yankees have won 12 Championships under my ownership, its just not the same as before”

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  • John Cerra

    Why would anyone except a Red Sox fan actually are about what ESPN says about the Yankees? ESPN makes it’s baseball living over finding ways for others, mostly Bosox fans, to laugh at the Yanks.

    What did you expect? “4 million plus fans a year, and the most valuable regional sports net show how well the Yanks do their brand management?” Would not sell…

  • http://www.yanksblog.com Patrick

    Congrats on the press!