Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ESPN Ultimate Standings

ESPN recently released their most updated version of their "Ultimate Rankings" where they rank all 122 professional sports franchises.

The Steelers ranked #3.

The Penguins ranked #8.

The Pirates? Well...they came in at #94, barely eeking out the Los Angeles Kings, Indiana Pacers, and Washington Nationals.

Interestingly, the New York Yankees came in at #107, surrounded by the Atlanta Thrashers and Kansas City Chiefs.

As we like to do around here, let's break down some of these numbers and see how our teams fared.

For starters, teams were ranked across 6 different categories: Bang For The Buck, Fan Relations, Ownership, Affordability, Stadium Experience, Players, Coaching, Title Track

Across the board, the Steelers ranked thusly:
Bang for Buck: 9
Fan Relations: 14
Ownership: 2
Affordability: 36
Stadium Experience: 26
Players: 2
Coaching: 4
Title Track: 4

Let's start with some initial reactions, then we'll dig deeper. The Los Angeles Angels ranked #1 and Carolina Hurricanes ranked #2. Between the two, they have 2 championship trophies. The Steelers have won that many in the last 4 years. But obviously, championships aren't everything.

However, it's hard to see how the Angels rank above the Steelers in "Title Track." The Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Cardinals also ranked above the Steelers here. I can see how the Red Wings could be ranked above the Steelers, given their success in the past and their "likelihood of winning in the future." However, I find it a little hard to believe that the Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals have a higher likelihood of titles than the Steelers. The Angels play in the AL West, which they should be able to cakewalk through for a while, but regular season success doesn't always translate into Post-Season glory. Just ask the New England Patriots.

The Fan Relations category was broken up into 4 sub-categories: Players Act Professionally, Fan Appreciation, Player Accessibility, and Fan Feedback.

The Steelers ranked first in Fan Appreciation. Interestingly, they ranked 29th in Players Act Professionally. The Washington Capitals ranked 25th. I guess this is considered "acting professional"

Interestingly, no NFL team ranked in the top 10 in Players Act Professionally. The highest were the Colts (#12) and the Patroits (#14).
In the ownership category, the Steelers were bested only by the Detroit Red Wings. The Steelers ranked first in the "Honest Ownership" and "Committed to the Community" subcategories, but fell to 7th in the "Loyalty to core players" category, allowing the Red Wings to pass them overall. I guess this is a matter of opinion, as the Steelers have let Alan Faneca and Joey Porter go the route of Free Agency the past few years. However, James Harrison has done everything and more that we could have expected from Porter (not to mention LaMarr Woodley being a freaking beast). A-Fan was tough to lose, and he was a solid member of the team, but with the salary cap, you have to make choices. This isn't Major League Baseball. And the Steelers chose players like Hines, Ben, and Troy over A-Fan, which is understandable.

The Steelers ranked lowest in Affordability. Not much to say here. Tickets are expensive, but they also don't cost an arm and a leg like Yankees or NY Giants tickets. On the other end, they're also not like Pirates tickets where you can get tickets for less than beer costs inside. Somehow, the Steelers ranked 7th in the subcategory of "concessions affordability", which is a little odd considering that a bottle of Coke is $4 and beer is somewhere between $7 and $8.

I was a little surprised by how low they Steelers ranked in Stadium Experience. In the "Environment" subcategory, the Steelers were 21st between the Portland TrailBlazers and San Antonio Spurs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but neither of them have Terrible Towels.
I guess not selling out your home playoff games didn't factor in, as the Carolina Hurricanes ranked #1, the Washington Capitals ranked #4.

The Steelers also ranked 36th in "Great Stadium" tied with the Capitals and the Los Angeles Clippers. Interestingly, the LA Lakers, who play in the same arena as the Clippers, ranked 29th in this category. Similarly, the NY Jets were #107 and the Giants were #97, even though they play in the same stadium. The Pirates actually came in at #4 here, which was well-deserved because PNC Park is just an awesome stadium. According to this list, the top 5 stadiums are:

1. Xcel Energy Center (Minnesota Wild)
2. AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)
3. Lambeau Field (Green Bay Packers)
4. PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates)
5. Qwest Field (Seattle Seahawks)

The Steelers also ranked well in the Players category. Interestingly, they fell to 12th in "Likeability"
You mean Hines Ward breaking Keith Rivers' jaw wasn't likeable?

The Cleveland LeBrons Cavs, Detroit Red Wings, and Portland TrailBlazers ranked highest in likeability. Portland? Really? Do people like to watch Greg Oden sit on the bench that much?

Finally, let's give some props to Coach Tomlin here for ranking as the #4 coach in professional sports.
1t. Bill Belicheat (New England Patriots)
1t. Greg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs)
3. Jeff Fisher (Tennessee Titans)
4. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers)
5. Mike Scioscia (LA Angels)

Well, there we have it. We already touched on the "Title Track" portion of the calculation.

All in all, Pittsburgh's got some great things going for it right now, and the Steelers (and Penguins) are at the forefront of that. It's great to see the Steelers get some national recognition for it, even if they fall behind two teams like the Angels and Hurricanes.

How'd that turn out for you Bill?

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