Having time on its hands in these long hot summer months, ESPN The Magazine has trotted out its annual rankings of professional sports teams (link requires registration) but not so much as competitive teams as corporate entities. To quote from the mag, “Which teams are most worthy of your hard-earned dollar”?
None of our local clubs crack the top 20. The L.A. Angels rank No. 1, and the L.A. Clippers rank 122nd, or dead last. And one of ours finished in triple digits. Guess which.
Tick, tick, tick … time’s up!
27. Atlanta Braves: Attention, Bobby Cox bashers! The Braves receive their highest rating (15th) for coaching. (Er, shouldn’t that be “managing”?) They’re 21st in affordability and a surprisingly high 32nd in “title track.” But they’re only 54th in ownership and 59th in “stadium experience.” What, you mean not everyone’s a sucker for “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”?
43. Atlanta Falcons: The Birds made the largest jump in the rankings. (They were 119th, or third from the basement, last year.) They get their highest ratings for coaching (18th overall) and players (28th), their lowest (90th) for “stadium experience.” Which will give Arthur Blank — who ranks 40th as an owner — all the more reason to go build that new stadium he wants so much.
80. Atlanta Hawks: They have their first winning season in a decade and win their first best-of-seven series since 1971, and they move up six whole spots. Their best rating: Bang for the buck (27th). Their worst: Well, take your pick. They’re 110th in title track, 102nd in coaching, 101st in players and 100th in fan relations. But only 85th in ownership! Helpfully, ESPN quotes one (unnamed) fan as calling Josh Smith “a spoiled kid” and then misuses the word “flied.” (Hint: If it doesn’t have to do with a popup, it’s “flown.”)
108. Atlanta Thrashers: Remember the owners who ranked 85th? They also ranked 120th, which means they must be a heck of a lot worse at owning a hockey club than a basketball team. (According to ESPN, the hockey side of Atlanta Spirit is exceeded in its ineptitude only by the New Jersey Nets and the Phoenix Coyotes.) The Thrash doesn’t rate above 81st in any category, and the No. 81 comes in coaching. Take a bow, John Anderson!