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Boston Red Sox
Title track: 20
Fan relations: 90
Stadium experience: 74
Bang for the buck: 121
Change from last year: -20
In the aftermath of the "Impossible Dream" season of 1967, broadcaster Ken Coleman rhapsodized about a "love affair twixt a town and a team." But the Red Sox's free fall in The Mag's Ultimate Standings, landing just 22 places from the bottom this year, suggests that the relationship has lost its sizzle.
Three World Series championships in a decade still count for something, especially in Boston, so it's not surprising that the Red Sox have a solid title track ranking, the fourth best in baseball at No. 20. But that's their only top-half standings finish. Boston's second-best showing came in ownership, where John Henry has largely escaped the wrath of the fan base, although the shocking ouster of popular NESN play-by-play man Don Orsillo left a foul taste at season's end. Nothing will rekindle fans' affection faster than winning, but for new Red Sox president Sam Kennedy and baseball ops head David Dombrowski, there's obviously much work to be done.
The Red Sox have the highest average ticket price, beer, parking and caps in MLB. So the three last-place finishes in four years has eroded any notion of Boston fans getting any bang for their buck (121st overall). Fenway Park's average ticket price of $52.34 is close to double the MLB average, and for only the second time in seven years, the team ranks as the worst in baseball in the affordability category. At least that's one title Boston can reclaim from the Yankees.
Despite the high prices, the Red Sox's on-field performance normally boosts their Ultimate Standings ranking. But with wins at a premium again this year, fan dissatisfaction is directed primarily at the players (103rd, down 55 spots) and coaches (93rd, down 54). Though everyone is rooting for John Farrell's recovery from cancer, Sox fans always think they're smarter than whoever occupies the manager's office. That World Series title in Farrell's first season is becoming a distant memory. As for the players, the late-season emergence of a new generation of budding stars (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart) suggests it might not take long to wipe away the disappointing performances of overpaid vets Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval and an underwhelming starting rotation.