Friday, June 26, 2009 Updated: July 1, 11:44 AM ET
Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 36
By Doug Mittler ESPN The Magazine
Last Year's Rank: 59 Title Track: 52 Ownership: 57 Coaching: 73 Players: 52 Fan Relations: 58 Affordability: 14 Stadium Experience: 60 Bang for the Buck: 28
Reds fans are a patient group. How else do you explain a 23-place improvement overall and a 44-spot spike in Players ranking despite eight straight losing seasons? "They're great fans, and Cincinnati is first and foremost a baseball town," says former Reds first baseman Sean Casey. "They still talk about the Big Red Machine, but they're craving a new face for the franchise." Top candidates? Popular homegrown players Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, who have more than made up for departed Ken Griffey Jr. The economic downturn has hit Ohio hard, and in response the Reds have brought back $5 seats to the Outer View Level. The team also unveiled a Baker's Dozen promotion that gives a free Friday, Saturday or Sunday ticket with the purchase of 12 weekend tickets. Hot dogs and soda are available for $1 each at two concession stands, and value meals of a dog, soda, chips and a baseball card for the kiddies can be had for $5. Even in the toughest times, Reds fans still see value in a trip to the ballpark. As Columbus blogger Russell Wight said recently, "We know that no matter what the state of the economy, our children will only be young once … watching the game through the eyes of a youngster is something you cannot put a price on." Ain't that America?