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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: September 6, 6:10 PM ET
No. 117: Boston Red Sox

By Jeff Gold
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 79
Title track: 18
Ownership: 85
Coaching: 112
Players: 116
Fan relations: 116
Affordability: 120
Stadium experience: 79
Bang for the buck: 114

The honeymoon is over. Boston Red Sox fans were euphoric over the team's two recent championships, which came after more than eight decades of waiting. Now they seemingly hate the organization that gouges them for an average ticket price of $53.38 -- twice the MLB average. Perhaps the most surprising result of our study was the players category, where the Red Sox finished No. 116, an astonishing 77-spot drop from last year. The voting took place before Boston shed the disastrous contracts of Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, so the Sox can hope their fans will take a greater liking to the team as it reshapes itself. But it won't be easy. After the fans witnessed one of the worst collapses in sports history (blowing a nine-game lead in the wild card last September) and read about the chicken-and-beer fiasco in the immediate aftermath, they expressed their displeasure. Looking at John Lackey (5.26 ERA with the Red Sox, $82.5 million contract) in the dugout as he recovers from Tommy John surgery doesn't help. The fans apparently dislike manager Bobby Valentine as much as the players do; after the easygoing Terry Francona ranked 24th last season, coaching dropped to 112th this year. At least the fans and players have that in common.