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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: September 6, 5:52 PM ET
No. 49: Philadelphia Phillies

By Max Klinger
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 24
Title track: 18 (tie)
Ownership: 27
Coaching: 52
Players: 39
Fan relations: 30
Affordability: 77
Stadium experience: 5
Bang for the buck: 108

It seemed like the Philadelphia Phillies' salad days would never end. From 2007 to 2011, they hoisted five division titles, twice had the best record in baseball and won a World Series. Whenever it seemed the fire was fading, they would stoke the flames with a big trade, nab a sought-after free agent or fall back on homegrown talent. But on the evening of Aug. 6, in the midst of their 130th year, their run came to a symbolic end. That night the Phillies ended an NL-record 257-game sellout streak, then lost 6-1 to the Braves. The previous month, they had begun unloading contracts as they prepared for their first baseball-free October in six years. For Philadelphia's hot-blooded fans, it might have been too much. It's one thing to relentlessly hike ticket prices to three times the league average (and Citizens Bank Park is clearly a gem), but when the team can't back it up with rings or deep playoff runs, the natives can get restless. No wonder, then, that the Phillies took major hits in our polling, with affordability down 37 spots and bang for the buck down 40.