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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: September 23, 12:06 PM ET
No. 12: St. Louis Cardinals

By Morty Ain
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 25
Title track: 2
Ownership: 6
Coaching: 33
Players: 5
Fan relations: 4
Affordability: 21
Stadium experience: 2
Bang for the buck: 51

The answer to whether the Cardinals regret not re-signing Pujols is in: NO. You know how many times a team has come back from a six-run deficit in a winner-take-all postseason game? Once. And that was the 2012 Cardinals. Fans were so giddy, even a bank robber in Missouri couldn't help but scream "Go Cards" on his way out the door. (Yes, true story.) But the biggest financial crime had been occurring at first base, because despite being about a quarter of a billion dollars cheaper, Allen Craig has handily outplayed No. 5 since 2012.

Then there's the gaping 10-acre matter of Ballpark Village, an eyesore that's been the bane to all Redbirds fans -- seven city blocks of promised retail/entertainment/restaurant baseball-y goodness that has sat vacant since 2006. Poor drainage in the empty lot earned it the name Lake DeWitt by angry Cards fans who felt cheated by initial claims it would be ready for the All-Star Game in St. Louis ... in 2009. But in February, the first phase finally broke ground at a cost of $100 million. Come Opening Day next season, the Redbirds will have a three-story Cardinals Museum and Hall of Fame, a Brew House and rooftop deck seating with views inside Busch Stadium (a la Wrigley). Throw in a St. Louis nacho crunch dog and a cheeseburger stuffed with mac 'n cheese on a pretzel roll (yes, another true story), and being a Cards fan might not have ever been so good -- even when they had Pujols.