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Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: September 23, 12:10 PM ET
No. 59: Philadelphia Phillies

By Hallie Grossman
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 49
Title track: 24
Ownership: 42
Coaching: 76
Players: 64
Fan relations: 59
Affordability: 78
Stadium experience: 18
Bang for the buck: 102

"The one thing that I cannot wait to do is go down that Broad Street parade again, again, and again." -- Cole Hamels, Oct. 31, 2008 ... You know what they say in the region about glory days. Well, they'll pass you by. Has it been just five years since the Phightins' put a triumphant end to Philly's championship drought? The Phils, much to Hamels' (and the city's) chagrin, have yet to enjoy that encore trip down Broad. Instead, the club has taken a step back every year since, losing the 2009 World Series, then the NLCS, the NLDS a year later, and ending with an October-less thud last year. A second straight season missing the playoffs is a virtual certainty -- and the Phillies have the rankings to show for it. It wasn't that long ago that, buoyed by the much-beloved but short-lived Four Aces, the Phils enjoyed a No. 1 players ranking. They've plummeted to No. 64 overall, for a drop that's almost as calamitous as the team's run production -- bottom three in run total in all of baseball through Sept. 15. Their lovable lunk of a manager, Charlie Manuel, received his pink slip in mid-August, effectively taking the fall for his aging, oft-injured and unproductive lineup.

If there's one thing Philly fans can take solace in, though, it's their gem of a ballpark. They still adore the place -- notching a No. 18 ranking fr overall stadium experience, and No. 7 among MLB teams -- and why wouldn't they? Philly staples are aplenty (crab fries, Tony Luke's, wooder ice, even a recently added Tastykake menu), even if the ticket runs them a higher-than-average $37.42. Still, the post-championship honeymoon is almost, if not already, over. Fans won't show up in droves to watch losing baseball forever (after four straight years of playing at above 100 percent capacity, this year's attendance has dipped, albeit to a still-robust 85.8 percent). The '08 Rollins-Utley-Howard-Hamels core is still intact, but any dreams of a Broad Street sequel (let alone sequels, as Hamels once guaranteed) are quickly -- you guessed it -- passing them by.