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Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: September 23, 12:11 PM ET
No. 93: Boston Red Sox

By Hallie Grossman
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 117
Title track: 24
Ownership: 72
Coaching: 47
Players: 70
Fan relations: 82
Affordability: 116
Stadium experience: 85
Bang for the buck: 114

What a difference a year makes, huh? In a complete 180 from last year's bickering, finger-pointing, last-place train wreck, the 2013 Sox suddenly find themselves the model of team chemistry, solid pitching and -- above all -- winning baseball. The only reminder of Boston's last two soul-crushing seasons might just be its place in this year's ranking for overall standings. Coming off a meltdown for the ages in 2011 (7-20 September baseball; a dramatic flameout in the regular season finale to surrender its postseason spot), Boston only sank further in 2012, winning a measly 69 games -- its worst season in 18 years (and yeah, 1994 was a strike-shortened season). That might explain this year's poor showing at 93rd overall and its lowest title track ranking (24th) since the team's drought-ending World Series win in 2004. Still, Red Sox Nation is likely feeling more optimistic than it was in late May, when this poll was conducted: The Red Sox enjoyed a healthy 9 1/2-game division lead through Sept. 15. Fans are also aboard the John Farrell train, evidenced by the 65-spot coaching jump (47th, up from Bobby Valentine's 112th ranking last year). Says one Red Sox message boarder: "The team seems to play hard every day. Has every in-game move he's made worked? No. But way more have than haven't. This team is way better than I thought they'd be. I give him an A+ so far." So what if prices are still astronomical? (Boston is tops again in ticket price at $53.38, 94 percent higher than the MLB average.) At least now, good times seem so good again.