From their own blurb on ESPN: "The Ultimate Standings is the first attempt ever to measure which teams do right by their fans and which put the hurt on their loyal followers." A poll of 34,000 fans led to this unscientific, but fascinating study that rates the Blue Jays as 12th best among MLB teams, according to the following criteria:
BNG (Bang for the Buck): Revenues directly from fans divided by wins in the past three years
FRL (Fan Relations): Ease of access to players, coaches & management
OWN (Ownership): Honesty; loyalty to players and city
AFF (Affordability): Price of tickets, parking and concessions
STD (Stadium Experience): Friendliness of environment; quality of game-day promotions
PLA (Players): Effort on the field; likability off it
CCH (Coach/Manager): Strong on-field leadership
CHA (Championships): Titles already won or expected -- soon
Assigning weights to each category to calculate the final ranking was Dr. I. M. Arbitrary. Actually, they let the fans who responded decide, so the formula is = (BNG x .192) + (FRL x .182) + (OWN x .159) + (AFF x .125) + (STD x .125) + (PLA x .120) + (CCH x .053) + (CHA x .044)
The best franchise in all four major sports leagues? The Green Bay Packers. Three NBA teams made the top five; the Raptors finished ahead of the Blue Jays, with the Maple Leafs in between. What does lend some additional credibility to the results are the individual category rankings -- for example, the Oakland A's led all North American franchises in BNG (Bang for the Buck). The Detroit Red Wings ownership got the highest marks. The Expos seem to play in a lousy stadium, but are the most affordable MLB experience. Baseball doesn't do particularly well relative to the other sports, which is no surprise. So many teams just don't care, and it's hard to imagine a more inept Commissioner.
I feel the same way about the Blue Jays' performance in this poll as I do about every other statistical measurement that underestimates the club: the changes in the last year have been so dramatic, and so positive, there is no way to accurately predict their effects. But I'll try anyway.
BNG (Bang for the Buck): Improving, a lot. More wins expected from a substantially lower payroll.
FRL (Fan Relations): Improving. Ricciardi doesn't seem to keep any secrets; O-Dog is a fan fave
OWN (Ownership): Improving; Ted Rogers lets Paul Godfrey run the show, and PG trusts J.P., as he should
AFF (Affordability): As bad as ever. Sorry, no support here for dynamic pricing and $6.50 beer
STD (Stadium Experience): Still poor. SkyDome isn't so bad; my pet peeve is the deafening PA system
PLA (Players): Improving; exciting kids are taking over, and the worst malcontents are long gone
CCH (Coach/Manager): Improving; no-nonsense Tosca was the perfect antidote to laissez-jouer Uncle Buck
CHA (Championships): Improving; a return to the playoffs under Ash was impossible, now it's in sight
Six out of eight ain't bad, so my confident prediction is that the Jays are on the way up, with a bullet. If you click on any team name in the Ultimate Standings, you get a brief synopsis. Typical of the rest of the world's apparent indifference to what has been going on here in the last year, whoever wrote the Jays entry says "expectations are even lower in 2003" and offers this explanation:
Blame the once state-of-the-art, now artless SkyDome (hotel rooms with field views are so last century) and a vanilla team that finished 25-and-a-half games out.
They are wrong about the rooms (I was in one for the first time last year; absolutely awesome) and they are even farther off the mark about the flavour; Stewart-Catalanotto-Hinske-Delgado-Phelps-Wells-Woodward-Myers-Hudson is anything but vanilla, and will prove too spicy for a lot of pitchers.