No. 9: Texas Rangers

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 10, 2012, 1:15 PM ET
By Doug Mittler | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 12
Title track: 41
Ownership: 7
Coaching: 27
Players: 3
Fan relations: 11
Affordability: 19
Stadium experience: 29
Bang for the buck: 23

Back-to-back trips to the World Series have moved the Texas Rangers into our top 10 for the first time since the standings debuted in 2003. The Rangers, and baseball in general, may no longer play second fiddle in the land of Friday Night Lights, and even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recognizes the Rangers' popularity. Why else would there be a banner flying over the Ballpark in Arlington earlier this season that advertised Cowboys Stadium tours? Attendance is up about 20 percent to an AL-second-best 42,592 per game as of Sept. 4. The No. 3 ranking in players trails only the Spurs and Thunder. In fact, the Rangers are the only top-10 MLB team in that category. Having a franchise icon in Nolan Ryan as the face of the front office does wonders for the ownership category (21-spot leap to 7). It's also tough to quibble with the success of manager Ron Washington -- the Rangers rank 27th in coaching, light years better than a 98th-place finish just two years ago. The positive vibes on the diamond translate well off the field (11th in fan relations), and the club does its best to keep prices reasonable. The average ticket price of $20.49 is almost $10 cheaper than that of the Lone Star State's other baseball entry in Houston, and the Rangers win a lot more. You can use the extra money on the $26, two-foot-long, one-pound gourmet hot dog that feeds three or four. "That's a wild dog," Ryan said, aware that fans like things big in Texas.

Doug Mittler

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