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Valley Sports Teams Rank Unexpectedly High in ESPN's "Ultimate Standings"

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ESPN has released its "Ultimate Standings", a list that ranks each sports franchise in the four major categories (football, baseball, basketball and hockey).

This is the eighth year ESPN has compiled such a list, and this year's rankings should please Valley sports fans.

The highest ranked local team, surprisingly, is the Phoenix Coyotes, who come in at number 18. Just one spot behind are the Arizona Cardinals at 19.

Move down only a few spots and the Arizona Diamondbacks are the 26th best franchise, according to ESPN. The final Phoenix-based team, the Suns, are in spot 47.

There are 122 total franchises that were ranked.

According to ESPN, the rankings are based upon what the franchises give back to fans in exchange for all the time, money, and emotion fans devote to them.

Categories are split up based on bang for the buck, fan relations, ownership, affordability, stadium experience, players, coaching, and titles. A detailed explanation can be found here.

The top team was the New Orleans Saints, fresh off their Super Bowl win. The Los Angeles Clippers ranked at the very bottom.

The Coyotes are a little surprising at 18, but they ranked third in "bang for the buck," meaning they have consistently won over the past three seasons while also bringing in revenue. We're not sure about the consistent winning, but we do agree with one category: ESPN has the Coyotes at 105th in ownership, even though the Yotes are still owned by the NHL.

The Cardinals at 19 make perfect sense. One of the more successful NFL franchises of the past few seasons (which included a Super Bowl appearance), the Cards are also visible in the community. They also ranked in as the ninth-best "bang for the buck." ESPN also likes Ken Wisenhunt, as the team's coaching is ranked seventh.

How are the Arizona Diamondbacks at 26? Their coaching, stadium experience, and players are in the bottom half of all franchises. We're sure the D-Backs' bullpen isn't helping these rankings. The only thing that saves them is the affordability, which ranks 13th.

Lagging behind are the Phoenix Suns. We expected them to be higher based on their success this past season and because of players such as Steve Nash and Grant Hill, who are very visible in the community. But steep ticket prices hurt Planet Orange, as did the stadium experience.

Still, to have all four major sports franchises be ranked in the top 50 is quite the feat.

Be thankful that winning titles wasn't the only criteria for this list.

The rankings can been in an issue of ESPN The Magazine later this month.

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