Chat with The Mag's Peter Keating
Keating covers investigative and statistical subjects for ESPN The Magazine. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
Send your questions now and join Keating Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET!
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:00 AM)
Hi everyone, let's get started.
Patriots have got to be higher on that last. Team of the decade, no question. The Brady to Moss combo before the injury might be the most exciting that we have seen in pro football to date. 50 Touchdown passes?! What a show, Thank you PATS!
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:02 AM)
Of course we have to start with a fan of a Boston team, since they usually have the most to say about these Standings ... The Pats have been great, but the fact is that there are teams, like the Colts, that win just as many games while charging their fans far less.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:03 AM)
Congrats to the New Orleans Saints, who jumped from #52 to
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:04 AM)
Five years ago, the Saints were dead last. Even before Hurricane Katrina, fans thought the team was leaving town for good, since owner Tom Benson said he wanted a new stadium even though he had one the sweetest arena deals in sports. But they didn't leave, they came home and rebuilt their stadium and helped rebuild their city.
isn't it basically, the better a team is on the field, the better it will fare in the standings?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:06 AM)
Actually, Sam, we try to account for the all the ways teams return value to their fans, not just wins on the field.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:07 AM)
We look at the prices they charge, and how fans rate player likability and effort, coaching, ownership, and stadium experience, too.
Chad (Las Vegas)
How many of these teams home games have you experienced? I ask this because there are certain places; Cubs game, Saints game, Boston games. That the fan experience surrounding the games is second to none.
how many of you work on the formula/standings?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:10 AM)
I put these questions together because I personally have experienced about a dozen of these teams' fan experiences, but we have a team of reporters who divvy up the franchises and dig into each of them to find their best values -- and to find out what fans like most and least about them.
What was the biggest jump/drop in the standings?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:12 AM)
Biggest jumps: 1. Phoenix Coyotes, 2. Colorado Rockies, 3. New York Jets
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:14 AM)
Biggest drops: 1. New Orleans Hornets, 2. Kansas City Royals, 3. Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, our online voting in the various categories, which was great in that more than 60,000 people voted, closed just before the Celtics went on their near-championship run. Around the end of the regular season, Celts fans were not too happy with what they had seen, and what they expected would happen.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Clippers just hired Del Negro. That has to bring them above the Maple Leafs in the standing now.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:15 AM)
I have to say, the Clippers and the Maples Leafs slug it out every year in the battle to find new a low in these rankings.
Ryan (Fort Wayne)
Raiders 115? I take it when you look at title track you didnt considering the passing of Al Davis and how great that will be for the franchise? and as for friendliness of atmosphere, might not be the nicest but the raiders have by far the most loyal and dedicated fan base it literally is Raider Nation. I think they deserve a little better than 115 given their strides in the past few months and the more to come what is your reasoning for such a low ranking?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:17 AM)
I personally love the Raiders history and Al Davis, too. Unfortunately, while Davis was moving the team back and forth and getting involved in lawsuits with everyone in sight, guys like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder were adding luxury boxes and club seats and finding new ways to get millions of dollars in unshared revenues.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:18 AM)
The Raiders' stadium isn't just ugly, it's one of the worst lease deals in sports, and it leaves them short of cash. Between that and all the bad drafts and worse trades and losses, Oakland's own fans have had enough.
Where is LeBron going?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:19 AM)
I don't know, but I bet if you check his Twitter feed, you can find out what cereal he are for breakfast this morning.
Chad (Las Vegas)
If the Heat sign Wade, Bosh, and LeBron they jump from #63 to #? ?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:21 AM)
Well, Miami fans might rank them #1 across the board, but we'd still have to see how they do on Bang for the Buck, where we measure how many wins teams generate for the dollars that fans spend on them. Even though teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and Cowboys win a lot of games, they charge such high prices that they get killed in that category. And I have a feeling the team that signs LeBron, let alone Wade and/or Bosh, will be jacking up prices this season.
ToddNLisa on the farm (Bloomfield, CT)
As a loyal fan, success is the meat and potatoes of my experience. They can give me free tickets and merchandise, bring in lovable superstars with great coaching and a state of the art superdome. If they don't win then I'm not gonna be a happy camper. Luckily for me the PATS have produced. Happy Birthday to my Son "Scott Nicholas Siedor", we love you so much honeybun!
What is the hardest part to come up with a way to put into the stadnings?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:26 AM)
Todd and Lisa's point gets to a tough aspect of this, Sam. We try to account for differences in costs across the country by asking fans to grade their teams on affordability, and then separate from that, we look at Bang for the Buck, as I've described. But there's little doubt that for some fans -- and a lot in places like Boston, Dallas and the Bronx -- winning is worth huge prices. Should the Red Sox rank below the Orlando Magic just because our formula says Magic tickets are a much better deal? That's a tough one.
which major city has the worst overall teams according to the standings?
Peter (11:28 AM)
Sadly, because I'm from Long Island, I think it's the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. We've got the Nets (118), Mets (107), Knicks (119), Rangers (104), Islanders (103).
Has there been anything more interesting than to watch the rise of the Blackhawks up through the standings the last few years? If I remember correctly, they were way down on the list a few years back when they were terrible on the ice and there was a ban on them broadcasting their home games. Now, they're doing a lot better.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:30 AM)
Yep, the Blackhawks finished last in the Standings in 2004, and it was no fluke. Awful on the ice, high prices, no free agents, grudges against old legends, no home games on local TV!, what else could you do wrong?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:32 AM)
But the ascension of Rocky Wirtz, who replaced his father as owner when Bill died in 2007, changed all that. He hired a professional GM, the team used its top draft picks on great young players, they started having Fan Weekends, they brought back Hull and Mikita ... it's all been fantastic to watch. And our Standings reflect that.
Scott (Boston, MA)
How do you put Rex Ryan, who has zero rings and zero superbowl appearances, in the top 5 coaches?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:33 AM)
We didn't. Jets fans ranked Ryan higher than Patriots fans ranked Bill Belichick. By two hundredths of a point on a scale from 1 to 9, as a matter of fact. It's that simple.Boston back in the house!
Ryan (Fort Wayne)
Being a Raiders fan I beg to differ I have along with the rest of Raider Nation have not given up and I am positive there are tens of thousands that agree with me. So based upon that your saying oakland has a poor ranking due to its sub par stadium? (and because russell and gallery? heyward bey still has potential) thats rather weak that a team that is so loved by their fans that its a lifestyle can be brought down by a stadium.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:34 AM)
Um, no. I mentioned the stadium because it is truly horrible, and the Raiders' lease would constrain the ability even of competent management to wheel and deal financially.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:36 AM)
But by the votes of their own fans, the Raiders finished 119th out of 122 teams in Fan Relations, 117th in Ownership, 94th in Affordability, 116th in Players and 104th in Coaching. That's ugly, and it's not my judgment, it's yours.I do think the fan base will come back once management gives them something to believe in.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Worst owner in each sport? I know you have Sterling from the Clippers as the worst overall, but who is the worst in MLB, NHL, and the NFL?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:38 AM)
Worst owners in each sport, as voted by teams' own fans: NBA: Clippers, NHL: Thrashers, MLB: Pirates, NFL: Raiders. Sorry, Ryan.
Pete, what was the biggest surprise in your findings?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:41 AM)
I'll tell you one big thing -- there are a lot of good teams with good prices. In other words, it's not just the Pirates and Royals of the world that are cutting ticket prices to lure fans, but a bunch of contending clubs that are keeping fan costs down. Maybe it's to build fan loyalty, maybe it's the bad economy. But these teams came out great in our Bang for the Buck calculations: the Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Rays, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Cavaliers, L.A. Angels, Indy Colts, Arizona Cardinals, San Jose Sharks. If you're a Knicks or Leafs or Redskins fan, you look at teams like these and you think, "What the heck am I paying for?"
hey pete, nice name...my question is, how do you put into numbers some things that aren't intrisically numerical? Like, for instance, a fan's emotional tie to a team or the experience of going to a particular stadium?
How do you account for some little things that can make an impact on fans' in-game experience and feelings toward their teams. For instance, bathrooms at the stadium or cost of their team's jerseys and t-shirts, etc?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:43 AM)
Good questions, guys. We ask fans to rate their favorite teams across 21 different categories, including a bunch of non-financial variables, like fan-friendliness of games, quality of arena, whether the team provides an avenue for fan feedback, concessions prices ... and we also ask fans in a national survey we conduct how important each of these factors are to them, so we know how much to weigh them. So we try to get at it all, emotion and time as well as money.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:44 AM)
Though we don't ask about T-shirts or apparel. That's one we'll think about, Timothy, thanks.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Could these ranking be done on individuals in sports? I would say Tiger would top those rankings because of the combination of cost to see him, concessions at a golf event aren't crazy, experience is good.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:45 AM)
That's a cool idea. I don't know if it's doable, but I'll think about it now. I love it.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Ryan (Fort Wayne) get your Raiders bias out of your butt and realize they are a BAD franchise through and through. Ownership, team, and value. Yes they have passionate fans but so does everybody else.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:47 AM)
This year, it's Raiders fans in revolt, not Pats/Sox fans!
Sadie Jane (McCordsville)
I have to totally agree with the choice of the Pacers at near the bottom.The team is awful on the floor,the front office is worse and team ownership is less than stable right now.The are losing money at nearlt the same rate as US government.The players are bad and their contracts are worse.The only positive they have is the have a great building to play in.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:49 AM)
Pacers: 100th or below in three categories, but 53rd in Stadium Experience. Here's a fun fact: Jim O'Brien is the lowest-ranking coach in our surveys who wasn't fired. Everyone below him is already gone or replaced.I will say this: Indiana cut prices by nearly 30% last season, and they have the league's cheapest hot dog.
Which team is the most consistent over the rankings? For instance, the Saints are No. 1 overall, but they have a 33 in Ownership and 44 in Stadium Experience.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:54 AM)
Actually, even the best teams have a category or two where they dip. Nobody has been more consistent over the eight years of our rankings than the Spurs (#7), the only team to win twice, but they finished 35th in Stadium Experience and 44th in Bang for the Buck this time around. The Angels are also very consistent.
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (11:55 AM)
Of course, consistency cuts two ways. The Maple Leafs (#121) are 95th or worse in all but one category, and have finished below
joey the eagle (boston)
how will kevin kolb do
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (12:00 PM)
This is totally off point! But I think our partners at Football Outsiders liked Kolb's chances very much when they looked at his college stats. As a stats guy, I think Philly will miss McNab more than anyone there realizes. When you lose your job and crash your car, there's a tendency to come home and yell at your wife, when it's actually important to take a deep breath and appreciate her instead.And as a Giants fan, I think Kolb will do just fine -- as long as he likes the taste of Jason Pierre-Paul's helmet in his mouth.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
What stadium has the cheapest beer?
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (12:03 PM)
Well, the Orlando Magic say they have the cheapest beer, at $3.75, but that's for a cup of just 12 ounces. On a per-ounce basis, you'll do better at games of the Denver Nuggets or Colorado Avalanche: $6.25 for 24 ounces of suds. Now, who says math isn't useful?!
Peter "Ultimate Arbiter" Keating (12:04 PM)
Thanks, everybody! Go see how your favorite team did in our rankings at: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/teamrankings