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ESPN Ultimate Franchise Rankings: Caps, Wizards On Opposite Ends Of Spectrum

Every year, ESPN compiles its "Ultimate Standings" for the 122 franchises in the four major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB). And every year, although they swear calculations are driven by research, some of the rankings are, well, baffling.

In this year's rankings the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints are the top dog, and that's perfectly fine by me. Things I don't understand: The Tampa Bay Rays No. 6, the Phoenix Coyotes No. 18 and several other rankings. Bang for the buck, players, and fan relations, are given the most weight among the eight categories used to evaluate the 122 franchises, but important characteristics such as attendance, history and general business model are ignored.

Oh, and did I mention the Wizards are 120th overall?

Join me below the jump to see how all four DC teams stack up and for additional commentary.

11. Caps. This I get. This, I can roll with. Great owner, excellent players, even better fan relations, etc. If the Capitals win a cup next year and don't jump ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 5), something is clearly askew.

94. Nationals. Sounds about right for now. The (relatively) new stadium hasn't exactly galvanized fans and the ownership group has had a somewhat rocky ride since bringing the team back to the city. I can only wonder, though: without Stephen Strasburg, how much lower would this ranking be?

105. Redskins. Typical ranking for the Redskins, as anyone who has been to Fed-Ex field can tell you. Meddling owner + unhappy fans + miserable stadium experience = recipe for disaster. Then again, the Saints jumped 51 spots to No. 1 overall in just a year, so imagine what a 2011 Super Bowl title would do for this team! (Knocks on wood)

120. Wizards. This is where things start getting ridiculous, as the only teams the Wizards outrank are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Clippers. It was clearly a rocky year for the team - their owner died, Gilbert Arenas brought you-know-what into the Verizon Center's you-know-what, the team went through a tailspin after trading a top lottery pick for veterans, they eventually traded two All-Star caliber players, etc. Those things explain the fact that they rank as the second coldest team across the four sports, with an average "change in commitment" ranking from fans just 2.38 on a 1-5 scale.

But 122nd (dead last) in fan relations? An overall ranking behind the Detroit Lions (No. 112), Oakland Raiders (No. 115), and New York Nets (No. 118)? Way too harsh, in my opinion.

The good news: there's nowhere to go but up! Because it can't get any worse, right? Right?