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ESPN names Toronto the worst sports city in North America. That’s right—even worse than Cleveland

We’re with you, Dion. It stings (Image: Bridget Samuels)

Any remotely rational sports fan living in Toronto knows that we don’t have a particularly good professional sports landscape. But is it atrociously bad? Well, apparently, the answer is yes, yes it is. In its annual Ultimate Standings report, ESPN The Magazine rated Toronto as the single worst sports city in North America. Yikes. The standings only account for teams in the “Big Four” pro sports (basketball, baseball, football—the NFL kind—and hockey), so teams like the Rock, the Argos and Toronto FC don’t count. Still, we can’t help being at least a little shocked that on a continent that includes sports towns like this with teams like these, Toronto sits dead last. But ESPN is ESPN (in other words, it knows all). To understand how Toronto received such a dubious distinction, we break down the sports juggernaut’s ranking schema—which includes gems like “bang for the buck,” “stadium experience” and “title track” (paging the Maple Leafs and Raptors)—after the jump.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs
Franchise rank
: 120 (out of 122)
Last year’s rank
: 121 (only the sad-sack Los Angeles Clippers ranked lower)
Average attendance
: 19,354 (league rank: 5th)
What ESPN says
: It’s the fans’ fault for continually paying exorbitantly high ticket prices to see a team of perpetual losers with a shaky owner situation.
What we say
: So what? Leaf fans are a passionate, loyal, parade-planning bunch. Plus, the future looks bright (or at least slightly less dim): July 1st is the first day of free agency, a.k.a. the first day the Leafs can sign Brad Richards.

2. Toronto Raptors
Franchise rank
: 116
Last year’s rank
: 113
Average attendance
: 16,566 (19th)
What ESPN says
: The Raps lost the most points on “title track” (understandable) and “coaching,” but that’s about to change.
What we say
: Two years ago, the Raptors finished 18th (40-42) in the NBA standings. This season, they finished 27th (22-60), but only dropped three spots in ESPN’s rankings. Sure, it’s a minor victory, but we’ll take it.

3. Toronto Blue Jays
Franchise rank
: 63
Last year’s rank
: 92
Average attendance
: 20,907 (23rd)
What ESPN says
: Stable ownership, flexible ticket pricing and a dynamo GM almost make up for the concrete jungle known as Rogers Centre—the 14th-worst stadium experience in all of sports.
What we say
: With a young nucleus that includes Adam Lind, Ricky Romero, J.P. Arencibia and some dude named Joey Bats, we’re willing to be patient. But more of these in the future, please.

The Mag: Ultimate Standings 2011 [ESPN SportsNation]