Monday, October 19, 2009

The Best Fans In The World?

That's what Mike Lupica is calling Yankees fans this morning:
There aren't fans better than this anywhere in the world. This isn't about whether or not you love the Yankees. This is about Yankee fans.

There are other baseball fans in other cities, of course, Mets fans in this one. There are fans who come out strong for teams who haven't won the way the Yankees won, who don't make the playoffs just about every year the way the Yankees have since Joe Torre first came to town 13 years ago and the winning came back to the Yankees and the Bronx.

But no fans have ever supported a baseball team, the most famous team in this world, the way Yankee fans support theirs.
We constantly hear this praise heaped upon us. Derek Jeter said it in his final speech at the Old Stadium. Michael Kay would like you to believe that Yankee fans are the only ones in baseball that cheer in anticipation of anything. I know I've heard John Sterling say that Yankee fans are the best in the world on the radio broadcast as well. But all of those guys have great reason to pander to fan base, and along with fans themselves trying to compare themselves to followers of other teams, that's all these declarations ever come down to.

It's pretty much impossible to compare fan bases, just as it would be to compare other groups which contain millions of people to each other. Are people from Vermont more laid back then people from New Hampshire? Are Baptists more religious than Evangelists? Are BMW drivers more alert than those who own an Audi? Are people who drink Bud Light cooler than those who drink Coors? (Trick question, they both suck!) The only way to deal with groups that big is to look at them with sweeping generalizations or compare them anecdotally.

The Yankees have some great fans, no doubt, but they also have their fair share of supporters who expect everything and are ready to jump ship two losses into the season. We might have some of the best fans in baseball right now, but that's largely because the ownership and players have given us ample compensation in return for our support. The Yanks only regained their place atop MLB attendance in 2003. There are plenty of factors contributing to how many fans the Yanks draw to games like the logistics of trying to go to a game after work in NYC and price of parking once you get there, but let's not pretend that the Stadium have been selling out through thick and thin.

I'll give you one measure that I find to be interesting, however. There are far more blogs about the Yankees' than any other team. We've got a decent amount linked up over on our Blogshelf, but check out this post by Ross at New Stadium Insider or run down the sidebar at LoHud. There are a huge amount of people that feel compelled to write about the Yankees (most of them for free) and I think that tells us something.

Maybe that something is that the Yankees have been more successful and compelling over the last 15 years than any other team in baseball. And maybe the fact that Yankees fans are so dedicated to the team isn't a function of how great we are as fans, but how successful the team has been over that time. Following the Yankees is easy. The people who follow teams like the Royals, Reds or Pirates through thick and thin are the best fans in baseball, in my opinion.


  1. Me personally, I know a fair share of Yankees fans who could care less about this team until the playoffs roll around. Game 1 of the ALDS was probably like the 4th game they had watched all year. I wonder what happened when they threw the TV on last October? Boy, were their faces red!

    This isn't meant to be a Sox/Yankees fan comparison, as I'm sure there are a ton of Sox fans who fit this mold, too. But just saying, every time I hear the "best fans in baseball" chant, I think of these folks.

  2. Yeah I think there would be people like that in every fan base, except not that many teams reach the playoffs so consistently as to keep these casual fans around.

    I actually nixed a paragraph about how Boston is a better baseball town since there is a higher per capita involvement with the team. Not that it makes them "better fans" but the culture of baseball in Boston really is different.

    I think we've had the conversation about how few good Sox blogs there are before though, correct?

  3. When I was 7, the Dodgers and Giants left town for the West Coast. Of course, I fell in love with the Yanks and remain a staunch rooter. My contemporaries who follow the game know this feeling. Although our wandering in the desert was not as long as most teams, there was that era from '63 to '95 when the Yankees only won two Series, and lost another in '81. So, while not a total drought, we wuz thirsty for 32 years. The team survived. We survived. The legend(s) keep rolling. We grow older and our lives are richer for having been fans of the greatest through thick and thin. It's the same magic that adheres to the Celtics, the Cowboys, and maybe now the Patriots in other sports. Some teams are simply mythological and humans love myth and heroism.

  4. Maybe it's because I write Subway Squawkers with a Mets fan, but I'm not crazy about saying that our fanbase is better than anybody else. For one thing, a vocal minority of our fanbase has treated a three-time MVP like something they found stuck on the bottom of their shoe. People will one day look back on the horrible way A-Rod's been treated over the past six years by these knuckleheads the way people were later horrified over the way Roger Maris was treated in '61.

  5. That's a great point Lisa. Any other fan base would have been positively thrilled to get A-Rod but you're right, a ton of fans took pride in booing him because he didn't live up to their impossibly high standards. To say he was taken for granted would be a gross understatement.

    Every Yankees fan is spoiled to some degree but some really acted like it in regards to A-Rod. Being in the stands when he got booed was embarrassing.

  6. I also think Lupica needs to take a look across the pond. He extends beyond baseball, ignoring fan bases for say...Manchester United and Real Madrid who not only travel with a Metrocard to see their teams but a passport as well...and they fill 90,000 seat stadiums every time.