Results of a study done by the Brand Keys research consulting agency, known as the "Brand Keys Sports Loyalty Index" have recently been released, naming the five most and five least loyal MLB fan bases (h/t CBS Philly).
From the article:
According to Brand Keys, the Sports Loyalty Index gives an apples-to-apples comparison of the intensity with which fans support the home team vs. corresponding values for the fans in the other teams in the market.
The five most loyal fan bases, according to the report: 1. New York Yankees, 2. Philadelphia Phillies, 3. San Francisco Giants, 4. St. Louis Cardinals and 5. Atlanta Braves.
The five least loyal fan bases according to the report: 30. Houston Astros, 29. Kansas City Royals, 28. Pittsburgh Pirates, 27. Seattle Mariners and 26. New York Mets.
Those were the results of this companies scientific study on fan loyalty, and in turn here are my completely non-scientific, largely opinion-driven rankings on the most and least loyal fan bases in the MLB.
The White Sox have always played second fiddle to the Cubs in the city of Chicago, but they have failed to consistently put fans in the seats even when they're playing well.
The last time the team was in the postseason in 2008, their average attendance was just 30,877, or a little over 75 percent capacity at U.S. Cellular Field.
Their attendance numbers declined to 24,271 last season (24th in baseball), and that was despite the fact the team sat in first place for most of the year.
Going to a Red Sox game is by no means cheap, as they have the highest average ticket cost ($53.68) and highest Fan Cost index ($336.99), which measures the average cost of four adults to attend a game with concessions and parking included (h/t NBC).
As such, it's not surprising to see a dip in attendance this season after the team's poor performance last year, but there is no question that Red Sox Nation remains one of the league's most dedicated fanbases, even if the team's sellout streak was snapped.
In fairness to the Marlins' fanbase, they have little reason to be loyal to a franchise that has screwed them over time and again with three notable fire sales in their young history.
That said, attendance was dismal for the opening of their new stadium last season (27,400, 18th in MLB), and that lack of ticket sales no doubt played a role in the most recent dismantling of the roster.
They're now fielding what would pass for an average Triple-A team, and attendance has expectedly plummeted to 19,586 per game. All in all, the state of Florida has just never seemed all that interested in baseball, but more on that later.
Giants fans have not been shy about reminding people that their team has won two World Series in the past three seasons, and that's made even more clear with their presence in opposing stadiums.
There's no question they own the Bay Area, as the Oakland A's struggle to sell tickets while the Giants pack the beautiful AT&T Park on a nightly basis.
They've ranked in the top five in attendance in each of the past three seasons, and while winning certainly doesn't hurt those numbers, the Giants are a franchise with a rich history and a fanbase that remains devoted regardless of how the team is playing.
Had it not been for the legendary 1995 season when the Mariners posted a late-season run to make the playoffs and then knocked off the Yankees in the ALDS with "The Double," the Mariners franchise may very well be playing elsewhere right now.
That season, and the play of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez among other in the years ahead, revitalized interest in baseball in Seattle. Since then, however, attendance slowly declined and has been among the lowest in the league for years now.
According to Seattle PI, a study was done that shows the Mariners have lost more fans than any U.S. sports team in the past decade, as attendance has dropped 51.4 percent over the past 10 years.
Much like the Red Sox, Phillies attendance numbers took a bit of a hit last season as the team struggled through a disappointing year, but the ravenous Philadelphia fans remain passionate about their team.
The city as a whole is like few others when it comes to supporting their sports teams, and they would certainly take the title of MLB's craziest fanbase.
It will be interesting to see how the fanbase handles what appears to be an imminent rebuilding phase within the next couple years. They were still among the top drawing teams in the league even in the early 2000s when they were slightly over .500 on a yearly basis, so it's hard to imagine the fans turning their backs even through a rebuild.
One of the least interested may be a better way to describe the A's than one of the least loyal, as the A's have not finished above 26th in attendance since the 2006 season.
Even last season, when they piled up one improbable late-inning win after another and surprised all of baseball with an AL West title, the team drew an average of just 20,728 fans per game to rank 27th in the MLB.
They have one of the most exciting young teams in baseball, and currently have the best record in the American League at 12-4. However, last season's success combined with their hot start has led to a lackluster 19,309 fans per game here in the early stages of 2013, and a move out of Oakland may be in the team's near future.
Without a professional basketball team, and with a middling NFL franchise, St. Louis is without question a baseball city.
In fact, earlier this offseason, St. Louis was named the best baseball city of all time in a vote by Sporting News. The article pointed to a rabid and intelligent fanbase, a rich history and a tradition of winning.
They don't get the top spot here on this list, but it is clear that the city of St. Louis is unwavering in their support of the Cardinals, and the fact that the team consistently puts a winning product on the field certainly helps.
How the Rays did not crack the bottom five of the Brand Keys report is baffling, as there may be no fanbase in sports that has been less interested in their team's success over the past few years.
Star third baseman Evan Longoria memorably called out the team's fanbase during their stretch run back in 2010, when 12,446 fans showed up to a potential playoff-clinching game.
We've been playing great baseball all year. Since I've been here in , the fans have wanted a good baseball team. They've wanted to watch a contender. And for us to play good baseball for three years now, and for us to be in a spot to clinch again and go to the playoffs, we're all confused as to why it's only 15,000 to 20,000 in the building. (via ESPN)
The team ranked dead-last in attendance last season at 19,255 per game, and it appears more and more like baseball in Florida was a bad idea. The Marlins joined the league in 1993 five years before the Rays, and both teams have struggled to draw fans and build a following since their inception.
Love them or hate them, it's hard to argue that they Yankees have the most loyal fans not only in baseball, but perhaps in all of professional sports.
Having a bitter rival like the Red Sox only helps unite the fanbase, and a tradition and history that is unparalleled in the sport leads to Yankee fandom being passed on from generation to generation.
The city of New York is unlike any in the world, so it's no surprise that Yankees fans are unlike any in the sport. Whether it is the celebrities sitting in the box seats or the relentless Bleacher Creatures out in the outfield, the Yankees fans top my list of most loyal fanbases.