MLB Rankings: Baseball's Most Fortunate, Dare I Say Spoiled Fans
This list comes from an argument I had with a friend of mine, who was bemoaning something about his favorite team that may have just won the World Series last season.
It got me thinking.
Which fan groups have had it the toughest and the easiest? Which fans have been most fortunate to be fans of their teams? Which fans get the best experience, and the best performance from their respective clubs from year to year?
For arguments sake, I decided to look at teams success and stadiums from the last 20 years. Which fans must be forced to watch poor games in great stadiums, and which must watch great teams play in barely inhabited monoliths?
Let us find out.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
I think the photo says it all.
OK, so this wasn't taken during the game, but the sentiment remains the same. The Pirates and their fans haven't had too much to cheer about the last few decades. When every player with a shred of talent is shipped off at a moments notice, fans really don't have too much to cheer for.
PNC park is nice, but there's sadly no reason for anyone to fill it.
29. Kansas City Royals
The Royals recently got a new renovation and Kaufman Stadium looks shiny and polished.
Royals fans haven't had it easy since the eighties, and it looks like it might be two or three more years before they are in a position to make an impact in September and beyond.
28. Washington Nationals
The last time the Nationals/Expos were in contention was 1994.
If you don't recall, there was a strike that year. The Expos were in first place when the season prematurely ended and the franchise hasn't looked competitive since.
At least they finally got to leave Olympic Stadium in Montreal. RFK wasn't much better, but now things have got to get better, right? I mean the only way it could get worse for Nats fans would be if Bryce Harper suddenly decided to join the clergy. Right?
27. Baltimore Orioles
Camden Yards was the first of this new generation of classic styled stadia.
Orioles fans should be proud of that. What's not to be proud of? Not being competitive practically at all over the past two decades.
26. Milwaukee Brewers
Miller Park is a welcome upgrade from Milwaukee County Stadium. The sausage races are second to none. As for the ball playing, it's coming along.
It's not there yet, but fans are ready and deserving of something better in the coming years.
25. Florida Marlins
Sun Life Stadium is a beautiful place to watch a game. The crowds are always massive and the games exciting to the last second. Okay, it's true if you are at a Dolphins game.
The Marlins have two championships in the past 14 years, something most fans would be proud of. The problem is that those two teams no longer exist. Both were dismantled the year after winning and any hopes of a repeat were quickly dashed.
Fans can take solace in the fact they have more World Series titles than the Indians, Cubs and Giants combined over fifty years. Unfortunately, the stadium in baseball configuration leaves much to be desired and corresponding low attendance seems to support that.
24. San Diego Padres
San Diego is a beautiful city, and Petco Park is a beautiful ball yard.
The Padres are still trying to live up to their surroundings. Fans haven't had too much to celebrate since their 1998 pennant-winning season. We'll ignore Ken Caminiti's 1996 MVP due to performance enhancing reasons.
Trevor Hoffman used to be fun to watch, and so it was to watch Adrian Gonzalez. Is Edgar Gonzalez still around?
23. Oakland Athletics
In what use to be a passable stadium, Al Davis graced the A's with the mountain that is center field in Oakland.
The A's haven't sniffed the World Series since 1990 and the playoffs since 2006. The team is in a downward spiral, and fans aren't likely to be showing up in droves until they are granted a new stadium or find a way to win.
I'm not sure how long it will take for either of those to happen.
22. Houston Astros
It's ironic that the Astros needed to rename their stadium after that whole Enron thing. Minute Maid just doesn't have that ring to it. The Astros are also still without a ring, and despite the heat they've only had one really good postseason.
Too bad all it did was net Carlos Beltran an undeserved mega contract, while Astros fans are stuck with that weird hill in center field.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
The Sky Dome, or rather Rogers Centre, used to be cutting edge. Now it's kinda floundering, just like the Jays.
It's not their fault. Being stuck behind the financial behemoths of the Yankees and Red Sox can't be fun for the players or the fans.
20.Tampa Bay Rays
To be fair, the Rays haven't been around for two decades, but in their limited history they have only given their fans brief glimpses of success and a reason to watch.
Better times are ahead for the Rays, but until they get into their new stadium, their finances aren't likely to allow them to match up with those many mentioned financial titans.
19. Chicago Cubs
Chicago Dogs are awesome. Wrigley Field is a historical monument.
The Cubs are kinda like the Washington Generals: Whomever the Cubs face in the regular season or playoffs always manages to play like the Harlem Globetrotters, and while the Cubs make it close, they never can seem to pull off a win.
This is year 103 since a championship. I'm so proud that so many fans still show up.
18. Cleveland Indians
The Indians had a multiyear sellout streak back when Jacobs Field, ahem Progressive field, opened up. Fans continue to come but certainly in lesser numbers in recent years.
I guess being the Chicago Cubs of the American League doesn't inspire too much confidence in potential fair weather fans.
17. Arizona Diamondbacks
Another team with a short history. It's a surprisingly rich one with an improbable championship in 2001. Since then, little has gone right for the Diamondbacks and their fans.
They are in contention this year, but when the home team fans are outnumbered by visiting fans, it kinda makes you think something might be a bit off.
16. Seattle Mariners
The Ichiroll is past its prime—so is Ichiro evidently.
Even when the Mariners won an astonishing 116 games in 2001, they couldn't even make it to the World Series, let alone win it.
Times are better with Safeco than they were with the god awful kingdom, but without a potential Ken Griffey Jr. or Alex Rodriguez on their foreseeable horizon, their fans might have to put up with a max of three runs per game.
15. Detroit Tigers
Any team that has a recently opened stadium is going to rank decently high. Problem is, nearly every team has a stadium built over the past two decades.
The Tigers have not had great success other than a pennant in 2006. They looked on the verge of turning their franchise around after so many years of record-breaking failure.
I feel for Tigers fans and Detroit in general. I'm just going to say that something will fall the Tigers' way sooner than later.
14. Minnesota Twins
1991 World Series, Kirby Puckett, Paul Molitor—these are a few of my favorite Twins things.
Also, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. A lot of stuff to be proud of and to watch for.
Just not this season. Yes, they hunkered down in their hefty bag bunker for a number of years, but it did give them a good home-field advantage and it let fans not sit in 40 degree weather. Definitely something to consider yourself fortunate for in Minnesota.
Target Field looks immaculate, and hopefully the talent will bounce back soon enough.
13. New York Mets
The man holding the sign is on to something.
A team in New York shouldn't be in financial trouble. A new stadium is supposed to usher an era of success and prosperity, not a fire sale.
Even before the whole Bernie Madoff, Mets go broke thing. It can't be great to be a second class team in the nation's biggest sports market.
The Mets had the chance to hold NY bragging rights in 2000, only to see it quickly snatched away. How many more years must the Flushing Meadows faithful wait for the Big Apple to be theirs?
12. Colorado Rockies
Maybe a bit high on the list, but the Rockies have a beautiful stadium, a good number of fans and tons of hitting.
Even when they weren't good, it was always fun to go to a Rockies game, as long as you don't like pitching. Prior to the humidor era, so many balls left the yard every single game.
Now although home runs are down, the team is exciting and worth watching. Now for that elusive championship.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers
I might be carrying a bit of their 1988 championship into this ranking. The Dodgers have always had a good deal of talent, many colorful characters and world class management.
Most of that has disappeared as of late, and Chavez Ravine has really lost its panache in recent years.
The Dodgers would be much lower if this were only the past few years.
Dodger Dogs, I knew I forgot something.
10. Chicago White Sox
These guys would be way lower if not for their recent championship. Probably way lower.
The White Sox know what it's like to be second-class citizens. The south side is always ruled inferior to the north side in each facet.
The Sox have a recent championship, and they also have a decently new stadium. It's a shame the top level is too steep to safely sit in.
Anyway, there's not that much for fans other than the occasional Ozzie Guillen rant.
9. Texas Rangers
Rangers superfan pictured above.
They finally were able to get over the hump against the Yanks last year. They've finally got a competent manager and real pitching, not just the Kenny Rogers variety.
They've got fans now too, because they are worth watching. The stadium is great, and with the Mavs NBA championship, maybe some of that luck will rub off on the Rangers as well.
8. Cincinnati Reds
The Big Red Machine is not quite back, but they put on a show every game.
The new stadium is a definite upgrade, and they've got that something about them that makes them worth watching every single day.
7. Atlanta Braves
Bobby Cox was arguably the best manager of the past two decades. Although he's moved on, the Braves have given their fans plenty to be proud of in recent times.
Although they probably deserve more than the one championship, year after year they compete no matter who is on the field. The talismanic Chipper Jones is nearing the end of his career, but his spirit will live on in one way or another.
6. Los Angeles Angels
No matter what city the Angels are located in, they give their fans more than enough to cheer about. Competent ownership is so important these days and surprisingly hard to come by.
Besides the rally monkey World Series in 2002, fans pay 50 percent less for beer than they do on average in other stadiums.
That's something to be thankful for.
5. San Francisco Giants
Torture was and still is the mantra of the Giants. Maybe it's modesty, maybe it's hubris. Either way fans have had plenty to smile about.
The 90s were dark times, stuck in the cellar in the abominable Candlestick Park. Now at AT&T, the Giants and their fans are in for something special every trip to the yard.
Whether it's the perpetual one-run games, the view of the bay or the haute cuisine, San Francisco is baseball's town these days.
4. St. Louis Cardinals
I've heard from multiple sources that the Cardinals have the best fans in baseball. I can understand why.
New stadium, great talent and a world-class manager. A World Series despite having an 83-78 record. Sellouts nearly every single game. Yeah, those are lucky fans.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
Five years ago, this would be a different story. Now it's good to be a Phillies fan. Domination of NL East. A ridiculous roster. Only injuries are going to keep this team down over the next few years.
You couldn't be luckier to be a fan of an NL team.
But you still are behind...
2. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox and lucky, who would have thought it?
Two championships in four years tends to do that. Nearly unlimited monies allows the acquisition of practically any player imaginable.
Their farm system is top five nearly every year, and their prospects produce immediately. It's tough to argue against their fans as the luckiest, but there is always one trump card.
1. New York Yankees
Yankees fans are the luckiest most fortunate. The past 15 years, the Yanks have seen so much prosperity, it's kinda embarrassing for a Yankees fan to ever complain about anything—though they still do for some reason.
Championships in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. Pennants in 2001 and 2003. A $200 million annual payroll.
Three surefire Hall of Famers on their roster. A brand new stadium and the largest media market in the country. I think this picture kinda says it all.