MLB Playoffs 2011: Power Ranking the Fanbases of All 8 Postseason Teams
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The best thing about the postseason? It's not just the best teams left but it's about the moments that we expect to see.
Those moments mean a lot to us baseball fans but even more to fans of those teams that create the moments. Think about the team you've supported from Day One and then when they reach the postseason, all eyes are on your team to see what magic they create.
Even though everyone shares in it, it's your moment to enjoy, because you were there first.
Postseason is a thrill for the players but it's also for the fans as well. Here's one fan's take on how strong each of the remaining fanbases are heading into October.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
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The Rays ranked 29th out of 30 teams in average home attendance in 2011. While their stadium holds just over 34,000, they only had four games where they crossed 29,000 and only one of those games was during their furious chase to the wild-card spot.
The Rays have typically had trouble with fan support and players have called fans out before despite their success. It’s rare when you meet a Rays fan and despite the few that I know and see, it pales in comparison to the other teams in the playoffs.
Don’t let the ranking mislead you, though. We all remember in 2008 when the Rays reached the World Series and the fans turned out en masse. Depending on how far the Rays go this time, the fanbase could very well prove me wrong and I welcome that.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
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Arizona’s got a passionate fanbase, but forgive most baseball fans outside of the NL West who treat the Diamondbacks like a mystery.
Being in the desert, nothing cools off the Arizona faithful than watching one of baseball’s hottest teams in one of baseball’s best stadiums. They may not be as widespread as other teams but every few years, they come alive when their team does.
They ranked No. 18 in average attendance and even it’s been 10 years since they won the World Series, their fans are loyal. Just like manager Kirk Gibson did in 1988 for the Dodgers, he’s reinvigorated the fanbase with hard-nosed success four years since their last playoff appearance.
6. Texas Rangers
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It may be football season in Texas, but the last two years have seen the Rangers almost do the impossible in taking fans away from the pigskin and into the stadium.
The team set a record for home attendance this year with nearly 3 million fans (good for 10th in average game attendance) coming through the Ballpark in Arlington. Give all the credit to the Rangers front office and their owner Nolan Ryan, who understands what a team needs to do to win on and off the field.
With back-to-back AL West championships and a World Series run last year, this is one of the most exciting fanbases to watch and with a great core in place (not to mention one of the game’s best tweeters in CJ Wilson), don’t be surprised if it grows in number this decade.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
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The spirit of 1982 runs deep in the Brewers' fanbase and after making their second playoff appearance since then, there’s plenty of reason to get behind them.
Winning their first division title since 1982 has brought out the fans in droves and you have to feel for a fanbase that has suffered most of my lifetime. Similar to the Cardinals or any other Midwestern team, their loyalty is admirable because it’s often been unreturned.
The Brewers were ranked No. 7 in home attendance and had the highest single-season attendance in team history. For a fanbase still feeling good over the Packers winning the Super Bowl, they have even more reason to rally behind a team that finally has become a consistent winner.
4. St. Louis Cardinals
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Long hailed as the best fans in baseball, the Cardinals fans still remain in high regard even as their team fought tooth and nail to get in the postseason (with some help from the Atlanta Braves’ underrated but just as embarrassing September collapse).
Since 2000, they’ve made the playoff eight out of 11 seasons, winning in 2006. Yet somehow, they’ve maintained their smart-fan status without drawing the hatred of most fans like Yankees and Red Sox fans.
They don’t brag, they just let their game talk, just like Albert Pujols. Probably why folks aren’t surprised they ranked No. 6 in average home attendance this year.
Is there a term called lovable winners? Because St. Louis fans have earned that label well. They can be passionate, fiery and critical, but you always feel like they know exactly know what they’re speaking about.
3. Detroit Tigers
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If any city needed something to cheer about, it’s Detroit. They’ve been the butt of many jokes, but their fanbase never gives up, and now they have a team that might be the odds-on favorite to win it all.
When I think working-class fans with die-hard support, I think of Detroit. I think of fans hungry for another World Series trip.
I think of fans knowing they probably have the most dominant pitcher in baseball this season. I think of fans who’ve heard the jokes, felt the recession hit them hard and know what success could mean for them.
I think of fans ready to embrace this team as much as their 2006 squad or the 1984 World championship squad. And that’s why I rank them so high on the list. That hunger that has defined them outside of baseball has translated to the game.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
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Winning breeds envy, but it also breeds more fans, and over the last few years, no fan base has grown stronger than the Phillies.
Five straight NL East championships, two World Series appearances and the 2008 title has seen a whole lot of Phillies fans creep up around the country. But it’s also invigorated one of the most passionate and raucous fanbases in modern baseball history, as seen by their 204 consecutive sellouts.
The Phillies have been Top 5 in average attendance since 2008 and this year ranked No. 1 in overall attendance and average game attendance for the first time in team history. Only one playoff team has a stronger fan base.
1. New York Yankees
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Remember, this isn’t the best fanbase list. This is about the strongest and it’s hard for anyone to dispute the strength of Yankees fans around the country.
Whether folks have been Yankee fans since birth or jumped on the bandwagon being raised in the Derek Jeter/Mariano Rivera era, the fanbase is one of the most popular in all of sports. They’re consistently ranked among the MLB leaders in yearly attendance and their merchandise is one of the biggest sellers.
They’ve led the American League in attendance the past nine seasons and you can’t go anywhere without meeting a Yankee fan in every city. Just ask yourself how you felt when you found out LeBron James was a Yankees fan (and if you were really surprised considering how deep their fanbase goes).
The fact that so many people either love or hate the Yankees lets you know how powerful their fanbase is. They’re called the Evil Empire for a reason and no matter if they win or lose, they’ll galvanize folks, especially their fanbase which extends well past New York and outside the country.
They’ve led the American League in attendance the past nine seasons, and there’s no doubt they probably have the strongest fanbase in baseball.