Who Is No.1? Ranking The 30 MLB Teams' Fan Bases

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2010

Who Is No.1? Ranking The 30 MLB Teams' Fan Bases

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    BOSTON - APRIL 17:  Fans hope for autographs before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees on April 17, 2004 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won 5-2.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    It's a touchy subject amongst baseball fans across the country.

    Who has the best fans?

    What fan base is most loyal? Most fair weather? How is the attendance? Do fans actively pay attention when attending a game?

    There are plenty of ways to either be a good fan base or a rotten one, and we'll look at how it all adds up.

    Fans of all 30 teams have various commitment, knowledge, participation at games, and attendance, but only one fan base can claim the No. 1 spot.

30. Florida Marlins

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    ATLANTA - JULY 02:  Brian Barden #30 of the Florida Marlins against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 2, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    They have two World Series rings in the past 20 seasons. Cubs fans would give their right arm for that.

    Not the case for the Marlins, a team that once drew 375 fans to a game.

    In 2010, they ranked 28th in attendance, barely filling over half the stadium on any given day.

    Watching the highlights of a Marlins game can be distracting with all of the bright orange seats available. The history of sending away superior talent doesn't help, neither does the abundance of things to do in Miami.

29. Oakland A's

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Fans of the Oakland Athletics look on against the Texas Rangers during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 26, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    A team that has been built on pitching for the past decade-plus has had little excitement offensively. Consistently being one of the worst offensive teams makes for some boring baseball.

    An old run-down stadium that is enormous, and the constant fleeing of the franchise's top, give A's fans a reason to be bitter and stay away.

    Watching the success of the Giants just up the coast adds insult to injury.

    They are only able to fill 40 percent of their stadium, 29th in baseball.

28. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    PITTSBURGH - APRIL 13:  Fans enter the ballpark on opening day for the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to playing the Houston Astros at PNC Park April 13, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The franchise might be the worst in pro sports but that doesn't mean Pittsburgh fans should treat them like the ugly stepsister of Pittsburgh sports. Walk around downtown Pittsburgh and good luck finding anybody wearing a Pirates jersey.

    The ironic part is that the Pirates have one of the nicest stadiums in the game. It's right on the river and is very clean and very accessible.

    At least there is no such thing as a bandwagon Pirates fan.

    They come in 27th in baseball, averaging just under 20,000 fans a game.

27. Washington Nationals

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    WASHINGTON - JUNE 23:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals is cheered on by the fans as he walks off the field after the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Nationals Park on June 23, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The novelty of baseball in D.C. is quickly wearing off and fans are growing restless after six years of crappy baseball.

    The Nationals' window for grabbing the fan base is shrinking and in one of the smallest four sports markets, that equals bad news.

    While the franchise is still young, the Nationals are losing the faith of fans very quickly.

    The lack of history doesn't help this situation.

26. Tampa Bay Rays

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 12:  Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays clap during their game against the Texas Rangers during Game 5 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field on October 12, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    They have had a great team in two of the last three seasons, but the fans don't seem to care much.

    Two of the best players on the team have publicly complained about the lack of fans at Tropicana Field.

    David Price lashed out at the fans via Twitter for lack of support. Evan Longoria complained to reporters. They had to give away 20,000 tickets in a pennant race!

    The team ranks 22nd in the league with just 23,000 fans per game.

25. Toronto Blue Jays

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    TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 23:   Fans hang banners to honour Ichiro Suzuki # 51 of the Seattle Mariners 200th hit of the season during game action against the Toronto Blue Jays September 23, 2010 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White
    Brad White/Getty Images

    The humongous Rogers Center makes even a well-attended game seem empty. But seeing the sea of red when the Red Sox come to town must be disheartening for the players.

    The fan base has been consistently falling ever since their magical World Series run.

    The Blue Jays are a distant cry in Toronto from the Maple Leafs and with a lack of success since the early 90's, they have slowly slipped into oblivion.

    They were only able to average 39 percent capacity in 2010—worst in the majors.

24. Atlanta Braves

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 11:  Fans of the Atlanta Braves cheer during the game against the San Francisco Giants during Game Four of the NLDS of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Turner Field on October 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Braves were once one of the best fan bases in sports, led by the tomahawk chop. But that is now ancient history in Atlanta as Braves fans have been slow to support the Braves' latest playoff run.

    Braves fans have a reputation for being apathetic, The Braves have sold out only five of their past 13 NLDS games at Turner Field going into this postseason. They sold out one postseason game but only had 89.5 percent capacity for the second game.

    The bandwagon factor for the Braves is very high. If the Braves get off to a rough start in the Fredi Gonzalez era, expect the attendance to suffer greatly.

23. Kansas City Royals

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 19:  A young fan cheers during the 10th inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals on July 19, 2010 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Blue Jays 5-4.  (Photo by Jam
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Royals have been bad for awhile now. The lack of progress on the field has created a generation of fans that don't know what it's like for the Royals to be any good.

    The average attendance numbers are low, and small market equals fewer fans. Give the Royals credit for their enthusiasm for a perennial awful franchise. The young fan base gives management hope for the future.

    They rank 25th in attendance.

22. San Diego Padres

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    SAN DIEGO - APRIL 15:  Fans reach for a fly ball during a game between the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on April 15, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Quite possibly the biggest fair-weather fan base, San Diego isn't die-hard about its Padres.

    A baseball game, even in the middle of a playoff race, is like a visit to the San Diego Zoo or a trip to a beautiful beach. It's just something to do.

    Attendance has dropped as the novelty of Petco Park as worn off.

    There are not a whole lot of hardcore fans who care about the Padres and their history as a franchise.

21. Cleveland Indians

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    ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 26:  Fans in support of Shin-Soo Choo #17 Korean right fielder of the Cleveland Indians hold up signs during batting practice before the start of the baseball game against Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 26, 2010 at Angel Stadiu
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    If the team is not in contention, watch out. The Indians came in dead last in attendance in 2010, with 17,395 fans a game.

    The Indians had a long sellout streak during the 90's, but recently, interest has really dropped off as the team disappoints and the championship drought gets bigger and bigger.

    Still, this is a fan base with potential, they just need a competent team.

    And just like any other Cleveland team, the fans are blindly loyal.

20. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    PHOENIX - AUGUST 29:  A young fan holds up a sign on Luis Gonzalez Appreciation Night during the major league baseball game between the Houston Astros and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 29, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The team changes its uniforms on seemingly a yearly basis in an attempt to increase revenue, because it isn't making a whole lot at the box office.

    The stadium has a big advantage with the retractable roof and air conditioning. But the fans are mostly imports from other cities. Die-hard D-Back fans are few-and-far between.

    The lack of history for the franchise hurts the D-Backs' ranking as well.

    The D-Backs ranked 21st in average attendance in '10.

19. Houston Astros

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    HOUSTON - JULY 09:  A young fan holds a sign showing support for Michael Bourn #21 of the Houston Astros going to the All-Star game, during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 9, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    They've got a very unique ballpark and a decent history of winning, but fans just don't seem committed enough. They are seemingly always in the middle portion on the attendance list, this year coming in at No. 16.

    But they were penalized a few points due to the embarrassing performance of a fan letting his girlfriend get drilled with a foul ball after he got out of the way at the last second.

    I'm pretty sure that's his ex-girlfriend now.

18. Seattle Mariners

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 03:  Seattle Mariners' fans watch the game against the Texas Rangers from the upper right field deck at Safeco Field on August 3, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Props to Mariner fans for ranking 19th in attendance in '10. The Mariners were far and away the most boring team in the game.

    This is a franchise in need of a revival in order to bring back some lost fans.

    The loyalty is high and the knowledge of the fans is impressive. If the Mariners find a way to compete again, then the fans will be back in full force.

    I don't blame fans in Seattle for the lack of support of late.

17. Chicago White Sox

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    WASHINGTON - JUNE 18:  US President Barack Obama waves to fans during the game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago White Sox at Nationals Park on June 18, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The White Sox always have to look up to their cross-town rival Cubbies. But the Sox ranked 17th in attendance this season.

    They do have plenty of hardcore fans that would love to punch a guy that considers himself a Cubs fan.

    But plenty of Cubs fans make the trip to U.S. Cellar in the annual cross-town rivalry.

    The wave will break out in the stands every night after the sixth inning, which means: "I don't care, I'm not watching."

    They do have the most famous fan in America...Barack Obama.

16. Texas Rangers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 15:  A fan of the Texas Rangers wears a helmet with antlers on it with Yankees hats attached to it before Game One of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 15, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Rangers have always been an exciting team to watch with their high-powered offense. This year they finally made the playoffs and the fans have come in masses, having sold out both ALCS games so far.

    Loyalty is an issue though, and the Rangers have trouble reaching the top 20 in attendance during down seasons. They ranked 14th in '10.

    But props must be given for their fans' performance so far in the postseason.

15. Colorado Rockies

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 15:  Left fielder Jay Payton #15 of the Colorado Rockies can only watch as a fan catches a home run ball hit by Yorvit Torrealba of the San Diego Padres in the third inning at Coors Field on September 15, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Pho
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Rockies fans always have shown up, averaging just under 36,000 a game this season (10th in MLB).

    The combination of a beautiful ballpark, summer weather and the mile high air that tends to garner high-scoring games equals a very enjoyable ballpark experience.

    But the fans are certainly not die hard. It's more of an event than anything else. This tends to happen to the teams that haven't been around for over 20 years.

14. Baltimore Orioles

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    BALTIMORE - AUGUST 04:  Fans watch the grounds crew put the tarp on the field during a rain delay in the sixth inning of the game between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on August 4, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The lack of success and sharing the mid-Atlantic area with the Nationals has put a big dent in the Orioles' attendance in recent years. However, this is a fan base that is known to be rowdy and loud when the team is contention.

    If the Orioles can turn successful years in the future, this ranking will improve.

    The Orioles are a classic MLB franchise and fans haven't given up that easy, even with falling attendance numbers.

    They even have staged a walkout during a game. Paying to send a message to ownership is a sign of a passionate fan base.

13. Cincinnati Reds

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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 10:  A Cincinnati Reds fan watches batting practice before the start of  Game 3 of the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The team with the most history of all has a tough fan base to measure.

    They don't rank very high in overall attendance (20th), but on the other hand they are in one of the smallest MLB markets.

    The team does a great job of reminding its fans of the history of the franchise. The Reds Hall of Fame is one of the cooler displays at a park.

    Pete Rose is still talked about at every game, as is the rest of the mid-70's Big Red Machine era.

    The first home playoff game was a sellout and the fans were terrific. Cincinnati certainly is a "baseball town."

12. Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim

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    ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 6:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is greeted by teammates and fans as he returns to the dugout after hitting a game tying home run in the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians on September 6, 2010 at An
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    They have had some of the best gimmicks of the last 10 years with the rally monkey and the thunder-sticks.

    They ranked fifth in overall attendance as the team has found a way to stay relevant for awhile now.

    While the tradition may not be there, it's a solid group of fans. And they stay for the whole game!

    Nothing negative to say about the Angel fans.

11. Detroit Tigers

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    DETROIT - APRIL 09:  Fans wait in line to enter the ballpark before the game between Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians on April 9, 2010 during Opening Day at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Tigers seemingly don't have a ton of fair-weather fans. They are loyal to their Tigers through thick and thin.

    Attendance got a huge boost when the team moved to Comerica as the Tigers appear to be the No. 1 team in Detroit. This year they finished 15th in baseball in attendance.

    The fact that the economy is crippling the city, the attendance expectations were low, which means the steady numbers are very impressive.

10. Milwaukee Brewers

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    MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 05: Brewers fans pose with the racing sausages in the parking lots outside of Miller Park prior to the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on April 5, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Sco
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    This team was seemingly out of the playoff hunt way back in June. But they ended up ranking 11th overall in attendance. The fans are dedicated and can be very loud.

    Milwaukee is one of baseball's smallest markets, but Miller Park is filled 85 percent to capacity on an annual basis.

    Very impressive, especially in a down year. Plus, who doesn't love the sausage race?

9. Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7: A Minnesota Twins fan reacts following a 2-5 loss to the New York Yankees in game two of the ALDS game on October 7, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Seems like a long time ago that the Twins were close to being contracted (eight years to be exact). Target Field provided a huge boost in attendance this year, ranking sixth in baseball in '10.

    The fan base stretches across much of the upper part of the Midwest, extending all the way to the Dakotas and Montana. The Twins may play in a small market, but they have a wide fan base.

    It remains to be seen how the Twin fans will react if their club will ever experience a losing season this decade. Until then, it's a solid group of fans.

8. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    10 Jun 2001:  A young Dodger fan shows his support for the Dodgers during the Dodgers v Angels game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  The Angels beat the Dodgers 6-5 in 10 innings.  DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Christopher Ruppel/ALLSPORT
    Christopher Ruppel/Getty Images

    This proud franchise is consistently at the top of the attendance list.

    This year, even amongst the ugly divorce rumors of their owner being mentioned all season, the Dodgers were still able to place third in all of baseball.

    Fans are notorious for arriving to games in the second or third inning and leaving in the eighth.

    But the majority of fans are very hardcore about their Dodgers. The history of the franchise certainly helps.

7. San Francisco Giants

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 19:  Fans of the San Francisco Giants cheer during Game Three of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 19, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Imag
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Barry Bonds-era brought sold-out crowd after sold-out crowd. Since his departure, the fan support hasn't wavered much.

    This year's Giants team finished ninth overall in attendance.

    They have been very supportive in the playoffs as well, selling out each postseason game to this point.

    The stadium is beautiful and the fans are loyal and very knowledgeable. Great combo.

6. New York Mets

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    NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Fans break out promotional umbrellas as rain starts to fall as the New York Mets play against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeate
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Some of the most loyal fans in baseball take a beating year in and year out. They watch their big brother win essential every year and watch their own team find a way to blow it.

    This year, they finished 12th overall in attendance. That's not great considering it's the biggest market in the country.

    But the passion for the Mets is exceptional. The die-hard fan base is one of the largest in baseball. The unwavering support for the team is a major reason for their ranking.

5. Philadelphia Phillies

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    PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Philadelphia Phillies fans wave rally towels during a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on September 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    The team with the most losses in MLB history has experienced great success in recent seasons and the fans have followed.

    This year, they were second in MLB in attendance and the fans have come out in full force in the playoffs.

    The white-towel-waving fans are extremely loud and passionate about their team. Many Philly fans have been loyal for decades and the newfound success is extra rewarding.

    They can be wild though, having two different fans run out onto the field this season. They show why the mascot is called the "Phanatic."

4. St. Louis Cardinals

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    ST. LOUIS - AUGUST 1: St. Louis Cardinals fans react to a home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Pirates 9-1.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Not a large market by any stretch, the Cardinals once again finished in the top five in attendance, coming in fourth this season. They also have the highest TV viewership of any team.

    The fans are extremely loyal and are knowledgeable about the game. You will see a lot of old timers keeping score at Busch stadium.

    The history and tradition of the team are a big help, as is the continued success of the ball club.

    St. Louis has labeled itself the "Best Baseball Town in America." I'll go with most intelligent baseball fans.

3. New York Yankees

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 19:  A fan of the New York Yankees reacts after he caught a home run ball hit by Robinson Cano #24 of the Yankees in the bottom of the seocnd inning against the Texas Rangers in Game Four of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yank
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The past few days have really hurt the most storied franchise in baseball.

    Sure they have the No. 1 attendance rank in baseball. Sure they have fans all over the world. Sure they sell more merchandise than any other professional sports team.

    But how in the world do Yankee fans continue to leave these recent playoff games against the Rangers so early? Last night's 10-3 loss to the Rangers had the stadium looking like a ghost town in the ninth inning.

    Where's the loyalty in that?

    The issue is the pricing of playoff tickets. This hurts the overall ranking. Pricing out the common, most loyal fans is a dangerous line to walk.

2. Boston Red Sox

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    BOSTON - AUGUST 22:  Fans wait out the rain delay for the Toronto Blue Jays versus the Boston Red Sox game on August 22, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The loyalty is top notch.

    Fenway, even though it's a crappy, run-down stadium, continues to sell out every single game.

    The Red Sox nation has expanded well beyond the Northeastern part of the country. They might have the most road fans of any team in baseball.

    The pink Red Sox hat, and the fact that's it's considered "cool" to be a Red Sox fan, knocks them off the top spot.

1. Chicago Cubs

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    CHICAGO - JULY 21: Fans in the upper deck do a dance to the song 'YMCA' during a pitching change as the Chicago Cubs take on the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field on July 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros defeated the Cubs 4-3 in 12 innings. (Photo
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Putting up with over 100 years of losing is quite the accomplishment.

    The Cubs fans are as loyal as it gets.

    They know the tortured history of the team and will gladly fight you about it.

    The long history of the team does resonate within the fans. The sky high prices aren't a problem, nor is the day starts during the work week.

    Being a Cubs fan begins at birth and while there are plenty of bandwagon fans, the hardcores trump them tenfold.

    Imagine if they actually won the World Series?