True baseball fans are a varied bunch, but there's one thing that they all have in common: passion. Parents and children don matching caps and baseball gloves ready to catch a fly ball; statisticians sit in stands with pencils and pads ready to calculate each slugger's current batting average; and hecklers -- oh the hecklers -- harass the opposing team's players and fans with verbal creativity, or lack thereof.
The players get the World Series to boast about, but it's time for the fan bases to earn their own bragging rights. Still, fandom is hard to quantify. So until we can register loyal passion numerically, we're going to base our ranking on the 2010 season's attendance records as reported by ESPN.com. And we felt it was fair to include away games attendance for each team -- diehard fans can't be contained by city limits.
So without further ado, here are the teams with the best baseball fans in the United States.
[See a photo recap of the Best Baseball Fans in the USA]
The Brew Crew is a hearty bunch, with a solid 75.5 percent overall attendance rate, earning them the respectable ninth place in our ranking. Not only do they show up in droves, but Brewers enthusiasts know how to party too. Tailgating -- reminiscent of football, that other great American pastime -- begins up to three hours before the game in the parking lot of Miller Stadium. But one of the more quirky qualities of the Brew Crew has to be their love for the Famous Racing Sausage™. These five sausage mascots -- Italian, Polish, Bratwurst, Hot Dog and Chorizo -- race after the sixth inning of every Brewers home game. By the way, if you show up on a sausage-racing giveaway day you might find yourself the proud owner of a meaty bobble-head.
With 56,000 seats to fill in Dodger Stadium, a 78.5 percent home game attendance rate is quite the impressive showing of fan loyalty. Away games have an equally awe-inspiring attendance rate of 76.9 percent, second out of all 30 Major League teams. Average the percentages together, and Dodgers fans overall attendance rate of 77.8 percent earns them the number-eight spot. Dodgers devotees are known for their even temperaments, that is except for when their beloved team faces off against the San Francisco Giants. The bad blood between the two teams is one of the oldest rivalries in the league, dating back to the late 19th century when both teams called New York City home. Sometimes the rivalry even turns physical, with a few punches thrown on game days.
Lovers of the Los Angeles Angels come in seventh place with an overall attendance rate of 78.4 percent. And Angels fans don't seem to mind the team's somewhat misleading moniker -- Angels Stadium is about 30 miles away from downtown L.A. -- but the town of Anaheim (unsuccessfully) petitioned the courts until 2008 to have Los Angeles removed from the team's official name. Still, loyal Angels aficionados from both cities happily flock to the stadium. And if the home team is behind by the seventh-inning stretch, the famous Rally Monkey makes an appearance to rev up the crowd.
Coming in at number six are the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 79.3 percent attendance rate. Even though they might not be a pendant-winning team every year, Cards fans are nothing less than consistent, donning cardinal red to cheer on their team at Busch Stadium. Devotees have a habit of flocking to the statues of the legendary Cardinal players that are scattered throughout the park. Some of the more dedicated fans take wedding photos by the statue of one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, Stan "the Man" Musial. And since St. Louis is an Anheuser-Busch-sponsored team, Card supporters have been known to heartily throw back a few Buds on game day.
The San Francisco Giants fans are still flying high from their World Series victory in 2010, so it's no surprise that their overall attendance rate of 79.5 percent earns them the number-five spot. Some Giants' lovers say the best place to view a game is not in AT&T Park, but outside in a boat floating on the nearby San Francisco Bay. In fact, many congregate in the water for a chance to chase down the "splash hits" (or fly balls that make it all the way into the bay). Giants fans are known to be a pretty easygoing bunch, although you may want to think twice about sporting your Los Angeles Dodgers paraphernalia. You should also refrain from mentioning that little Barry Bonds controversy from a few years back.
Although Twins fans have nearly perfect attendance for home games, they have one of the weaker away game attendance rates, at 62.6 percent. But with an 80.7 percent overall attendance rate, Twins aficionados have definitely earned some bragging rights. Just don't expect them to toot their own horns too often -- they're too polite. Twins followers are known for their unfailing friendliness compared to other fans of Major League teams; in a recent Sports Illustrated survey, fans say that the trash talk at Target Field is rare and swearing is almost nonexistent.
The Cubs have gone down in Major League history many a time. Wrigley Field is the second-oldest park in the Major League; it's also the site of Babe Ruth's famous "called shot," when he pointed to center field while at-bat; only to moments later hit a home run in that direction. And the Cubs are the oldest team still playing in their original home city. But what's really impressive about the fans is their loyalty. Cubs games had an 82.5 percent overall attendance rate in 2010, despite the fact that their team hasn't won a World Series since 1908. Cubs fans have even been immortalized in a handful of Saturday Night Live sketches for their steadfast faith, not to mention excessive drinking. Sure, the "lovable losers" have a tendency to get drunk and rowdy at the game, but you can't really blame them after waiting more than 100 years to see 'da Cubs win the brass ring.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's a tie. How appropriate that the biggest rivals in baseball are duking it out for the number-two spot with a shared overall attendance percentage of 83.9. The members of Red Sox Nation used to have a whiny reputation, but now it's an overinflated cocky bravado. And Yankees disciples are no better: They're known as trophy show-offs that are notorious for merciless trash talking. Still, you can't have the Red Sox without the Yankees, and vice versa. And it goes without saying that wearing the opposing team's gear in the home ballpark will get you a shower of beer at best.
Garnering our top spot with an impressive 89.6 overall attendance rate are the Phillies fans, perhaps the rowdiest crowd in baseball. The fanatics are known as loudmouths who not only taunt the opposing team, but also their own players when they're doing poorly. Devotees also have harsh words for any Major League player who leaves the Phillies or passes on the opportunity to join the team. But these chatterboxes never seem to miss a game, selling out more than 100 games in the 2010 season. So even though they're the harshest critics, Phillies fans are the best baseball fans in the U.S.
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