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Are Yankees fans "the best in the world?"

Oct 19, 2009, 9:25 AM EDT

Not my words.  They’re Lupica’s:

There aren’t fans better than this anywhere in the world. This isn’t about whether or not you love the Yankees. This is about Yankee fans.

There are other baseball fans in other cities, of course, Mets fans in this one. There are fans who come out strong for teams who haven’t won the way the Yankees won, who don’t make the playoffs just about every year the way the Yankees have since Joe Torre first came to town 13 years ago and the winning came back to the Yankees and the Bronx.

But no fans have ever supported a baseball team, the most famous team in this world, the way Yankee fans support theirs.

Saying that any team’s fans are “the best” is obviously an exercise in biases, and there’s no better chance that people are going to agree on this question than they’d agree on religion.  Lupica is a New York guy who writes for a New York paper that is purchased by New York fans.  I have no doubt that he sincerely believes that Yankees fans are the best. But even if he didn’t, it’s not like he’d write that, say, the fans in Minnesota or Milwaukee or (shudder) Boston were better.  Assuming he was even proposing a way to measure it.

I’ll throw this out there though: wouldn’t one way to measure how great a teams’ fans are be to see how well they draw when the team isn’t winning?  Whether the fan base is of the fair weather variety?  If so, is it worth considering the following:

  • The Yankees were 1st in the American League in attendance from 1976-1981, when the team was winning a lot.
  • The Yankees fell out of the top spot in 1982 — to third — and didn’t lead the league again until 2003, finishing as low as 11th a couple of times when the team wasn’t playing well.  This despite the fact that they had one of the larger seating capacities in baseball over that time.
  • Contrast this with the Dodgers, who have only been out of the top 5 in NL attendance once in the last 90 years.  Or the Red Sox who have only been as low as 9th once in their history, despite having the smallest seating capacity in the game for almost all of that history. The Cardinals ranking has been more consistent than the Yankees too.

    I’ll grant that Yankees fans are pretty darn good — and it’s hard to find more knowledgeable fans than Yankees fans — but they’re not necessarily diehards.  Like the fans of most teams, they’ll stay home if the team isn’t winning.

    I’m not saying that disqualifies them from being the best fans in the world, but if I were Mike Lupica, I’d find a way to account for that before making the claim.

    1. s - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:32 AM

      Wow, way to poorly apply statistics.
      The Yankees have been in the top 3 of attendance the past 10 years (leading all but 3 years, I believe).
      You have to go back to 97 to find the last time NY drew less than 3 million fans. Not too bad for a cold weather city.
      The LA Dodgers? Seriously? The Dodgers? Best attended team between innings 3 and 7, I suppose?
      Let’s also not forget that there is no better baseball atmosphere than Yankee Stadium in the postseason. The fans are indeed the most knowledgeable and passionate in sports.
      Why do I continue to read the utter nonsense you whip up with no thought whatsoever. This column is downright embarrassing.

    2. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:36 AM

      You’re right, they’ve been in the top 3 the past 10 years. They’ve also contended consistently in the past 10 years, winning multiple championships and appearing in the playoffs every single year but one. When you look at a time when they didn’t win — 1982 on — they drew considerably less than at least three other teams do during their fallow periods. If you have an explanation for this that doesn’t at least suggest and element of fair weather fandom, I’d like to hear it.

    3. Stultus Magnus - Oct 19, 2009 at 10:55 AM

      The term “best fans” is annoying to hear from anybody, but from a “reporter” it’s ridiculous.
      As a Yankee fan, I’d say they are no better than any other fans, except maybe Phillies fans who are fools ;)
      Plus, I’ve heard Yankee “fans” boo Jeter and Mo. And don’t forget the season where A-Rod was booed with every unproductive at bat. Greatest fans ever? Not really.
      I wouldn’t even count attendance when debating the silly question, since a third of the people at any random Yankee game are tourists anyway.

    4. white - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:00 AM

      another stupid article, thanks craig.

    5. Rich Brandeis - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:07 AM

      It’s easy to support a winning team, especially in the most populous city in the U.S. I’d love to see how many of those $2500 box seats were occupied at Yankee Stadium if the team hadn’t won a World Series in 101 years. It’s easy to support a winner. Try being a Cubs fan. They fill Wrigley Field every game, and let me tell you it’s not the ballpark. Cubs fans are the most loyal and knowlegeable in the Show. New Yorkers like Lupica tend to think the world revolves around NYC. He needs to get out more.

    6. Stultus Magnus - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:11 AM

      S-man,
      To say that Yankee fans are more passionate and knowledgeable than other fans is embarrassing. No better atmosphere in the postseason? I guess booing Joe Torre in the 2007 ALDS accounts for “passion” and “atmosphere” that you are talking about?
      Yankee fans are no better or worse than any other successful team, that’s all I’m saying. Also, I would say the Yankees have the most fans (casual, die-hard, bandwagon, etc), whether or not they attend the stadium during a 75-win season is another story.

    7. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:12 AM

      Why is it stupid, white? Because of some objective reason you’re too lazy or too intellectually challenged to disagree with in a comment, or because it challenges your precious little feelings and predispostions? Has to be one of those, right?
      Telling me my articles are stupid does absoltutely nothing to bother me. I’ve been a lawyer for 11 years, so I’ve heard way way worse. Saying something is stupid without backing it up at all, however, makes you look either lazy or stupid or both.
      But hey, it’s your comment. You can do what you want with it.

    8. DougTucson - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:16 AM

      Having lived in lots of places, I’d say the Dodgers and Cubs fans are the most supportive of baseball, even when the game their team is playing barely resembles the sport.

    9. Stultus Magnus - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:19 AM

      Oh please, this applies to your team’s fans too. Best in “the Show”? No better or worse.
      I suppose you forget about the beer-throwing fool or Bartman. Sports fans are pretty much the same all-around.
      Cubs fans get credit for loyalty. The best around?
      Hardly.

    10. Pilothawkeye - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:22 AM

      Well, Mr. Calcaterra, if it was your intention to ‘kick up a hornet nest’ worth of comments, you have definitely succeeded. As a longtime Yankees fan (since 1960), of course, I am going to say that Yankees fans are the best in the world. As a baseball fan, however, I am not enamored with the Steinbrenner family. However, without the Steinbrenners, one can wonder what would have happened to the Yankee franchise.
      There are no right or wrong answers to Mr. Lupica’s article. Each sports franchise thinks that their fans are the best (and rightfully so). Just wait until the Boston fans sound in later today!
      I will say this, going to the old Yankee Stadium was like going to the old Montreal forum, or the old Boston Garden. Each venue was a mecca for its sport.

    11. d - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:24 AM

      You also have to consider road draw as well. Venues that normally host 12,000 fans see a huge boost (where they can – Baltimore, Seattle, Oakland, Toronto, KC, etc) when Boston or NY is in town – a reflection of those fan’s support which combined with home park attendance would help you analyze who the “best” is – along with merchandise sales.

    12. ecp - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:34 AM

      Craig, you know why it’s stupid…because anybody who doesn’t bow down at the Yankee altar just has to be stupid. And wrong.

    13. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:38 AM

      That’s what I’m gathering, ecp . . .

    14. cubs suck - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:43 AM

      A Cub fan knows much about baseball. Losing, bad beer and a massive NYC complex. Thank god the olympic games bypassed on the city. Go Cardinals!!!

    15. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:45 AM

      God even when Lupica (Mets fan btw) writes a story praising the Yanks, he still comes off like an idiot. Thank god for all the FJM beatings they gave him:
      http://www.firejoemorgan.com/search/label/mike%20lupica

    16. MIke - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:49 AM

      New York = 8.3 million people
      Los Angeles = 3.8 million
      Chicago = 2.8 million
      St. Louis = 354,000
      It’s easy to draw 3 million people a year in a city where you’ve got millions of people stacked on top of each other. Try doing it in a town that doesn’t even make it into the top 50 of America’s biggest cities.
      Those are some diehard fans that not only show up when the team is losing, but come back several times throughout the season.

    17. s - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:51 AM

      Um, the Yankees won more games than any other MLB club in the 1980’s so once again your vast storehouse of baseball knowledge shines through.
      Pretty amazing.

    18. baseballchick - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:52 AM

      I lived in Chicago for several years. Cubs fans leave as soon as they stop selling beer. I went to one game where we walked up to the window before the game started (against the Giants) and were able to buy tickets right behind home plate. There was hardly anyone there. They sell out when the Cardinals are in town. Many of those fans are Cardinals fans. I’ve also lived in San Francisco and Atlanta. Cardinals fans always come out when our team is in town. One game in ATL was standing room only and I overheard a Braves fan complaining about all the Cardinals fans in town.
      Cardinals fans are by far the best fans and most knowledgeable about their team.

    19. ralphdibny - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:54 AM

      I lived in NYC from 96-99, and attended lots of Yankees games during those years. These were the years when the Yankees were at their best, right? Yet I never had any problem getting bleacher seats; I’d just show up an hour early and stand in a short line. In fact, looking back at attendance figures, it’s amazing low the numbers are. More people attended Yankee Stadium in 1988 than either 96 or 97! Consistent sell-outs only date back 5 years or so, which indicates that the product on the field doesn’t have as much to do with attendance as one might suspect.

    20. s - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM

      Classy reply, Craig. Way to attack your own readers.
      Why is it that you fail to note that Lupica is hands-down the most vocal critic of the Yankees in NYC and possibly the country?
      I’m gonna go with: “I had no clue.”
      *shock*

    21. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Oct 19, 2009 at 11:58 AM

      Cardinals fans are by far the best fans and most knowledgeable about their team.

      Best fans in the world my ass!
      – Keith Law :)

    22. darin - Oct 19, 2009 at 12:01 PM

      Yankees have the best fans is not far fetched because they have the highest viewership of any Baseball team in America. Even when they are bad they fill up their stadium. It could be 10am on a tuesday and they would. Even when they are bad they get people to watch them on TV. I don’t think the issue is Lupica being pro Yankee but you being anti-Yankee.

    23. dreday - Oct 19, 2009 at 12:08 PM

      why are the comments always more interesting than the article?? anybody??
      you can find a yankees fan in any city in america, not to mention a yankees hat or jacket. thats why we’re the best!! go yanks!!!

    24. Robert - Oct 19, 2009 at 12:19 PM

      Yankees Rule!!!!!

    25. Bill Herman - Oct 19, 2009 at 12:23 PM

      Look up the best home attendance of all time has been The Dodgers!!!
      Look at the Guinness Book of World Records – The Dodgers are listed number all-time!

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