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The Cardinals allegedly have the most loyal fans; the Astros the least loyal

Apr 7, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

Fans are shown as they enter Busch Stadium before the start of play between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis Reuters

This goes pretty far into the land of the subjective, but according to Brand Keys, here are the most loyal and least loyal fan bases around:

Top-5 Teams – 2014

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Atlanta Braves
5. San Francisco Giants

Bottom-5 Teams – 2014

30. Houston Astros
29. New York Mets
28. Seattle Mariners
27. Arizona Diamondbacks
26. Colorado Rockies

The measurements are made by the “four emotional drivers” of fan loyalty, which are (1) Pure Entertainment; (2) Authenticity; (3) Fan Bonding; and (4) History and tradition. These are mixed in a pot with things like overall league and team rankings, viewership and merchandise sales and then this comes out like so.

I can’t say that it seems intuitive. Because I know a lot of Mets fans. And they have had very few reasons to cheer in the past few years, yet they keep coming back. Whether that’s love or that’s insanity I have no idea, but it’s certainly loyalty of a type. I’ll also say that seeing the Braves where they are is at least a bit curious. While they get way more crap thrown on them for not selling out games than they deserve, the fact is that Braves fans, thanks to the TBS legacy, are a pretty far flung lot, covering a lot of the country. That helps explain why attendance doesn’t always track popularity, but it also seems to be pretty bad for the whole “fan bonding” thing.

Anyway, take this for what you will. I assume most of you will take it as either validation of your own fandom or a great and uncalled for insult, depending on where you team lies on the loyalty scale. Because that’s how everything related to fandom works.

  1. kcroyal - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    Of course they do. Get a brain morans!

    • raysfan1 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      Gotta watch out for Col. Moran especially. Anyone who can escape capture by Sherlock Holmes is pretty tricky.

    • nbjays - Apr 8, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      Ahhh, that happy moment when illiteracy meets irony.

  2. emdash01 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    Teams that have a recent record of success and playoff appearances are the most dedicated, and teams that have been pretty bad recently are less invested, eh? They don’t say.

    • lamarrac - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      Cause the Phillies have been great the last 2 years

  3. holleywood9 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    How are cubs fans not there. We lose all the time and show up. We show up year after year and expect a different result. Or is there a different word than loyal that I’m looking for

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      We show up year after year and expect a different result. Or is there a different word than loyal that I’m looking for

      Insane. Einstein defined it I think.

    • wetmorepsu12 - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:16 PM

      Have to disagree with you to an extent. As a Philadelphia transplant in Chicago now, going to Wrigley seems to be more or less an “event” for fans. Rooting for the Cubbies seems to be a secondary benefit, as opposed to hanging with friends and the like. I know I am new to this, but in the short time I’ve been around, that seems to be my impression. Maybe I’m wrong. (Note: the folks in the bleachers are a different breed of human, however)

      • jeffbbf - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        Just because Cub fans don’t throw batteries at opposing outfielders doesn’t mean they aren’t there to cheer on their team. Every moron from out of town that has this opinion is simply looking for the young men and women in the stands who are there to get drunk and be seen. I’ve been to a lot of parks, and they are at every one. Next time, try noticing the families with the kids that brought their mitts, are wearing their Rizzo jerseys and are hanging on every pitch. Try noticing how many scorecards are sold. Try noticing how loud the crowd gets at the end of the games that the Cubs actually win. Then go back to where you came from and notice all of the young men and women who are obviously there to drink and be seen. And try to come up with something new next time.

  4. thomas844 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    To me, loyalty is when fans come out to watch their team whether they are having a good or a bad season. The Cardinals haven’t had a bad team in a while so it’s been hard to test how loyal the STL fan base is and how they would react to their team losing. (I realize they had a losing record in 2007 but that’s their only losing season since 1999)

    • cohnjusack - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:46 PM

      The still drew really well during the lean years from 1988-1997, which saw just one post-season appearance. (I realize they didn’t make the postseason in 1998 or 1999, but that was also when McGwire-mania was at it’s fever pitch). But again, that was a loooong time ago.

      What I want to know is: why aren’t the Cubs in the top 5? People still keep showing up and they rarely, if ever, give them anything to cheer about.

      • spudchukar - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:45 PM

        A valid question, however the metropolitan area is huge, the team is both situated in a more desirable part of town and garners the more affluent fan base, and if you have ever experienced the a game there, my only plea to those who attend games is will you please sit the FU**K down.

        In other words, it is more of a social event than anything else.

      • John Holton - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:06 AM

        Sportswriters have conflated Wrigley Field into some sort of baseball cathedral. A good proportion of the people at Cubs games don’t go to see the team, they go to see the ballpark.

  5. Matthew Pouliot - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Aren’t any fans the Astros have left, by definition, extremely loyal?

    • spudchukar - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      Snark is popular here at HBT. And while in some ways dissin’ on the ‘Stros is valid, the comparison to a number of other franchises you could have picked, would be a much more deserving target.

  6. musketmaniac - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    if the pirates would have extended their losing streak to 21, we would have been right beside the Astros

  7. chill1184 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    “Whether that’s love or that’s insanity I have no idea, but it’s certainly loyalty of a type.”

    I can only speak for myself, for me its a few reasons;

    1. I believe in Alderson’s plan

    2. I’m 29 and have much bigger things to worry about in my life than baseball despite it being my favorite sport and them being the worst of out my teams (Devils and Steelers)

    3. Seeing the Red Sox and Pirates break their respective “curses” gives me somewhat hope

    4. Switching teams is futile because every team has a period in which they’re terrible

  8. adventuresinfresno - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    Giants fans are some of the most fair weather of any you’ll come across. The difference in numbers when they’re winning vs. when they’re losing is staggering. Them at 5 indicates a big flaw.

    • normcash - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      You’re right—and Atlanta—land of the unsold-out playoff game— in the top 5 is just nutty…

    • mpzz - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      Yeah, that’s why they sold out all of last year with a 76-86 record!

      • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:10 PM

        clearly you never went to one of those “sold out” mid week games. it was a ghost town.

      • normcash - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:51 PM

        They basically sold out before the year started coming off the Series win…hundreds of thousands of tickets went unused as the year went on….

      • adventuresinfresno - Apr 17, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        That’s false. They didnt sell out all of last year. They didnt come close.

        And paid attendance vs actual attendance shows a real discrepancy in fan activity…whether its SF, LA or NY.

  9. clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    Judging from the tens of thousand fans dressed as empty seats at the Giants game I went to last year, coupled with the earnest announcement over the PA telling the 15,000 assembled that the giants continued their X number consecutive sellout streak, I wonder about where they are pulling their attendance figures.

  10. downvotesforeveryone - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    You gotta be kidding me. Philly fans are bandwagon as f**k.

  11. flyinhighwithvick - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    You cant put the Phillies fans up that high. We are the worst people on the planet.

    • fissels - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:24 PM

      Bad people, maybe. But very loyal

    • ewyorksockexchange - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      Totally. I can’t wait for “Christmas in July”. Show me a drunk Santa, and I’ll show him four or five snowballs I’m saving in my freezer. Don’t know how I’ll get them in, though. Security is tight these days.

  12. Sign Ahead - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    It sounds like this is a brand loyalty survey, which is a lot like asking “which company has the most consistently profitable customers?” To me, being a reliable pip on a company’s balance sheet is not a good source of pride. But it does make me wonder, what does “fan loyalty” mean to us?

    What are we being loyal to? Are we loyal to the business itself, the one that charges us six dollars for a beer and threatens to move when it wants a new ballpark? Is it the players on the field? The community of fans? Our home town? Is it worthy of loyalty? Is it loyal in return?

    And what does that loyalty look like? Do we have to visit the ballpark a certain number of times per year? Spend a certain amount on licensed merchandise? Wear a certain color?

    Do we always give our team the benefit of the doubt and defend it against criticism? Is our loyalty a lifelong thing? Can it be changed or broken after a bad season (or a bad decade? Or a bad century?)? What about after we move? Or when the team moves?

    Most of the time when I hear someone mention “fan loyalty” it sets off alarms in my head. Who’s trying to manipulate me? But I don’t think that loyalty is necessarily a bad thing. And when we define it ourselves (instead of letting it be defined for us), it can be a great source of community.

    • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      where can I get this $6 beer?

      • chadjones27 - Apr 8, 2014 at 8:35 AM

        $6? What stadium do they sell beer that cheap? I think I’ll switch my fan loyalty to that team.

    • stlouis1baseball - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      I couldn’t tell you the last time I “only” spent $6.00 on a beer at the ballpark.
      15 years ago maybe?
      Regardless…solid post Sign Ahead.

  13. unclemosesgreen - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    A marketing consultant measuring “authenticity”. The Bill James of marketing they are not.

  14. timmons94 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    Brewers fans are very loyal too. Indians fans come dressed as 35,000 empty seats . Shane rained out tonight. 336 people have to find something else to do now

  15. JP - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    Rockies fans continue to come out and support our craptastic bottom dweller year after year. Meanwhile, no mention of the Marlins or the White Sox and there empty ballparks with 800 fans in attendance.

    • JP - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:17 PM


  16. rebloggedonlol - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    Most loyal is another way most homers, and they are right

    • rebloggedonlol - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      “of saying” was supposed to be in there

    • ewyorksockexchange - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM

      I would think home fans rooting for their local team would be a good thing. “Homers” are usually national announcers who talk about their native teams in a biased manner. I dislike the latter, but not the former. Under your definition, what are bandwagon fans?

  17. normcash - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    It’s preposterous that the Tigers aren’t in the top 5

  18. disgracedfury - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    The Astros have three 100 game losses back to back and you expect them to be loyal.They aslo have kept George Springer in the minors when he could help.When the minors finished they kept him down in the minors so they can lose more games last year and secure the first round pick.

    The Astros have purposely lost the last few years which is worse than a player cheating.

  19. koufaxmitzvah - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    The Dodgers have already sold 3 million tickets to the 2014 season.

    • mpzz - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      Front runners.

      • clydeserra - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:14 PM

        yeah, at the beginning of 2013 they were giving tickets away for some tie ins at local businesses. The whole 5th?( 6th? 8th?) deck was empty. it wasn’t until puig mania that the place became a hot ticket.

        I remember when I was living there in the early/mid 90s they couldn’t get people to go to playoff games, just like the braves.

  20. timmons94 - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    My top 5.
    1. Tigers. 2. Red Sox. 3. Yankees 4. Brewers. 5. Cubs. Every team has great fans. I grew up and still love the tribe. Great team sold out for years. Got worse and economy and attendance went down. I dog browns a lot but I would love to see Cleveland win a title. Great town. Great people. Great fans. Kc too. Any baseball fan needs to go to kc. Best stadium in baseball

  21. fissels - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    I can see why the Mets are #29. I gave up on them after many, many aggravating and heartbreaking years. The arrogance of the Wilpons is what finally did me in.

  22. gbart22 - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    This just boils down to recent success which isn’t a fair evaluator. When these 5 teams go on an extended down time will they still be ranked in the top 5? No they won’t because we are a nation of band wagoners with a smaller percentage of fans being the die hards.

    Yankees won 85+ games last year with a bunch of nobodies because most everyone was injured yet the tv ratings and attendance dropped sharply despite a winning record. Loyalty

  23. Old Gator - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    The Rocky Mountain Oysters ranked tenth overall in attendance last season (and rank fifth this season so far), barely 40,000 fewer for the year than the ninth ranked team, the Beanbags – yet here the Oysters occupy the cellar while the Beanbags rank third. Okay. I know there are other factors at play in this system besides attendance, but frankly, I think whomever came up with it was formerly the director of inventory management for the Venezuelan retail grocery supply system.

  24. spudchukar - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    While I will never be able to agree so eloquently; the definition of loyalty is so broad, to render it meaningless. I for one, and would like to opine that one can be dissectically critical, yet maintain favoritism. I proffer that a true fan can express fealty and still avoid ass-kissing devotion.

    • paperlions - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      I agree….but here is a thing about loyalty. By definition, it persists. If the way in which they measure loyalty results in inter-annual variation, then the metric is crap. My guess is that whatever they are doing, is crap.

      • spudchukar - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:38 PM

        Thanks for clarifying my verbosity. Your analysis was not only unarguably correct, you did so much more succinctly.

  25. florida76 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    A huge reason why the Cardinals top this particular list is the lack of viable alternatives in the St. Louis sports market. The NFL has failed once in that city, and the Rams will likely relocate after this season. No NBA, and the NHL Blues have very little tradition, with more than 40 years since they reached a Cup Final. Factor in the lack of big time college football, and it’s easy to see why the historical success of the Cards breeds loyalty in that market.

    As an overall sports town, St. Louis is only average.

    • paperlions - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      If you think the Blues have little tradition, then you are ignorant of the market. The Blues have a very deep following in the StL area….don’t confuse franchise success with tradition. I haven’t live in StL since I was 18 (for over 25 years now), and I still bleed blue and watch almost every game on line. If I ever call my dad during a game, he has it on.

    • kicksave1980 - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:10 PM

      The NFL didn’t “fail” in St. Louis when the Cardinals were there. They had one of the worst owners in professional sports. The Rams have been more popular than they get credit for since they arrived in 1995. The sellout streak at the dome stretched into the Marc Bulger era, which says a lot. And the Blues have a TON of support in St. Louis and Eastern Missouri. I grew up in St. Louis…as a fan of the hated Blackhawks. That wasn’t easy.

      St. Louis is a great sports town. Is it the best? Who knows…there are great sports fans everywhere.

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