It's baseball season which means, of course, that the perennial debate must begin anew: which team has the best fans? Personally, I have had this discussion far too many times. So I will now put it in writing for all to see and hopefully never have to speak of it again.
The first question that has to be asked when taking on this issue is what is meant by "best"? Are the best fans the ones who support their team through thick and thin? Sell out every home game? Cheer the loudest? Boo the loudest? Are they the ones who have actual knowledge of their team, its players and the game of baseball or are they simply the ones who throw the most shit on the field in the course of the game?
It's a tough question. Seriously. I mean its quite a homefield advantage when your fan base is a bunch of braying jackasses who are more than willing to publicly humiliate themselves in order to heckle the other team. On the other hand, having a stadium packed with those same morons can have a negative impact on the home team as well [see every big name free agent the Mets ever brought in. Or the Albert "Joey" Belle (definitely in my top 5 sports psychopaths) My favorite is the incident in which shortly after he completed a program for alcohol and drug abuse (and subsequently changed his name from Joey to Albert in a totally bizarre and never really explained move), one of his own fans was taunting him about having a keg party over at his house. In response to the heckling, Belle picked up a foul ball, turned, and threw the ball as hard as he could into the fan's chest. The guy had to go to the hospital and Albert was suspended for a week. Brilliant, Mr. Belle. I don't know how you came up with that stuff. By the way, if you aren't familiar with his greatest hits, check out this site - http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=albert_belle_1966 - focusing on the first four paragraphs. It reads like this guy is writing about a character he made up - the biggest douche bag ever to play America's sport]
For the purposes of this post, I'm going to say the best fans are the loudest, drunkest, and most disruptive. I'll be basing my judgments on my personal experiences. And by personal experiences I mean everything from actually firsthand knowledge, to seeing stuff on television, to unverified stories I heard from some guy that swears his buddy was there. Since this is how I get all of my information on which I make major life decisions, I see no problem with using it here.
TOP TEN "BEST" BASEBALL FAN BASES
10. San Francisco Giants
California fans generally don't get a lot of respect. And I won't be giving them much respect here, either. But I will say this; there is no fan base more absurdly loyal to its players than Giant fans. If you've ever had a conversation about Barry Bonds with a Giant fan, you'll immediately know what I'm talking about. I happen to know a lot of Giant fans and I may have once or twice insinuated that Barry Bonds may or may not have taken a lot of steroids. Man, they get insane! They refuse to apply logic or listen to rational arguments when it comes to Bonds. Giants’ fans literally turn into a team of attorneys whenever Barry Bonds is mentioned. They require you to prove to them beyond a reasonable doubt that Barry Bonds used steroids (I think we can all agree that their doubts are unreasonable at this point). I had one of my Giant fan friends demand that I show him evidence that Barry Bonds is guilty of using performance enhancers. As if I'm Federal prosecutor and I've got some exhibits on me as we're drinking at a bar. "Just wait a second while I produce blood test records from 2003." Get a hold of yourself. The man's head grew at 37 years of age! His head! Grew! Whatever. I'm not going to beat a dead, bloated, large headed, cheating horse. I'll just say that any fan base that can be that ridiculous about its players deserves some kind of recognition for their efforts. I mean, take a look at the #3's fans and remember how fast they turned on Sammy Sosa. Good job, San Fran.
Oh, also, I went to a game at Candlestick in the middle of August and it was negative 10 degrees and windy. I seriously considered urinating on myself to keep warm. Any fans willing to endure that to see a game deserve to make this list.
9. Milwaukee Brewers
Brewers’ fans aren't generally considered to be rowdy or obnoxious, but that's only because the Brewers aren't generally considered to be a baseball team. Let me tell you from personal experience that these people get absolutely ripped at their games. Is this shocking to anyone? They're sponsored by a beer company. They sell Miller Lite and MGD for around 30 cents at a stadium called Miller Park. They're named the Brewers for God's sake! They're literally daring their fans to try and remain sober.
And their general drunkenness is nothing new. When I was a kid, I went to see the Brewers play the Orioles at the old County Stadium (if Cleveland hadn't built that abomination which was officially called Municipal Stadium and was unofficially known as "The Mistake by the Lake," then County stadium would be the ugliest, dirtiest, and stickiest place I've ever seen a baseball game). I have to be honest with you; I don't remember much of the game because the guys next to us made a bigger spectacle than the players on the field. These guys got piss drunk by the third inning and proceeded to heckle Eddie Murray for the next two hours or so. "Eddie!" "ED-DIE!!" and "Murray sucks!" were loudly slurr-screamed in my ear for the entire game, no matter who was at bat, no matter who was in the field. Just a constant "Edddddd-iiiiiiiieeeee!!!" intermixed with a more subdued "Edd-ddiee" when they got a little tuckered out. The funniest part about the whole thing was that Eddie Murray wasn't even in the game. In fact, he didn't even play for either team. He'd been with the Dodgers for 4 years by the time these two decided to heckle him mercilessly. But you know what, even if my dad and I had told them that Eddie Murray couldn't hear them because we were in the upper deck and he was in Los Angeles, I don't think that that would have mattered to these guys. They would have let him have it anyways because, frankly, he deserved it, in their estimation, and it was about time someone did something about it. Now those are great fans.
8. St. Louis Cardinals
This is Budweiser's contribution to baseball fan douchebaggery. And just like with their beer, their product is a little bitter and a little hard to swallow, and still marginally better than Miller's. I'm speaking of course about the fact that the Cardinals are sponsored by the Budweiser family of beers and consequently, Cardinal fans get just as drunk as Brewers fans. And, of course, with drunken fans comes inappropriate behavior. I have to confess, I've only been to one Cardinal home game when I was about 12 years old. But, man, was it a doozy. We were watching the Cards take on the Braves and I'm a Braves fan (don't worry, I'm not biased, as you will see from the fact that the Braves are not on my list of great fan bases) so of course, I was wearing my Braves gear. The game had just started and my dad and I were hitting the men's room before we took our seats. While I was waiting outside of the bathroom for my dad to finish up, two beefy Midwestern guys came up to me chuckling as they looked over my hat and replica jersey. Then one of them got right in my face and yelled "FUCK YOU, KID!!!" and then they walked away. I spent the rest of the game in my seat hunched over in fear, imagining that my dad and I were seconds away from being carried off and ritualistically slaughtered by a pack of huge men with bad haircuts and stupid looking mustaches. It was utterly traumatic for me. And I learned something that day. I learned to respect Cardinals fans. If you are truly a good fan, you don't let some stupid kid enjoy a baseball game if he's rooting for the wrong team. NO! You gotta scream some profanity in his face, for God's sake! You gotta rattle his cage! "There are no free rides! Not in our house!" That's right. Welcome to # 8, St. Louis.
7. Chicago White Sox
Sox fans make it to this spot based solely on this: In 2002, during a Sox- Royals game, an irate father and his 15 year old son rushed on to the field and proceeded to beat the ever-loving crap out of the Royals first base coach, Tom Gamboa. For full details of the incident, read this article - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/news/2002/09/19/royals_whitesox_ap/ . My favorite part - where the dude is like "He got what he deserved." Priceless! That is white trash at its best, folks. Just absolutely unapologetic for their transgressions.
I've never read anything that adequately explains what the hell happened here, but I imagine it went something like this:
White Trash Dad: "Hey, Gamboa, you suck! Your team also sucks! You can barely coach first base!"
Tom Gamboa: - - -
WTD: "Gamboa, how many outs are there? Bet you don't know!"
TG: - - -
WTD: "Hey, Gamboa, what are you, some kind of Italian?"
TG: - - -
WTD: "Hey, Tommy, is Gamboa Italian for giant queerburger?!"
WTD: "Did you hear that, Son? No one says that about the Ligue men! Let's get him!"
Son: "Right behind you, Pa!"
6. Detroit Tigers
I went to the old Tigers Stadium the season before they tore it down (or more accurately, allowed it to fall down like God intended) and never have I felt so close to being in a riot. They lost to the Yankees that night and I was convinced that we were seconds away from tear gas and burning cars.
I also went to the new Comerica Park which is a very nice, huge, clean park. But we walked from our hotel downtown to the park and it was like taking a walking tour of Baghdad. I need no other proof that those people are hard-ass. That goes for the fans living out in the burbs too. Anybody willing to drag his family through that living hell to catch a game is a diehard in my book.
5. Boston Red Sox
I think we're all familiar with Red Sox fans at this point. Yes, they used to be whiny. And yes, they suddenly got unbelievably cocky. Despite all that, you've never experienced anything funnier than 30,000 people screaming "Fack you, Gay-Rod!!" in unison in their ridiculous New England accent.
4. New York Mets
A few facts for you: Fact 1 - Shea Stadium smells more like urine than urine does. Fact 2 - No one is more abusive to opposing players than Mets fans. Pouring beer on players' heads, screaming what I can only describe as imaginative profanity, chucking batteries - they have the whole bag of tricks. I know all of this from personal experience. First, I've peed all over that stadium and its surrounding parking lot. I feel honored to be a part of history. And second, I've heard, and, yes, participated, in many a brutal heckling. I once sat by the opponent's bullpen and watched about 10 native New Yorkers psychologically break down a middle reliever until he was pile of mush. Poor Pat Mahomes (pronounced Ma-Homes, except in New York where it's pronounced Faggot). I don't know if you see the humor in the name Pat Mahomes, but they sure did. They started there and grew progressively worse until by the time this guy had to go into the game they were describing an elaborate sodomy scene with the 10 of them and Momma Mahomes. Two pitches into his first batter, he gave up the game winning three run homerun. No one in our section was a bit surprised.
3. Chicago Cubs
They're number 3 for 3 reasons. 1) Saw a guy get kicked out of the bleachers for funneling a beer. 2) Saw the entire crowd at Wrigley field boo a 10 year old kid when he didn't want to throw back a homerun ball hit by the visiting team. After a couple of minutes, he finally tossed the ball weakly into left field and then broke down crying. Amazing stuff. 3) Sat through a half hour game delay because the third base ump called Derek Lee out on a check-swing and about 40,000 people lobbed their bottled waters on to the field. I was shocked. "Cubs fans don't drink water!," I said to myself. An inning later, they didn't like another call on a close play at second base, so out go the water bottles. It was ridiculous. Where the hell were these people getting all of these water bottles?!? It's like they brought them just to hurl them into the infield.
Oh, and also, the Cubs haven't won a World Series in, like, a hundred years or something. And those people still show up to the park to get drunk. So you have to give them something, right?
2. New York Yankees
They're number 2 for 2 reasons: 1) I saw them mercilessly boo a mentally handicapped kid; and 2) I was sitting in the bleachers and I witnessed the following exchange between two drunken Yankee fans:
Yankee Fan 1: "Go, Mattingly! You're the best!"
Yankee Fan 2: "Whatta ya mean?"
Fan 1: "Whatta ya mean, whatta I mean?? Mattingly's the best!"
Fan 2: "What about Mickey Mantle?"
Fan 1: "What about Mickey Mantle?"
Fan 2: "Don't you ever fuckin' say that!!" And then he punched the guy right in the ear. Then the entire section started beating each other. 40 people were removed from the stadium at the end of the day. 5 guys were arrested and at least 4 people ended up in the hospital. All because one fan didn't give the Mick enough respect. That's gone beyond loyal fan to sociopath. That's Yankees fans, folks.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
I think everyone knows about Philadelphia fans with their booing (they booed Santa Claus!) and their fighting (they had to build an entire courtroom and jail underneath old Veterans Stadium for all of the people arrested for disorderly conduct every game). But here's one about Phillie fans that is guaranteed to shock you: A diehard Phillie fan decides to take his young son to his first baseball game. So they're sitting in the upper deck enjoying the game. They end up sitting next to a group of dudes who proceed to get blitzed during the game. Around the eighth inning or so, while the father was distracted, the guy sitting next to the boy stands up and starts peeing on the kids head. Yes. Yes. A grown man urinated on a small boy's head in the middle of a crowded stadium. Needless to say, that kid's first game will be memorable. Never have I heard of anything that epitomizes both drunken inappropriateness and abject douchebaggery in such a way. I guess this motherfather could have rooted for any team. But he didn't. He was a Phillie fan. Philadelphia should be proud.
If you disagree with any of my judgments, feel free to comment and let me know.