Will baseball's 60-game return have enough oomph to keep fans interested? It's a question that scares some of the game's biggest names, but I have no doubt Phillies fans will be supporting their team in late July.
And according to a new ranking of MLB fans' loyalty, the Phils will probably fare better than most.
The new Forbes ranking, released Wednesday, attempts to rank each fanbase by its respective loyalty, a tall task. The ranking factors in things like local TV ratings, stadium attendance, ticket demand, merch sales, and social media reach, then adjusts for local population.
It's an imperfect science, but it's not a bad approach. And the Phillies finished in the Top 10, so I'll take it - even if they could've been higher.
Phillies fans rank No. 9 in loyalty among all 30 teams, according to Forbes, and sixth among seven NL teams in the Top 10. Here's the Forbes explanation:
9. Philadelphia Phillies
Sales of right fielder Bryce Harper’s jersey set a record for any sport for any player during the first 24 hours after his signing last year, helping to make the team’s merchandise among the league’s best-selling. But Phillies fans are a notoriously tough crowd. After witnessing a 6-5 win at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates in late September, Phillies fans booed Harper and the team for not winning by more, prompting former utility player Sean Rodriguez, whose home run won the game, to call them "entitled" in the press. Because of the backlash he received from fans, he apologized the next day for the use of the word—proving the fans are always right.
You'll be happy to know the Phillies finish atop the NL East, just one spot ahead of the Atlanta Braves. That's enjoyable.
I won't take issue with the Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Yankees, and Dodgers representing the Top 5. Those are basically immovable. But after that, things get a bit more interesting.
The Brewers, Giants, and Indians all have loyal fanbases, but I don't know if I'd argue they're any more loyal than Phillies fans. Every fanbase ebbs and flows with its team's success, especially teams that aren't traditional powerhouses. When the Phils are on top of their game, South Philly is a borderline Top 5 place to watch a ball game.
I could see the Phils landing anywhere between No. 6 and No. 9 on this list. Personally, I'd put them above the Indians and Brewers - but, again, this is all imperfect science.
Earlier this year, Forbes released a ranking of the 10 most passionate sports fanbases in the country, and the Eagles finished No. 5 overall, behind four other NFL teams. Not a bad year for the area's fan reputation.
The 2020 Major League Baseball season is scheduled to begin July 23.
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