True Life: I’m A Sub .500 Fan

Originally Posted July 2, 2010:

Cue the entry audio to MTV’s True Life.

Fans come in all different sorts of intoxicating personalities. We all know of the Fair Weather Fan. They join the party after the party has already started. They jump on the band wagon after the wagon has made its 100th winning stop. They can tell you the time they watched their team win the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 World Series, but not their rosters.

Then there are the Casual Fans. They can tell you the big three on the team, but they can’t name who the starting catcher is. Or who replaced the struggling superstar closer. Or who filled in for the team’s famous broadcaster when he was out for heart surgery.

I think more annoying than casual fans are Homer Fans. These fans, no matter how pathetic their team is playing, still think their team is God’s gift to Earth and there losing season is to blame on this guy. You can’t even confront these fans about their team without receiving a reaction like this.

But let’s face it, the greatest type of fans are the DieHard Fans. No matter what they are doing, they will drop everything for a chance to watch their team play. No matter their team’s performance, they are behind them 110% for the entire season and off-season. They don’t just sit and agree with the GM’s moves, they analyze, criticize, and scrutinize all the moves and makes their voice heard.

I would like to encourage everyone to at least be a diehard fan for one season (of course, please assess the situation… marriage and family should still be top priority, by a small margin). Follow a team, any team, pick a new team, any sport, and follow each and every play as if it were their last.

The greatest moment in a sports fan life is to follow your team to the championship from the beginning when their record was 0-0 and watching them win it all… But, winning isn’t just about bringing home the bling. Sometimes, winning is just about making it to the championship, just barely making it into the playoffs, just finishing above 0.500 for the first time in 12 years. I can honestly say that following a losing team for years as a diehard fan pays the biggest dividends in the end. Some fans have never seen a losing season (the last Yankees losing season: 1992. Yankee fans under 21 years of age definitely can’t remember that). Some have only seen losing seasons. The diehard that sticks through sub 0.500 winning percentages from their team year after year get butterflies in their stomach when their team is even competing for a wild card spot (some fans look at contending for the wild card a losing season). Welcome to my life as a Brewers fan since the late 80’s.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
If you root for the following teams year after year despite finishing in the red, you have earned your badge which gives you access to the greatest circle of fans in the baseball community.

Baltimore Orioles / St. Louis Browns / 1901 Milwaukee Brewers
The Orioles are the epitome of a team that requires diehard fans. If it weren’t for these fans, Baltimore would not be playing baseball in Camden Yard but rather be coming to Camden as a place of worship (not to the baseball Gods). They no longer have the Cal Ripken era to bring in the fans, and their last “winning” season came back in 1997 when they actually WON the AL East (but lost in the ALCS). This is the longest active streak for seasons below 0.500. Things haven’t always been bad. During the 1964 to 1983 years, the Orioles only finished in the lower half of their division twice; AND finished with a sub 0.500 winning percentage once during this period. Sitting at a current record of 23-52, this season is no different than the past 12 with their winning percentage (currently 0.307%) at its lowest since 1939 when they finished 43-111 as the St. Louis Browns. And I hate to bring more bad news to the fans of the orange and black, but in the past 5 seasons, the Orioles have only won more than 30 games once after the All-Star break. So hang in there Orioles fans; if you can stick through this, you will reap sweet rewards once Wieters, Jones, Matusz, and Markakis put it all together.

Milwaukee Brewers
There is no bias here. Yes, I am a Brewers fan, but even if I wasn’t, Brewers fans would still have to be on this list. The Brewers have had a blazing 14 “winning” seasons (above 0.500 winning percentage) out of 41 seasons in the big leagues. They have made a total of three playoff appearances and lost the World Series in 1982. The big reason diehard Brewers fans deserve to be considered as some of the best fans is due to the fact that since 1993, they have gotten to witness only three “winning” seasons a drought that included 12 consecutive “losing” seasons (from 1993 to 2004). Brewers fans have had little to cheer about during the 25 season playoff drought. Pat Listach (who isn’t a Lady GaGa fan) was Rookie of the Year in 1993. And Jose Hernandez almost broke the strikeout record for most strikeouts in a season (for a batter) coming within 4 in 2001 and 1 in 2002 (he even benched himself to protect him from holding the record). In 2008, Brewers fans got a taste of the High Life when they made their first playoff appearance since the 1982 World Series (which they promptly exited, but they lasted longer than the Cubs). Things were looking up for Brewers fans, but 2010 looks like it will be a repeat of the mid-90’s. With Prince Fielder’s days as a Brewer numbered, Brewers fans may be back to cheering for Sausages for the next 14 years (actually, this is a common theme with sub 0.500 clubs… racing mascots so fans have something to cheer for).

Kansas City Royals, Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos, and San Diego Padres
These three teams are all in the same sinking ship (although San Diego may have slowed the leak this season). The Royals own an 18-24 winning seasons record, the Nationals own a personal 1-5 record (including the Expos seasons, they are 17-24), and the Friars hold a 16-26 winning seasons record. Out of this bunch, they have all had their eras. The Royals most recently had the era of Brett, Bo Knows, and Saberhagen. The Expos had the 1994 season all wrapped up with a 74-40 record, on pace to win 105 games. They had Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, and Pedro Martinez. They were a lock for the post season until the players strike which cancelled the 1994 World Series. Lastly, the Padres had the Templeton, Nettles, Gwynn, and Gossage era which won them the pennant in 1984. But all of that is in the past; and currently in the past 10 seasons, these three teams are a combined 2152-2708, just under 0.450 winning percentage. The Padres is the team that is currently rewarding their diehard fans by leading the NL West this season (and 2 of the past 5 seasons). The Friars are still missing the World Champions title; could this be the season. The other two teams are keeping their fan base simply to the diehards. The Royals are one of four teams who have not posted a winning season in the past SEVEN years (Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh are the other three; Cincy and Pitt both still hold more winning seasons than losing). Behind the Brewers, I am a Royals fan. I enjoyed watching the George Brett years, but those are long gone. All those losing seasons built up their farm system full of talent and I foresee the Royals being a threat in the next 5 seasons. The Nationals are in a similar situation as the Royals. In their first season in Washington, they posted an even 0.500 winning percentage, but since then they have been throwing their seasons to acquire the mutant Strasburg and softball player lookalike, Bryce Harper. Once these kids grow up (and assuming the Nationals can afford them), Washington could be looking at a playoff run in five to seven years.

Texas Rangers / Washington Senators
The Texas Rangers have only won one post season game ever in their 50 season existence (39 as the Rangers, 11 as the Senators) and haven’t returned to the post season since 1999. Their 39 season above 0.500 seasons record is 17-22, while the entire franchise record is 18-32. They had plenty to root for in the late 80’s and early 90’s with Nolan Ryan on the mound who pitched two no-hitters as a Ranger and recorded 301 strikeouts in the 1989 season. Since their last post season appearance, they only have two winning seasons. However, this season they look very strong with Nolan Ryan not on the mound but in the clubhouse as co-team owner. If Guerrero, Hamilton (who is batted out of his mind in the month of June), Kinsler, and Cruz can keep hitting; and CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, and Tommy Hunter aren’t pitching flukes, the Rangers should be headed to the post season in 2010. A post season that Nolan Ryan and the other Ranger diehards should be able to sit back and enjoy the ride to the ALCS.

On The DieHard Fence
The diehard fans for these few teams are just simply waiting in line (like a new Apple product might be released in 4 weeks) for a chance to be considered some of the MLB’s most diehard.

Chicago Cubs
Don’t get me wrong Cubs fans, I don’t want you exploding and ending up on the restricted list. I know the Cubs are on a 100+ year drought of getting the title of greatest Survivor Baseball World Champions. At an overall team record of 74 winning seasons vs 61 losing seasons, your team has seen the good times and have had their opportunities to claim it all. Just the Cubs franchise (started in 1903) has a winning record of 51-57, so they are sub 0.500 of sub 0.500 seasons (I just wanted to type that). But for Cubs fans to join the ranks of most diehard baseball enthusiasts, they can’t go blaming their misfortune on goats, or Bartmans, or black cats, or Bill Buckner (the list continues). The 2010 season may end as their worst one since 2006 when they finished last in the NL Central with a 66-96 season record. Hold out hope Cubs fans, the GM and half the team may be on their way out this season.

Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, and Tampa Bay Rays/Devil Rays
All three of these teams are here for one reason, the sample size is too small to truly determine what type of teams these will be. Expansion teams almost always start their franchise in the tank (these three actually finished last or next to last in their respective divisions their first season). The Rockies have made three playoff appearances with one appearance leading to the World Series when they snapped off a ridiculous 21 wins in 22 games and promptly named it Rock-tober. But they still boast a 7 winning seasons vs 11 losing seasons record. In a weak NL West and a young, strong talented team, I don’t think Rockies fans will be watching too many losing seasons in the years to come. The Florida Marlins can claim one less winning season than the Rockies (6-12 overall), but they also can claim two World Championship titles in those 6 winning seasons. Marlins fans shouldn’t even be considered on this fence, except the team’s average attendance is just over 16,000 per game (hopefully a new stadium brings in more fans). Talk about Fair Weather fans; hopefully a new stadium brings in more fans. And the last team, The Rays, are one of the most recent favorite under dog teams. Claiming the AL East title in 2008 (where they lost in the World Series), it was their first above 0.500 season record in their 13 season history. Prior to that season, they hadn’t finished anywhere but last, except for the 2004 season when they finished next to last. Battling in the extreme powerhouse AL East, Tampa will need to hope that the shedding of the “Devil” from their name (since dropping Devil and becoming just the Rays, they have 3 consecutive winning seasons) will continue their winning trend. But I have a small inkling that the true Tampa fans will be included in the inner most circle of Diehard Fans.

Adopt an Under-Dog
If you root for one of these teams, get off your high horse and see what losing actually feels like… like a line drive off the face.

New York Yankees
Does this team even need a few sentences written about their dominance in the Major Leagues? Since 1901, they hold a record of 88-22 for seasons above 0.500. They hold 27 World Championships; and since 1995, they have only missed the post season once. If that doesn’t scream MLB Goliath, I don’t know what does. Even giving skipper Joe Torre to the Dodgers didn’t effect their dominance (in the first season under Girardi they missed the post season, but in his second they brought home the World Championship). Fans haven’t seen a sub 0.500 season since 1992. Yankees fans are a breed of their own; and there are two main reasons most fans can not stand Yankees fans… 1) half the country is Yankees fans, but 1/1000000th of them know the Yankees Roster prior to the post season; and 2) if the Yankees don’t win 90 games, their fans demand for everyone to be fired and to go out and buy a “winning” team for next season. In fact, the Yankees payroll is almost 6 TIMES the payroll of the Pittsburgh Pirates. With that payroll, I don’t see the Yankees fans witnessing a losing season for a few years to come.

Saint Louis Cardinals
Quick, answer this SAT question. The Yankees are to AL dominance as the _______ are to NL dominance.
If you cheated and said the Cardinals because the question was under their subtitle, you are incorrect. If you didn’t cheat and said the Cardinals, congratulations you scored a 1000 on the Kings of Cork SAT. Ok in all seriousness, these stats were found quite as a surprise. The team directly behind the robotic Yankees in the Above 0.500 seasons percentage is the Cardinals. Their above 0.500 seasons record stands at 89 to 23 as the Cardinals (if you include the Browns and Perfectos, it is 96-33). This explains the hatred the rest of the NL Central has towards the Red Birds. The Cardinals have recorded only three seasons sub 0.500 in the recent Tony LaRussa era which dates back to 1996. Don’t get me wrong, Cardinal fans are diehards (trust me, I have to put up with them AND the Cubs fans in Iowa), but no one wants to hear the Cards fans complain when they start losing and don’t make it to the playoffs. No matter what, I hope Cardinal fans don’t lose their malevolent ways.

Feel free to agree or argue that you should be considered one of the ultimate diehards in the comments section below; but as I mentioned above, I encourage everyone who reads this post to follow a sub 0.500 team for at least a year (who knows, you may follow them even longer). Learn their players. Learn their farm system. Watch and live through all their pain and struggles (you can still root for your usual dominating team). You may just learn to love a sub 0.500 team as many of us already do. The team doesn’t have to be on the list above (the Pirates haven’t been to the playoffs since 1992), check out the list below for every MLB team’s historical record for winning versus losing seasons:

Data via

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