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.
LOS ANGELES — Dee Gordon has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after the Miami Marlins second baseman tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Gordon tested positive for exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, MLB said in a release after the Marlins’ 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.
The fleet-footed Gordon won the National League batting title by hitting .333 last season and signed a $50 million, 5-year deal with Miami in January. He’s made two All-Star teams in his six seasons and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at second base last year.
Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, had a key hit in Miami’s win over the Dodgers on Thursday. He’s batting .266 with six stolen bases this season.
“Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him,” Marlins president David Samson said. “That said, I don’t like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It’s a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization every single day.
“He will be back 80 games from now, and he will be welcomed back to this organization. But in the interim period, we expect him, and we are positive that he will do everything that’s necessary to make it up to his fans, to his teammates and to this organization.”
Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis underwent left shoulder surgery last September. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm caught up with Jays head athletic trainer George Poulis for updates on several injured players, including Travis. Here’s what Poulis had to say about Travis:
“He’s going to get some live at-bats with the extended team down in Florida on Friday. Big step for him, he’s very excited, he’s doing great, and we’re very optimistic, but no timeline right now on his return. We’re just going day by day, step by step.
“When you have something like that, it continues to heal even when you’re playing. We’re just trying to acclimate him and condition him to withstand all of the stress that he’s going to put on his shoulder … He won’t play in the field right now. We’ll mix that in, as well, but right now he’s just going to get some at-bats.”
The key phrase, of course, is “no timetable”. The second baseman’s rehab has gone slower than expected. Getting into some extended spring training games, though, signals progress.
Travis, 25, broke out last season, hitting .304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 239 plate appearances last season. The Jays have had Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney handle second base duties this year, but their aggregate .560 OPS is the worst mark in the American League.
We’re almost into May and outfielder Alex Rios remains teamless. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Rios has received offers, but he hasn’t accepted any yet because he’s seeking a job with a “significant role”. Ostensibly, that means a starting role or possibly a platoon role.
Rios, 35, was on last year’s championship-winning Royals team, but he hit a meager .255/.287/.353 with four home runs and 32 RBI in 411 plate appearances. It’s understandable if teams aren’t willing to gamble on him rediscovering his once-potent bat now that he’s in his mid-30’s.
Rios earned $11 million last year on a one-year deal with the Royals. Now, he may have to settle for a minor league contract. If Rios doesn’t receive a palatable offer, Heyman suggests he may retire.
Manny Machado is good at baseball. The Orioles’ third baseman busted Thursday’s game wide open when he clubbed a grand slam to left-center field off of reliever Jake Petricka to boost his team’s lead to 10-2 in the sixth inning.
The blast was Machado’s second career grand slam and his seventh home run of the season. Along with that, he’s hitting .337/.394/.686 with 16 RBI on the season.