The Cardinals have the most loyal fans, Mariners the least

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Nothing riles up fans more than other fans shaming them for not being good, loyal fans. Or for people to claim that they have some special monopoly on being good fans. But given that riling people up is part of our #Brand here at HBT, we usually pass on the results of that annual survey which purports to measure such things.

Brand Keys, a consulting firm or marketing firm or something, puts the list together by somehow measuring 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. So basically, there’s no way to dispute their findings. We can just argue about them.

Top 5 Teams for the most loyal fans this year, with last year’s rankings in parentheses:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (#1)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (#3)
3. San Francisco Giants (#2)
4 Detroit Tigers (#4)
5. Washington Nationals (#5)

The bottom five with last year’s rankings in parenthesis:

30. Seattle Mariners (#25)
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (#29)
28. Colorado Rockies (#28)
27. San Diego Padres (#24)
26. Houston Astros (#30)

Worth noting that the Phillies led the list for “most loyal” on Opening Day 2011, which I think was probably the height of Philly fan enthusiasm. I don’t think enthusiasm and loyalty is the same thing, though. Most Philly fans I know are still loyal to their team. They’re just realistic that they suck. Same in reverse for the Mets, who used to — heck, maybe still do — have a singularly neurotic and pessimistic fan base but no one can doubt their loyalty. Indeed, if you’re not loyal you don’t allow yourself to be emotionally connected to the bad stuff enough to let it bother you. That makes the “fan bonding” and “entertainment” parts of this thing suspect. You can be a loyal fan even if your team has been hostile to you and is more misery inducing than entertaining.

And of course, all of this assumes that “loyalty” is an unequivocally great thing anyway. You don’t get a reserved spot in heaven, get your karma reduced or get holes punched in some sort of cosmic rewards card just for being loyal to your team. I know the whole Sports is Everything Industrial Complex has convinced people that loyalty is everything, but it’s actually pretty silly.

If you’re the sort of fan who watches the sports team you like up to the point they entertain you and make it worth your time and then tune out when the balance is off you’re not a better or worse person. If you put yourself through the ringer for them, no matter the situation, you’re neither of those things either. Let sports be your thing in your own way and don’t listen to people who would tell you different.

Blue Jays clinch 1st playoff spot since 2016, beat Yanks 4-1

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Hyun Jin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings and the Toronto Blue Jays clinched their first postseason spot since 2016, beating the Yankees 4-1 Thursday night and further damaging New York’s chances of hosting a first-round playoff series.

New York lost for the fourth time in five games and remained two games behind the slumping White Sox for the fourth seed. Chicago lost 5-4 at Cleveland, its fifth straight defeat.

Toronto secured at least an AL wild-card spot and ensured its eighth trip overall to the postseason.

Blue Jays players embraced on the diamond at their temporary home of Sahlen Field in Buffalo after Rafael Dolis struck out Aaron Hicks to end it.

The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by two games for second place in the AL East. Both teams have three games remaining. Toronto hosts Baltimore in Buffalo while the Yankees host the Marlins.

New York failed to hit a homer for the fourth straight game, matching its longest streak since June 2016. It’s the first time the Yankees have failed to homer in a four-game series since doing so at Texas in July 2013.

New York loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez flied out to deep center, where Randal Grichuk made a leaping catch at the wall.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered for Toronto.

Ryu (5-2) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Luke Voit and Hicks hit back-to-back singles to begin the sixth but Ryu struck out Giancarlo Stanton, got Gleyber Torres to fly out and retired Gio Urshela on a groundball.

Dolis got four outs for his fifth save in six chances.

Ryu became the first Blue Jays starting pitcher since Aug. 22, 2019, to pitch into the seventh, pitching around Clint Frazier‘s leadoff single by setting down the next three, including pinch-hitter Aaron Judge. The left-hander lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.69.

Guerrero opened the scoring with a solo homer off left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-3) in the second, his eighth.

The Blue Jays extended their lead when Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back, two-out doubles in the third.

Toronto made it 4-0 in the sixth. Grichuk chased Montgomery with a single and Guerrero singled off Adam Ottavino before rookie Alejandro Kirk hit a two-out, two-run double.

Montgomery lost for the first time in four starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays finished 5-5 in their 10-game regular season series against the Yankees.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (elbow) was activated off the injured list and RHP Wilmer Font was designated for assignment. . RHP Jordan Romano (strained right middle finger) will throw a second bullpen session Friday.

Yankees: Judge is expected to start all three remaining regular season games, manager Aaron Boone said.

BIG HIT

New York infielder D.J. LeMaheiu went 1 for 5, dropping his MLB-best average to .355. A former NL batting champ seeing his first AL title, LeMahieu is well ahead of White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. The Chicago star went 0 for 4 in Thursday’s loss to Cleveland, dropping his average to .338.

SHARED DUTY

Boone said he expects to use both Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher in the postseason. Higashioka has hit well while working with ace Gerrit Cole, while Sanchez has struggled with both offense and his defense down the stretch.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.25) starts Friday as New York returns home to begin a three-game series against Miami. RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12) starts for the Marlins.

Blue Jays: RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.86) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Baltimore. The Orioles have not named a starter.