Now that baseball season is upon us, it's pretty likely that fans of the Phillies and Red Sox are happiest that things are warming up.
Brand Keys' Sports Loyalty Index, which the firm says is intended to give professional sports teams fan loyalty rankings in their home and national markets, puts the Phillies on top of the five teams with the most loyal fans.
Since the Yankees are obviously going to have more loyal fans from the perspective of population, the rankings compare pro teams to each other in terms of the relative size of their fan bases.
After the Phillies, which was ranked the sixth-most-popular team nationally in 2005, come the Yanks, Bosox, the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.
The teams with the least loyal fans in their own markets are the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Baltimore Orioles, the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners and the New York Mets.
Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, says loyalty isn't just about how much a team wins -- there are other factors: how exciting they are to watch (if I might borrow here from the boxing world, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is technically the winningest fighter in the world, but one could argue that he does not have a passionate fan base to match because he's not exciting to watch); how well they play as a team, although "new stadia and often, new managers can lift this driver," says Passikoff; how admired and respected the players are; and the extent to which the team is part of fans’ and community rituals, institutions and beliefs.
In the NBA, the five teams with the most loyal fans, per Brand Keys, are the San Antonio Spurs; Boston Celtics; Los Angeles Lakers; Dallas Mavericks, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The teams with the most lukewarm fans are the Charlotte Bobcats; Sacramento Kings; Golden State Warriors; Minnesota Timberwolves, and Washington Wizards.
How about the NFL? No huge surprise here -- the Patriots are number one for fan loyalty, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Packers (not much else shaking in Green Bay); the Indianapolis Colts; and the New Orleans Saints. Scraping the bottom of the fan loyalty barrel are the Oakland Raiders; the Cleveland Browns; the St. Louis Rams; the Washington Redskins; and the Miami Dolphins.
Finally, taking it to the ice, the five NHL teams with the least gelid fans, per Brand Keys, are the Detroit Red Wings; Vancouver Canucks; the Boston Bruins; Philadelphia Flyers; and the San Jose Sharks. The five NHL teams most in need of a loyalty Zamboni are the New York Islanders; St. Louis Blues (although a name change might help here); Columbus Blue Jackets; Tampa Bay Lightning (although, to be fair, Tampa isn't exactly an ice market unless they're selling it in paper cones); and the Winnipeg Jets.