May 24, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Fan hold up “K” signs for Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Detroit won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Fandom is cyclical, much of it determined by play on the field. The Tigers recently celebrated being one of seven teams to draw 3 million fans in 2012. This season they are fourth in the majors in total attendance (despite playing less home games than the three teams ahead of them), and also fourth with an 87.3 percent capacity. Contrast that to our AL Central brethren, the Cleveland Indians, who sit dead last in total attendance, and percentage, at just 37.2 percent. (Sorry, I just had to turn that knife Tribe fans.)
You’d be kidding yourself, however, if you thought all of those fans were in attendance because they were hard core Tigers’ fans. Like every good team, the Tigers suffer from bandwagon fans–or what I like to call “Fringe Tigers’ Fans.” These are fans that are recent converts to the Tigers and baseball, and can’t tell Bobby Higginson from Higgins on Magnum P.I. (Old reference I know, but hey, everyone knows Magnum wore a Tigers’ hat).
I have put together a list of five types of fringe fans that you can easily identify at Comerica Park, on social media, at work, the idiot callers to 97.1, and even, perhaps, in your own home.
1. The Disbeliever: This is a fan who can’t believe the Tigers lost to anyone. They often forget that even the best teams lose around 30 percent of the time. This is someone who will be pissed when the Tigers lose to the Pirates or Nationals because “they suck,” apparently disregarding their 2013 performances.
2. The Bi-Polar Fan: This is someone who feels incredible highs, even with wins against the Houston Astros, and horrible sadness when there is a loss to a good team, like the Texas Rangers. These fans will often plan for World Series parties during a three-game winning streak in April, and want every member of the coaching staff fired when the teams loses two straight.
3. The Party Fan: When the Tigers were a bad team, this fan made one lone appearance every season–Opening Day. To this fan, the party is more important than the action on the field. They will likely miss the third through fifth innings while splitting time between lines for beer and the bathroom. During a rare visit to their seats, these fans will react wildly to routine fly balls, thinking they are home runs, and other times pay no attention to the game while staring at their phones. These fans get the most enjoyment of the day while cheering for Biggie Bagel during the Dunkin’ Donuts race.
4. Non-Fan Fan: This is the guy that criticizes everything the team does: Everything they do wrong is horrible, and everything they do right–well they SHOULD be doing it right with THAT payroll. These fans will have a strange dislike for Justin Verlander and secretly hope his struggles continue so they can announce, “I hate to tell you I told you so, but…” They will say Miguel Cabrera is slumping when his average dips from .384 to .379, and that Mike Trout should have won the MVP last year.
5. The Brandon Inge Haters: This group still thrives despite Brandon not playing for the team in nearly a year. Detroit sports’ sites continue to post Brandon Inge news to drive these fans out of the woodwork. Such as recently when Inge wore a Penguins’ jersey to pledge his loyalty to one of the other local teams in his new city, something that NO ONE ever does. Their hatred goes beyond baseball (as was seen with the recent near brawl in Toledo) and makes me concerned for this fan’s mental health.
So there ya have it. Five ways to spot a Fringe Tiger Fan. This survival guide will allow you to either avoid them at parties or engage them in debate for your own amusement.
Either way, proceed with caution.