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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Brewers fans just aren't happy, even when their team is in first place. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

Brewers fans are in a miserable marriage


Sitting on Wisconsin Avenue late Monday night, I tuned in to a Milwaukee Brewers post game show on AM radio. I had covered the loss that night, in which the Brewers fell, 3-2, to Philadelphia and starter Cole Hamels.

The offense struggled yet again, and Carlos Gomez, Logan Schafer and Jean Segura made some baserunning mistakes. The loss "dropped" the Brewers to 14 games over .500 and the team remained in first place in the National League Central.

So, on that show, I naturally heard callers voice their concerns, fears and objections to what they've seen.

But what struck me was the chorus of the following:

"I'm done."

I had to laugh.

This is because I grew up on the South Side of Chicago – born and bred a White Sox fan – and I then covered the team once I got into this business. I started listening to sports talk radio in Chicago in the 1990s, and I still do to this day.

And while Milwaukeeans usually hate anything to do with Chicago – especially in sports – they are so similar to the sky-is-always-falling Sox fans.

While my opinion is just that – though an educated one – I'm backed up a bit by some research by the good people down at Emory University in Atlanta.

The university put together an analytics website to "provide an outlet for research on how sports entities (Leagues, Teams, and Players) create valuable marketing assets."

One of their studies focused on the fan bases of Major League Baseball teams.

While Brewers fans are in the top half of the country in categories such as Fan Equity (11th), Growth in Fan Equity (14th), Social Media Equity (3rd), Win Sensitivity (13th) and Price Sensitivity, in which Brewers fans rate dead last in baseball– which by this measure, is a good thing for the club.

To the researches, Brewers "fans don't seem to be very price sensitive. This seems to be a team that is rapidly developing a highly loyal following."

And then we get to the part about their fan personality based on Twitter.

According to Emory, the researchers wanted to "find teams that have similar distributions of social media sentiment."

Four categories were created:

  • Loving stable relationships
  • Generally happy but volatile
  • Miserable marriages
  • Depression with a bit of mania

Guess where Brewers fans find themselves with their team?

In a "miserable marriage," which is defined as "fan bases that are generally unhappy but stable. These are fans that don't get a lot of joy from their teams. In addition, these feelings don't seem to change much."

Guess which fan base located to the south joins them in an unhappy marriage to their team? That's right, White Sox fans.

(Of course, Brewers fans will just love to hear that St. Louis Cardinals fans are one of only two fan bases that have a loving and stable relationship with their team.)

Now, you may say, hey, this is just Twitter. But let's be real – sports talk radio was Twitter (and Facebook) before that ever existed for sports fans. It's the voice of the fan – anyone can call and voice his or her feelings on their team.

Brewers fans often do. And during the first 92 games of the year – of which the Brewers have spent 89 in first place – those fans have been tip-toeing the ledge the whole time. And, according to many I've heard on radio (and seen on Twitter) over the last two weeks, they've totally taken the leap and decided its football season.

The thing is, I can't really call the fans out for it (except for certain booing – I think that can be a little over the top.)

Sure, I find it a little ridiculous, but I get it. I came from there. I was born into it. The manager always makes the wrong decision. The minor leaguer is always better. Why not just move guys to completely foreign positions to play? Why doesn't the power hitter just bunt to beat the shift?

The better the team, the harder the fall. Everything bad is inevitable. The best will always become the worst. WHY ARE WE DOING THIS ANYWAY?!

Milwaukee has been my home for over two years now, but in reality, it's like I never left.


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