Being a fan of the World Series Champions team can actually be a bittersweet moment in some ways. On the one hand, your favorite team wins something that in defines them as the best team in baseball that season and probably etches that team’s name in the franchise history books. On the other hand, the baseball season abruptly finishes with a World Series victory, and the bleak nature of the long, foreboding winter is immediately thrust upon you.
At this point, though, we have collectively made it past the dreaded winter months and sit on the precipice of regular-season baseball. People have renewed their subscription (either purposely or otherwise) to MLBtv. Better yet, pitchers and catchers have reported, and spring training games are underway. Some of those games are on television. Otherwise, the familiar sounds of baseball emanate from the radio.
This ultimately signals one of the most exciting times of the year – at least for baseball fans. As far as the Milwaukee Brewers are concerned, interest in the club may never be higher than it will be on opening day. The team is projected by experts and computer systems to be one of the worst in baseball; therefore, as the season progresses and the expected losses pile up, it will be difficult for even the biggest fans to keep more than a passing interest in the team.
Interest in a specific team can be a difficult thing to measure. I, therefore, looked at Google trends to see how often people searched “Milwaukee Brewers” on the search engine. The numbers, as defined by Google, represent the level of search interest in the term specified, but it is in relation to the highest point, which is known as the 100 interest score. To risk being redundant, it is a relational measure, rather than simply spitting out raw counted data. This will help get a sense of general interest. It’s not a perfect way to measure a fanbase’s level of interest, to be sure, but it’s a start.
Since 2004, the term Milwaukee Brewers was most often searched on Google in April. In fact, it was the month that generated the most interest in eight of the eleven seasons since Google has tracked interest. Which makes intuitive sense. Opening day typically occurs in April, or very late March. For Brewers fans, the excitement of a new season is generally stronger than any other moment in the baseball season — largely because the Brewers don’t often make the playoffs. This makes the team less interesting during the month of October.
With all of that said, the month that, by far, showed the most interest was October 2011.
This shouldn’t be overly surprising (though one would be excused for thinking the 2008 season may have ranked highest). Not only was the Brewers 2011 season the most successful during that time frame, but it was one of the best in franchise history. The Brewers achieved 96 wins that season, a franchise record, and reached the National League Championship Series. The interest trends on Google only rises as the season progresses, reaching an apex in October during the playoffs.
Yes, as mentioned above, there was increased interest in the Brewers 2008 campaign as well — especially in September as the team frantically scrambled toward its first playoff birth since 1982. The problem is that the 2008 team quickly got eliminated from the playoffs by a superior Phillies team, which ended up winning the World Series that year, which left very little time for the interest level to accumulate throughout the month of October in 2008. The Brewers didn’t play long enough into the postseason.
What’s even more interesting is that in 2008 the peak interest in the franchise occurred in July. Typically, this wouldn’t create more buzz than a playoff birth, but on July 7, 2008, the Brewers pulled off a blockbuster trade and acquired ace CC Sabathia for prospects Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson. This forced the baseball community to treat the Milwaukee Brewers as a serious contender in the National League. For the first time in many years, the team was finally signalling that they had an opportunity to go for it.
In 2011, though, the seminal moment in recent Brewers’ history occurred. The Brewers won the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks by a single run in extra innings. The final game of the series probably generated the most interest for Brewers supporters, not to mention general baseball fans who wanted to pull for the traditional underdog.
The fifth and final game of the series was tightly contested, as the Diamondbacks rallied in the ninth to tie the game and send the series into extras. The tenth inning of the series yielded the most exciting moment for Brewers fans when, of all people, Nyjer Morgan knocked an RBI-single up middle, which scored Carlos Gomez to walk off the NLDS division series.
The Brewers then moved on to the NLCS, where the team faced the dreaded St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the magical ride ended when they were defeated by the Cardinals. It ended one of the most exciting and interesting times in the franchise’s history, one that is even captured in something as simple as raw “search engine” data.
BONUS INTERACTIVE GRAPH [CLICK HERE]
This graph illustrates interest in the Brewers in a more geographical sense. Wisconsin is obviously the state that shows the highest interest in searching the term “Milwaukee Brewers.” The city that showed the most internet interest, however, might surprise you. It wasn’t the city of Milwaukee itself, which is probably the case for a lot of non-baseball reasons, but this graph paints an intriguing picture of what Brewers fandom looks like around the club’s hometown.