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Nationals are 27th most popular MLB team

Good teams are popular. Bad teams are unpopular. That's the way it works in American sports.

I went through all this when writing about the Harris Interactive NFL popularity poll last year, in which the Redskins had slipped from 6th in 2003 to 17th last year. Teams that make the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl -- plus the Cowboys -- are beloved across the country. The Detroit Lions, on the other hand, are not.

But maybe things work a little different in baseball. Harris released its MLB popularity survey this week, and the Nats ranked 27 of the 29 American-based team. That's about where they've been in recent years; they were 22nd when they arrived in D.C., 29th two years later, and 27th each of the past two years.

(The survey was done online, and respondents were asked for their favorite team. So, in all seriousness, if the Nats are the second-favorite team of a great number of fans, that wouldn't be reflected here.)

The top of the list is about what you'd expect: the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Phillies are the top four teams. Three of them have won the last three World Series, while the fourth had has a national TV partner.

The bottom of this list, though, was a bit surprising. At 29 are the Florida Marlins, the 2003 World Series champs. At 28th are the Astros, who were in the 2005 Series. Right ahead of the Nats came the Angels, who won the 2002 Series. At 22 and 23 are the Rockies and Rays, both of whom have been in the Series within the past three years. And perpetually terrible teams like the Royals (19th) and Orioles (20th) ranked ahead of all of them.

Still, for the Nats -- who have a brief history, a lack of stars, and a pretty barren resume -- to have finished anywhere above the cellar gives you something to build on. So I say you take the 27th ranking, add some Strasburg, shake and enjoy.

(Via @Kevin_Reiss)

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 13, 2010; 4:44 PM ET
Categories:  Nats , Redskins  
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Comments

WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!

Posted by: Kev29 | July 13, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

By the way, this might be the dumbest survey of all time. They polled 2,227 Americans (and the least popular team ended up being in Canada, imagine that). Hundreds of thousands of people GO to baseball games every single day of the summer. Don't you think their ticket buying is a stronger indication of popularity than what 2,000 random people tell a pollster? For instance, the Angels are 5th in attendance - nearly 40,000 per home game. But Harris respondents placed them 26th? Shenanigans.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 13, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Had a National TV partner.

Posted by: ZachMorris | July 13, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Marlins at the bottom isn't a surprise, Miami is not a sports town. Dolphins are the only team that has any real sort of following.

Posted by: koalatek | July 13, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"Good teams are popular. Bad teams are unpopular. That's the way it works in American sports."


The Cubs have been in the top 5 pretty consistently, and they are wretched this year (they have the same record as we do). The White Sox are much better than the Cubs, have won a championship in the last 5 years, and are in the middle of the pack.

Posted by: RojoJohnson | July 13, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

27th most popular... is that nationwide, or just in the DC area?

Posted by: NateinthePDX | July 13, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Only way to go is up, up, up!!

(Except if you're the Pittsburgh Pirates)

Posted by: Vic1 | July 13, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is: So freakin' what!?! I could care less if someone in Tulsa likes the Nats or not or even knows they're a baseball team. Terrell Owens was popular for a while and sold a lot of jerseys, but hasn't done crap. So, good for him.

Posted by: sparky0488 | July 13, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

In 10 years hopefully we will all see DC isn't enough of a baseball town to support it's own team. I just hope that doesn't cause retraction, particularly of the Orioles.

Posted by: jesstyr | July 13, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Kev29, I've got my broom and I'm ready to go. Be careful, though. You can't just go around declaring shenanigans on innocent people. That's how wars get started.

Posted by: Fozzie1 | July 14, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, "retraction" would be a pity, 'cause Baltimore really supports their team, particularly when the Red Sox and Yankees are in town, and attendance goes through the roof. What? Oh. Never mind...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 14, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Great pull Fozzie, And if they want to take down a few teams i think the Nats are safe thanks to being a high income city.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 14, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I wish I could find footage of the game back in 2005 of Jim Bowden sitting in the broadcast booth and going off on his infamous "Did you see that, Washington? We are going to make the Nats America's team" rant.

He totally cursed the team.

Posted by: DangerNat | July 14, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

hmmmm....I wonder why the Orioles are ahead of the Nats? There's no way it could have anything to do with the dictatorship control they have over the broadcasting rights.

Posted by: erleach | July 14, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

hmmmm....I wonder why the Orioles are ahead of the Nats? There's no way it could have anything to do with the dictatorship control they have over the broadcasting rights.

Posted by: erleach | July 14, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

hmmmm....I wonder why the Orioles are ahead of the Nats? There's no way it could have anything to do with the dictatorship control they have over the broadcasting rights.

Posted by: erleach | July 14, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

It really shouldn't be too surprising that the Nats continue to be ranked so low. It takes time for a baseball team to build a shared history among fans. It's part of the reason the O's and Royals continue to be ranked in the top 20, their (older) fans can still reminesce about times when the teams were legitimately not terrible. Even if this region has started to embrace the nats, to the rest of the country, the Nats are nothing more than the re-located Expos that were really really bad for several years in a row. A few years of winning combined with the hype surrounding Strasburg and Harper, and the popularity should change for the better.

*Just as a side note-How exactly are the angels ranked so low on this list? They have a beautiful ball park, they have an ideal owner who seems to do everything right, they play in a huge market, and they've been good to great for the past 10 or so years now. As a long suffering O's* fan, I look to the Angels as a model franchise.

*I don't live in DC, they were my team growing up, and I've adopted the Nats as my NL team

Posted by: jbanks979 | July 14, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I agree this is a pretty weak survey. Luckily someone on the internet has already taken it upon themselves to do it properly: http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2010/03/what_puts_fans.php (I have no affiliation with that blog other than wasting a lot of company time reading it)

Posted by: tew3x | July 15, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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