The Harris Poll has released its annual baseball popularity index thingy, and tells us what we all probably knew anyway, even if a lot of us don’t care to acknowledge it: the Yankees are America’s most popular baseball team. They’ve taken the top honor for nine straight years, putting lie to the notion that America loves an underdog.
In second place are the Red Sox — again, not a huge surprise — followed by the Braves at three, the Cubs at number four and — tied for fifth — the Dodgers and the Mets. The Phillies are seventh, which will probably make Phillies fans accuse the Harris Poll of bias and hate and all of that because Phillies fans tend not to take well to what they perceive as disrespect.
The funniest result though is probably the Giants, who moved down — way down — from number seven last year to number 14 this year. Guess winning a title doesn’t help anything. Indeed, given that it suddenly thrust a very colorful Giants team in front of so many people’s faces, it probably serves as an instructive referendum regarding what baseball fans think of colorful teams. Non-Giants fans may fear the beard, but we apparently don’t like it very much.
Dead last: a tie between the Padres and Jays. I can’t say I’m shocked.
Coolest part of the story: go to the link and scroll down to the demographic breakdowns. They have the usual “Baby Boomers” followed by my posse, “Generation X.” But rather than using the somewhat annoying “Generation Y” thing, they call the 18-34-year-old pod “Echo Boomers.” I’m pretty sure “Echo Boomer” was one of the pilot call signs in the movie “Top Gun.”
Which, by the way, is a very Generation X thing to observe. As is my annoyed insecurity at the fact that the Generation Y people are stealing my generation’s name.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. I’m gonna go watch “Reality Bites” and rough up a pair of jeans to wear later. No, I’m not hot. I just like wearing my jeans. With my boots.
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.