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News Flash: Yankees, Red Sox are baseball’s most popular teams

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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.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.