Spare me the “New York is becoming a Mets town!” stuff

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This was inevitable, as the Mets are doing well this year and have truly excited their fan base: the story about how New York is “turning into a Mets town.” From the New York Times:

It could be that the Yankees’ seemingly unshakable hold on the city’s baseball heart is loosening amid the sudden and stunning turnaround for the Mets . . . measuring the pulse of a fan base in a two-team baseball city is never simple, especially when one of them is the Yankees, with their 27 World Series championship and 20 retired numbers.

But some telling evidence points to trouble for the Yankees and a boon for the Mets, suggesting that New York might be turning into a Mets town for the first time since their championship season of 1986.

What follows are anecdotes about the “feeling” of the city and numbers about attendance and TV ratings purportng to support the thesis of a shift in city-wide baseball allegiance.

None of the numbers or anecdotes are surprising. Teams like the Mets which turn their fortunes around see increased attendance, ratings and exuberance from fans. Teams like the Yankees which have won for a long time but aren’t as dominant as they once were tend to see complacency and maybe a bit of boredom among the fan base. It’s a tale as old as time in two-team cities or one-team cities.

But none of this establishes one team taking over the city in any real way. Hardcore Yankees fans who wore their gear all over the place didn’t become Mets fans in early August. Mets fans who had nothing to be happy about over the past several years didn’t become Yankees fans and haven’t now suddenly switched back.

Fans who are energized are more demonstrative fans. Fans who are less energized are less demonstrative. People who are, at best, casual fans or have no strong allegiance — as you might expect in a city like New York which has a ton of transplants — will root for a winner and switch back and forth because, hell, why not? It’s fun to be caught up in something exciting. So, at bottom, stories like these tell us nothing other than “a team is winning and people like that team more now than when the team was losing.”

But that’s not news, right?