Root For The Bad Guys?? C'mon!!

added 5/1/2010 by Dr. Bill McCurdy

The Astros as bad guys??

(This column is reprinted, with permission, from The Pecan Park Eagle.)

Are the Houston Astros really the fourth most despised team in Major League Baseball? So you think the New York Yankees are the most hated team in baseball? Think again if you care to place any credibility in a new "Internet algorithm" built by the famous Nielsen Co. for analyzing various keywords that people use in describing MLB teams. Nielsen uses the same approach here on MLB teams that they famously use in business studies to "find out" whether people hold positive, negative, or neutral reactions to different brands and products under marketing study.

The Internet report for Fox Sports by David Biderman of the Wall Street Journal does not go into the details of the Nielsen study's key words or methods here in the MLB Spite Study. The report simply lays out the Top Ten list of the most despised teams in Major League Baseball and then leaves the unguided digestion of such to the reader. Read the whole list before you break into full laughter:

Nielsen's Top Ten Most Despised MLB Teams

(Ranked from the bottom on a scale of -5 to 5)

Team                Score
Cleveland Indians     0.9
Boston Red Sox        1.1
Cincinnati Reds       1.1
Houston Astros        1.8
New York Yankees      1.8
Washington Nationals  1.9
Chicago White Sox     2.0
Baltimore Orioles     2.0
New York Mets         2.3
Los Angeles Dodgers   2.4

The raw figures show that Houston and the New York Yankees both have recorded raw scores of 1.8, but the Astros are assigned fourth place in the narrative and the Yankees are identified as fifth. When you see this kind of report in most research journals, the researcher normally will carry out the raw scores to enough decimal places to reach a differential tally. It simply wasn't reported that clearly here.

As far as I'm concerned, the whole study is laughable. Look at the team that ended up on top as the most despised club in baseball -- the poor little old Cleveland Indians, a baseball tribe that hasn't won the World Series since 1948. If the Indians are really all that despicable, they ought to be packing the house all over the American League when they go on the road.

I can see the Boston Red Sox in the two hole. They've had enough success in recent years to have earned that spot, especially in light of the fact that their success has come at the personal expense of their greatest rival and truly most despised club in the world, the New York Yankees.

The bland band known as the Cincinnati Reds at #3 is right in there as a dual laugh stop with the #4 Houston Astros. The Reds haven't earned spite from a World Series victory since 1990 and the Astros have yet to win their first.

The New York Yankees at #5? Please. I can't hold the contents of my breakfast on that read. These guys are again the reigning World Champions with a gazillion World Series titles in their trophy case. C'mon! Forget the words that people use in describing them and don't even go near the words that non-Yankee fans refrain from expressing as their feelings toward the Brinks Bombers. The New York Yankees are the biggest winners of all time -- and that's how a club gets to be the most despised.

The Washington Nationals at #6 and the Baltimore Orioles at #8 are also fish-out-of-hate-waters in my book. I think Nielsen may be confusing hate with the very large apathy/frustration quotient that we could just as easily assign to clubs like the Indians, Reds, and Astros. All of us who live in cities outside the media centers of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago can only aspire to the languish of general apathy when our clubs don't win. Cincinnati versus Baltimore in the 2010 World Series is probably the last match up the networks would want to see. Fortunately for the networks, it isn't likely to happen on the field.

The Chicago White Sox at #7, the New York Mets at # 9, and the Los Angeles Dodgers at #10 all deserve to be near the top of any legitimate ranking of our most despised teams. For winning often or winning ungraciously, each of these three have put their own media market town brand of abject despicability on the map.

The real hate-for-east-coast snobs button is pushed for me when writer David Biderman concludes his brief, but poorly presented report with this sentence: "The good news for the Yankees is that their low score is better than the only team that really matters: The rival Boston Red Sox, who are the second most-despised team."

My Houston Astros may be as frustrating as the just concluded sweep loss at home to the Reds again proves, but they cannot be held up as the fourth most despicable team in America. They haven't won enough to have earned spite.

Now, just watch the Astros win thirty World Series between now and the year 2050 and hate us all you want. Those of us Astros fans who are still on the top side of the dirt by then won't care because that's really the only lasting way to earn the hatred of other clubs in baseball. You have to beat the other guys early, late, and often.