ITHACA, N.Y. — If you’re a lover of baseball, you probably know that the New York Yankees are the overwhelming fan-favorite in this state — far more popular than the N.Y. Mets, whose victory last night cemented their improbable run to the World Series.
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But what may surprise you is that — for both the 14850 zip code and throughout much of Central New York — the Mets aren’t even the second most popular team. At least, not yet.
A statistical analysis of fan data published last year in The New York Times found that the N.Y. Mets — my N.Y. Mets, I would add — rank a dismal third in Ithaca, with fewer than 10 percent of residents in the 14850 zip code listing them as their favorite team.
The second most popular club? That distinction would go to the Boston Red Sox, who play in a ballpark more than 330 miles from Tompkins County. (Ithaca-Queens is 240 miles.)
Using readers’ aggregated Facebook data, The Times found that 50 percent of 14850’ers prefer the Yankees, 16 percent prefer the Sox and just 8 percent favor the Mets. (8 percent! That makes the Mets only slightly more popular in Ithaca than Republicans.)
Here’s a screenshot from the NY Times graphic:
These numbers were consistent for much of Central New York and the Southern Tier. The Red Sox, according to The Times, are twice as popular as the Amazin’s in Corning, Auburn, Cortland, Syracuse, Cazenovia … and just about every other city in the region. (I’m not sure why none of the numbers add to 100%, by the way.)
I know the Mets have been bad for a long time. I know, from firsthand experience, that being a Mets fan is a form of self-imposed agony and disappointment. I know that the last time the Mets were any good was about a decade ago.
Bu the extent of the Mets’ local unpopularity surprises me nonetheless.
New York, where’s your sense of Empire State pride? Where’s your love of the plucky Queens underdog? Or have memories of Keith Hernandez and Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden faded that thoroughly?
Alas, there’s one ray of hope: This year.
The 2015 New York Mets are electric on the mound. They boast one of the best rotations — if not the best rotation — in baseball. They’re deeply benched at the plate, fun to watch in the clubhouse, and have two leaders — captain David Wright and manager Terry Collins — who are impossible to root against.
Most important of all, the Mets are still alive in their hunt for a World Series title. Which makes me optimistic that, long-shots though they remain, they’re also still alive in the hunt for the loyalties and support of CNY’s baseball fans.
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