July 13, 2010: It is only fitting that on the day of the 81st MLB All-Star Game and on the day when legendary New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed away, that the Yankees have been named as "America's favorite baseball team" for the eighth consecutive year in a poll conducted by Harris Interactive.
The Yankees are the defending World Series champions and are being represented at the All-Star Game in Anaheim by Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, C.C. Sabathina and manager Joe Girardi. Since Steinbrenner, who died on July 13 at the age of 80, purchased controlling interest in the franchise in 1973, the Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants.
The Yankees franchise is valued at $1.6 billion, the third most valuable sports franchise in the world behind Manchester United ($1.8 billion) and the NFL's Dallas Cowboys ($1.65 billion), according to Forbes Magazine.
In the second spot on the 2010 list are the Yankees' long time rivals, the Boston Red Sox, followed by the Atlanta Braves at No. 3, the same positions both teams held in 2009. The top ten also includes the Philadelphia Phillies, up to No. 4 from No. 7 last year; the Chicago Cubs, down a notch after being ranked No. 4 in 2008 and 2009; the New York Mets, up to No. 6 from No. 11 in 2009; the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers (down to No. 8 from No. 4 in 2009) and S. Louis Cardinals (down to No. 10 from No. 6 in the previous poll).
At the opposite end, the Toronto Blue Jays placed last among all MLB teams, although Harris explained that the poll was limited to people who lived in the U.S. The bottom five least favorite teams above the Blue Jays were the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim (tied for No. 25), Washington Nationals, Houston Astros and Florida Marlins.
By region, the favorite MLB teams are: New York Yankees (East 29%), Atlanta Braves (South 22%), Chicago Cubs (Midwest 17%) and the San Francisco Giants (West 15%).
The Harris Poll was conducted among 2,227 adults surveyed online between June 14-21, 2010 by Harris Interactive.
One setback for MLB, according to the 2010 Harris Poll, is that 36% of those surveyed said they follow baseball. That figure is down significantly from last year when 41% said they followed baseball and from 2008 when 40% said hey followed the game. The 36%, in fact is the lowest total in the past seven years of the Harris baseball poll.
Unfortunately, Harris did not ask people why they moved away from baseball or to which other sport, if any, they might have gravitated.
Among consumers polled, men are more likely to follow baseball than women (46% versus 27%); and African Americans are more likely to be followers of the sport (41%) compared to both Whites (36%) and Hispanics (34%). There is also a regional divide, as almost half of Easterners (48%) say they follow baseball, compared to one-third of Westerners (34%) and 29% of Southerners.
Some good news for sports fans in Cleveland: the Indians jumped up among favorite teams to No. 17 from No. 25 in 2009. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals moved up to No. 19 from No. 29 last year.
Looking ahead to the World Series, 34% of those survey expect the Yankees to repeat as champions of MLB. One in ten believe the Boston Red Sox (10%) and the Tampa Bay Rays (9%) will win, while 7% say it will be the St. Louis Cardinals and 6% each say it will be the Phillies or the Braves. On the outside looking in: No one who took part in the survey said that the Marlins, Seattle Mariners, Pirates, Blue Jays, Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A's, Nationals, Royals or Milwaukee Brewers would win the Fall Classic.
Which Is Your Favorite MLB Team?
MLB Demographics 2010