By Barry Janoff
July 9, 2015: Despite losing a man who arguably is considered the most popular player in franchise history, having not made the post-season for two years and having last won the World Series in 2009, the New York Yankees remain the favorite team in MLB.
The Yankees are accustomed to finishing as fan favorites, having done so for 12 consecutive times, according to the just-released Harris Poll: America's Favorite Baseball Team, from Harris Interactive. The streak dates back to 2003 (there was no poll conducted in 2013).
Concurrently, the Chicago Cubs, in a major push to reach the post-season under first-year manager Joe Madden and led by such young players as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, finished behind the Yankees and Boston Red Sox (No, 2 for the sixth straight year) as the third favorite MLB team, the Cubs' best showing since 2004.
Enthusiasm for the team also saw the Cubs finished tied for sixth among squads most likely to win the World Series — a feat not accomplished by the Wrigley Field crew since 1908.
Not making the playoffs last season did not prevent the Yankees from finished third in attendance in MLB with more than 3.4 million people attending games in Yankee Stadium in 2014, which was the final season of veteran shortstop and fan-favorite Derek Jeter.
The only two teams with better attendance figures last year were the Los Angeles Dodgers (3.78 million) and St. Louis Cardinals (3.54 million).
The Dodgers came in as the fourth favorite MLB team and the Cardinals at No. 8 in the 2015 Harris Poll.
St. Louis fared much better among teams most likely to win the World Series, topping the list with 17% of those surveyed eying the Cardinals as Fall Classic champs. The Yankees were second (11%), followed by defending American League champion Kansas City Royals (10%), the Dodgers (9%), the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants (7%) and the Cubs tied with the Washington Nationals (5%).
Among other favorite teams in the Top Ten, the Detroit Tigers were No. 5, Atlanta Braves No. 6, Philadelphia Phillies No. 7, Minnesota Twins No. 9 and Cleveland Indians and Giants tied for No. 10.
San Francisco actually fell from No. 3, despite the team winning its third World Series in the past five seasons. The biggest jump was seen by the Los Angeles Angels, from No. 26 in 2014 to No. 12 this year.
At the other end, MLB's five least favorite teams were the Nationals, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. Harris Interactive said that the survey was conduct solely among people in the U.S., which contributed to Toronto finishing behind all other teams.
MLB itself was a favorite among fewer fans than at any time in the last decade, followed by 32% of those surveyed. That marked a drop from 37% in 2014 and 41% in 2009.
MLB fans are skewing older rather than younger, according to The Harris Poll, with 69% 51 and older and 29% 35 or younger. Demographics are also heavily male, at 43%.
However,people are reacting favorably to changes in MLB rules regarding instant replay, with 80% claiming that the rule(s) have been good for the game.
The Harris Poll was conducted online among 2,200 adults, of whom 700 follow MLB, between June 17-22, 2015.