This is all made up. Do not think I consulted focus groups, or commissioned studies, or even searched for one sketchy Internet poll. These rankings were kept warm until they were removed for your consumption, that's all you need to know. And they're most certainly made up.
On Thursday, I wrote about Jose Fernandez watching a home run. The official SB Nation Facebook account linked to the article. The comments were … well, let's try to recreate the comments as best we can.
James Jensen the braves are a bunch of whiny girls
Like · Reply · 318 likes ·
Charles Denbue if i hit a homerun against the barves id pimp the hell out of it to
Like · Reply · 122 likes
Nikki Crane HAHA SUCK IT COULDN'T EVEN GET THE PITCHER OUT, BRAVES
Like · Reply · 548 likes
And so on. I've noticed this before: The Braves really cheese people off. Maybe it's because they won for two decades, took a year off, and now keep winning. Maybe people are really sensitive to the plight of Native Americans. Probably the first one. Nobody likes a winner unless it's their team.
With that in mind, here's a made-up, off-the-cuff, completely accurate, and unassailable ranking of the 30 teams by how hated they are by fans of the other 29 teams.
Spoiler: #1 is the Yankees.
Like Yankees fans care. If I wanted to annoy them, I'd put them 29th. No, the Yankees are clearly the villain of baseball, even if they spent the last offseason making sure they didn't go over the
salary cap luxury tax. They've won more than other teams. They've spent more than other teams. Their likable player makes you a little nauseous; their unlikable player makes you violently ill.
2. Red Sox
With the advent of interleague play, every team in the league has hosted the Red Sox. Which means there has been a large contingent of Red Sox fans in every ballpark at some point. Which means there probably aren't a lot of people who would argue this one. Red Sox fans are very … cocksure. And … boisterous. Yes, cocksure and boisterous.
And the players are all so damned hairy.
It would appear the winning decades scarred more than a few folks, but there's also the moaning and the chopping. Oh, man, the moaning and the chopping. If it were something innocent, a tribute to Petey Atlanta's inauguration speech after being elected mayor of Atlanta, it would still be incredibly obnoxious. As is, it's obnoxious and icky.
The thing that really bugs me about the Braves is they won one World Series in five chances … and they picked the Indians' year to do it. They didn't beat the Yankees either time. They didn't even beat the Twins, who had just won a World Series, or the Blue Jays who had just won two World Series. They picked on the poor Indians.
These rankings aren't static. In a couple of years, the Giants will slide down a bit. Unless they win again, in which case, they'll shoot to the top of the charts. But people don't like it when teams win a lot in a relatively short time. Two championships in three years violates some kind of unwritten fan rule, and instantly turns a franchise into a villain.
Plus, Giants fans love to complain. So I've heard. I've never really gotten into that scene, but Giants fans spent the '70s and most of the '80s being Royals fans, but without the hope. This means they can't handle it when things go wrong, or when someone dares to say something untoward about their team on the Internet.
Also, Barry Bonds.
Dollars to donuts they're higher in a few years. If they win the World Series. If they sign your favorite player away from your favorite team. If they sign your second-favorite player. Their goal is to be the Yankees. Eventually they will be, for better or for worse. Mostly for worse.
Again, success is the best way to climb these charts. So if your team is up here, it's probably a good thing. The Cardinals have won a lot recently. They've won in some really, really ridiculous ways.
There's also the whole "best fans in baseball" thing. My mom had a Vida Blue Cabbage Patch doll custom-made in 1985, and you're telling me that she can't be the best fan in baseball because a pack of red-bedecked goons clap when an opposing player limped off the field? How dare you.
This is still a relic from the early-'00s, when they were good almost every year and they spent like a New York team is supposed to spend. But Mike Piazza, Bobby Valentine, and Armando Benitez don't wash out of the subconscious with a little Windex and elbow grease.
Really, if a New York team from any professional sport is anywhere near the bottom of a list like this, it's an insult. It's the tax paid for living in an amazing hub of civilization.
It takes work to be actively despised on the way to 100 losses. But the Marlins are amazing in all sorts of ways. They're the symbol of craven, cynical greed in baseball. They're the symbol of public financing gone wrong. And they've already won two championships even though they've never won a division title.
If you want to use advanced metrics, you can go with (wins/resentment)/size of market. They do even better by that measure.
Probably too low. Possibly shouldn't be below the Mets. But they've made that transition from legitimately horrible to weird-elder-statesman accepted, like Mike Tyson. You're going to give them guff for acting arrogant when they put together a legitimately great pitching staff? They have the Ryan Howard contract to deal with, you monsters.
The Pujols contract, man. The Pujols contract. That's a National Geographic-worthy, alpha-male display of financial superiority. And then to follow it up with the Josh Hamilton contract? It was like they had high-priced consultants telling them how to climb this list.
But then you look into Mike Trout's eyes …
A bit of an upset here, but other than winning, spending, and marlining, there's nothing that annoys people more than overwrought mythology. Did you know the Cubs have a history of losing? Did you? How about now? How about now? Would you like to hear about a curse? How about now?
And their fans travel, too, so every Cubs game is a little more rambunctious with opposing fans than you might be used to. Mostly, though, it's the mythology. Would you like to hear about a goat? No? We'll be here all spring, summer, and fall.
We're getting into the ambivalent zone. Division rivals probably hate the Rangers because all division rivals are supposed to hate each other. Other than that, who hates the Rangers?
People who don't like seeing George W. Bush, that's who. I'm not going to pass judgement on that either way! I am Switzerland, here. But these are hyper-scientific rankings, and the are a substantial number of people -- a plurality? -- who dislike a very famous person who is often on TV wearing Ranger gear. That nudges them to the top of the ambivalent zone. Them's the breaks.
Supporting, unrelated point: A.J. Pierzynski.
Ryan Braun became an excellent, excellent villain almost overnight, and he's with the franchise that weaponized Bud Selig. They don't even let Bernie Brewer slide into beer anymore. This is an organization filled with quiet monsters.
Good. Talented. But there's Mat Latos.
And Bronson Arroyo.
I've used that Latos picture about 17 times since making it, which means I've used about 15 percent of my allotted references. And while I've pointed out that Arroyo is horrible with his musical selections before, that's him literally singing on a cruise ship. He's doing an Oasis song, and he's singing like the lead singer from Life of Agony.
Okay, okay, so this ranking is more about me. I'm trying to make the rest of the rankings about what other people think. I don't hate the Brewers more than the Reds because of Ryan Braun. Get out of here. But I figured John Q. Baseballfan does, so here we are.
That written, there's no way an Arroyo/Latos combo gets to hang out in the 20s. If I get to throw my own bias in, at least I'll make it obvious, though.
The lowest of the high-payroll, recently successful teams. Justin Verlander's kind of nice. Max Scherzer seems like a swell fellow. It's a treat to watch Miguel Cabrera. I watched a documentary about Detroit recently, and I came away impressed with the hardy denizens. Plus, if you were following baseball in 2003, you're still scarred by the Tigers' very existence. They still seem like an up-and-comer to you. It's a hard habit to break.
And Mike Ilitch is so danged earnest. He wants a championship, and he wants to spend his heirs' money to do it. How can you not respect that? The money keeps the Tigers in the top half, but there isn't a lot of nationwide grumbling about the team.
They get bonus points for keeping the curse low-key, but I'm sorry. I don't like to get political, but I don't even think Chief Wahoo is a political thing. It's a c'mon-seriously thing. Because, c'mon, seriously.
It isn't enough to hate the team actively, though. We're into the part of the program where we have to look for things. We're into the teams that would provoke mass indifference or quiet support should they reach the World Series. The rest will be something of a lightning round because no one really spends a lot of time hating these teams.
Higher than the rest because baseball would be better off with a team in Montreal.
A 100-win season in their second year, and a World Series in their fourth. And a swimming pool? Also, Mark Grace as an announcer, even if that's in the past.
Because I'm trying to eat over here. Also, people get really mad that they're keeping their payroll down instead of spending money on Raul Ibañez, or something. I don't agree, but they really fire people up this year.
Their mascot stands behind home plate and yells OOOGA BOOGA when the other team is pitching.
Also, before they figured out the humidor, they actively made baseball worse.
It's almost impossible to hate the A's. The most expensive PR firm in the world couldn't have nabbed Brad Pitt for a promotional video, and the A's are low-payroll and plucky. Seems like the most likable combination out there.
Except their fans are crazy. And when they're banging drums and shorting air-raid sirens in the middle of a ninth-inning comeback, it drives you nuts as an opposing fan. Which is kind of the point. But when you're choosing between mostly likable or unnoticeable teams, that feeling of "Don't these people ever stop cheering?" nudges the A's ever so slightly ahead.
22. Blue Jays
If you have to pick a reason to separate them from, say, the Twins, you can always go with the "man dressed in white."
23. White Sox
ALEXEI. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES.
Not only are they a smart, well-run organization that's overcome tremendous odds, but they're constantly humiliating the top two teams on this list. Seems like the least hateable organization to me
Except they have a penchant for ignoring off-field issues, which leads to stuff like this.
Honest question: Who is the least likable Oriole in history?
Probably. But after that? And after that? They're all likable, from Ripken to (both) Robinson(s). They have a franchise icon named "Boog," fer cryin' out loud.
Similar question: Who's the least likable Twin of all time? Pierzynski? But that was a decade ago.
White Sox fans have opinions, but I can't imagine someone from the West or East thinking, damn, those Twins are just the worst.
Think of all the Mariners' superstars over the years. Ichiro. Griffey. Edgar. Felix. Randy. The likable version of Alex Rodriguez. Now realize they're the only team other than the Nationals/Expos to never win a league championship. Don't you just want to curl the Mariners up in your arms and whisper encouraging words to them?
Dunno. Kansas City is in Missouri, and that seems weird. Other than that, there's no way to hate the Royals. C'mon. The Royals.
The San Diego Padres are a Major League Baseball team based in San Diego [source].
Now you're caught up. Can't hate what you don't think about.
Nope. Even if you think you hate them, you don't.
Not until next year, when they're defending their title, and they've totally become Red Sox fans. Not until next year...