Earlier this week the Sports Business Daily released a ranking of the most popular teams in MLB, and the Oakland Athletics landed in last place, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Miami Marlins.
The Blue Jays are a talented but underachieving squad, but otherwise, that’s really not the sort of company the Athletics would like to keep on any sort of list. The New York Yankees top the rankings, and the cross-bay club, the San Francisco Giants are ranked 10th.
Historically, the popularity rankings have not been kind to the small-market Athletics. The team peaked in popularity in 1999 when the Athletics took 19th place on the list. The team floated between the 20 to 23 range in the years in between.
The list is based on a Harris Poll conducted online last June with a group of just over 2,200 adults. So, the poll was taken just as the Athletics started to really take off. Since July 1 of last season, the Athletics own the best record in all of baseball.
I wonder where the Athletics would rank if the poll were conducted today? It’s really quite possible that the current version of the team would shoot up past the 19th spot and into the best ranking of recent memory.
Then again, it’s also quite possible that they wouldn’t. For an insight into how much respect the club gets on the national stage, just look to Josh Donaldson‘s All-Star snub or the fact the Grant Balfour was only added after the initial rosters had been set.
Even though the squad is currently 16 games over .500 and holds a three game advantage over the Texas Rangers (who claimed the fifth spot on the list) in the AL West, the Athletics are apparently still the out-of-left-field underdogs.
Something tells me that’s exactly the way GM Billy Beane and manager Bob Melvin like it.