Are Mets Fans Shortchanged?

No, this is not a post regarding the Mets inability to obtain more offense while being in the middle of a pennant.  Rather, this is more about somehow Mets fans were ranked #27 in all of baseball.  At first, my eyes popped out of my head.  I couldn’t believe it.  Apparently, there were others who shared in my disbelief.  While, I don’t necessarily share some of Jayson’s Starks conclusions, specifically that “Mets fans ought to rank below Yankees fans,” I think he is correct that the data is skewed.

Note, this is not meant to be a hack job on the person who wrote the piece.  Obviously, the writer put some time and effort into this, and I do not think she deserves to be torn to shreds.  However, when analysis like hers is put out there, I do believe the work should invite some scrutiny.  In order to be fair, I decided to not only look at the factors, but also the raw data (which does not include the formulas to compute the raw data).

My first issue was the selection of 2014 as a basis for Power Rankings.  By their very nature, Power Rankings are supposed to be a current picture of the teams in a sport.  Notably for the Mets, the team has seen an increase in attendance from 2014.  I’m sure this rise will have an impact on the 2015 Power Rankings, but then we will be in 2016, which will be a much different year than 2015 was.

My second issue is the selection of average attendance as a percentage of stadium capacity.  The major flaw here is that the numbers are not weighted or adjusted for the home ballparks.  Fenway Park is reported to have a capacity of 37,673, which is one of the lowest in baseball.  Meanwhile, Dodger Stadium has a capacity of 56,000, which is the largest in baseball.  How do you reconcile these numbers especially when the Dodgers play in a two team geographical area and when teams are known for manipulating attendance figures?  What I also don’t know if the figures were predicated upon sales or “turnstyle” data.

My third issue is the secondary market criteria.  The author presents the information as being driven by demand without explaining how or why that is.  While I agree demand is one factor, it is not the only factor.  This also forgets average ticket prices.  The Red Sox, Yankees, and Cubs have the highest average ticket prices.  Therefore, naturally, the resale of these tickets will go for a higher price because the people selling these tickets want to gain a profit, or at a minimum, break even.  Next, the secondary market price is driven by the team performance.  A 2014 ticket for the Mets in September was not as in demand as a ticket for the Royals.  The Royals were competing for the second Wild Card; the Mets’ season had been over for months.  Also, I did not see how this secondary price was presented in the raw data (although admittedly a smarter person than I could probably explain to me where it was reflected).

My fourth issue is the use of Forbes annual team revenue as a factor.  This relies on Forbes’ valuation model without fully knowing what goes into Forbes’ model.  In fact, did you know that one of the Yankees’ revenue generators is the ownership of the YES Network?  I don’t see how the value of the YES Network should factor into analysis of who is the best fans in baseball.  Also, profits from jersey sales are not a factor in the computation of team value.  Accordingly, if your team leads in jersey sales, it is not reflected anywhere in team revenue and/or popularity.  To be fair, the author stated she weighed this lower than the ticket sales information, but how low?  We don’t know that.

The fifth, final, and biggest issue was the percentage of social media fans as a percentage of the metro area population.  First and foremost, how is the metropolitan areas defined?  Was the Yankees metropolitan area just the Bronx or did it include all 5 boroughs, upstate New York, and Northern New Jersey?  Was all of New England incorporated into the metropolitan area for Red Sox Nation?  How was San Jose treated in this analysis vis-a-vis the Giants and the Athletics.  Also, when there are two teams in a metro area population, how was the data weighted?  It’s easy to dominate a metro area when you’re the Reds and you’re the only show in town.  Indeed, the data shows the Reds have a 85.15% Twitter following (however that 85.15% is derived – seriously I don’t think 85.15% of the twitter accounts in Cincinnati follow the Reds).  However, it should be noted, these same Reds only have a Facebook percentage of 49.63%.  Now the data does seem to bear out teams generally have a higher percentage of Twitter followers than Facebook followers, but why?  Is there something to be said about a team’s social media activity and the percentage of followers?  Furthermore, as the San Jose controversy shows teams not only have their local metro area rights, but they also have other geographic rights.  Are the metro area and geographic areas one in the same?  We don’t know from this analysis.

Overall, I don’t know if there is a better way to calculate “MLB Fan Power Rankings” other than what the author did here.  The reason for that is because there really is no good method.  Even though I don’t know of a better method, I do question why certain data was omitted.  For example, I don’t know why something like ratings wasn’t included on this list.  Isn’t it important whether a city ACTUALLY WATCHES ITS TEAM PLAY?  Furthermore, is there any relevance as to what ESPN and Fox selects as its nationally televised games.  Their selections are based upon ratings, which are based upon factors such as popular teams, players, and fanbases who watch their team.  Also, why wasn’t any the data adjusted for team performance?  Looking at the last link regarding ratings, there is a snippet there which shows as the Mets have improved this year, there was a “27% growth in viewership for prime time games over last season.”  I also question why the same websites’ criteria is different for the NFL than it is the MLB?  There was nothing in these rankings regarding total attendance.  Since this analysis was performed across different sports by the same website, I also find it interesting there wasn’t a sport to sport analysis.  For example, the Steelers  were found to be the fifth most engaged, whereas the Pirates’ fans were ranked eighth.  Does this have any meaning at all?

Overall, I am not going to be an obnoxious like Cardinal fans and declare that Mets fans are the best in baseball (let’s see them hit hard times and find out what happens to their fandom).  However, I refuse to accept the Mets are 27th based upon flawed criteria.  While I am not a Mets fan obsessed with retaking New York, I have more faith in Mets fans than to dismiss them as one of the worst in baseball.

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