The final Subway Series contest of the 2017 season takes place this evening at Citi Field, and if you put on the game, you might get the impression that the Yankees and Mets have a big-time rivalry going. It’s not that way for most baseball fans, however. The numbers show that only a minority actually like one team but not the other, while far more people hold the same opinion of both teams (good or bad) or just don’t care about one or both. In other words, most fans will probably be fine no matter the outcome tonight.
That’s according to data from a combination of two FiveThirtyEight-commissioned SurveyMonkey Audience polls conducted in June and July. SurveyMonkey asked baseball fans across the country how they felt — whether they had a favorable view, an unfavorable view or didn’t know enough to say — about each MLB team. Here, we’re examining a subset of that data, totaling 321 baseball fans who were asked specifically about the Mets and Yankees.
Of those, many fans (29 percent) held a favorable view of both the Mets and the Yankees. It’s not just that a fairly high percentage liked both teams. It’s that if you like one team, it actually increases your chance of liking the other team. While just 49 percent of the overall subsample held a favorable view of the Mets, 66 percent of fans who viewed the Yankees favorably felt the same way about the Mets. And a similar story holds in reverse. Only 44 percent of the fans in our subsample held a favorable view of the Yankees, but that percentage jumped to 59 percent among fans who held a favorable view of the Mets.
While the idea that someone could simultaneously like the Mets and the Yankees is unthinkable to this Yankee hater, it actually makes a lot of sense. Fans often root for the hometown team, whether it be in their city or even their state. So it’s not unreasonable to say you like both the Mets and the Yankees because they are both from New York. Indeed, among our subsample who live in New York state, the Mets and Yankees sport a 71 percent and a 67 percent favorable rating, respectively.
At the other end of the spectrum, 21 percent of baseball fans dislike both franchises. So that means 50 percent of baseball fans either like both the Yankees and Mets, or dislike both — not quite what you’d expect from a heated rivalry where battle lines are drawn and allegiances sworn. In fact, disliking the Mets or the Yankees actually makes one less apt to like the other team as well. The Mets sport just a 41 percent favorable rating among those who dislike the Yankees, 8 points below their overall favorable rating. And the Yankees do even worse among fans who dislike the Mets, with a 33 percent favorable rating — far below their 44 percent favorable mark overall.
Again, part of this may just have to do with disliking a city or a state. As an illustration of this, the Mets and Yankees sport favorable ratings of just 40 percent and 30 percent among our subsample that hailed from New England. New England, of course, is a natural geographic rival of New York.
Still, there are some people who do like the Mets and dislike the Yankees, and vice versa. One-fifth (20 percent) of fans hold a favorable view of the Mets and an unfavorable view of the Yankees. Meanwhile, 11 percent of fans hold a favorable view of the Yankees but an unfavorable view of the Mets. These fans, however, total only about a third of our subsample. That’s not much more than the 20 percent of fans who hold no opinion of at least one (if not both) teams.
Don’t tell that to the New Yorkers in the stands, jawing at each other about the two ballclubs. But the bottom line is that most baseball fans around the country won’t have much of anything on the line in tonight’s Subway Series finale.