A couple years ago I went on national television and made this proclamation:
"If the New York Yankees are considered the Evil Empire, then the Los Angeles Dodgers are the Death Star."
That comment came after the Dodgers had gone to back-to-back World Series and finished with a franchise record 106 wins in 2019. After being eliminated in a thrilling Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the eventual champion Washington Nationals, the Dodgers acquired former Cy Young Award winner David Price and former American League MVP Mookie Betts.
The "Star Wars" monikers for baseball teams began in early 2002. The Yankees had just completed a run of three straight championships between 1998 and 2000, and were stealing away every major free agent or trade acquisition from the rival Boston Red Sox. Remember when Alex Rodriguez was traded to Boston, before the deal got nixed and he went to New York instead?
Well, in 2002, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was irritated after losing out on Japanese outfielder Hideki Matsui and pitcher Jose Contreras to the Yankees in less than a week. The New York Times asked Lucchino for a comment about the Yankees signing those two players and he responded with, "The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America."
The nickname stuck, and the hated Yankees became synonymous with the Star Wars villains. The pinstripes embraced the nickname, and even played the "Imperial March" (Darth Vader's theme song) at home games.
For over two decades, the team with the most World Series titles in MLB history became the most-hated team in all of sports.
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However, the Yankees have not been back to the World Series since 2009, and it's the Dodgers that are building a dynasty out West. The acquisition of Betts led to the team's first World Series championship since 1988, albeit in a 60-game shortened season with the playoffs held in a "bubble" environment in Arlington, Texas, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entering the 2021 season, both the Dodgers and Yankees were the overwhelming betting favorites to meet in the Fall Classic. However, injuries have hampered both teams' seasons and each organization has found themselves in second or third place in their own divisions for most of the year.
In August, both the Dodgers and Yankees have gotten hot. New York ran off a 13-game winning streak to move back into the playoff picture, and Los Angeles finished off the month with a record of 19-6.
Both teams now control their own postseason destiny as they each hold a lead as the top wildcard team. Despite neither team being in first place in their own division, that hasn't stopped fans across the country from hating the two ballclubs.
According to BetOnline.ag, a sports betting website that tracked Twitter data for over a month based on geotags, hashtags and direct keyword associations related to fans' disdain for each of the 30 MLB clubs, the Dodgers were the most hated team in America.
According to the data that included over 100,000 different tweets and was broken down by state, the Dodgers were the most hated team in nine states. The Yankees finished right behind the Dodgers, as the most hated team in eight states, and the Houston Astros, who were embroiled in a cheating scandal and are loathed by most baseball fans for cheating to win a championship, finished in third with seven states.
The full state-by-state breakdown is below, including a map of the United States showing the states results.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 9 states
New York Yankees: 8 states
Houston Astros: 7 states
St. Louis Cardinals: 6 states
New York Mets: 6 states
Chicago Cubs: 4 states
Boston Red Sox: 3 states
Chicago White Sox: 3 states
Atlanta Braves: 1 state
Philadelphia Phillies: 1 state
San Francisco Giants: 1 state
Cleveland Indians: 1 state