Tampa Bay is Rays Country according to Facebook and Wall Street Journal

This slipped my radar last week, but the Wall Street Journal posted an interesting map of what baseball team has the most Facebook “likes” per US county.

Check it out here: Baseball Season Is Here. Who’s Your Team?

According to the map, the area from Citrus County in the north to Charlotte County in the south to Okechobee County in the east is “Rays Country”, where the Rays Facebook page has the most “likes” than any other team. “Rays Country” also includes Levy, Gilchrist, Alachua, and Leon counties. (Alachua and Leon possibly because of the Tampa Bay area college students at UF and FSU.)

The rest of Florida is dominated by the Braves in the north, the Yankees along the east coast, and the Marlins in the south.

While there is no doubt the Yankees are the most popular team in the nation, Wall Street Journal writer Darren Everson makes an error explaining the Yankees popularity in Florida. In the article, as well as in an online video, Everson claims the Yankees are popular in Florida because “the Yankees have had their spring training in Florida for years”.

Yet Hillsborough County has more Rays likes than Yankees “likes”. It is possible the Yankees have some residual “liking” in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County), where they trained from 1962 to 1995, but they have been in Tampa since 1996. Yankees popularity in Florida is more likely attributable to the amount of New Yorkers who have either found jobs in Florida or retired to Florida. If spring training was a major factor, Lee County, where the Red Sox train, would be red, not black.

As well, Arizona is all maroon for the Arizona Diamondbacks. There is no influence from the Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, or any other popular team that conducts spring training in the state.

A few questions about the survey:

1) Is this survey done every year? It would be interesting to see if any county has changed allegiance over the years. I would think the Rays would like to change Orange County and the Orlando area from Yankees black to Rays yellow.

2) How did the survey account for “buying likes”? It is possible for a page to have false likes, as marketers can “buy” an amount of likes to boost the popularity of the page. Did the Wall Street Journal or the people doing the survey discount any false likes?

2 comments for “Tampa Bay is Rays Country according to Facebook and Wall Street Journal

  1. Kei
    April 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Orlando resident here, moved to down a few years before the advent of the Rays. I don’t see this town turning into Rays country anytime soon, certainly not within the next generation. It’s a completely different sports environment from Tampa, even though these cities are separated by maybe two hours on I-4. It’s every bit the transient area that TB is, and with only the NBA in town, sports fans here find it easier to cheer for whoever their parents or grandparents rooted for, instead of adopting any of the “local” teams.

    • Mike Lortz
      April 12, 2014 at 3:30 am

      Kei, thanks for commenting. I definitely appreciate you reading. From what I’ve read, the Rays are on 100-150 times on SunSports there in Orlando. That should definitely help. I don’t see them competing with the Magic anytime soon, but baseball-wise, I’ve seen Rays merchandise as far as Melbourne.

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