By Zach Gewelb
With the New York Mets’ recent success, there seems to be a new sheriff in town when it comes to baseball in New York City.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll released last Friday says 45 percent of New York City baseball fans prefer to root for the Mets, compared to 43 percent for the Yankees. The poll surveyed 1,605 New York state adults.
The results may be surprising to some, but given the state of the Yankees in the post-Derek Jeter era and the Mets’ World Series run in 2015, they are not shocking.
The Yankees have played just one postseason game since 2012 — a loss to the Houston Astros in the 2015 Wild Card game — and have missed the playoffs in three of the past four years. Meanwhile, the Mets have made the playoffs in back-to-back years and are a safe bet to return again this season.
Postseason success helps draw fans, plain and simple. The playoff games are nationally televised and winning in the postseason could have swayed neutral New York baseball fans away from the Yankees to the Mets.
The Mets also boast a better roster at this time, headlined by stars including Yoenis Cespedes and homegrown talents such as Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz.
The Yankees will always have their fans. A league-best 27 World Series championships and a storied history will keep longtime fans rooting for the Bombers, but the younger generation associates better with stars, especially those who grow up in front of their eyes with the organization.
The Yankees, perhaps as a response to the success of the Mets’ winning formula, are changing their approach, trying to replicate the Mets’ ability to develop their own talent and have graduated talents such as Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird to the big leagues.
Granted, the Bronx Bombers have built one of the best farm systems in baseball and are likely to churn out a few homegrown stars of their own, but for now, the Mets have the edge.
The venues each team plays in may also have an impact on fandom. Yankee tickets are notoriously expensive, and while Mets tickets are not cheap, the cost still comes in less in Flushing than in the Bronx.
Both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field are marvelous structures, but the latter caters more to baseball fans, while the former seems to have a more business-like feel to it.
The Yankees know this and have renovated their stadium to make it more family-friendly, but the Mets already have a ballpark that has a more baseball-like atmosphere. That gives the Mets another distinct advantage over their cross-town rivals.
The Mets should enjoy their status as the kings of New York, as the Yankees are in the midst of a rebuild that could lead to another World Series title within the next couple of years.
But for now, New York has become a Mets town and will remain that until the Yankees even the playing field.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe