06/29/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Yankees Not the Most-Hated Team? Say It Isn't So!

When the Yankees visited the White House, President Barack Obama said that they were "easy to hate." But now the Wall Street Journal reports that, according to analysis by the Nielsen Co., the Yankees are only baseball's fifth-most hated team.

I guess you really can do anything you want with statistics. I'm looking forward to the following findings:

  • New payroll calculation places Yankees fifth.
  • New bullpen analysis reveals that Mariano Rivera is fifth-most valuable closer.
  • New study shows Javier Vazquez pitches better in a New York uniform.

Claiming that the Yankees are not the most-hated team is an insult to Yankee fans and Yankee haters alike. As a Met fan, I remember fondly the days when the Mets were the most hated team in baseball - the mid-eighties. Not coincidentally, they were also the best team in baseball.

Those Mets and their fans were often attacked as arrogant, just as many think of today's Yankees and their fans. But to be really hated, you've got to be really good. The Yankees won the World Series last year. And, as they've been known to mention on occasion, they did it for the 27th time.

But according to this new study, the most-hated baseball team is actually the Cleveland Indians, who finished tied for last in 2009 with perennial cellar-dweller Kansas City.

I'm not sure why anyone other than frustrated Indians fans would even acknowledge this team, much less hate them. Disappointment over no new ""Major League" sequels? Met fans might have an issue with them if their ballpark were still called Jacobs Field, because it would remind us of recently demoted Mike Jacobs. But now Cleveland's park is called Progressive Field. Hmm, could this be an anti-Flo backlash?

The Washington Nationals come in at number 6. Most casual fans barely realize that Washington even has a team after decades without one. But I suppose there is a segment of the population that hates anything to do with Washington.

Could ideology have something to do with the Cincinnati Reds coming in at number 3? After all, this franchise felt the need to change its team name to "Redlegs" during the Red Scare 1950s.

Nielsen has some odd findings on the positive end as well. According to their analysis, the most-liked teams are the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's. Yet the A's ranked last in attendance last year and ownership wants to move the team to San Jose.

The problem with how this study is being interpreted is that it is not actually asking which teams fans hate the most, but attempting to measure feelings toward teams along a "sentiment scale." If half the fans surveyed hate the Yankees and half the fans surveyed love them, a statistical analysis could find that the average fan's attitude toward the Bronx Bombers was neutral.

And that would be a conclusion worth hating.