"A baseball fan has the digestive apparatus of a billy goat. He can, and does, devour any set of diamond statistics with insatiable appetite and then nuzzles hungrily for more." ~Arthur Daley
Baseball is a sport known for comprehensive data-collecting. Satirist Robert S. Wieder once said "Baseball fans are junkies, and their heroin is the statistic." Last week, as many baseball fans celebrated the start of the 2011 baseball season (and the start of a new year of data), Facebook published its own findings about Major League Baseball and its fan base. The data looks at the millions of members worldwide who have hit the "Like" button about their favorite teams, or posted updates about their feelings over a teams win or loss.
"Baseball is a sport that is particularly about statistics, but you never really see statistics about fans," said Jonathan Chang, the Facebook data scientist who led the social network's anonymous study of baseball fans. "Statistics about fans are just so much more rare to see."
Among the poll's findings:
- FRIENDS: The poll finds that Oakland fans are the most social. Fans of the A's have an average of over 500 friends. The Nationals come in second, with an estimated average of 450 friends. On the other end of the spectrum: The Los Angeles teams have the fewest friends on Facebook. The Dodgers and the Angels were the only fan community to average 350 friends or less.
- LOYALTY: Phillies fans are the most loyal, followed by the Tigers and Cardinals. The A's and the National's have the least loyal fans.
- AGE: The Orioles, Cardinals, and Tigers have the oldest fan bases, while the Yankees, Marlins, Giants and A's have the youngest.
- FAIR WEATHER: The study found that the least "fair-weather fans" were supporters of the Rays, the Mets and the Reds, while the most fair-weather were fans of the Indians, Yankees and Blue Jays.
- POLITICS: San Francisco Giants fans were the most liberal, Texas Rangers fans were the most conservative.
- GENDER: More women prefer the Cardinals -- in fact, women represent two out of every five Facebook fans. On the other end, the Blue Jays had the lowest ratio of female fans.
- LIKES: The Yankees are the most "Liked" on Facebook -- with over 3 million fans.
- GEOGRAPHY: The Red Sox fan base covers the most real estate. While most fans are concentrated on the East Coast, they are quickly spreading west.
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