The Marlins and Rays have some catching up to do for baseball supremacy in Florida. Turns out the most popular team in the state is from out of state.
A poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found the New York Yankees to be the favorite of 20 percent of Florida baseball fans, compared to 18 percent for the Rays and 15 percent for the Marlins.
The Marlins can take heart that they do rule Southeast Florida with 44 percent, compared to 25 percent for the Yankees.
The results are not at all surprising considering all the transplanted residents from the Northeast and the Yankees’ long history of spring training in Florida that predates Babe Ruth. In South Florida, all of their games are broadcast on radio via 640-AM.
Appropriately, the Yankees helped the Marlins inaugurate their new ballpark with two recent exhibition games.
The poll reinforces that it makes more sense for the Marlins to be associated with Miami. Even with two World Series championships, the Florida Marlins never caught on state-wide.
The poll showed the Marlins are the favorite of only 2 percent of fans in North Florida/Panhandle and the Tampa Bay area, 5 percent in Central Florida and 4 percent in Southwest Florida.
Likewise, the Rays are preference of 54 percent in their Bay area vicinity but don’t even register in Southeast Florida.
The Yankees have a strong base of support in each region of the state. The Atlanta Braves, no longer America’s Team since TBS stopped showing their games nationally after 2007, are still North Florida’s team, edging the Yankees 23 percent to 17 percent.
The Boston Red Sox rank fourth in popularity statewide with 8 percent. The New York Mets are a distant also-ran at 4 percent. Even in New York-centric South Florida, only 5 percent favor the Mets.
Photo: Marlins and New York fans combined for the first big crowds at Marlins Park when Derek Jeter and the Yankees played two exhibitions in the new stadium. (Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel)