Like any professional league, the MLB is home to teams that are adored and hated. Typically, the teams that are either beloved or loathed by fans changes. The more success a team has had, as you’ll see below, the more likely it is to end up on a fan’s hit list—especially if the team has had a postseason victory over their home team.
Still, there are a few resident bad guys and a few hometown heroes that stick out of the league’s 30 teams. As North America’s second-oldest professional sports league behind the NHL, the MLB is home to a handful of teams that have been active for over a century.
In fact, most of the oldest teams are featured below. With so many seasons under their belts, these franchises have nuzzled their way into the hearts of millions… and onto the black lists of millions more baseball fans. So, how do teams end up on either list? And is it at all objective?
Public Enemies #1: New York Yankees & Los Angeles Dodgers
Sometimes, the better a team is, the more criticism and hatred they attract. This is certainly the case for both the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the moment, the Dodgers are listed as favorites in World Series betting odds to take the 2022 title alongside the Astros (below).
Both teams are known for their bottomless pockets, which is in part thanks to their massive and highly lucrative markets in New York City and Los Angeles. More fans equate to more money, and more funds mean better options for signing big-name players—even if the MLB employs luxury taxes for wealthier teams.
In both cases, it’s easy to see why MLB fans in smaller cities with fewer resources dislike them: they view themselves as David and coastal teams like the Yankees and Dodgers as goliaths. Which, for all intents and purposes, they are.
America’s Sweetheart: Atlanta Braves
Listed third on World Series betting odds from sportsbooks are the Atlanta Braves. The team was established back in 1871, later winning their first MLB game in 1876. However, the team jumped around before landing in Atlanta in 1996.
So, what makes the franchise so beloved? For many baseball fans living in the South, the Braves are their closest option to root for. The nearest teams are the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays in Florida or the Texas Rangers in Dallas and the Houston Astros in Texas, which leaves many Southerners living in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana to cheer on the Braves.
Public Enemy #2: Houston Astros
The Houston Astros aren’t one of the MLB’s most-hated teams due to their success. Instead, the franchise has been embroiled in multiple cheating scandals—one of which led them to a World Series title in 2017. While almost every single MLB franchise has seen some form of misconduct and faced punishment from the MLB, it seems that fans can’t quite let go of how organized and effective the Astros’ sign-stealing plan was back in 2017 and 2018.
Fanfare All the Way: St. Louis Cardinals
If there’s one unexpected dynasty in the MLB, it’s Missouri’s St. Louis Cardinals. The city sat in the rust belt and lost its NFL team in 2016 due to a lagging economy and fanbase—and that’s because locals love baseball. The Cards have taken home 11 World Series titles—second only to the Yankees.
The team was founded back in 1882 and has never left the city for relocation. In other words, the baseball team is tied to local culture. And even MLB fans who dislike the Cardinals aren’t likely to disparage Cardinals fans or the city they’re located in.
Public Enemy #3: Also the St. Louis Cardinals
Still, that doesn’t mean MLB fans are rolling out the carpet for the Cardinals. In fact, the team is one of the most-loved in the league… and also one of the most hated. One study from geotagged Twitter posts aggregated the most-hated MLB teams based on fan comments. Here, the usual suspects of the Dodgers, Yankees, and Astros were flagged—but so were the St. Louis Cardinals. Six states bordering Missouri listed their least-favorite team as the Cardinals, likely thanks to those 11 World Series trophies.