We all knew the Braves have a huge fan base that spans across both the country and abroad, but today we learned the team is the third most popular team in baseball. According to a Harris Poll, Atlanta came in just behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and ahead of the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets and Phillies ranked sixth and seventh, respectively. According to the report:
The Braves were the nation's favorite team in 1999 and the team has spent every year since fluctuating as either the second favorite or third favorite.
The franchise's popularity can likely be attributed to three things: national exposure, location, and their winning ways for the last two decades.
The Braves became "America's Team" in the 1990's with their national television deal, which made finding a Braves game as easy as flipping the channel to TBS for six months a year. With fans across the country looking to watch baseball, becoming a Braves fan made a lot of sense with the club being televised so often.
The franchise has gone with the slogan, "Braves Country" for two years now and it's because, well, the southeast and parts of the south are indeed dominated by Braves fans. Whether you're in the Carolinas, Tennessee or Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, or Georgia, fans of the tomahawk will be everywhere.
Finally, there aren't too many fans of losing teams. The Braves have done more winning in the '90's and 2000's than just about any other team in baseball and that means a lot to the fans. No one wants to cheer for a team that continually loses and plays poorly. Winning fourteen straight division titles is very significant, and it has contributed largely to their popularity.
So I guess the next time you hear someone say, "Turner Field is always empty. The Braves have no fans!" you can show them the report and prove them wrong ... or hit them over the head with a tomahawk chop. Whichever you feel is more appropriate.