A Northern Kentucky University professor and his students are exploring Major League Baseball's greatest rivalries to determine which ones are really extreme and which are... let's just say .
Over the last seven years, Joe Cobbs, Ph.D., a professor of sports business and event administration in NKU, has led students in studying more than 30,000 baseball enthusiasts across the country about groups they perceive as their main rivals. By allocating 100 points to groups across the league, fans also signaled which teams just didn't thing in their eyes. Teams with large points from the sets of fans were set as intense competitions.
"Using consumer research methods, we developed a means to understand that tension and anticipation you feel at the ballpark if a particular team comes to town. The project is intended to catch the fans' perspective of a rivalry narrative," Cobbs states in a press release.
According to Cobbs' research, Cincinnati Reds fans claim prestige competition with the St. Louis Cardinals, allocating 45.6 of 100 points to the birds on the bat. Cardinals fans don't feel the same, however, giving the Reds only 10 points, making it one of the top-10 unbalanced rivalries in baseball.
But the Reds are part of inverse rivalries, too. Fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates give the Reds 29.3 points, but Reds fans just give 16.9 points to the National League Central opponents.
"Occasionally fans don't feel the same towards another. It's like a little brother versus big brother scenario," Cobbs says. "Since the sports world reflects band affiliations and conflict in society, misinterpreting rivalry may result in underestimating tensions and dangers that manifest in anti-social behaviours, including violence against others. Conversely, well handled rivalries can increase demand in ticket revenue and broadcast evaluations."
The most intense MLB rivalries with assistance from both sides, Cobbs and his students have found, are those of longtime lore.
The Cardinals, who Reds fans believe are their bitter rivals? They're about the all time great rivalries list in third place combating the Cubs, with 123.9 aggregate points.
Cobbs' job has become Know Rivalry, which also publishes data on the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Soccer (MLS) and NCAA football, a media release from NKU states.