There are periods in history where baseball teams are either hot or cold. They are very good or very bad, and the former definitely generates the most interest. There are exceptions to this rule, of course — once an MLB team goes on a really long stretch of being good, sometimes general fan interest begins to wane. Much like our historical look at the worst calls by umpires, here are the teams that nobody cares about anymore.
5. San Diego Padres
You could argue that for an MLB team to make this list, fans would have cared about them at some point. That’s debatable, when considering the Padres. They made trips to the World Series in 1984 and 1998, and they’ve sporadically gone to the playoffs since. But in general, San Diego hasn’t had a lot of success, and they don’t generate much interest outside of their small market.
In the offseason prior to 2015, the Padres went on a spending spree in an attempt to bolster their roster quickly and make a run at the NL West division title. They added James Shields, Matt Kemp, Will Myers, Justin Upton, and Craig Kimbrel — but it didn’t work. The Padres could only muster a 74-88 record.
They’re one of the worst teams in the National League in 2016, too. If any other teams are interested in what’s on their roster before the trade deadline, they’d happily sell off most of their aging assets in an attempt to rebuild both the organization and interest in the team.
4. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox were once a tortured franchise, going from 1918 until 2004 without winning a World Series. During that time, they sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, saw Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone break their hearts, and then eventually broke through by overcoming a 3-0 series deficit against the Yanks in the 2004 ALCS.
Since then, they’ve made trips back to the World Series in 2007 and 2013, walking away with three trophies in total. But a big part of Boston’s mystique, from a national sense, was the fact that they were unable to win. The storied franchise, with the beautiful old ballpark, with the mission to win. Who wouldn’t love it?
But now that the Boston Red Sox have won, their team and fans seem less likable and way more annoying. David Ortiz’s final season has generated some attention, but in general the people just don’t care about the Red Sox like they used to.
3. Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds had one of the greatest dynasties MLB has seen: the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. They’ve had worthwhile stretches in franchise history since then, with 1990’s Barry-Larkin-Lou-Piniella World Series champs; Ken Griffey Jr.; and even the Dusty Baker and Joey Votto Reds that made the playoffs recently.
But overall, interest in the small market franchise has tapered off. The Big Red Machine has long passed, and now the Reds are simply a team with a loyal following from their local fanbase and not much else. They aren’t in a position to win now or any time in the future, and they need a major overhaul to return to being in the national conversation about baseball again.
2. New York Yankees
The Yankees, much like the Red Sox, saw a shift in their history remove much of the interest in their franchise. New York dominated the MLB in the late ’90s to the early 2000s, winning the World Series in 1996, ’98, ’99, 2000, and then again in 2009.
Along the way, the team with strong homegrown players such as Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Bernie Williams — with key veterans sprinkled in — became a monster, signing the best free agents to monster contracts. After a run of success that saw the Yankees make the playoffs in 17 out of 18 seasons, it was time to pay the piper. New York is saddled with aging players signed to expensive contracts, without a ton of young talent to pick up the slack.
The Yankees have been astoundingly mediocre the last three seasons, making the playoffs last year as a wild card with just 87 victories but otherwise averaging just over 85 victories per year. Without the success of the Yankees to loathe, fans have generally lost interest.
1. Atlanta Braves
The Braves were once one of the most dominant franchises in the game, winning the NL East division every season from 1991 until 2005 — minus the lockout shortened season of 1994 — and making five trips to the World Series. They won it all in 1995, behind Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko, Fred McGriff, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.
The Braves developed talent and found players to contribute to their great teams better than any franchise at the time. But Atlanta has hit a tailspin, with several attempts at a rebuild bringing nothing more than a short window of contention. After having a decent run from 2010–2013, making the playoffs three times but only winning a total of two games, they began rebuilding and have become even worse on the field.
So far this season, the Braves are on pace for about 47 victories in 2016 — and with the best players in their farm system still at least a year away, Atlanta has become extremely irrelevant in the eyes of the average baseball fan. Even local fans are losing interest in watching the Braves lose nearly every day, making them the No. 1 team that no one cares about anymore.