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An Innovative, Inaccurate Baseball Fan Map

Submitted by on February 16, 2012 – 5:26 pm 6 Comments |  
It is not often that I would go out of my way to praise a map that advertises itself as “highly inaccurate,” but I will do so in the case of the Common Census Major League Baseball Fan map. The map was constructed from crowd-sourced data, relying on responders to specify where they live and what team they support. Unfortunately, the response-base was not adequate to generate an accurate map. The map that was produced, however, is suggestive, and the technique is promising. As far as northern California is concerned, I find it highly unlikely that Sonoma County, located north of San Francisco, would support the Oakland Athletics more than the San Francisco Giants. In my experience, Giants territory extends north of San Francisco, through Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The map’s portrayal of areas without MLB teams, such as Utah, is intriguing.

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  • This kind of crowdsourcing is used very often in making dialectal maps in linguistics. One fun site that did that is the Pop vs. Soda page: http://popvssoda.com:2998/
    I don’t think they are at it any more, but their response rate and results were quite impressive and accurate.

    • The Pop vs. Soda map is very interesting in what it says about the culture of the West Coast, as well.  I was mentioning in another comment that, when I was growing up, Washingtonians tended to have a dim view of Californians, but that northern California was considered essentially southern Oregon–part of Us, rather than Them.  The county-based version of this map shows quite a sharp distinction between overwhelming use of the term “soda” in California and “pop” in Oregon, with the exceptions of Josephine and Jackson counties, on I-5.  I wonder how this would map against major media markets.

    • Even more interestingly, if one clicks through the interactive map to get to the data, Canada is included.  There we see “pop” dominating, even in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.  It just shows the arrogance of looking for American trends mapped onto Canada.  “Pop” may be a Canadianism that spread to the northern part of the US.

      • You are absolutely right on this being a Canadianism. And it’s not the only one. Another well-documented case is the cot-caught merger, which is another Canadianism spreading south: http://babel.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/ICSLP4/Map_1.GIF

        • How very interesting.  I always thought of that as an Eastern Washington thing when I was growing up.  Of course, I also thought of the pin/pen merger as an Eastern Washington thing.  It appears I just knew some linguistically idiosyncratic Eastern Washingtonians.

  • I grew up in western Washington in the 1970s.  Before we got the Seahawks, Washingtonians were fans of a variety of football teams.  I would say that most of my friends were fans of teams that were not on the east coast (Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys).  There was only one thing, I would say, that united us–I never met anyone who was a fan of a team in California.

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