Typically, the rivalry between New York and Chicago revolves around pizza philosophy and the debate between thin crust versus deep dish. In baseball, the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets do not have much animosity toward each other – as they play in different divisions in geographically divergent markets, the occasional matchup between the two tends not to produce too many sparks.
This, however, did not temper the emotions in play during the Mets’ 4-0 sweep of the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. The Mets’ first pennant in 15 years, the series’ dominating win is the latest example of the team’s attempt to revitalize a franchise that has been relegated to the shadows of the Yankees for decades.
Once called New York’s “other team,” the Mets persevered through bad trades, cold streaks, and suspensions during this season alone. Longtime Mets fans will always remember the metamorphosis of the club from perennial losers to powerhouse. In Game 4 of the NLCS, the Mets overwhelmed the Cubs with a three-run home run in the first, a two-run double in the second, and a two-run home run in the eighth, sealing the series 8-3.
In doing this, the Mets sentenced the Cubs to its 107th consecutive season without a championship – one of the longest dry streaks in North American sports history. This is despite the fact that the Cubs set the league’s postseason record for most home runs in a single game and the franchise record for most home runs in a series.
Despite this, the cross-talk on social media has not been all negative. A cursory examination of #CubsMets yielded these references:
Overwhelmingly, the talk on Twitter following the end of Game 4 was relief that the 15-year pennant dry streak for the Mets was over, with the occasional mention of the busted “Back to the Future II” prophecy that the Cubs would sweep the Fall Classic on October 21, 2015. While – as to be expected – some negativity emerged, such as the Cubs’ posting a photo of a digitally defaced Citi Field on its Snapchat account and a negatively received interaction between the manager of the Cubs’ Twitter account and a fan seeking a free jersey, this series has been the most positive in the 2015 postseason so far.
Respect Among Opponents
When looking at the positive sentiment of Illinoisans toward the Mets and of New Yorkers toward the Cubs, there is little difference. In an analysis of terms used by social media users in Illinois and New York, the use of positive terms to describe the opposing NLCS team were within .02 sentiment points of each other, with Mets mentions in Illinois slightly edging out Cubs mentions in New York.
With both teams seeking to overcome long pennant droughts and working to recover their relationship with their fan base, it is understandable how sentimentality on both ends can be similar. Both teams have freshmen squads, both teams had a Cinderella season, and both teams were not projected to be in the NLCS when the season began.
In the minds of the fans, there may not be two more similar teams than the Mets and the Cubs, which belies the ultimate result of their NLCS meeting.
Among the most positive terms tracked by the sentiment analysis are Mets catcher Kirk Nieuwenhuis – who played for 17 days for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler – who transferred from the Houston Astros this year; and Mets pitcher Jon Niese. Other positive sentimentality terms include Texas Rangers Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan; Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward – whom rumors state that the Cubs have shown interest in; and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant – who, despite being dominated for most of the NLCS, still had a stellar rookie year this season.
The mix of New York and Chicago terms in the positivity list reflects the fact that – despite the lack of rivalry between the two teams – this matchup meant a lot for those who watched the series. Without a doubt, this series will be discussed for years to come as part of a season that helped to redefine two franchises and to spread hope and positive thinking to two long-suffering sets of fans.
We pulled every tweet from the 2015 MLB Season with #mets in the state of Illinois and #cubs in the state of New York, and using the Alchemy API, we looked at the targeted sentiment score of the most commonly used terms throughout. The targeted sentiment looks at the words around a particular term and determines on a scale of -1 to 1 how negative or positive these words are, with 0 being neutral.