Introducing the "Stop Making Fun of Rays Fans" Index

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In light of David Price’s and Evan Longoria’s comments (and Mitch Williams’ and many, many others), reader Steven Luck decided that he had had enough of the back and forth and set out to try to quantify the level of Rays fan apathy. He submitted it in the comments, but I figured it needed its own post, so I present it with only cosmetic edits below. Based on my vast knowledge of statistics, geography, sociology and psychology, I can say that his formula is absolutely perfect.*

*Note: I have no such knowledge whatsoever.

Enjoy. Just don’t ask me what, exactly, it’s supposed to measure. I guess it’s enthusiasm per capita or something akin to it. And, yeah, I’m guessing it favors smaller cities. But who cares? The real value of this will be to see what reputable media outlets steal it and pretend that it says something scientifically valid!
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Rays apologists have always reminded me of the joke Woody Allen tells at
the beginning of “Annie Hall.” Tampa residents are all unemployed and
there are just so few of them.

With that in mind I created the Jonah Keri Memorial “Stop Making Fun of
Rays Fans” Index.* Surprisingly, the Rays come out looking pretty good.

Methodology:

The formula for calculating a team’s JKMSMFoRF is:

[Average Home Attendance]*81/(([Metro Area Population]/[Number of Teams in Metro Area])*(1-[Metro Area Unemployment Rate]))

Results:

Milwaukee                       1.948
San Francisco                   1.568
St. Louis                       1.304
Colorado                        1.243
Minnesota                       1.057
Cincinnati                      1.049
Kansas City                     0.859
San Diego                       0.780
Tampa Bay                       0.770
Pittsburgh                      0.749
Cleveland                       0.746
Oakland                         0.737
Boston                          0.725
Chicago Cubs                    0.714
Baltimore                       0.704
Seattle                         0.678
Philadelphia                    0.677
Detroit                         0.659
LA Dodgers                      0.635
LA Angels                       0.577
Arizona                         0.518
Chicago White Sox               0.515
Atlanta                         0.494
NY Yankees                      0.434
Houston                         0.433
Texas                           0.419
Washington                      0.357
Toronto                         0.323
Florida                         0.307
NY Mets                         0.306

Congratulations Milwaukee, you folks really, really love going to
baseball games!  (Or there may just be nothing else to do in
Milwaukee.)  Tampa Bay finishes in a respectable ninth place. Oakland
and San Francisco compensate for their moderate attendances by
sharing a medium sized metropolitan area.  Also, it is possible that
literally every man, woman and child in the Milwaukee, St. Louis and
Denver metro areas has attended one of their respective baseball team’s
home games this year.

*Note: Jonah Keri is not dead, but we can memorialize him anyway. A good way to do that is to pre-order his certain-to-be-awesome book about how the Tampa Bay Rays used Wall Street strategies to turn themselves into a winning bunch.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.