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.

Julio Urias is on his way back to the majors

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27:  Julio Urias #78 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on May 27, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
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Dodgers 19-year-old rookie Julio Urias is coming back to the majors and Alex Wood is headed to the 15-day disabled list with left elbow soreness, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Urias will likely start Saturday against the Braves, which will mark his debut in front of the home crowd.

Urias made his major league debut on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field, but lasted only 2 2/3 innings. He yielded three runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Urias came into the season rated as the Dodgers’ #1 prospect and the #2 overall prospect in baseball. Prior to his promotion, he had compiled a 1.10 ERA with 44 strikeouts and eight walks over 41 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Mookie Betts enjoys a three-homer game against the Orioles

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox follows his three run homer against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 31, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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The Red Sox seem to have hit the jackpot on all of their young players so far this year. Jackie Bradley, Jr. just had a 29-game hitting streak snapped. Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games on Tuesday night. And Mookie Betts has been quite productive batting leadoff for the Red Sox this year, entering Tuesday with an even .800 OPS.

Betts, 23, hit 18 home runs in his first full season last year. With a three-homer night against the Orioles on Tuesday, he’s already up to 12 in 2016 with four months of season left. The first was of the solo variety, a line drive to center field off of Kevin Gausman in the first inning. Betts followed up in the third with a liner to left field for a three-run dinger off of Gausman. He made it three in the seventh, drilling a Dylan Bundy offering to right field.

Here’s video of homer number two:

Betts finished 3-for-5 as the Red Sox won 6-2 at Camden Yards.

The stats show the Pirates as an outlier in throwing “headhunter” pitches

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 5: Reliever Arquimedes Caminero #37 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 5, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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Last week at ESPN Sweetspot’s Inside the Zona, Ryan Morrison looked into the data and found that the Pirates stand out among the rest when it comes to throwing “headhunter” pitches. Those are defined as fastballs 3.2 feet or higher and 1.2 feet towards the batter from the center of the plate.

The research was prompted because Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero last Tuesday in the seventh inning. The next inning, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the jaw with a pitch and was instantly ejected.

Morrison illustrated the data in a nice chart, which you should check out. The Pirates have thrown 93 of those pitches, which is way more than any other team. The next closest team is the Reds at 68 pitches. The major league average is approximately 48 pitches.

The Pirates have had an organizational philosophy of pitching inside since at least 2013, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer quoted manager Clint Hurdle as saying, “We’re not trying to hurt people, just staying in with conviction.”

Morrison goes on to suggest that the Diamondbacks should have forfeited last Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Pirates in protest, out of concern for their players’ safety. As it happened, the D-Backs lost both games anyway, suffering a series sweep. The two clubs don’t meet again this season.

D-Backs manager Chip Hale said after last Tuesday’s game that Caminero “shouldn’t be at this level”. Caminero responded to those comments today, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I’m actually glad you asked me about that,” Caminero said. “The only thing I’ve got to say about (Hale) is that he is a perfect manager. And he was a perfect player, too. That’s it. I know what I did wasn’t good, but it happens in baseball. I wasn’t trying to hit anyone.”

I realize I’m late on pointing out Morrison’s terrific article and the whole debacle between the two teams, but I felt it was worth highlighting.

Jose Bautista: “I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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Also included in a recent report on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated — along with his belief that Rougned Odor was the only bad guy in the May 15 debacle — was the slugger’s desire to remain a Blue Jay. Per Verducci, Bautista said, “I love the city. I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto.

Bautista, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in February 2011. Back in November, the Jays exercised their 2016 club option for $14 million. Bautista isn’t willing to discuss contract details during the season, so the two sides will have to wait until at least October to come to an agreement.

Entering Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, Bautista is hitting .237/.371/.489 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and 40 walks, the latter of which leads the American League.