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.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.

The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.

There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”

Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:

And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.