The Tampa Tribune commissioned a study to determine whether the Rays attendance problem (i.e. they win and people still don’t show) is fixable. There isn’t an ultimate conclusion — like so many things the journey is better than the destination — but the upshot is that it’s not just a function of the economy or the team winning. Winning, the study founds, is the strongest predictor of attendance, but very, very close is the population within a thirty-minute drive of the ballpark, which is a category in which the Rays are dead last in all of baseball.
Makes sense to me. I love baseball more than most folks, but I don’t know that I’d want to travel an hour each way to the ballpark 81 times a year, and that’s what you’re asking season ticket holders to do.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”
Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.
Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.