The Cardinals allegedly have the most loyal fans; the Astros the least loyal

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This goes pretty far into the land of the subjective, but according to Brand Keys, here are the most loyal and least loyal fan bases around:

Top-5 Teams – 2014

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Philadelphia Phillies
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Atlanta Braves
5. San Francisco Giants

Bottom-5 Teams – 2014

30. Houston Astros
29. New York Mets
28. Seattle Mariners
27. Arizona Diamondbacks
26. Colorado Rockies

The measurements are made by the “four emotional drivers” of fan loyalty, which are (1) Pure Entertainment; (2) Authenticity; (3) Fan Bonding; and (4) History and tradition. These are mixed in a pot with things like overall league and team rankings, viewership and merchandise sales and then this comes out like so.

I can’t say that it seems intuitive. Because I know a lot of Mets fans. And they have had very few reasons to cheer in the past few years, yet they keep coming back. Whether that’s love or that’s insanity I have no idea, but it’s certainly loyalty of a type. I’ll also say that seeing the Braves where they are is at least a bit curious. While they get way more crap thrown on them for not selling out games than they deserve, the fact is that Braves fans, thanks to the TBS legacy, are a pretty far flung lot, covering a lot of the country. That helps explain why attendance doesn’t always track popularity, but it also seems to be pretty bad for the whole “fan bonding” thing.

Anyway, take this for what you will. I assume most of you will take it as either validation of your own fandom or a great and uncalled for insult, depending on where you team lies on the loyalty scale. Because that’s how everything related to fandom works.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.