Skip to content

Introducing the "Stop Making Fun of Rays Fans" Index

Sep 28, 2010, 3:00 PM EDT

It's fun when readers make up stats the support my predispositions. If you make up some that challenge them, however, please don't send them to me.

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!
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.


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]))


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.

  1. BC - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    Great. Another underhanded slap at the Mets. Thanks.

  2. matt - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    hahaha. Those poor mets just don’t stop finishing last do they?? Good grief Charlie Brown…

  3. The Rabbit - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    In my prior life in competitive analysis, we were encouraged to manipulate the data to give the marketing department “an edge” over the peer companies.
    I doff my hat to you, Steven. Your formula would merit a promotion.

  4. BleedGreen - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    I was actually just looking at the attendance for Tampa vs Atlanta. The Braves have similar average attendance numbers.
    Braves – 22,994
    Rays – 22,913
    Phillies – 45,306
    Tigers – 30,386
    Now, isn’t Detroit one of the hardest hit areas of unemployment and the economy? Why can they manage to have almost 10,000 more fans in attendance on a daily basis than Atlanta or Tampa can?

  5. Simon Oliver Lockwood - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Shouldn’t the team’s winning percentage be factored in somehow? The point being pressed is that a successful team isn’t getting fan support commensurate with its record on the field.

  6. BleedGreen - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    What takes into account that say, Citizens Bank Park is sold out every night, and to get a ticket via Stub Hub you have to pay $100+ to get a not sucky seat? I could walk up to the window in DC and get a good seat for $35.
    Is there average selling price based on stub hub? The Mets tickets simply cost too much, for example. That keeps people away.

  7. Paper Lions - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    There needs to be an adjustment to account for attendance limits (a ballpark can only hold so many people). The current index doesn’t account for the discrepancy between artificially small attendance numbers (more people would attend Yankee or Red Sox games if more tickets were available) and the ability of local metropolitan populations to grow with much less constraint. Mean percent capacity would instead of raw attendance would probably serve as a quick a dirty fix.

  8. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Because Detroit is a great baseball town.
    Look, just because I’m defending Rays fans today doesn’t mean that there isn’t a difference between baseball towns. Though I am one, I am fully prepared to admit that, on the whole, Braves fans suck. There just isn’t a lot of enthusiasm for them in Atlanta, for a number of reasons (and it reflects way worse on them than what the Rays fans are doing reflects on Tampa Bay).
    Baseball heritage matters. There is 110 years of strong connection to the Tigers in Detroit, and its a passion that gets passed down from generation to generation. You’ve got 44 years of it Atlanta, but it’s much shallower. You have 12 years in Tampa Bay, and even more impediments (ballpark; losing)

  9. PestiEsti - Sep 28, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Hi, it’s Steve. You are exactly right. In order to match Milwaukee, the Yankees and Mets would need ball parks that sat over 200,000. I was trying to figure out a way to take that into account, but, unfortunately, I finished my shower so this is what we get. The reason I didn’t use mean percent capacity, is because major league ballparks are expected to be a certain size. Just like we can’t expect Yankee Stadium to hold 200,000, the Reds can’t get away with building a ballpark that only seats 12,000. Small markets are going to have trouble filling a major league ballpark, while in big markets the size of the ballpark will be a constraint on total attendance. If you have a solution, I’d be thrilled to hear it. I just haven’t been able to figure it out yet.

  10. PestiEsti - Sep 28, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    BleedGreen (based on your screen name, I have the feeling we might share an alma mater), this is the exact question that prompted this analysis. I’m a Metro Detroiter, so when I see fanbases saying, “Wah! It’s the economy. Wah! We can’t afford to go to games.” I get my hackles up. After all the economy is abysmal here and has been for years, yet there are plenty of people at Comerica Park when I go. However, the fact is Metro Detroit is over half again the size of the Tampa area. There are just flat out more people here to go to ball games.

  11. BleedGreen - Sep 28, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    I wasn’t picking on the Braves Craig. And in fact, I didn’t even notice it was you that wrote the article. I just picked out the Braves because they were a team that was in 1st place for much of the year and people still didn’t show up. But since you brought up the ‘tradition’ argument, why is Colorado so high up on the list? They’ve only had a team as long as the Marlins, founded in 91 and began play in 93, so they have a scant 17 years of baseball heritage in a town that’s VERY Broncos oriented, but they again still manage to be up near the top of your list here, and have an average attendance of 35K people, between 10 and 15K more than the Marlins, the Braves and the Rays. Again, there’s more to it than unemployment, team performance, or baseball-ness in the area.
    Why do you defend the Rays and say its not their fault, they’re not apathetic, its this excuse, its that excuse, etc etc, but when the Braves put up the same attendance numbers, its cuz ‘Brave’s fans suck’? Why can’t people just say ‘Ray’s fans suck’? Theres always someone defending them. Fact is, there’s no one to defend. There just simply ARE NO RAY’S FANS.

  12. linfield - Sep 28, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    It’s quite funny listening to national baseball “experts” try and describe the attendance problems of the Tampa Bay Rays. The major issue isn’t the horrible ballpark, which is worse than the old cookie cutter stadiums back in the day, or the location of said park.
    As someone who lived in that area when the Rays were losing, the reason for the low attendance was rarely given as stadium location. The common mantra was if the Rays could put together a winning team, the attendance would increase dramatically.
    The two real reasons the Rays are struggling are: 1. No baseball tradition with such a new franchise and 2. Large numbers of northern transplants who see many of their favorite teams in spring training anyway.

  13. zac - Sep 28, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    I’ve never actually quite gotten why Atlantans don’t support the Braves that much. The team has generally been successful for almost 20 years now and was extremely successful for something along the order of 5-10 of those years. Is it because many Braves fans live prohibitively far away from the stadium to attend more than a few games a year? (Just because a guy in Mississippi likes the Braves doesn’t mean he’s going to Turner that often.) The very nature of sports in the South, where Baseball is very much number 2 (or maybe even 3 after College and Pro football in some order) probably doesn’t help. But I’m told by the few people from Atlanta that I know that the place just isn’t a great sports town in general and that a lot of people will tell you that they’re Braves/Hawks/Falcons/UofG fans or whatever but that not that many of them really follow all that closely.

  14. avg joe - Sep 28, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    I keep hearing about all the transplants in the Tampa area. Does anyone think it would help if the Rays were an NL team? It’s easier to support a second team if they aren’t division foes going head-to-head with your number one team. I guess I’m assuming all of the transplants are Yankees fans. If they are Phillies / Mets fans or whatever that kind of kills this idea.
    I live in Minneapolis, with many friends from Wisconsin. They love the Brewers first, but still support the Twins because they don’t step on the Brewers’ toes (aside from inter-league play, which doesn’t really count). This stands in stark contrast to the border battles of football season.

  15. CalinCT - Sep 29, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    And keep this in mind:
    The Rays get 18 games (or 22% of their home games) against the Yankees and Sox in their building, and THOSE games tend to be the ones that raise that average up to 23k.
    The Braves don’t have other teams coming into their ballpark that have a STRONG following in their regional area.

  16. CalinCT - Sep 29, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    AND the unemployment rate in Philly is very similar to the one down in the Tampa Bay area.
    But folks are still buying tickets, and there are still plenty of folks in seats at the ballpark.

  17. SP_ATL - Sep 29, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Completely agree with you here, Craig. But before we go on and on debating the Braves fan attendance/apathy, can somebody at least correct the grossly understated Braves avg. attendance figure from “BleedGreen”? Through 77 home dates, the Braves have averaged 30,073 fans (15th in MLB). This is far from a sellout every night, but it’s a lot better than the 22k cited and only a few hundred short of Detroit.
    I also think zac had a good point on the proximity of Braves fans. “Braves Country” stretches from Southern Virginia to Northern Florida and west to Mississippi. For most fans, it’s not reasonable to drive 3+ hours to your average weeknight game. The Braves draw MUCH better on weekends, when many fans I talk to at the ballpark seem to be competing for a “how far did they travel” award. The Braves rank #9 in MLB team TV ratings (between Yankees and Giants) and are actually #5 among all radio markets (the Braves also have the largest number of outlets of any radio network in professional sports, further evidence of their geographical reach).
    Though I am a Braves STH, I am by no means suggesting they are the top ticket in town – SEC football has and probably always will be #1 in the South. However, I do think the “Braves fan apathy” storyline is overblown by the media and opposing baseball fans – even you, Craig, who should at least come to Turner Field once before you start speaking from authority as a Braves fan.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Baez (2263)
  2. B. Crawford (2227)
  3. H. Pence (2184)
  4. B. Harper (2107)
  5. C. Seager (1969)