It’s embarrassing for a 1st place team to be welcomed home to an empty stadium. As of this last home stand, the Tampa Bay Rays are averaging 23,065 per home game--83 less attendees’ than last season’s final average. I’m certainly not going to complain about 83 people, but I will throw my arms up in the air at how the community isn’t banding together by going to the Trop to support the Rays. Last season’s team was a good ball club, and the ‘08 Rays were simply jaw-dropping, but this squad is shaping up to be much better than the ALCS Champs of ‘08 and the brass still can’t get fans to come to the games. Why is that?
The Rays have a superstar athlete and an all-star 3rd baseman in Evan Longoria who is easily the most recognizable face of the franchise. He’s on the cover of the MLB 2K10 video game, has nationally televised commercials, and is talked about on ESPN daily. He’s a good-looking young man that treats the media well and will be the Rays poster boy for years. Carl Crawford is just as recognizable as Longo. CC has been in commercials (Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial with Griffey Jr. and Torii Hunter) and has represented Tampa Bay in multiple all-star games, including winning the MVP trophy in last season’s all-star game. You’d think that would get fans excited to drive to the park and witness future greatness, but it’s not enough.
Andrew Friedman, the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Rays, is a regular guest on the nationally syndicated Jim Rome radio show and receives excellent feedback as well as glowing remarks from a host that won’t invite a guest again unless it’s a great interview. The conversation is always compelling and Friedman is an outstanding businessman that sees much potential in a once meager franchise. He’s done such an outstanding job and this organization has evolved light-years to the crap that it used to be before Friedman arrived.
As previously mentioned, the Baseball Tonight crew on ESPN geeks out and talks about the Rays being the best team in baseball nightly. All of this nationally positive pub and we can’t get a near sell out on a Wednesday night against the Oakland A’s? There’s something clearly wrong with this picture. There are hundreds of cities that would trade places with us in a heartbeat. So what’re the excuses?
The economy is horrific and I’m not going to dispute that in any way, but how is it that the Boston Red Sox sell out every game and the Los Angeles Dodgers have a near sell out? Both teams, as of this blog, are below .500. Is it because these teams have more tradition than the Rays? Probably, but we can’t build a tradition by sitting at home and not supporting the team. Are these cities recession proof? The economy is hammering the city of Detroit, but the Tiger’s attendance is still better than the Rays.
“The drive’s too far” is hilarious to me. I don’t even want to waste my time jotting down how dumb an argument that is because I’m sure we’ve heard the discussion ad naseum and rehashing it doesn’t help. Depending on where you are in Pinellas or Hillsborough County, the drive is anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes. That is seriously nothing compared to what other fan’s franchises have to go through. I digress…
“This is a football town” is a great one too because there is so much football being played right now. Going to Rays games helps the summer fly by, especially with them winning. You’ll be watching the Bucs, Bulls, Gators, whoever in no time, so enjoy baseball while you can. What’s football even have to do with anything? It’s the off-season!
Don’t even come at me with, “It’s too expensive.” The Rays are considered the most affordable franchise, not just in baseball, but in all sports.
And before you say, “Well, Knucklehead, where have you been? Have you been going to the games?” I’m not rubbing this is anyone’s face because I’m certainly not a hypocrite and I believe in practicing what I preach, so come have an adult beverage with me in section 145 because I do have season tickets. I’m not saying blow your wallet on season tickets, but try and make the effort to go to two or three games with some friends or family this season.
Aren’t you tired of having Sternberg and Friedman beg for us to go to the games? Aren’t you sick to your stomach walking into the Trop and seeing more Red Sox and Yankee fans than Ray’s fans? Don’t you want a product you can be proud of and call your own? This isn’t some rally cry nor is it a threat, but if we all don’t do our part and contribute this team will be gone and we will regret it. Let’s not let it get to that. It’s time to stand up and support the Rays.