by Josh Kipnis
Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg is fed up with the fans in the Bay area. “I am frustrated this year. We’ve replicated [the success of] last year and our attendance numbers were down 15 percent and our ratings were down…We’re getting to the point where we don’t control our own destiny. This is untenable as a model going forward.”
It has long been said that the best way to put fans in the stands is to win games. The only problem is that this clearly isn’t the case for Rays’ baseball. Tampa Bay, who has the second lowest payroll among MLB teams, has made the playoffs in three of their last four seasons. Amazingly, the fans don’t seem to care. The Rays completed a historic comeback on the Boston Red Sox to win the AL wild-card on the last day of the regular season, building a train of momentum that was sure to topple over the next opponent in their path. That train, however, ran out of steam when the Texas Rangers eliminated them in Game 4 of their opening series.
I had the privilege of attending a few Rays’ games this summer and I was able to witness some of the worst baseball fans in the country.
Picture this; your team is up by one run going into the 9th inning against the most established team in baseball, the New York Yankees. Most baseball fanatics would be jumping up and down, high fiving the strangers sitting next to them. Not in Tampa. Instead, just as I thought people were standing up to show a little excitement, I watched as they turned around and headed up the stairway. My jaw dropped.
Are you kidding me? What is the point of even showing up at all? You’re telling me that you would rather beat traffic and listen to the game on the radio than watch your beloved team beat the most hated team in the world? Don’t even bother calling yourselves sports fans. Sternberg is absolutely right.
Last season, Evan Longoria called out the fans for their lack of support. “We’ve been playing great baseball all year. Since I’ve been here in (2006), the fans have wanted a good baseball team. They’ve wanted to watch a contender,” Longoria said. “And for us to play good baseball for three years now, and for us to be in a spot to clinch again and go to the playoffs, we’re all confused as to why it’s only 15,000 to 20,000 in the building.”
Rumors are spreading about building a new stadium, but why even bother? Tampa citizens obviously don’t care about America’s pastime. Mr. Sternberg-the clouds are out; it’s time for the sun’s Rays to shine somewhere else.