Thought processes and conversations started under the tilted cap of Tropicana Field. Someday everyone will know the Rays play in St. Petersburg, Florida, not TAMPA, or the fictitious city of TAMPA BAY.
Why am I Surprised this Happened Tonight
I am not sure why I am taking this Tampa Bay Rays attendance smack down so personally. For some reason I firmly believed a question was positioned towards two of the Rays high visibility team members and they drank the usual media Kool-Aid being portioned out by the St. Petersburg Times and a few other local fish wraps.
For some reason the Times doesn’t provide the information that the Rays have drawn an astonishing 8th best attendance in the MLB based on per capita numbers. I bet if the Yankees ( or any other team ) was born here 13 years ago, they would have about the same attendance numbers based on the Tampa Bay regional per capita population (4,028,749 -2008 estimate).
I guess I take it a bit personally since I have only missed one game in the last two seasons, and will (hopefully) hit a perfecto ( 81 games) when the Rays finally end their 2010 home schedule on Wednesday, September 29th. What internally pains me so much is the fact that the hidden agenda or despicable propaganda of the Times finally got funneled down into the Rays clubhouse, and Carl Crawford and Rays Manager Joe Maddon might have been a bit nudged to take a huge swig of the addictive Kool-Aid without knowing it.
For some reason the local media thought it was a great idea to take the focus off a great Toronto versus Rays game and turn the immediate focus towards the blue-seat monsters that tend to gobble up Rays fans and make them invisible for their Monday night contests. Is it any wonder that the Times or any of the other media monglers took it right to Crawford and Maddon tonight knowing that there was visibly less than the announced 11,968 fannies in the seats tonight. Why did the Times have to go and beat this decaying dead horse carcass over and over again tonight.
I am not proud of the Rays attendance tonight, but I also have a bit more class and respect for those faithful Rays fans that hit the ticket takers every night and have to keep hearing this same old song being played by the Times whenever they can get a chance to pop that song and dance online for everyone else in the World to see again and again. I personally know who the economy and unemployment have trashed this Tampa Bay region and have made even the most loyal Rays fan winch and rethink their usual obsessive passion for attending multiple Rays games.
To keep pushing this same drawn out issue fully down people’s throats when they have enough troubles away from the Trop’s doors. I was told today about at least 1,000 people who either bought their tickets online, or got them from friends who thought Sunday’s Rays game was still at 1:40 pm instead of 8 pm. I wonder how many of those fans actually stayed in the St. Petersburg area waiting for the Trop’s doors to open at 6:10 pm. My guess is that a good percentage of them either tossed their tickets, or tried to find someone in the local sports bars to purchase their tickets and call it a day.
I can firmly predict within the next 48 hours even if the Rays draw 30,000+ to the final two games of this home stand, someone on the current local media “blogs” in the Tampa Bay area fish wraps will condemn the fans and want immediate answers or solutions. It saddens me that this region and the devoted fans of the Rays have to keep hearing this trash day after day when they fulfill their end of the bargain. Sure the oil spill doesn’t extend within the doorways of Tropicana Field, but it has kept people away.
If you take the three dates of low Rays game attendance this season, the immediate factor that leaps out at you is that all three were games held during the times when Tampa Bay area schools were in session. The previously low points in Rays crowds were during a stretch from April 27th and 28th when the announced attendance was 10,825 and 10,691 respectfully during an Oakland A’s series. I went back into my blog posts that month and also found that I addressed this same factor back on April 28th and I wrote a blog post about media negativity. When will this evil cycle of the Times badgering this issue end?
You can bet that the Rays will get a bit of a shock on September 9th when the Rays Season Ticket holders Postseason money is suppose to be into the team that there will be a marked decrease in people buying the possible 10-game postseason packages. I know for a fact that a few of the people I have spoke with would love to be a part of the Rays run in October, but their finances will prohibit their involvement. But I guess then we will have to endure another Times propaganda slam that “we do not care about this team and are a bunch of fair weather fans and might have finally fallen off our bandwagon”.
But that is what the media has been doing for years. When I took my first journalism class in college, they called these type of tactics “yellow journalism” that originated in the 19th Century and newspapers produced sensational stories that were produced to excite or anger the public more than to inform them. Sometimes media people forget that the story is not in the lack of people in the seat at Tropicana Field, but why they are not there.
Understandably school kids will be absent, which goes along with their parents also not attending. If you go out on the streets wearing a Rays cap, like I do every day, you know people are talking about the team and are excited. Sure I am ashamed that some night we creep back into vintage before 2007 Rays attendance figures, but that is to be expected both when school is in session and the economy is tragically taking a little bit more from each and every one of us every day.
I have hidden my financial heartbreaks all season long to support my team, and take it as a personal attack when the Times and other news sources begin to beat this again and again into the ground not providing any remedies or solutions, but pushing the issue like they understand it all. I am one of those people who pay for my own tickets before the season begins and have them in my possession from the Rays Opening Day to their last out of their final contest.
If I had not bought those tickets before the season began, I would certainly be one of those people the Times would be berating tonight.
I want the local media to do an experiment for me. Pop down out of your Carolina blue Press Box seats for one game and sit in the seat with the fans and you will see the energy is there. That the spirit of those following this team are not lost or forsaken, but are audibly alive and well.
My father told me once that the best things in life should be based on quality, not quantity. But for some reason, the Times and the other media members seem to dwell on this “quantity” issue more than the “quality” of baseball being played in the field, and the increasing “quality” of the type of fans who will always be here to support this team.
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