Results tagged ‘ attendance ’

Why Reopen this Rays Wound Now?

 


 
 

Sometimes this whole Tampa Bay Rays attendance situation feels to me like a cut or a scratch that never seems to want to heal. Just when you think it has finally growing some new skin of its own, it get broken again and you have to dab it with some Neosporin or Aloe Vera to promote the healing process all over from scratch. You want the itching and the clawing of opinions to just go away, but all you can do is keep dabbing the ointment and hope that one day, the final healing process will begin.


It was fine with me when the National and local Media threw their two cents into the ringer on this issue considering I have lost so much respect for the National talking heads (ESPN) and the local fish wrap (St. Petersburg Times) since they were the main culprits in re-opening the wound for such a ling time during this 2010 season. But lately, the infestation has crept into the sanctuary of the Rays clubhouse as the media wishes to expand the illness and infest others into the battle.

First the media got Rays Manager Joe Maddon to speak his mind about the issue, and it was front page fodder. Maddon had inadvertently gone into the media “company line” and protested the lack of fans in the seats earlier in the Rays season, and somewhere in the darkness, the media editors were smiling like Cheshire Cats. They had the Big Kahuna of Rays fandom denouncing the decrease in fans in the seats, but no answers spilled from the Rays skipper on how to correct this ailment.

And the media finally bagged another big fish when they got Evan Longoria, who has not played since last Thursday night to chime in his personal two-cents on the lack of Rays fans in the seats.


“I don’t think there’ any more time for rationalizations. We figured if we have a chance at the beginning of September then maybe the fans will come and now it’s the end of September and its almost October and were still kind of looking up in the seats going where is everybody?”


You got to admire theory of Longoria, who it has been told is healthy enough to play if asked, but is sitting on the bench as a precursor to a healthy playoff push by the Rays. But what has got me to lose some respect points with Longoria is the honest fact he somehow forgot where he plays baseball:


“Obviously we want to bring a championship to Tampa. And we’d like more than 12,000 to 15,000 to know about it.”


The media sirens also honed in last night and got a major coup by capturing Rays All Star David Price in their ever growing circle of attendance disappointment. Price ended up posting a comment on his Twitter page about the lack of fan support.


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“Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands…embarrassing”


Then a few hours later, Price might have been schooled by some of his close allies that it might have seemed a bit empathetic to the plight of most of the Tampa Bay Rays fans personal choices in regards to attending games and issued a small apology making it seem like the emotions churning in the Rays clubhouse possibly influenced his outburst

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“If I offended anyone I apologize I did not think it was gonna turn into this…”

The difference in Longoria and Price’s responses compared to the media’s usual firestorm towards the Rays fan base is pretty simple to me. Longoria is a budding leader of massive proportions in this Rays clubhouse, and he might have felt a personal obligation to stoke the fires a bit, but I know he did not mean to make the attack malice or laced in personal agendas unlike the St Petersburg Times. I do however find huge problems with Longoria thinking he goes to work in “Tampa” and not St. Petersburg, but then again, I am extremely proud of this town.


Both Price and Longoria were expressing their own personal feelings and emotions with the Rays fourth smallest crowd of the season. I totally get that, and do feel that this was a time for this community to post up and show their support. But then again I was coached at a younger age to see positives and evoke positives out of a negative situation. It is easy for people in today’s World to focus on the slight negative situations instead of exposing a more positive and encroaching enthusiasm through positive speech.

How easier would it have been for either player to have provided positive comments or even a plea for the fans in this Tampa Bay area to come out and celebrate with the Rays on Tuesday night. Push out a request, a invitation for the Tampa Bay community to join the 10,000+ Rays faithful fans to come celebrate a great 2010 Rays season and toast to a impending playoff campaign.

By the actions and comments of either of these Rays players throwing out positive affirmations and showing “open arms” to inviting the community to their party, the message might not have put some on their heels or even commenting negatively towards Longoria or Price. Positive motivation might get more people in the stands instead of the negative comment of two guys making extreme salaries as opposed to most in Tampa Bay right now.

Opening this ever festering wound of low attendance at this critical point has some beads of merits, but it also could evoke little positive rewards by badgering a community already on it’s heels after tall tales of oil on our beaches and mass unemployment in our community. Alienating some within the Tampa Bay community before an important last two home games and a solid push towards the post season might send some away from the Rays box offices.

Positive emotions and words right now will have people coming to the Trop for the next two games. Finding fault, pushing blame or even attacking those who pay your salary is not productive at this point. It is disappointing to see the army of empty blue seats overshadowing the Rays and their fan base.

Only answer to that is simply to invite the Tampa Bay community to come down tonight or tomorrow and celebrate with friends, family and other Rays fans as this team finishes their primary goal of getting back into the post season. To get that usual FSN/Sunsports broadcast watcher to want to experience this celebration firsthand with his local community friends and neighbors in a positive light, not by pushing him deeper into his Baca lounger with tales of nonsupport and not deserving baseball.

Some people forget that Rays Baseball is a business. With that in mid, if a business or its “employees” constantly admonished my self worth with negative comments addressed towards me for not buying their wares, then my desire for their goods and entertainment would be moot and I would partake in other options. There might lie the root of the whole enchilada.  

Riding the Rays Rollercoast with no Seat Belts

 
 
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Man, we are only two whole games into the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays 13th Major League Baseball season and I am already extremely tired from the massive rollercoaster journey we have taken just in the last two days. And believe me, I do not mind the twists, drops and even the unsuspecting high steeping emotional climbs, but I am still a bit wary of that stomach shifting towards the Adam’s Apple intense drop that takes not only your breathe away, but does something to your overall mode of team confidence and inner soul that can not be repaired by just a few spotty wins.

 
And already there are those dark D-Rays souls who have warned the “pumped-up” people like me about the possible side effects of believing in the hype before there is a foundation to support it. And believe me here, there is no “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey in my I-Pod music mix. But then again I am reminded in the back of my mind that these same dark dwelling remnants of D-Rays people have not attended a single Rays Spring Training game since the Rays left St. Petersburg for Port Charlotte, Florida in March 2008, and they are still stuck in the muck and mire of their season-ending Rays emotions pertaining to the 2009 season.
 

Maybe I am getting myself in a serious state of heart break and toeing the edge of the jagged path on the high cliff to a possible let down of massive enthusiasm proportions, but then again, maybe I am going to do what I feel is the right thing for myself and this team and throw my caution to the wind and hope the monkey on the loose doesn’t throw a steaming pile of poo at me from the Rightfield foul pole during the game.
 

But if you have been amongst the tidal waves of emotions surrounding Tropicana Field the last two night and really felt that pulse of energy cascading throughout the stadium with even the 15,000+ on Wednesday night, then you know that something special is happening in front of us again. And maybe since St. Petersburg is the “Lightning Capital of the World”, it is about to strike hard for a second time in 2010. And maybe Rays fans like me are all riding that huge wave of off season pent-up emotions right now, but that is what fans do, they act and react and counter move to the ebb and flow of the rhythm of the game hoping that the last big wave of the night will produce that moment you remember for a long, long time and provide you with that rush of adrenaline we all seek as we drive home with smiles from ear-to-ear .
 

And that is what is happening right now. From Tuesday nights bottom of the ninth inning extravaganza when the longest tenured Ray, Carl Crawford provided the 90th Walk-off moment in Rays history, to the thunderous crack from the bat of Rays legend-in-the-making Evan Longoria, the last two nights have been sprinkled with classic Rays moments where a huge cloud of magical pixie dust has fallen from the rafters of Tropicana Field and coated all of us with amazement and wonder.
 

 
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If you would have told me the Rays would win a game in Walk-off fashion in either of these nights, I could have believed you. But if you would have told me Longoria would make his first two blasts of the year pale in epic proportions by going into the TBT Deck/Beach/ way-the-heck-up-there, I might have taken that bet and thought it was a sucker bet by you. But more amazing was the shot last night into Section 149, which had a plastic poster hanging at the top of that same section of Tropicana field asking Longoria to hit it here with a massive Bulls-Eye of red and white.

 

Two games into the 2010 season and we already have a few moments that will be talked about even after the All-Star break, and maybe in the 2010 off season. Seriously here, I could imagine Carl Crawford lacing a ball for a 2-run double to produce a Walk-off win way before a blast 473 feet that just missing the Second slot on the Rays All-Time Home Run Distance list by a tiny foot compared to the Centerfield blast of Jonny Gomes that bounced like a golf ball on the roof of the Batter’s Eye Restaurant. But the amazing fact might still be that Longoria has 4 RBI on his only 3 hits this season, and all three of them have been for extra bases.
 
 
But what might be more amazing about the last few nights is the show of support this crowd has shown this Rays team especially after a bad invisible swinging strike call by Home Plate Umpire Kerwin Danley, who never even asked Third Base Umpire Dana DeMuth for a ruling on the invisible phantom swing by Crawford that brought out the Trop. boo-bird for the rest of the game. I have always thought that when the true meaning of baseball and the intelligence level of our area fans ever matured, this Rays “Pit” environment would be a huge vocal point towards pushing the momentum into the Rays favor in extreme moments.
 

 
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I was extremely proud of the 15,000+ who were screaming and yelling for an appeal to the Third Base Umpire, and their fats reaction to booing and questioning the call immediately instead of looking around for an exclamation from someone wearing headphone listening to the game on the Rays Radio network in the stands. I actually had a nice photo of Crawford at that moment and he was hunched down in his stance and could not have even thrown out a half-hazard swing to fend off the ball if it was a true strike. But the pure fact this crowd has matured as a whole and gathered the mustard to question and show immediate recourse towards Danley reminds me a lot of the baseball savvy crowds you see in other MLB stadiums that have been around for over 100 years.

 

But I am also aware and poised to remember that these same Orioles have beaten us into the ground before when our guard has been down a bit, or the confidence level made a few Rays fan’s heads rise an inch or two and not remember that a streaky Baltimore Second Baseman Brian Roberts can change the entire game all by himself with his legs and bat. But maybe his bad start to the season is our reward right now. To be 2-0, and maybe blossom to 3-0 before the Evil Empire valet parks their Deathstar at the Vinoy for the upcoming weekend series, it might be a nice emotional and confident momentary foundation before we partake in the renewed rivalry for the first time in 2010.
 

And some people have already brought out that attendance trump card after just two Rays games, but they also forget that these mid-week games have always been the Achilles’ Heel of this Rays clubs attendance marks as far back as 1998. They are a work-in-progress, and with 15,000+ in the stands last night, that is a nice bump up from the last time the Orioles were in the Trop from September 29-October 1,2009 when an average of just over 10,492 fans packed the Trop for the season ending series of these same two teams.
 

 
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5,000 extra bodies in the seats might not seem like much to those viewing the empty blue seats in other locales. But those same 5,000+ extra Rays bodies have also been sporting more of the home team’s Columbia Blue or Rays Blue this season and that in its own small way might show the Tampa Bay community trickling in little by little to see if the Rays can renew that spirit and drive that possessed this region in 2008. And I guess I can revel in the fact that the “greatest game played on dirt” is living up to that moniker in the first two fun-filled energy-draining contests of 2010.

But you ain’t seen nothing yet as the New York Yankees will be unpacking their equipment in the Rays Visitor’s Clubhouse soon enough, then the first true test of 2010 is full on………Game on people….Game On!

 

 

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