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I am getting sick and tired of the National media talking heads trashing our region. Just because your own backyards or city vistas have a sparkling outlook in reference to new jobs and seeing their collective unemployment situation sliding downward, some parts of this great country have not had your “luck”.
Take my home state of Florida where both the Florida Marlin and the Tampa Bay Rays have played in front of more empty orange and blue seats than those filled with fans who buy concessions and cheer.
It is heartbreaking to see it, but there is a valid reason for it, and the media juggernauts do not care to tell the real story. It is too depressing. It is easier to rake and drag this fan base over the coals than look beyond the Trop for an answer.
There is a very valid reason for those empty seats. I can tell you from personal experience that even if the Florida unemployment rate has stayed steady at 10.7 percent the last two months, I am one of those who got pushed off the recovery truck and has seen myself fall farther and farther off the economic grid. I try daily to rid myself of this fiscal flu, and a cure is nowhere in sight. But the media doesn’t want to bring the truth to the ballpark.
The rest of the United States combined is currently sitting at around a 9.1 percent unemployment rate.
You ready for a real shocker, the “supposed” economic recovery has not hit this region as many of the usual tourists and travelers have decided to either forgo their yearly adventures, or can’t even attempt such an extravagance. That makes employers cut back, lay-off and reduce their capital outlays and manpower, further pushing the Tampa Bay faithful to their couches instead of to the stadium.
After saying that, maybe it is not such a shocker that the Tampa Bay region is currently sitting farther down the economic ladder than the rest of the country over the Summer. This is the time of the year that this region makes a boatload of its money through hotels, food and even recreational services. But this years the crowds stayed home, the beaches are not empty, but the unemployed Tampa Bay person has a great tan this year.
For July, this area of the state of Florida is mired in a 11.1 percent unemployment whirlpool, and there is no lifeguard or program or project in sight to pull us from the swirling waters. Tampa Bay is going down for the third time and all the National media does is crack harsh jokes or innuendo.
There is no bright and bubbly plan coming out our state capital, and there definitely is no localized effort to help some of us realize our “economical potential” and rise from our financial ashes. I know the rest of this great Nation is also swirling and confused by this fiasco, but why is there no compassion? Why is there no understanding by those in the Press Box or booths who makes a healthy paycheck and stay and travel for FREE.
So the St. Petersburg Times has made sure to push the Rays Republic beneath the water’s surface again and again as they nightly make sure to type a blog post about the Rays attendance figures. They make sure to keep pushing our heads under instead of offering a solution, or being a bit empathetic.
There is a different kind of “support” going on here. It is wrapped around the survival of ourselves and our families, with local disposable incomes at an all time low, attending a baseball game is taking a backseat to rent, food and utilities.
I’m sorry the Rays do not have a caravan of fans flocking into Tropicana Field with dollar bills pouring out of their pockets and an eagerness to spend beyond their means. I am sorry that I myself have only attended a handful of game this season where in the past (2009-10), I attended 161 of their 162 total home games in that time frame. My “support” had to go to living my life and providing a shelter and food for myself.
This season I had to take a huge step back and make a earnest gut check decision. I had to eliminate the Rays from my yearly and weekly budget. Poverty is rough, it makes you decide things you never imagined possible, especially not being able to cheer and see the team you had see grow before your eyes for 13 seasons play their exciting brand of baseball. I think about this decision every day.
There are tons of other people in this same financial boat in 2011 who had to make the same decision or make drastic cutbacks, and it has nothing to do with their support of the team. I think it is a huge farce that this charade has been allowed to go no so long without someone shouting from the Trop’s cupola. This region needs a financial hug, but we are not alone.
So many of the media members sit in their FREE seats, sipping on a courtesy soda and snacks and sometimes forget what the rest of the country is doing with no paychecks and special treatment. Maybe they all should sit down with the masses one night and get the real stories and typical setbacks that fans throughout the Rays Republic have made in 2011.
Some have begun to bring their dinners nightly to the Trop, some have gone from Season Tickets to partial ticket plans, and other have faded away without a clue.
Kid’s are going back to school this Monday, and with it I expect a crowd under 12,000 even though 2 of the MLB’s hottest pitchers right now will hit the Rays mound. Rays send the Tall Texan Jeff Niemann to the hill for the “good guys” and the menacing Justin Verlander for the visiting Detroit Tigers. This match up should bring 24,000 easy into the Trop, but new jeans, school supplies and the first day of school might exhibit a lower than expected Rays crowd. And you can be sure there will be a broadcast comment on the empty seats, especially in Bristol, Conn.
Will this lack of bodies in the seats be due to a lack of support by the Tampa Bay are…No.
Will the crowds ever again fill the Trop screaming at the top of their lungs, seeking a victory….Yes.
The problem is this economic funk that has darkened the skies above Tropicana Field has to drift away, then recovery of the fan base will begin again. I yearn nightly to be in the stands, cheer for the Rays, even talk a little baseball with friends and foes. There is a unity within the Rays stands that sparks of excitement, pride and a hope for change. Problem is, this plight has not even hit it darkest moments yet.
There is nothing wrong with the fan support in Tampa Bay, we just need to again collectively feel adamantly that this financial storm is over and we can again truck out to games. In the end, when things get brighter, the crowds will again flock to Gate’s 1 and 4 to see this team play. The Tampa Bay area is a huge tourist based economy, and with visitors staying home or taking regional vacations instead of visiting the “Mouse”, this area will stay below the economic surface and the Rays attendance will suffer.
It hurts me to the core to nightly hear other MLB broadcast teams, Fox Sports or ESPN media combos speak down about the Rays fan base and this region. Tampa Bay right now is like a prize fighter hit hard in the gut and reeling on the ropes. There is a do or die mentality in this region, a fight that no one can imagine unless you have lived here. Go ahead National media take your best shot, I guarantee we get back up and land a solid uppercut to your jaw…That would keep you from talking smack.
Sure, I am just like the rest of the Nation sometimes just oblivious to the real truth as I listen or visualize the trivial elements they are feeding to our eyes and ears as pure adulterated cold-hard facts to begin the formulation of my own mindset in correspondence with their telling of the tale of events or a one-sided profile on a player or his off-the-field actions.
But I personally take great personal pride in this city of my birth of St. Petersburg, Florida , and find it to be an incredible civic insult and a social injustice when the Fox Sports clowns can not after 15 years of Tampa Bay Rays team existence, still can not get the Rays stadium’s locale correct on a television teaser promotion to showcase their upcoming Fox Saturday MLB Baseball slate. And this is not the first time that Fox has made this same city error either during a broadcast, or in an promotional advertisement.
But you would have thought the Fox Sports producers, directors and higher management echelon might have learned their mistakes during the last few times they made this same city error.And why hasn’t St. Petersburg new Mayor Bill Foster not publicly chastised the National Fox media circus again for this breach of accuracy, or even voiced his opinion locally to his constituents? This is not the same Foster I elected to office this past year.
I am pretty sure if the same Fox Network bigwigs made the same errors in saying that the Los Angeles Dodgers play in Burbank, California or the New York Yankees are now playing in Lower Manhattan, the vocal firestorm, not only on the Internet would be incredible and magnificent to behold, but corrections would be made in haste. There would be multiple ESPN or competitor network broadcasts showing the insensitive nature of the Fox Sports media giant to forget their code of “getting it right the first time” at the door and throw their journalistic integrity right out with the bathwater.
And such a mistake would be certainly met with a hefty post event price in future advertising by that community for their obvious civic ignorance.But why do we always let it fly here in Tampa Bay?
Have we finally become that sleepy cowtown where the numerous green benches outweigh the patrons downtown, or are not the same proud community our parents envisioned when they moved here from their Northern homes. Have we as a community been beaten down so many times by the National hand of the media with the same inaccurate city persona that it is now becoming commonplace, and we feel utterly helpless to fight for our own civic dignity?
Why is it that we always somehow look at it with the heated voices and disgust it deserves, but the rant and raves are somehow subdued compared to what might happen in other MLB cities.Maybe it is time for us to finally get totally heated and ********** and send countless emails or phone messages to the Fox Broadcasting Headquarters in New York City to amplify the civic support our Tampa Bay community.
And it should not matter if we live in Bradenton, Port Charlotte, Brandon, Holiday or even Tampa. This is a National disgrace focused at this area, not just a simple local humiliation. And this last inaccurate National promotional Fox Sports spot has finally broke this blogger’s back to a point that I am physically angry and will be on a personal mission over the next few days to sending endless streams of online email comments, and burning through hundreds of my personal cell phone minutes documenting my civic disgust to the Fox executives.
I would rather have that 30 second promo pulled totally from the air with its inaccurate city locale mentioned than have the rest of the country see the errors of the Fox baboons one more time and have the entire MLB Baseball community laughing that even after the Rays recent successes, that Fox Sports can not even get their town correct. I have more respect for the monkey that has been loose for over a year within Tampa Bay than the same Fox media monkeys who produced that MLB promo piece, or the editors that okayed that falsehood for airing in the first place.
I am not calling for a mass firing, staff re-alignment or even a visual tongue-lashing of the Fox Sports people responsible for this Fox broadcast promo error. I just want it fixed, and there is still time for that to be done effectively, and maybe an apology on your FoxSports.com website to our entire community for your blatant error.
But to be honest, National media members have been making that same Tampa/St. Petersburg locale blunder for years, but it is 2010, and the cycle of Tampa Bay locale arrogance and ignorance needs to finally come to an end. And how ignorant is it that less than a season and a half ago these same Fox Sports executive producers and directors spent their days and nights in St. Petersburg, Florida as the Rays were taking on the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
They did not get the city wrong during most of the 2008 series of Fox Sports telecasts, but maybe we just are just a ” out of sight, out of mind” kind of city, and with our exclusion from the 2009 Playoffs, St. Petersburg has slipped back into the dark Fox Sports abyss.
The National Hockey League announcing teams never got it wrong when the Tampa Bay Lightning played their brand of hockey in this same dome, which was then known as the Thunderdome. The Arena Football League announcers never got the city locale, or the stadium name wrong either. Then came the biggest National media showcase when St. Petersburg, Florida hosted the NCAA Final Four, which took place under the tiled Teflon dome of Tropicana Field, and the tourney’s broadcasting teams were perfect 100 percent of the time in their city locale descriptions.
So some might say this is a fluke by Fox, but I beg to differ here. They have made countless mistakes in the city locale in the past telecasts or web podcasts, and I am sick of it.
It just gets old when you sit here and have to argue and rants and rave at least once a year and the Fox Sports crews still can not fathom the difference between the two cities. Maybe it is time for us as a whole in the Tampa Bay community to let the National media giants know that it is over! That the Tampa Bay region is not comprised of sleepy towns spotted with backwater communities, but that this community will fight with the best of them for what is right and accurate.
Maybe it is finally time for the entire Tampa Bay community to come together and stop separating at the hip with our upcoming stadium site concerns or ramblings and focus for a moment to demand that the National media eggheads get the Tampa Bay city locale right as a show of civic respect for this great region of Florida.
One of the biggest problems I have with today’s journalists, and especially some of the Sports higher echelon of writers , is their admittance that accuracy has gone by the wayside in regards to the media’s reporting because of the social media channels. This is total horse hockey pucks excuse, and we should not tolerate less than accuracy from theses media members.
If you or I wrote a prefab false blog posting, or attacked a player, team or organization without proof and facts, the National media would devour us like hungry jackals and pronounce us as “fakes”, and rally around their circle of journalistic integrity. But so many times the National set of writers have gotten a free pass from the web community without the masses asking for revisions or retractions or even apologies.
Mistakes happen. We all know this and it is accepted as a part of our every day lives, but the ignorance of still playing those same Fox Sports MLB promo spots with misinformation is insane and irresponsible journalism. I understand that post production it would be expensive to re-edit the commercial promos, but the voice-over would be quick and easy to perform. It is not like the entire promo segment has to be re-shot or reconfigured, only the voice segment. You can bet there are Yankee fans just chuckling at the fact that Fox can not even get the stadium’s location right, which shows why we can not get respect or a level of stability with the inconsistent level of true fandom in this community.
We do not need the outside National media also dumping on us like a Waste Management truck throwing more and more garbage on the inaccurate pile. So here is what I am going to be doing for the next couple of days. And people within the Tampa Bay community can either join in, or just stay with the status quo and take their constant beating of irregularities in reporting towards our fair community.
First, you can contact the higher level Fox Sports Communicaitons department executives at Fox Sports:
( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Dan Bell V P Communication, Fox Sports
( email@example.com )
Ileana Pena Director, Communications, Fox Sports
( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Or maybe it is more your style to call the Fox Broadcasting main number of their offices located at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City at (212) 556-2400 over the next several days, and ask for one of the above names and voice you concerns either personally or in a voicemail that the Fox Sports “St. Petersburg” errors should be corrected on the National airwaves by Fox Sports. Sometimes the grass roots attacks have to be made to focus the larger picture.
I know some people will just see this as a Tampa Bay regional concern, and why should you get involved. The reality is that it sometimes takes a simple ripple to begin a tidal or rogue wave to make change. By nipping this in the bud today and showing that the general public is aware of their Fox Sports mistakes, maybe change can become of it.
The stadium located in St. Petersburg, Florida at 16th Street and 1st Avenue South celebrating its 20th year in 2010 and having been a host of a Final Four, a National Hockey League Playoff game, Arena Football Championship and a World Series. Each of those events have world wide appeal and fan viewers. It is also the only stadium in this country to ever host each of those events in its history.
I personally feel a great civic pride and honor to have lived and grown up in this community and I just feel it is time that Fox and the rest of the media conglomerate remember we are proud of the St. Petersburg community, and even being a community with Tampa Bay. But more importantly, St. Petersburg is proud to be the current Home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
In the past, I have made it a personal point to try and stay neutral and not get too upset over the wishy-washy personal opinions and print bravado hoisted to the heavens like gospel by the media mongrels who act as our “internal” eyes into the soul of baseball. I have begun to feel very strongly that these mongrels seem to forget sometimes that their social network followers their words and thoughts as written epiphanies of solemn truth than as muses of personal opinion or outlandish tongue-in-cheek comments .
And these same followers may see these daily postings from the media centerpieces mesh into their own personal opinions because the mongrels have been anointed by so many as the guardians of baseball. And being considered a sentry to sensibility can be a pretty important and lofty job description with a nest of surreal complications and phonetic pitfalls all over the place. I can tell you it is not a position I would ever interview to include on my resume’.
But a recent post by a Fox Sports guru has gotten a bit underneath my skin, and if I do not itch/comment now, it will surely fester into something severe and intense. My symbolic camel finally received it’s broken vertabrate courtesy of the muses of Ken Rosenthal during his December 22nd post. And sure, I maybe taking this a little too to the extreme with his literal post comments, but I truly feel like this is the kind of out of reality postings that can not be written at this juncture in the off season and have a realistic ounce of credibility beyond personal speculation.
I mean, not even one of the MLBlogs.com posters following the New York Yankee or Boston Red Sox would feel superiorly autonomous enough this early in the off season to proclaim in a posting the a headline like “The Rest of the A L East should just give up now”. I would have more respect and affirmation for such a headline if it was September 2010, or at least at a point centered somewhere within the 2010 season, not 3 days before Christmas with not a single baseball game played yet in 2010 season.
Sure I would expect bravado and numerous chest thumping episodes from their recent signing from both teams, but this headline illustrates that the trio of the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays should just take their gloves and bats and go home now and not even show up in April 2010. I surely hope it was a tongue-in-cheek comment because I can assure you all three teams are gunning for you right now Mr. Rosenthal.
How could you post a headline like that Rosenthal. I had more respect for you in the 2008 playoffs when you honestly remembered where the Rays played, unlike the guys in the Press Box who thought it was 20 miles to the east. So what if the 2009 World Series Champion Yankees will counter with a rotation of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettite and Javier Vasquez against the Rays, Jays and O’s. Let’s take a little gander at all three Yankee pitcher’s records against all three teams,with the exception of Vasquez since he was in the National League last season.
The Pinstripe pitcher’s went a combined 17-7 against the trio in 2009, and the most effective pitcher was newly acquired Burnett who went 4-0 against the Rays and posted an overall 7-2 record against the trio. Sabathia had a bag of mixed results, going 0-2 in 4 starts against the Rays, but went 4-1 against the Orioles. Take away Burnett’s 7 victories and you get the Yankees starters winning only 1 out of every 3 against the trio. The trio of pitchers actually went to the mound 32 times against all three squads in 2009.
So let’s now turn our attentions to the Boston brood’s 4 pitchers consisting of Josh Beckett,Jon Lester,Clay Buchholz and newcomer John Lackey and see if an identical pattern emerges in games against the trio. The 2010 Red Sox staff went a combined 17-4 against the three teams. In the 2009 series,Lester actually came out on top with a 9-2 record during 12 starts against the trio. Lester only lost to the Rays among the three teams isolated in this scenario. But the foursome did make a total of 36 starts against all three teams in 2009.
With a combined record by Boston and New York of 34-11 in 68 starts against Baltimore, Toronto and Tampa Bay, you can see that all three had some levels of success against the teams mentioned by Rosenthal. Those do not look like superior, dominanting numbers, but you also got to remember that each teams get to know each other pretty indepth personally after playing 17 games against each other during the season.
I hate to have to remind Mr. Rosenthal that he did pick one of that mentioned trio to win it all in 2009, and is now throwing them under the bus. Yes, Mr. Rosenthal, you did pick my own Rays to win it all in 2009, and we vanquished our own playoff aspirations with abysmal September campaign especially in divisional seriesagainst New York and Boston. But the reality of this division is that the rich will get richer especially in signed talent, and the trio who lurk in the small market concept will just have to squeeze every ounce of potential and talent from their rosters to match-up nightly.
And that is a real pity. All three of listed trio have begun to stockpile talented players who will not cost them millions of dollars. None of the three can go out and be super aggressive and affectively offer multi-years and millions to possible Fee Agents, but can get some great established players through trades (Soriano/Drabek/Atkins) and adequately patch up their teams holes before the 2010 season begins.
And I do not think for one moment that the Red Sox did not protect themselves when they included a provision in the contract to pitcher John Lackey because of his injury history. There is supposibly a “injury” provision in that contract where if Lackey suffers an injury, and misses considerable time during his contract, he will play for the MLB league minimum in 2015. Injuries are a part of baseball, and for Mr. Rosenthal to strut his feathers like a peacock at this point of the off season is totally absurd to me.
Let’s play at least 100 games before we start to parade words like “dynamo” or “dynasty” in general blog posts. It is not like you will not see people post and fantasize abo
ut a Yankee repeat again in 2010. For the sake of argument, Boston has been more consistent in the last 5 playoff seasons, but has hoisted the World Series trophy as many times as New York. In the last three seasons, three different teams have hoisted the American League Championship trophy, and all three came from this American League East division.
You can say that this division has an air of dominance, but you can not say any of the five teams in this division are every out of it even before we play one single game. Remember the last few seasons when the bottom guys were established securely on top of the division while Tampa Bay, Boston and New York tried to right their ships and sailed towards the top of the standings. In this division it is never over until it is over…….point blank.
So Mr. Rosenthal, I can be secure in the proposterious notion that I can say with the upmost confidence that there will be a boatload of surprises in the 2010 season, and that I want to be the one to serve you a nicely grilled breast of blackened crow with a nice port wine reduction when your boast goes south in 2010. Oh, and I would recommend a fine Robert Mondavi Carneros 2007 to wash all that crow humbly down.