Friday, May 21, 2010
TAMPA BAY: BEST TEAM, WORST FANS
At the quarter post of the season, there's no team as good as the Tampa Bay Rays. 30 wins, 4.5 games ahead of every other team in baseball, 19 games over .500. They're also exciting. 2nd best offense in baseball (despite being 18th in batting average, there's a lesson there), 3rd most stolen bases, the 2nd best pitching staff in baseball (2.77 ERA, in the AL East), 3rd best Save percentage in baseball, so on and so forth.
The Rays are good, but their fans suck. Well actually, what fans they have are probably OK, it's just there aren't enough of them.
The Rays are 21st in average attendance, a mere 22,821 per game. That's only 884 more people than the Orioles draw to watch their 13-28 crime against humanity.
Then consider the cavalcade of minor league promotions the Rays stage to draw people to the crowd. Consider that most tickets are only $10 (the price of half a beer at Fenway).
The Rays have been hurt by having their home schedule thus far dominated by uninteresting teams. Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Toronto, Oakland, Seattle.
Nevertheless, this is a great team going to waste in a lousy sports town. Apart from football, and MAYBE basketball, pro sports just don't belong in Florida. And baseball certainly doesn't belong in Tampa Bay, where Yankees games draw more TV viewers in the TB Area than Rays games.
When Carl Crawford takes a bucket of cash to play for someone else, some baseball fans might moan about the poor Rays being unable to afford to keep their homegrown talent. Well you know who's to blame? Some guy in St. Petersburg who'd rather buy 10 PowerBall tickets than go to a ballgame.