Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Rays Are In Control

CONGRATS to the Tampa Bay Rays (82-51) on clinching their third consecutive winning season.

The Rays, who posted losing seasons in their first 10 years of existence, are on a remarkable run since 2008, considering their "small market" status.

There is no question that this team can pitch, play defense, hit the long ball and manufacture runs. We've all heard of 5-tool players, well the Rays are a 5-tool team.

But unfortunately, there's that small market thing hanging over their heads. And based on their attendance record, I just wonder how long this team can stay together?

Last night, as the Rays clinched their 82nd win and starter David Price got his club-record 16th win of the season, a "whopping" 14,859 fans were in attendance. And that was actually one of their better crowds.

The prior night's crowd was 11,968.

When asked about the crappy attendance, superstar outfielder Carl Crawford said, "Yeah, it was a little disappointing. It was a big letdown. We came out all fired up, and for you to see that, it's really depressing. But we just have to find ways to get ourselves going and just keep playing the way we play."

Manager Joe Maddon saw it like this, "I think we're learning to be self-motivated. There's nothing we can do about that (attendance) anymore. I mean, honestly, you look at whether it's winning or losing or whatever, we can't be concerned about that."

He went on to say, "Of course, it's disappointing, but we do appreciate the group that did come out. It's too bad, because you're missing really good baseball."

For the record, Maddon (390-391) is two wins away from becoming the first manager in Ray's history with a winning record. Who would've thought that 4 years ago?

Anyway, from what I understand, Tropicana Field, aside from being a dinosaur of a stadium, is also very uncomfortable to get to. The Rays have been asking for a new stadium for quite some time now and more so since their World Series year of 2008.

But viewing it from a different angle, why do they draw sell-out crowds when the Yankees and Red Sox are in town? I'm sure Tropicana Field is in the same area. Or do they move it to a more comfortable spot to accommodate the Yankees and Red Sox? Or are there more Yankee and Red Sox fans in Tampa Bay than Ray's fans?

Anyway, just a thought.

In the end, I agree with Maddon's take on it. It's sad for the small batch of loyal Rays fans because sooner or later ownership will break up their powerhouse team because of money issues.

But I guess, it'll be good for the Boston Red Sox, who right now would be leading the Wild-Card race had the Rays not existed. There's no question the Rays have been a thorn on the Red Sox side for the past three seasons.

But good attendance or not, the Rays, right now are a force to be reckoned with and if they do go on and win the World Series, maybe afterwards they can hold a press conference and announce it to the city of Tampa Bay.

I'm sure most of the people there probably won't even know it.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

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