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Friday, October 04, 2013

Schwartz: Dear Media, Please Stop Acting Like the Rays Have No Fans

Go to Tampa. The city walks around in Rays gear and talks about the team the way they did with the Bucs in the early 2000′s. The Rays are one of the goofiest and consistently most fun to watch teams playing, and fans embrace it with open arms. The fans being a lot more people than make the trek out to the Trop regularly. Look at the TV ratings. In 2010, despite attendance at the Trop, the Rays had the 5th highest local TV ratings in the majors. This year the TV market has remained strong as well.

There’s also this notion that the Rays are at a disadvantage in the Trop and better on the road. This year the Rays were 51-30 at the Trop. For comparison, the Red Sox were 53-28 at Fenway. So I guess the difference between Fenway’s homefield advantage unlike anything else in the history of baseball and the Trop’s thank God they don’t have to play there does it even count as a homefield is TWO GAMES. Right before this (undeniably incredible) road trip began, the Rays swept the Orioles in a 4-game series that was… at home. So let’s stop pretending like the Rays have been winning mostly on the road because baseball fans can actually appreciate them there. Wake up.

Are the Rays attendance figures pathetic? Absolutely. No question. It hurts every time I see so many empty seats in the Trop. But the problem is the Trop, not the fans, and most certainly not the Rays organization. Deep into St. Petersburg, it’s a giant pain to get there from most places in the Tampa Bay area (where 4.3 million people live, by the way). And clearly, it leaves much to be desired once you’re there. It’s the place where somebody got hit with a stray bullet while trying to enjoy a game.

 

JE (Jason) Posted: October 04, 2013 at 10:25 PM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: attendance, media, ratings, rays, television

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   1. Joey B. "disrespects the A" Posted: October 05, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4560691)
In 2010, despite attendance at the Trop, the Rays had the 5th highest local TV ratings in the majors. This year the TV market has remained strong as well.

"The Rays RSN isn't even covering tonight's game. A Saturday night game in September during a pennant race, and there is no TV coverage. That's absurd in 2013.
The Rays game in Minnesota starts at 7:10 PM. Instead, Sun Sports has a college football game going from 4-7:30 (the all-important Ball State at North Texas matchup), "Florida Sports Report" for 30 minutes at 7:30, and then HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL at 8:00."

-Poster Dan, September 14, 2013
   2. Bourbon Samurai Posted: October 05, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4560708)
Do we have any prominent rays fans ere?

I know one guy, but he's lived in dc for ten years so he hasn't been to a bunch of games.
   3. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 05, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4560720)
Sun Sports' TV schedule was set in February 2013, including the blank September 14 date. They aired 150 Rays games. Eight of the missing Rays telecasts were Saturday games. Sun Sports will also be airing 70 of 82 Heat games, and 77 of 82 Lightning games.
   4. Jick Posted: October 05, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4560723)
Yeah, aren't all Saturday games subject to weirdness thanks to FOX, even the ones that don't overlap with FOX game coverage?
   5. puck Posted: October 05, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4560797)
Why do articles typically only show the top 5/bottom 5 ratings? (And why don't they also show the total viewers.) It would be interesting to see all the ratings. Looks like the Tigers had the highest local ratings again, and the Cards were 2nd again.
   6. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 05, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4560820)
Do we have any prominent rays fans ere?


Jim Wisinski and me. I think there's another guy.

I haven't been to a Rays game since 2008, but then I live 7 hours away. I've been to a ton of Rays spring training games.
   7. Mr2bits Posted: October 05, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4560822)
FWIW I've been a full-season ticket holder for the (Devil) Rays since 2007 and have been to approximately 30 games thus far this year. I used to go to all of them but now split them with a group. There are many rabid Rays fans such as myself who I've come to know and recognize at the stadium, but you'd think we don't exist.

Part of the problem is an ongoing St. Pete/Tampa turf war that management is helping fuel. If you live in Tampa, the possibility of a new stadium in Tampa is a strong disincentive to attending games in St. Pete. Why would you go help keep baseball in another city, when you're convinced that poor attendance in that city will lead to a new stadium closer to home? So yes, there is a strong base of Rays fans in Tampa, as evidenced by shirts/flags/etc. But that same group's interests are better served by watching the Rays on tv.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 05, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4560825)

Yeah, aren't all Saturday games subject to weirdness thanks to FOX, even the ones that don't overlap with FOX game coverage?


The Royals had to deal with this, and Fox Sports Kansas City ended up picking up all the last two weeks' games because the Royals were still in it. It was hard to bump Missouri State vs. Western Illinois, but they found a way.
   9. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: October 05, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4560873)
The TV numbers for the Rays combined with the difficulty of getting to the Trop and the fact that it's not a very good place to see a game* seems to militate for a new stadium. Unfortunately the Rays aren't rich enough to build their own and the local governments might not be willing, and shouldn't be, to build one for them after the fiasco of the Marlin's stadium. I still can't believe that St. Petersburg built a stadium without a tenant locked in, that's just friggin crazy. They didn't have a baseball team for the better part of a decade afterwards!

* Rather, it doesn't seem to be, but I've never been there.
   10. Jim Wisinski Posted: October 05, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4560901)
I haven't been to a Rays game since 2008, but then I live 7 hours away. I've been to a ton of Rays spring training games.


I live 25ish minutes away and until recently lived even closer but I haven't been to a game since 2009. It's not that I have anything against the Trop*, I like seeing games there just fine, I'm just lazy and prefer watching on TV anyway. Going to games is inconvenient to me regardless of the location of the stadium or the parking situation; it costs extra money, I can't do anything else while I'm there like I often do at home, the driving/parking/walking time is a bunch more out of my day, etc. Though I haven't seen a lot of TV these past two seasons anyway, I was working nights all last year and through the end of June this year and I moved at the end of June and we decided not to get cable at our new place. So I've generally been not home or unable to see many games, which I'm fine with because I don't follow baseball as closely as I did a few years ago and generally prefer to go biking, play disc golf, or do various other things rather than commit 3 hours to watching a game. I have had the At-Bat app on my phone the past two seasons so I can listen on the radio and generally did at work, though I wish it had the option to listen to the TV feed's audio instead so I could listen to a Rays broadcast without having to suffer through the irritation of their radio team. So anyway, I guess I'm part of the problem, but I've never complained about the stadium, location, or anything else. I don't go for my own reasons and nothing they could do would ever change that.

*By the way, I'm sick to death of people whining about the catwalks. The majority of balls that hit them are on the C and D rings that are automatic home runs (and it's virtually impossible to hit those rings on a trajectory that wouldn't result in an unobstructed ball going into the stands), only a few per year actually hit the B ring and turn routine pop-ups into strange events. In the same division you've got a giant wall that routinely turns outs or home runs into doubles and a stadium within a right field that's absurdly easy to hit a home run to. Then across the majors there's stuff like a damned hill in CF, a mile of elevation, and other oddities that are sometimes considered "unique" or "fun" or whatever and in some cases have a massively greater effect on gameplay than the catwalks ever do. Just freaking deal with it, it's a stadium quirk and supposedly baseball fans like that stuff but since it's an indoor stadium that most people dislike it's suddenly a travesty when a pop-up goes awry.
   11. AJMcCringleberry Posted: October 05, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4560928)
Do we have any prominent rays fans ere?

The Rays have been my #2 team since '04.
   12. Maury Brown Posted: October 05, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4560933)
There are fans. There aren't enough fans that care about the product, otherwise we wouldn't see such abysmal numbers each and every year. Look, the Rays don't need to draw like the Dodgers. But, the fact that they're not close to the A's--crappy ballpark and location, to boot--is no excuse down the stretch.
   13. Dan Posted: October 05, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4560938)
Yeah, aren't all Saturday games subject to weirdness thanks to FOX, even the ones that don't overlap with FOX game coverage?


No. Fox only blacks out the games they cover (or other games in the same time slot, but in practice those don't exist because teams don't play during the 3 hour blackout window if they aren't on Fox). The other time slots are free for normal broadcasts by RSNs. (On a side note we're all done with FOX Saturday blackouts. This was the last season for them. MLB.tv and EI viewers will now be able to watch games that aren't being broadcast locally even if they are being broadcast by Fox on Saturday.)

I understand occasional Rays games not being broadcast early in the year if SUN Sports is broadcasting a late season or playoff NBA or NHL game. But the game referenced in post 1 wasn't being shown and SUN Sports was broadcasting High School Football in that time slot.
   14. Dan Posted: October 05, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4560950)
There are fans. There aren't enough fans that care about the product, otherwise we wouldn't see such abysmal numbers each and every year. Look, the Rays don't need to draw like the Dodgers. But, the fact that they're not close to the A's--crappy ballpark and location, to boot--is no excuse down the stretch.


To me, the question is how bad their attendance will be if the team has to go into a true rebuilding phase. The team has been an annual playoff contender for the past 6 seasons and they still have the worst attendance in the AL. How far is it going to sink if they put up a 75 win season or worse? As smart as their FO is, they will probably have to regroup and rebuild at some point and have a few down years.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 05, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4560960)
I've long thought that Tropicana Field would be a pretty good road trip since tickets are.generally available and Tampa/St. Pete is somewhat of a touristy area that's close to other attractions. I recently bought a small RV, not really for baseball, but I'm thinking an early or late season series might be worth a trip some year. Don't think I'd do Florida in mid-summer, although the Trop's air-conditioning might make it doable. I see there is a nice park/campground on one of the islands on the bay. Anyone know how difficult it would be to get to the Trop & back in a slightly oversize (about 20 feet) vehicle? Or have other recommendations for such a journey?

Thanks in advance, and my apologies for the slight hijack from the general issue of the Rays attendance to the logistics of my own possible attendance.
   16. Jick Posted: October 05, 2013 at 07:00 PM (#4560966)
On a side note we're all done with FOX Saturday blackouts. This was the last season for them. MLB.tv and EI viewers will now be able to watch games that aren't being broadcast locally even if they are being broadcast by Fox on Saturday.


That's excellent news. And thanks for the correction on my earlier assumption.
   17. Dan Posted: October 05, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4560970)
I see there is a nice park/campground on one of the islands on the bay. Anyone know how difficult it would be to get to the Trop & back in a slightly oversize (about 20 feet) vehicle? Or have other recommendations for such a journey?


Funny I just read an article the other day about Joe Maddon, and he was taking his new RV on a test campout in that same campground.
   18. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 05, 2013 at 07:56 PM (#4561026)
Joe Maddon . . . was taking his new RV on a test campout in that same campground.

Should have asked Joe, I guess. Maddon's RV is a nice rig - larger, fancier & more expensive than mine.
   19. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: October 05, 2013 at 09:22 PM (#4561085)
Do we have any prominent rays fans ere?


I'm certainly not prominent, & I'm not really much of a fan of anyone's (as opposed to a vicious hater of several, which of course shows just what kind of person I am, as if there were any doubt) ... but yeah, I like the Rays fine, thanks to their Double-A franchise's presence here. I live about 10 minutes from the Biscuits' stadium & drove by it twice a workday back in the old days before the government shutdown.
   20. Jim Wisinski Posted: October 06, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4561328)
Anyone know how difficult it would be to get to the Trop & back in a slightly oversize (about 20 feet) vehicle? Or have other recommendations for such a journey?


Actually driving to and from would be no big deal, after getting back to the mainland you can just hop right on the interstate and be there quickly. As for actually parking it somewhere though I have no idea, in that case your best bet might be to e-mail or call the Rays fan assistance department and ask if they have info on where people with RVs can park for the game.

If you're a cyclist and have your bike with you it's only a 13ish mile ride.
   21. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 06, 2013 at 01:30 AM (#4561465)
I'll say this, the Rays fans, the ones that follow the team whether they attend games or not, deserve credit. I don't like hearing Rays fans bashed, that's unfair to them. The Rays fans are great, I just wish they would turn out more, it is always more fun watching a game with a full crowd.

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