Something weird happened to me last week.
I was watching SportsCenter, and highlights of a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins came on. I was wondering when ESPN started showing minor-league highlights on its feature program.
Apparently, people from Florida were also unaware that they have major-league teams there, because there looked to be about 139 people in attendance.
Not only are there two major-league teams in Florida, they are two good major-league teams.
As of June 30, Tampa Bay sits at 49-32, 1/2-game in front of the Boston Red Sox, and the Marlins are 42-39, one game behind the first-place Phillies in the National League East.
It's hard to say which team is more surprising.
This is the eleventh year of existence for the Rays, and they have only had one year in which they did not finish in last place in their division. The 2004 team excelled greatly, finishing fourth.
During the offseason, the Marlins traded perhaps their two most well-known players, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, to the Tigers for prospects, including CF Cameron Maybin and SP Andrew Miller.
The Marlins have existed since 1993, and they've already won the World Series twice.
The Rays appear to actually have staying power this season. They have already set a new team record for wins before the All-Star break, which is still two weeks away.
Would you want to face the trio of Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Matt Garza in a short playoff series? Not to mention 9-3 Andy Sonnanstine, the fourth starter.
Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Evan Longoria, and Jeremy Hermida are some of the most exciting young players in the league. Yes, they all play in Florida.
Who leads the majors in home runs to this point? Albert Pujols? No. A-Rod? Not close. Dan Uggla? Yes. What? Yes. Who does he play for? Florida. Who? Yeah, I didn't know they existed, either.
It's a shame that the people that live in Florida don't seem to know that they've got two very good ballclubs playing there. It seems like every home game for either team is full...of empty seats.
Maybe it's just that old people live in Florida, and they are too old to go all the way to the stadiums. I mean, the only people that live there are old people, right? Oh, and Joakim Noah.
There really is no excuse. Basketball season has been over for a while for both of Florida's NBA teams.
Football season is months away, and there isn't much to look forward for them there either.
Derrick Rose threw out the first pitch in Chicago the other day. Where are you, Michael Beasley?
In 2003, the year the Marlins won their second World Series title, they averaged just 16,919 fans per game.
For their first two seasons in existence, the Rays averaged 30,942 and 21,601, respectively. Since then, they have never averaged more than 18,000 in any season.
Unless you people start going to see these great baseball teams play, you'll be watching them play for real fans in other cities very soon.
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