Bombarded by economic downturns in Florida, unemployment rates are at an all-time high, the average citizen’s income has deflated and the Tampa Bay Rays are the least important in Florida these days.
The sea of empty seats at Tropicana Field on Monday, even on the upper deck in an abominable dome not fitting for a baseball franchise with 12,446 in attendance and surely fewer in the stands, disappointed David Price and Evan Longoria.
Thousands of fans missed out on a game that the Rays could have clinched a playoff berth, but it was nothing personal toward a believable franchise with a potential shot of winning the pennant. Moreover, most Americans are mired in a shortage of income, not an emotional feud towards a brand of quality or the images of dramatic and precise moments.
This isn’t surprising for a number of reasons, not when a trend cripples the state, struggling with a beleaguered house sector or the lost of jobs as unemployment rates inflate, let alone purchasing expensive tickets to witness the Rays inside a dormant venue.
It is well established baseball is on decline in a town that really hasn’t been distinguished as a baseball town, but it wasn’t long ago when the community worshipped the Rays on their unthinkable postseason run.
That led to the Rays first ever World Series appearance in a year Tampa Bay dominated the fall, increasingly raising revenue for a prosperous business. The atmosphere was electric. The place was buzzing. The Trop was a packed house. Famous for its waffle houses and nice vacationing spots, Tampa is not a crazed baseball locale and predominately an abundance of fans are devoted to football.
As the season dwindles and the playoffs are almost upon us, the undoubted notion is that the team will fill in empty seats for playoff games, to celebrate a glorious event in October. But it was rudely irresponsible, when Price and Longoria urged the hard-working people in how to spend their money in these fragile times.
The truth is, this is a recession we are experiencing, and currently the average home owner or overseer of a household saves money to contribute with their mortgages and monthly bills.
So the storyline is, now since the Rays are disappointingly losing a large portion of fans, that the Rays most unbelievable turnaround in baseball history is irrelevant in a way. The declining turnout is very unsurprising when the team can stun the defending champs New York Yankees in the postseason and win the title.
Right around this time, baseball is a watchful sport and strongly reminds us relevancy still exist in a game poisoned by performance-enhancers and cons. But even if the Rays had a remarkable season in their existence a few seasons ago, this season the Rays are roughly entertaining 22,913 fans with two home games left.
Nearly two years after a charming moment uplifted the Rays and erased the degrading failures, fans suddenly filled in seats as it became the loudest venue in baseball. The surroundings were intimidating packed with fans on nights the crowd crazily immersed into the Rays sensational stride and clanged annoying cowbells to cheer heavily.
It is becoming abundantly clear that the Rays are promising to offer 20,000 free tickets for the regular-season home finale against Baltimore. However, for the average fan, this is a lifetime fortune Wednesday night, an opportunity for a number of people to watch a game close and personal. The freebie is a way to coax a large crowd in attending the finale and offering its generous support for the Rays.
Huge crowd, perhaps, generated by the smartest suggestion, is accommodating with Florida in an economic disaster as are senior citizens in St. Petersburg, many of whom are taxpayers and disapprove the Rays project of building a new stadium.
It’s almost pathetic players are complaining and badmouthing the hard working people. All of this, of course, was inconsiderate and absurd. The masses work laboriously in their jobs, and being ripped by athletes with millions is uncalled for.
So we were caught off guard Monday night, overwhelmed that Price would callously bash the crowd via Twitter. And during an impromptu news conference to address the media, Longoria called it embarrassing. Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Rays, pledged reduction in payroll to draw a huge crowd, but it still doesn’t guarantee sellouts or a new ballpark in the future.
It’s not a high-market franchise, unfortunately. And as much as the Rays attempt to amaze fans by inserting a unique 10,000 gallon aquarium located behind the right-center field wall, turning a ballpark into a Sea World exhibit, instead the fans are more aroused by free tickets.
Meantime, the Rays have accomplished the unprecedented by winning 90-plus games in the AL East division two of the last three years in the franchise’s first decade of existence. But until the Rays move to a new ballpark and the economy reforms, it won’t be such a misconception to give out free tickets every now and then.
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