Money for Nothing

Last night I realized that this off-season I will truly miss seeing Clay pitch.  (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission)

Last night I realized that I will truly miss seeing Clay pitch once the season is over. (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission)

In March of 2010, the unemployment rate in Florida was 12.3%.  In August of this year it was 11.5% and it fluctuated in the months between March and August.  The average unemployment rate in New York this summer was 8.3% and in Boston the rate was 9.0% in July and 8.8% in August.

Roughly 248,000 people live in St. Petersburg, Florida (home of the Tampa Bay Rays).  There are about 645,000 people living in Boston and over 1.3 million  people living in the Bronx.

As I have mentioned here before, I happen to be one of the unemployed in the Massachusetts and have been for almost a year now.  Every year, I go to more baseball games at Fenway Park than I can count.  This year, I’ve gone to so few games that I haven’t counted them.  I have no children to take to the games, it’s just me, and I’m having a hard time affording to go to games.  I’ve had to decide what the best way to spend my money is more carefully than I have before and most of the time it doesn’t involve going to a baseball game.  That people expect every fan in every state there is a baseball team to be able to afford to go to the games is ridiculous.  That there are those who think the low attendance in St. Petersburg is a reflection that the Tampa Bay Rays fans aren’t loyal fans is just ignorant.

Baseball attendance is down everywhere.  I don’t care what they tell you, use your eyes and see for yourself.  Of the few games I’ve been to at Fenway this year, the only one where I didn’t see any empty seats in the stands was on opening night against the Yankees.  I haven’t watched one Yankees game this year where it wasn’t obvious that there were many, many empty seats.  To say nothing of what we see when we watch the Orioles, the Blue Jays or, pretty much, any of the west coast teams.

I bring this up because David Price, pitcher for the Rays, went online last night and Tweeted this:

Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands….embarrassing

Evan Longoria got in on it to when he told a reporter:

“For us to play 155 games and go a full season of playing really good baseball, it’s kind of like, what else do we have to do to draw fans into this place. It’s actually embarrassing for us.”

As an aside, I find it humorous they both chose to be embarrassed by the fans on a night they got their hats handed to them by the Baltimore Orioles. But I digress.

I’ve ranted before about players who complain publicly about the fans but in this case while I understand it must be frustrating to be playing well and look into the stands and see so many empty seats, if you live in 2010 America and are wondering why people aren’t going to the ballpark, I think you’re incredibly naive to what is going on in the lives of the people who shell out money to support you.  I pretty much told this to Price via Twitter.  It seems many others did too because his latest Twitter update came an hour after his “embarrassing” one:

If I offended anyone I apologize I did not think it was gonna turn into this…

At the time that I’m writing this (8:50am) David Price has 11,032 followers.  I’m guessing the majority of them are spambots, Rays fans and members of the sports media.  I refuse to believe Price is naive enough to not realize how his words would be taken (and used).  It seems to me that MLB either should get their players off of the social media sites or they need to teach them how to use them (and that when they write something, thousands if not millions of people read it immediately).  This isn’t the first time a player has posted something online that caused a backlash and Price certainly could have written something much worse., I get that.  In this case, he offended a good many people and was surprised that he got called on it. (I know personally of others who gave him grief about his post and none of them were Rays fans…to me that’s saying something.)

I wasn’t offended by what he wrote but I was disappointed that he and Longoria are choosing to go public with their judgments of their fans without taking into consideration everything that goes into why someone might not go to the park.  Especially these days.

Speaking in the broadest sense, I’m not a fan of Rays fans (although I do know a few who I like!).  I wish someone confiscated their cowbells and turned them in for scrap metal.  But all in all they are probably no better or worse than the average baseball fan.  And whether the players want to hear it or not, the average baseball fan can’t afford to spend the majority of their free time at a baseball game, no matter where it’s being played.  The Yankees and Red Sox will always bring in more fans than have fans that don’t show up, but they’re the Yankees and the Red Sox.  As good as the Rays have been, they are not a franchise that brings in the fans just based on their name.  There are only so many teams in sports, let alone baseball, that can do that.  So to continue to compare the Rays to them is silly, regardless of what the players think of themselves.

Were I a Rays fan, all Price’s and Longoria’s words would do is make me not want to go to the park to see them play.  But that’s just me.  I can be spiteful that way.

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