Boston columnist: Tampa Bay market a "disaster"
The Rays not only had more than 6,000 unsold seats for Monday's opening game of the showdown series with Boston, but - with the stakes the highest - it was the smallest crowd for the seven games they've had with the Red Sox this season.
As much as the lack of attendance, and support for the home team among those who do come out, has been discussed locally, it is becoming a bigger national story.
One veteran Boston columnist, Steve Buckley of the Herald, was so unimpressed by Monday's turnout, he wondered that if the Rays make the playoffs "shouldn’t their games be moved to a place where fans actually care about the product?''
Here is an excerpt from and link to Buckley's column:
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Hurricane Ike forced Major League Baseball to send the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs to Milwaukee to play a couple of neutral-site games.
Now it’s time for MLB to take care of another disaster: The so-called Tampa-St. Petersburg “baseball market.”
Seriously, if the plucky, exciting Tampa Bay Rays make the playoffs, shouldn’t their games be moved to a place where fans actually care about the product?
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark also made his points about the Rays and the crowd:
"They certainly played Monday like a team that looked exhausted. But it wasn't as if there was NO good news for the Rays. At least they failed to draw 30,000 people for their biggest home game in history. (Announced paid crowd: 29,772.)
So why was that such good news, you ask? Because they've won 18 straight home games when the attendance was 30,000 or higher. (Last loss: Opening Day.) So at least that streak is still intact."
The Boston Globe wondered: "Is the clock striking midnight in Tampa? as Nick Cafardo wrote:|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Attaboy, Scott Kazmir.
Great way to set the tone for your team.
First pitch, in the immortal words of Bob Uecker, was "just a little bit outside." Nine straight balls later, there were two men on, setting up a three-run jack by David Ortiz. Then came a one-out solo shot by Mike Lowell.
In one inning at Tropicana Field, where the Red Sox had lost six straight games, they sent an emphatic message to the Tampa Bay Rays and Kazmir last night: We can beat you, and we can beat you in your home ballpark.
Kazmir, who still hasn't taken that turn toward elite status that Jon Lester has, is still throwing far too many pitches. And when the Rays got a run on Akinori Iwamura's solo homer in the third off Daisuke Matsuzaka, what did Kazmir do? He immediately gave up a solo shot to Jason Bay in the fourth to make it a 5-1 game. And then came insult to injury when Jason Varitek struck for a two-run blast.