Peter Gammons causes stir about Rays
Peter Gammons, long-time baseball writer and analyst, caused quite a stir in these parts Tuesday when he said on a national radio show that the Yankees have a bigger radio following in Tampa Bay than the Rays. However, Gammons' claims to a national audience were not true and he admitted his error to the St. Petersburg Times today.
While on Dan Patrick's radio show, Gammons, who now works for MLB Network after a long stint with ESPN, was asked if the Rays-Yankees rivalry is now better than the Yankees-Red Sox.
Gammons said: "No, because the Rays might draw 20,000 people (rooting) for the Yankees. I think the ratings on the station that carries the Yankees game is actually better than the Rays' ratings. I mean it's terrible. ... It's unfortunate that the Yankees games are on in Tampa as the Rays struggle for their identity. I mean, you've been to that ballpark, it's a tough place to get to.''
However, according to radio ratings obtained by the Times, the Rays are the overwhelming choice on radio in Tampa Bay. Rays games on 620-AM in Tampa Bay often have about 45,000 listerners at any one time among men ages 25-54 (the largest and key demographic for baseball on radio) and that is often No. 1 locally in that time slot (7 p.m. to midnight). Meantime, Yankees home games on 1040-AM generally have around 1,000 listeners among males 25-54 at any time.
TV numbers show the same story. Monday night's Rays-Indians game on Sun Sports drew a 6.8 rating, meaning 6.8 percent of households with televisions in Tampa Bay were tuned into the game. Meantime, the local ESPN rating Monday night for the Yankees-Red Sox game was 2.4.
When asked about his radio claim, Gammons responded in an e-mail to the Times:
"I am very happy to hear:
1. The information I was given by two people is wrong -- and I raise my hand as wrong.
2. People care about the Rays.''
Callers upset with Gammons' remarks flooded the lines during J.P. Peterson's afternoon show on 1010-AM, which airs the Dan Patrick show from 9 a.m. to noon. The same could be heard on Steve Duemig's afternoon show on 620-AM.
While Gammons claims about radio were off, it's hard to argue with his other comments. It's true that allegiances are often split when the Rays and Yankees play at Tropicana Field and the location of the Trop has long been debated in Tampa Bay. His radio comments aside, Gammons' larger point was that the Rays still have issues.
"It troubles me that the Rays are the most exciting team in the game, they are exceptionally run and their revenues have not shot up,'' Gammons told the Times. "To have the best starting pitching in the league at a cost of less than $10-million is unbelievable.''