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Q&A: 2008 World Series boosted Rays attendance

Series boosted Rays attendance

After the Rays lost in the playoffs, the team owner was quoted as saying the Rays' attendance did not increase after they made it to the World Series in 2008. Is that correct?

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had quite a lot to say to Times columnist Gary Shelton after the Oct. 4 loss to Texas that eliminated his team from the playoffs.

In talking about how the team needed more hitters, and how he couldn't get any because attendance didn't warrant spending the money, Sternberg said: "If I had $80 million to put out there, we'd be moving along in life. We just don't have $12 million to put into a hitter.

"As the owner, I could have affected things today. Today, and a couple of games where a thumper would thump. I could decide to mortgage the future and trade all the young guys, but the truth is that we would only get $9.82 extra at the gate. So what's the sense?

"I'm not going to say I let them down," Sternberg said, "but what's been done over the last few years has dramatically affected our ability to compete this year. We lost this game in '08, when our attendance didn't move, and in '09, and in '10, and this year when it went down.

"If we won the World Series this year, I wouldn't think my attendance would get higher. It didn't go up in '09 when we got to the World Series."

For the record, Sternberg is incorrect. According to Baseball Reference, the Rays drew 1,811,986 in 2008 when they made it to their first World Series, losing in five games to Philadelphia. That ranked 12th among 14 American League teams.

In 2009, they drew 1,874,962, an increase of about 3.5 percent. That ranked 11th in the American League. In 2010, they drew 1,864,999, a slight dip. That placed them ninth in the AL.

This year the Rays drew just 1,529,188, which dropped them to 13th among AL teams. Only Oakland drew fewer fans, at 1,476,791.

The Rays' best season in attendance was their first, 1998, when they drew 2,506,293. Their worst was 2003, when they drew 1,058,695.

Player performance trumps hair

I have a question about athletes' hair. Do each of the major sports leagues issue requirements about hairstyles for professional athletes? What's to prevent a player from yanking another players' hair, accidentally or not?

Leagues leave it to the teams, and most teams care less about the length of a player's hair or whether he has facial hair than they do about their performance.

Most players choose a hairstyle that suits them and the sport they play. And no, there's nothing to prevent an NFL player from tackling another player by his hair. The so-called "Ricky rule" was instituted after NFL running back Ricky Williams wore dreadlocks. The league decided that the hair was part of the uniform, and it's fair game to take someone down by the uniform.

Q&A: 2008 World Series boosted Rays attendance 10/09/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 9, 2011 4:30am]
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