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Memo to players: Don't insult those who gave you your careers

For starters, we can all agree that Tampa Bay Rays superstars Evan Longoria and David Price are splendid athletes who are both largely responsible for the team's on-the-field success.

Hey, thanks a bunch. Best of luck to you and your fellow lads of summer.

But would both of you chaps stop acting as if you were dumber than a sack full of rosin bags?

Or — and at the risk of being too overly subtle — shut up and just play baseball. You excel at hitting and pitching. Thinking? Not so much.

In recent days Longoria and Price have done more whining about their lot in life than folks at a tea party rally. They are complaining that although the Rays have excelled on the field, hordes of loving, loyal fans have not exactly been beating down the turnstiles at Tropicana Field to gulp down overpriced hot dogs and beer to wallow in the glory of it all.

When a crowd of merely 12,460 souls showed for a game earlier this week as the Rays were on the verge of clinching a playoff berth, Longoria took time out from posing for his Hall of Fame bust to kvetch that he was "embarrassed" by the attendance figures. Price also complained that not enough people have been showing up to witness his brilliance.

Jumping on the "let them eat corndogs" bandwagon were MLB Network analysts Mitch Williams and Sean Casey, who claimed Tampa Bay fans don't "deserve" a World Series in the fair hamlet of St. Petersburg, urging the community to rise up and make a pilgrimage to the Trop as a matter of civic responsibility akin to enlisting in the Army after Pearl Harbor.

"They deserve better," Casey groused, which sort of makes you wonder if this quartet of crybabies ever bothers to look at anything other than a sports page or ESPN or even pays much attention to the community that surrounds the ol' ballpark.

Longoria is in midst of a $44 million contract, with $17 million guaranteed. Price is laboring under a contract for a lousy, stinking $11.2 million.

During his playing days, which included a blown save in the 1993 World Series when he gave up a home run to the Toronto Blue Jays' Joe Carter, Mitch Williams managed to make ends meet with career earnings of $12.5 million. And Sean Casey pulled down a measly $41 million during his time on the diamond.

Altogether, that represents about $108 million worth of self-indulgent caterwauling.

Memo to Mr. Longoria, Mr. Price, Mr. Williams and Mr. Casey:

The next time you are being delivered to work on your sedan chairs, you might pause and look at the fan base for the Rays that you perceive to be such Quislings of the American pastime.

While this foursome of coddled jockstrap oligarchs of the dugout sneer in the general direction of Rays fans, the Tampa Bay area struggles with an unemployment rate of more than 12 percent. And that figure doesn't include countless others who are either underemployed or have a job but wake up every morning wondering if they'll still have a job to go to tomorrow.

We are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It's a story that's been in all the papers. Perhaps you've been too busy following Derek Jeter's acting career to notice.

It might also be of interest to you to know the average median income for this area is about $37,000 a year, less money than Price makes for pitching a single baseball game.

Yes, attendance is a problem for the Rays. Welcome to the club. Across this region all manner of businesses struggle daily to stay afloat. Why should a baseball team be any different?

To be sure, the effort on the part of the Rays to give away tickets to the team's final home game was a savvy public relations move to blunt the effects of the self-inflicted beanball comments by a few chuckleheads.

It is a great that the Rays have made playoffs. Happiness abounds.

As for Longoria, Price, Williams and Casey, please stick to what you know best: balls and strikes, home runs and double plays. Don't insult the fans who have given you your careers.

Memo to players: Don't insult those who gave you your careers 09/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 6:33pm]
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