The Tampa Bay Rays are in the midst of a great pennant race, but players were outspoken in their disappointment when a crowd of only 12,446 fans showed up to Tropicana Field on a night when the Rays could have clinched a divisional title.
They didn't, dropping a 4-0 game to the Baltimore Orioles. Still, it clearly grated on the team that such a small crowd was on hand.
"We go out there and play hard for 162 games," 3B Evan Longoria told the St. Petersburg Times, "and for the fans to show the kind of support they're showing right now, you kind of wonder what else you have to do as a player." Later, pitcher David Price twittered that the crowd size was an "embarrassment."
You gotta feel for the Rays: they've been busting their butts to win a divisional title in what's arguably the best division in Major League Baseball. In the past, fans used the excuse of a losing team and the sterile environment in Tropicana Field as excuses for staying home. Now, with the team winning big and the team making as many improvements to Tropicana Field as humanly possible and financially feasible, the fans are still staying home.
It's hard to see what else the Rays owners could do to make a better pitch for a new ballpark. The Trop is financially obsolete, the team is a World Series contender, and the owners have not made any unreasonable demands or threatened to move the team. Maybe they should, because it seems to use the greater Tampa Bay area is taking the Rays for granted -- and there are a lot of cities that would support a solid ownership group and a winning baseball team.
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