The Rays have an attendance problem. This is not news. But Rays skip Overmanagin' Joe Maddon has decided that the team's attendance (or lack thereof) is something that he can use his Bachelor of Hipster Arts degree to solve. The first place Yankees visit the second place Rays tonight in the start of what could be a series that decides the division winner. Maddon is disappointed that said game, featuring a matchup of Cy Young Award contenders David Price and CC Sabathia, is not quite yet a sellout (yet):
"In a baseball sense, that would almost be unbelievable," Maddon said. "If you're truly a baseball person, and I think there's enough of those around the Tampa Bay area, that if you had this opportunity to go out and see it in person to not -- and we're pretty reasonable in regards to our pricing and parking and everything else -- that would be very disappointing actually.
That's the way to get it done, Joe! Call out your customers for being too cheap to buy your product! Who cares that the Tampa-St. Petersburg area lacks even the most basic public transit system and that the area is the nations's worst for commuters. Weeknight games are a chore when it takes the average Tampa resident over 40 minutes to travel to a game across the Bay in St. Pete.
So what if the unemployment rate in Tampa is over 13 percent, the fifth highest in the country, in a time of economic stress all over the country. It's a battle between two teams that both have a 97 percent chance of making the postseason!
Maddon claims that Tampa's problems are the same as those in other cities across the country but that shouldn't excuse the Rays fans from not showing up to "support their group". But the basic truth is this: 340,000 of the Rays potential customers live in Tampa while just 250,000 live in St. Petersburg, home of the Tropicana Dome. Driving twenty-three miles to the game may be simple on weekends, but in rush hour traffic, those 340,000 Tampa residents might think twice about spending $24 per ducat no matter how exciting the matchup is.
The Rays don't have a huge metropolitan area to draw from in the first place, so a lack of viable transportation methods to get to the park along with worse-than-average economic strife make the Tropicana Dome emptier than it should be. Joe Maddon should be encouraging fans to show up and cheerleading for his team, not making the fans feel bad about not being able to buy a ticket.