The Tampa Bay Rays 2010 Season: Frauds

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Baseball
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First off let me start off by saying I know it’s been awhile.  I don’t really have a great excuse for the long lay off other than I’ve started a new job and that just having an idea for a blog doesn’t always give you motivation to write a blog.  But I’ll hopefully be getting back into the swing of things so with that said lets start this blog, which is two parts!

Here’s my pre season MLB predictions for playoff teams: Rays, Yankees, Rangers, White Sox, Phillies, Cardinals, Braves, and Giants.  And I really struggled with White Sox over Twins so needless to say I wasn’t shocked the Twins won.  Do I have proof of these incredibly accurate predictions?  Of course.  I proclaimed these picks on my radio show before the season and my co host heard them with his own ears.  On Facebook I then made the following predictions: Yankees over Twins, Rangers over Rays, Giants over Braves, and Phillies over Reds.  That’s 4/4.  But how did I know that?  Was it just a guess?  Did I get lucky?  No.  Call me crazy but I knew the results before they happened.  I would have been shocked if anything than what happened actually happened.  Allow me to explain and I’ll start with the Rays.

Tampa were the ESPN darlings all season and ended up with the best record in baseball so why would I pick them to lose to a team that had never won a post season series in the history of their franchise?  Sure it had something to do with Cliff Lee but not everything.  Looking at Tampa I couldn’t shake the fact that they were a team built for the regular season.  How do I know?  Lets take a look at their pitching for starters.

Throw out all the numbers and lets just watch the guys play.  Other than David Price which Rays pitcher would fetch the kind of money Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia would?  None of them.  David Price as good as he is, still very young especially for an ace.  Guys like Matt Garza and Wade Davis are good but they don’t strike fear into anyone.  Guys like John Lester, Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, they make you scared to play them.  You add in the fact that James Shields (don’t ever call him “big game” again please, thanks) is your #2, no, their pitching was never good enough to win in the playoffs.  It’s good enough in the regular season but not when it matters.

How about the Rays offense?  Well when you’re talking about the Rays offense you have to talk about how easily susceptible they are to the no hitter.  Now lets look at their best hitter in Evan Longoria.  He went 0/4 tonight in the big game and his lifetime post season numbers are 16/82 which means he’s hitting less than .200 in the playoffs.  If this guy played for NY, Chicago or LA he’d be getting killed in the media but because he plays for Tampa where nobody cares it goes unnoticed.  There’s no doubt Longoria would fetch the most money as a free agent but he wouldn’t get top dollar with those awful post season numbers.  Now before you say “Well NY gave A Rod a lot of money when his post season numbers were bad.”  Remember, A Rod did a VERY good job in the playoffs for Seattle and nearly single handedly beat the Twins in 2004.

And that’s how the Rays were exposed as frauds.  I said it all year and now I’ve been proven right.  I hate to pat myself on the back but I trust my eye test and it showed.

As for the rest of my picks, simple enough.

The Phillies just had a ton more talent than the Reds.  The Reds rotation was never going to be strong enough to beat Philadelphia.

Yankees always beat the Twins, obvious pick.

Giants and Braves was a tough pick but the Braves to me looked like a poor mans Giants team.  The Braves pitching is good but the Giants pitching is just a little better, the Giants offense also a little bit better.

So who makes the world series?  Well I picked Phillies/Yankees at the start of the year and I see no reason to change that pick.  Would I be shocked if it wasn’t that?  No.  But in the end I have to pick the better teams.  If Cliff Lee can pitch twice vs. NY sure Texas can win, but that’s a big if.  If Lincecum can shut down the Phillies offense which can vanish at times and beat Halladay does that give the Giants the edge in that series (especially considering Cain is better than Oswalt) sure it does.  But in the end, the Phillies have better players.

Now I said this blog was a two parter so here’s part two.

Shame on you Tampa fans.  Forget about the fact that you never showed up to the games all year long, you guys filed out in droves before the game was over when your team needed you the most.  Not that I’m surprised, the fact that the game was sold out only tells me the stadium was more filled with bandwagon fans anyway.  So what am I saying?  It’s time to move the team.

Even though I’ve proclaimed the Rays frauds the team was still good, why only average 23,000 fans a game?  Arizona, Seattle and Houston all had horrible seasons yet they averaged more fans.  Don’t give me the economy as an excuse because Detroit also averaged more fans.  And don’t tell me the stadium is bad so people would rather watch the games on TV because last year Minnesota averaged 29,000 fans and they played in that dumpy Metrodome.  Fact is, Tampa isn’t a baseball market, in fact, Florida isn’t a good baseball market.

I remember Rays manager Joe Maddon saying they want a new stadium, I say NO WAY.  You don’t deserve one.  Minnesota did and got one.  The Florida Marlins don’t deserve a new stadium either but they got one.

Here’s what I expect out of the Marlins new stadium and what would happen IF the Rays got a new stadium.  Here in Columbus we have a AAA team called the Columbus Clippers, they used to be the farm team of the NY Yankees so back in the day they were really good, 7 championships if I recall.  They actually drew a pretty good amount of fans but the Yankee star power will do that.  Once they switched to the Nationals the attendance plummeted.  People then started to say “Well to be fair the stadium is getting pretty old and crappy.”  True, it was.  So we get a new downtown stadium and switch to the Indians, not much star power although they were good (won a AAA championship) and the locals liked seeing the Indians.  But the stadium itself was really nice and once again the Clippers were drawing fans.  But back in the old stadium the fans they drew were the pure baseball fans, who would have shown up if the game were in a backyard.  The fans who were showing up at the new park were families looking for a fun night out with the kids (usually out by the 7th regardless of score) and the young professionals crowd who talk the whole game, cheer when they notice a home run and say, “Wow it’s the 6th inning already, I wasn’t even paying attention.”

Does the team care?  No, money is money.  But it’s the same way with Miami.  The families and young professionals of Miami don’t want to drive out there to Sunlife Stadium to watch the Marlins in a football stadium which has reminders of being the home of the Dolphins all over the place.  So you put the stadium downtown and make it really nice and climate controlled they bring in the families and young professionals because it’s a fun night out and it’s “cool to be seen” there.  Do I fault the Marlins for doing this?  No.  But in the end you might have a better attendance for a while but in the end you’re stuck with bandwagon fans who wont show up once the novelty of the stadium has worn off.  How do I know?  The Clippers despite winning it all had a drop in attendance.  In 2009 the stadium opens up and the team is awful and attendance is good, in 2010 the stadium has been around, the team is the best in AAA and attendance drops.  Now I know it’s just AAA and this is MLB but it’s still baseball and it’s still people.  People at their core are the same everywhere in America, just trust me on this.  In 2012 the Marlins attendance will be good and it will drop in 2013 because that’s just how it is.  So why does Tampa deserve a new stadium?  Miami is a bigger city and they can’t draw fans so why will Tampa?  In fact Florida other than NFL (minus the Jags) don’t even draw that well in pro sports.  I guess the Magic do well, although people who live in Orlando probably have nothing else to do except go to see the Magic since they all probably work at a theme park or hotel.  The Heat were a good team last year and didn’t draw too many fans, they will sell out now but it only took bringing in LeBron and Bosh to do so.

With baseball in Florida if you grew up before the Marlins and Rays came in you already rooted for a team because of spring training, especially in Tampa where NY has their spring training.  So here comes the Rays who are awful for so long and have to play 9 home games a year against NY (a team who played in Tampa before the Rays did) who will the bulk of Tampa root for?  And I’m not even counting all the transplants in Florida.  Combine the fact they have a dump stadium and a cheap payroll, baseball in Florida just isn’t going to work.  The Marlins win 2 world series’ and people still don’t care.  Now it’s too late for them to move since a stadium is on the way but the Rays have gotta get out of there.

Will it happen?  Honestly, it might.  If a team owner can’t make money in a city with a good team why keep the team there?  Especially if there’s no signs of a new stadium on the way, and it doesn’t look like there is.  Frauds or not, the team is good, not world series good, but they don’t deserve the small fan turnout they get.

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