The Tampa Bay Rays have made a habit of grooming home-grown stars and shipping them off for more pieces in the farm. Has the high turnover rate contributed to weak attendance?
When I was a kid growing up in southern Indiana, I knew there were certain things that I could rely on in life. I knew Ryne Sandberg was at second base for the Cubs, I knew Ozzie Smith was a short for the Cards. I knew that hometown hero, Don Mattingly would be in New York, living it up. I was provided a sense of stability that Tampa Bay Rays fans will never have.
I ended up moving around a lot as a kid, but these players were always there. We moved to Colorado during my fourth-grade year and that’s when something happened that forever changed my life…We got cable TV.
See, the Braves played on TBS. Look, I was a lover of all baseball since we were conveniently located in the middle of the Reds and Cards, and within reach of the Cubs. I had already developed a love affair with the Braves via nationally televised games and baseball cards. Once we got cable I became one enlightened little dude.
I was able to spend my formative years -what is that really? Should we ever stop learning, growing, and forming ourselves?- watching the legendary Chipper Jones as he put his Hall of Fame resume together. I turned ten in Chipper’s rookie year. My son was four when we watched his final game in 2012.
Why would I tell you all of this? Because Rays fans don’t have the opportunity to create such bonds with their stars. Rays fans don’t have a chance to grow up rooting for a player that’s been there during most of their formative years, or like in my case, from my childhood to my children’s.
The Rays have an attendance problem. The Rays have a slapdick problem.