Tampa Bay Rays fans –all 27 of them– have at least been lucky enough to have meaningful games to watch in September and October the last few years.

That’s more than you can say for Pirates’ fans.

But the baseball world is about to find out why the Rays haven’t been able to average 25,000 fans.

The party is over.

Carl Crawford –one of their best players and a guy who started his pro career in the Rays’ organization– is about to become a free agent and he knows he’s done in Tampa.

The Rays had a $73 million payroll (double the Pirates) and they’re planning to reduce that number for next season.

Of course, the mega-market teams have had their eyes on Crawford for a long time. Kind of like the way they have their eyes on a can’t miss prospect in their farm system. So, at 29, prime age for a baseball player, Crawford will leave  the team that he would love to play his entire career with behind.

And The Idiots Who Run Baseball will continue to wonder why they’re losing more fans than their gaining. And Bud Selig will tell you that his sport has achieved parity and that you’re lucky enough to be living in the Golden Era of Baseball.

Here’s hoping the Rays average 2,500 a game next season and lose 110 games.

  • YNGController

    Attendance keeps getting mentioned. How much attendance are true fans, outside of NY, BOS, or LA? How much does attendance drop when the NFL starts back up? I don’t think that baseball is nearly as popular as the mainstream sports media trys to make you believe.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      It’s still tremendously popular but MLB has a demographic problem. Old.

  • Ochotexto

    JS I agree with a lot of what you say., I’m simply saying the “play on the field” is as good as it ever was. That’s if anyone can stay up late enough to watch it.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      I know quality of play hasn’t slipped. I just expect fair competition. If it’s not there, I’m not interested. The same reason I consider Pitt’s record to be 0-3 right now.

  • Ryan

    Just like MLB likes it…4 teams from the top 7 TV markets in the country. Why change the system? Hope the ratings stink!

    • JohnSteigerwald

      Yep. Go back and look at the last 10 or 12 years and see how many times there was NOT a top five or six TV market team in the World Series. It’s a sick joke.

      • Ryan

        I looked it up John and 18 of the 24 teams in the world series over a 10 year period were from a top 10 market.

        • Ryan

          Make that a 12 year period.

        • JohnSteigerwald

          The Idiots Who Run Baseball and the Idiots Who Refuse to Acknowledge That MLB is a joke, will tell you about all the different teams that have won World Series.

      • colt

        John, things could not be working out better in MLB as far as I am concerned. It will be Yankees and Phillies in the World Series. I hope the Yankees win. Go Yanks! Go Yanks!

        May the Big Bucks always win. That is the way it is set up, so that is the way it should be. Maybe if the Yankees win the next 10 Series in a row, then someone will fix this terrible mess called MLB. It is all very stupid. Here’s how change will come: Stay away from PNC Park – I mean everyone. If you want change, stay home. Nothing will speak louder than an empty stadium. Second, buy no Pirates’ shirts, hats, bobble heads, etc. Third, be sure to root for the Yankees! Call the talk shows, buy their junk – root for the Yankees. Do you want change, Pittsburgh? How about you K.C.? This formula will work, and it will work fast.

        • JohnSteigerwald

          My dream season is Yankees 162-0, Pirates 0-162.

  • Erik

    This is so depressing. I know that baseball isnt huge in TB but i still feel for the long time fans who waited so long for a shot at glory and now the window is closing. Can you imagine if the Pirates managed to turn it around only to go back to the basement for another decade? How is this allowed to happen?

    • JohnSteigerwald

      It would stop happening if 2,500 ijnstead of 25,000 kept showing up for games in Pgh. Tampa, Cinc, KC etc.

  • Ochotexto

    Crawford is the best player you’ve never heard of. Better defensive left fielder than Bonds with speed to match. Not quite the hitter of course. Ordinarily I’d blame the idiots who run baseball but in this case TBay fans are getting what they deserve. Their lack of support has long been evident. The difference between them and Buccos is they’ll probably replace him with a good player from their system. We produce more suspects than prospects.
    You’ve been claiming baseball is dead for like 20 yrs now JS., must be a real slow death. I checked this morning., hockey still has no TV deal.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      I haven’t been saying that for 20 years. The Rays play in a hideous indoor ball park and the fans know that they’re watching a team that’s only going to be dismantled. You keep comparing baseball to hockey. I don’t think hockey will ever come close to bein as popular as baseball is now or once was. I do think hockey is gaining fans and baseball is losing them.

      • Slrpea

        ocho must not have ever been to that stadium. that place not only sucks, but if you live in the city of tampa, you have to travel about 25 miles to get there. how would you like to drive from pittsburgh to evans city to watch a team that is soon to be disbandoned play in a dump of a stadium? didn’t think so.

  • Dr. Phibes

    All the teams are making money, attendance is, if not up, still very high, and TV ratings are solid. Doesn’t sound like a sick sport or one that needs fixed.

    • JohnSteigerwald

      Slow death.

    • http://Jim Jim

      Baseball is no longer a sport. It is a contest. To see who can get the most money. At the expense of what is the true definition of being able to be qualified as a sport – Fair competition. It still remains a form of entertainment for those who don’t care about fair competition. How could they possibly? Which is why attendance and profits are high. The people who are enabling this to happen are the main cause of the frustration for the true fans. Anyone who doesn’t realize this can not possibly have ever been a part of a fairly organized sport. At least not as a competitor. The situation is so far beyond sickening that anyone who can actually recognize the difference between what baseball has become and what it once was has long since given up paying any attention.

      • JohnSteigerwald

        That sounds like I wrote it.

        • http://Jim Jim

          Thanks – I’ll take that as a compliment. The thing that is really depressing is that it only takes what very well could be a small minority of these people to ruin things. There could be a couple million people in Pgh alone who see things as they truly are and are staying away. If there are only a couple hundred thousand who either don’t understand or could care less that rotate through the turnstiles at 18-30,000 per night….that’s all it takes. Unimaginable that they haven’t learned anything over the last 18 years. Probably the same people lining up to re-elect our wonderful democratic local leaders after witnessing the fine job they’ve done over the past who knows how many years.

          • JohnSteigerwald

            Another Bingo.

  • Rob

    I have been sour on Major League Baseball for years, and the Rays are the ultimate, present-day example for why.

    Tampa Bay has done everything that is asked of a small-market franchise nowadays. They have scouted properly, drafted correctly, and internally developed scads of talent. They promoted the right players to the right levels at the right times. The stars aligned, and everyone got to the big leagues at the right time. Major League success followed: 3 winning seasons, 2 trips to the playoffs, and a World Series appearance.

    Their reward? To have the big, fat bullies (New York, Los Angeles, Boston, etc) come in and wave a bigger wad of bills than they could ever produce. All that is left, then, is to watch their players conga-line their way out of town.

    As is so often the case, the small and mid-market clubs are able to put together a 1 to 3 year run, and then they either have to cut half the team loose or go deep into debt. Of course, none of this matters to the owners (who get to cash their revenue-sharing checks), or the players (who get to kick their feet up and watch the Yankees and Red Sox make salaries soar to the next level).

    It also will not matter to Pirates fans, who will keep going to the county fair that is held 81 times a year at PNC Park to get their hot dogs, fireworks, bobbleheads, and the occasional Skyblast concert. All that is missing is a ferris wheel on the riverwalk.

    • JohnSteigerwald