The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

click above image for boxscore

THE GOOD: Pat’s Occasional Bat. Even if Pat Burrell occasionally does something good, that will be more than many of us expected from him this season. Yesterday it was a big 3-run home run in the bottom of the 3rd inning after Wade Davis had just coughed up a 4-0 lead…Catcher Production. 3 hits from the catcher’s spot? Huh-wha? John Jaso went 3-4 with an RBI. Is his defense and ability to handle the pitchers that much worse than Dioner Navarro?…Bottom of the Order. The Rays 7-8-9 hitters combined for 5 hits, 2 home runs and 5 RBI…Rafael Soriano. There will be some rough patches for certain, but right now, Soriano looks like he is in a groove. He has retired the last 11 batters he has faced.

THE BAD: Wade Davis. After being staked to a 4-0 lead, Big Dub gave it right back with 4 runs in the 3rd, 3 on a home run. Joe Maddon will tell you it was one mistake (the HR), but he can’t make a mistake there and needing 41 pitches that inning suggests more than one bad pitch.

THE TELLING: Attendance. It was a battle of two first-place teams and only 10,825 people showed up, or about 5,000 LESS than they had for the triple-A Omaha Royals last night

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 15-5, 2.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the East and 4.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the Wild Card. After 20 games in 2008, the Rays were 9-11.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • JP Howell will throw a bullpen session today. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Dock of the Rays looks at Ben Zobrist’s home run dry spell and projects what might still be to come. [Dock of the Rays]
  • Gary Shelton writes about the Rays hot start. [St. Pete Times]
  • Martin Fennelly writes about the Rays efforts to keep up the hot pace. [Tampa Tribune]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Carlos Hernandez gave up 5 runs in 4 innings on 7 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 1…Joaquin Benoit allowed 1 run in 1 inning…Chris Richard hit his 3rd home run…Hank Blalock went 2-5 with a double and an RBI.
  • MONTGOMERY: David Newmann threw 7.2 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts and 1 walk…Matt Fields was 1-3 with a double, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.
  • CHARLOTTE: Joe Cruz allowed 2 runs in 5 innings, both on solo home runs. He struck out 6…Matt Sweeney went 1-3 with a walk and an RBI…Tim Beckham was 1-3 with a walk, a strikeout, his 2nd stolen base and his second error.
  • BOWLING GREEN: Wilking Rodriguez picked up his first win with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks in 6 innings. He allowed 2 runs (1 earned).

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39 Comments

  1. leningan says:

    Did anyone see the nugget on the rays official site that we had (until last night) the 7th best average attendance in the AL (17th in the Majors)? Still, it was sad at the game last night when the team was announced as “the best team in the MLB” to a smattering of applause…sigh

  2. Brian says:

    The Rays have known for quite a while that a new stadium is needed to ensure long term success in the Tampa Bay area. Last night’s game and this past weekend’s poor attendance are an insult to this Ray’s team. What are the average attendance figures for Saturday concert games? I seem to remember that the concert games consistently pulled in over 30,000 fans. I was at 2 of the Rays vs. White Sox games last week and the Cell was empty. Granted it was 40 degrees, but the White Sox are one of many teams in MLB experiencing the same early season attendance issues. The Rays are 17th in the Majors in attendance. The Rays will soon jump to the back of the pack when the warmer months come around. It is embarassing that Joe Maddon needs to spend any time urging fans to show up and watch this team.

    • MJ says:

      I gotta believe the only reason Maddon or any other player says this stuff is cause the same reporters keep asking the same questions about attendance.

  3. Joe D. says:

    We all knew that attendance would be an issue for this series, and home stand, yet on my drive to work Mark Tomkin was on Rob Dibble’s program, and half of the interview was about Rays attendance.

    I’m interested to know what was going on in Omaha that they were able to get a draw like that… You look around though, their were other games that drew only 12k, and decent match ups…

  4. Sarah says:

    Agree about the attendance. Yeah, a new stadium would be nice, but I can’t believe that there aren’t more people who want to see a first place team.

    On Jaso — anyone see him try to throw out a runner? I would have thought that opposing teams would be testing him. But I’ve yet to see an attempted stolen base against him in any of the games I’ve watched.

    And on Davis — one bad pitch? sure, followed by about 30 others. I heard someone sitting near me use the term “implode” to describe what happened to Davis that inning. What’s interesting is that he didn’t really get behind many hitters. Nearly all the big hits came on 2 strike counts – but he couldn’t finish them off.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      On Jaso, Davis has shown a great pickoff move so at least last night the lack of steal attempts might have been him. But yeah, Jaso has never been good throwing. Don’t remember exact number by I think in Spring Training ’09 he was something like 1-17 throwing out basestealers

  5. Joe D. says:

    Prof, any thought to bringing back the attendance tracker/graph?

  6. Thadw says:

    I think everyone in the media (not you Prof) AND Rays coaches and players need to give the attendance issue a rest and look at the facts:

    – 2001 to 2007 avg attendance was NEVER higher than 17,000 per game, consistently at the bottom of the league every year. Crap product and little interest.

    – 2008 avg attendance was 22,259 and I can promise you it took a LONG time for the avg to get that high. First half of that season, I’m confident the numbers looked more like the previous 7 years and continued that way long into the summer. I can remember everyone nationally griping then. Then they had some rocking crowds late summer and into fall for “meaningful” games on a nightly basis that brought the overall average way up.

    – 2009 avg attendance was EVEN higher than 2008 at 23,147. This despite the worst economic crisis since the great depression (Florida was even HARDER hit). Cynics will argue that they should have done better off the WS appearance, but frankly the Rays laid a turd in April that stunk up the whole season. So, all things considered and with not very many meaningful games after their 11 game losing streak late, I’d say that’s not too bad.

    – 2010 avg attendance is EVEN higher than 2009 at 24,275 despite sucky early draws in BAL, TOR, OAK. NYY is the only marquee series they have had so far. And they didn’t even sell that out to offset the other sukky teams.

    My point is the attendance “IS GETTING BETTER PEOPLE”. One so-so weeknight, school night, game against a faceless A’s team that has ZERO star power is not an indictment on the support of Rays fans. I follow baseball every single day of the year and I didn’t recognize ONE single position player on that A’s team last night other than a washed up Eric Chavez.

    Get a little perspective and some facts and let’s play this thing out over the full year and see where they end up. Provided they remain competitive, I think its a safe bet that they easily clear 2 million fans this year (for the first time) and could even threaten 2.2 million. Mark it down.

    • Sarah says:

      I hope you are right. And in fact I was going to post something about how nobody can expect high attendance on a Tuesday night when kids are still in school. But then I checked attendance around the league and found that the Rays were the laggards last night — the only team whose attendance came even CLOSE to our 10,000+ was…the Marlins! A few teams drew only 14,000 or so, and everyone else was over 20,000 and some were over 30,000.

      So….I’m as sick of flogging this dead horse as anyone. But honestly I don’t think attendance is getting better, and I don’t think it’s just the bad economy.

      • Thadw says:

        Well, as I JUST PROVED, attendance is ALREADY BETTER on average. I think a realistic goal for the Rays is something north of 27,000 per game and maybe even slightly better. And I think they can get there over the course of a full season. That would be improvement in each of the last four years under Sternberg.

        • Michael says:

          How in the world are they going to average better than 27,000 a game over the course of the year when they just came off the best road trip ever, best record in baseball, yet they draw an average of 24,000 for a weekend series including a concert and under 11k for a weeknight? You’re crazy.

          • Thadw says:

            It’s pretty elementary math Michael. 30,000+ for meaningful games in the summer vs. Twins/Rangers/Angels/You Pick + 24,000 against the crappy Jays in April = 27,000 avg.

            In actuality, my argument doesn’t even factor in that the Rays have played three home dates in Orlando for the past two years drawing sub 10,000 for each game each year. That experiment is over, so the avg draw should be even higher this year.

    • Michael says:

      See where they are at the end of the year? OK, they will be bottom 5 in attendance in MLB, guaranteed. This town is home to the best team in baseball, yet the only thing anyone on the radio wants to talk about is the freaking Bucs’ draft. Are you kidding me???? The Bucs stink and football season is 5 months away. Who cares?

      St. Pete sucks. They want to hold the team hostage over that lease even though they have proven they are either unwilling or unable to support the Rays during the week. Where are all the folks from St. Pete who demand the Rays stay at the Trop through 2027? Why don’t they go to games? Why on earth would the Rays want to stay there?

      • Thadw says:

        I’m not saying they won’t move to Tampa (where they should be), because I believe they WILL eventually move to Tampa. They should draw more than the 27,000 that I think they will get close to this year. The point is that attendance IS improving, but apparently no one wants to bother with the facts.

        If I had my way Sternie would use Crawford as a hostage for a new stadium, “If you build it, CC will stay a Ray.”

    • Don says:

      Well gee..finally someone with a little sense about sports reporting….
      You will see very few articles or blog discussions without reporting on Rays attendance! I guess they (media types) are really too stupid to talk about the game or individual performances!
      Think..the same people reporting on a Bucs game in which they get killed
      will never talk about attendance….which is about 50% full…
      But Rays fans…are used to it…just keep winning maybe they will come around in their reporting….but don’t count on it!

  7. Joe D. says:

    I wonder if that was paid attendance then…

    Seems to me, with the Rays tiered pricing system they should have something for these games that they know won’t draw in the middle of the week where they have $5 tickets for 85% of the stadium, and even those fancy leather ‘TV Seats’, are $75 and everything else is $15-20.

    Maybe it doesn’t help the revenue stream, but at least it will deflect all the bad publicity of having an empty stadium…i suppose it could back fire and no one still shows up…

    But think it’s important to get people used to showing up, we are still only a 12 year old team, and haven’t had a generation that is old enough to not remember life before the Rays, and have that ingrained in them that you just go to games and are a die hard fan… Not to mention the team just changed its identity 2 years ago, I don’t know if that’s set in with people yet…

    • Sarah says:

      Joe, what makes sense to me is for them to actively promote the lower prices for non-prime weekday games even if they keep the pricing the same. You really do pay less for these games, but their pricing tiers make you more aware of the “premium” you pay for more desirable games, rather than the bargain you get seeing them play the Royals on a Wednesday. Maybe they should use the pricing level for some of the more desirable games (sorry, I forget what’s silver or platinum or whatever) as their “regular” price, and then show the prime games as mark-ups and the weekday games against less popular opponents as discounts. E.g. “outfield seats normally $25….but for our Wonderful Weekday promotions they are just $18!”

    • Michael says:

      It’s always a new excuse, isn’t it? The fact is, everyone who gives a crap about the Rays in St. Pete does go to the games during the week. Only one problem: it’s not very many of them.

  8. Joe D. says:

    Awesome points Thadw!

    I live in Orlando, I can really only make weekend games, I weekday game I’ve got to leave work at 3pm, not be home ’til 1am…

    And our only reward over the years has been the Orlando Devil Rays moving to Alabama (the Biscuits), wildly unpublicized regular season games that drew more than that they would have in St Pete, getting ripped for poor attendance, and haven’t returned. Can anyone explain why this series against Oakland isn’t or couldn’t have been played in Orlando?

    As good as the Rays ownership has been for the on the field product, I think the marketing has sucked…

  9. ramedy says:

    Let’s play out a hypothetical conversation here:

    “Hey, you want to go to the Rays game?”

    “Nah, not really.”

    “But the Rays are the best team in baseball less than a month into the season.”

    “I’m listening.”

    “And just in case you were thinking that being in first place after less than a month doesn’t mean anything, our opponent the Athletics are also in first place.”

    “Hot damn, let’s go!”

    Yeah, that doesn’t sound right. It’s one game, a Tuesday against Oakland – let’s all just take a deep breath. If we’re going to let this one game affect our broad opinion, why aren’t we all chanting Burrell for MVP?

  10. Don says:

    Another conservation:

    “Hey want to go Rays Game”
    Sure when?
    “Tonight”..
    Can’t:
    “I have to go to work”
    ” Can’t the kids have to go to school”
    ” Can’t I have to get up at 5:00am”
    “Can’t my wife/family already have plans”
    (Do you need more)

    “But I would like to go Sat night when I’m off and the kids can go”

    Get the idea!

  11. Joe D. says:

    The Bucs comparisons are crap, for one the bucs games officially sell out, and the attendance in the stands is about 90% even when they suck.

    The Bucs have also been around for 34 years, and have had a competitive team for the better part of 13 years.

    Florida is a football state.

    The bucs only have to draw 8 regular season home crowds on a sat, not 81 over all days of the week.

    Apples and Oranges on that one…

    • Even though comparing the Bucs is Apples and Oranges in some cases, I do see some validity in using them as part of an argument. Remember, people used to have this same argument about the Bucs in the Eighties (their 2nd decade in exsistance). They would only sell out the Bears games (and then the Packers later on). Other than that, it was a free-for-all when it came to getting tickets to the old Sombrerro.

      It’s like you said earlier, it takes a generation of fans before you’re going to really get to that next level. For the Bucs, it took 22 years and a new stadium. I suspect we will find this argument funny in about 10 years when the games are in Tampa.

  12. Joe D. says:

    Sunday not saturday…

  13. Thadw says:

    And while the Rays have steadily improved attendance each year, attendance around most of MLB has declined for over two years now:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/3358/attendance-issues-its-the-economy-stupid

    It’s the economy stupid. The Rays have actually done a remarkable job of GROWING attendance in a miserable economic climate. The corporate sponsors will come back eventually.

  14. Tone says:

    What does people that attend games(hopefully you all are going) talking about the lack of attendance accomplish? It does not get people to go since the only ones going are readers of such blogs ect.., I do not see any real light being shed on the issue, all I see is a shame on Tampa Bay area for not supportting your team over and over and over. TIRED, OLD, and USELESS. Look at the friggin Marlins. They are always in contention and have no-hitters/world series wins but their attendance is total garbage. I like to embrace the Trop since it is from my hometown and it is what we are all stuck with for now. I live in NYC now so maybe it’s easier for me to have such a fondness for that errector set stadium my favorite team calls home. New York and other big markets are not comparable markets, all the super rich live right here in a very small area. Thay can afford to go day after day not to mention the 100 plus years of tradition. Let it be.

  15. Joe D. says:

    Michael Weber, you’re exactly right comparing the the 80′s Bucs to the current Rays had some validity, comparing the current bucs to rays does not.

    Tone, you’re right we’re preaching to the choir here, I guess it’s in hopes that this dialogue will get heard put stumbled upon somewhere along the way to someone that it might mean something to, other than that it’s just getting it off my chest because it’s something I have very strong opinions on.

  16. Gus says:

    When a team has a skinny season ticket base, you see it on Tuesday nights in April. Lots of teams have only 10K in the stands, but because they count attendance as tickets distributed, it looks like 23K in the box scores.

    Put it this way — if you don’t have season tickets, you are going to go games first when (a) you don’t have to work the next day (Friday), or (b) when the kids can run the bases (Sunday) or (c) when there is a free show after the game (Saturday). They have to get season tickets up to get their average attendance much higher. But I think the points raised above are true — attendance is getting better, TV ratings are much, much better, the team is off to a great start (for the first time ever). All this should help them improve on 2009 as they slowly build a fanbase that was so damaged by the Naimoli group that the current owners got the franchise cheap.

    These Sternberg guys slay me — they bought a controlling (not majority) interest in a team for less than $200M and they act like they shelled out $1B for the Cubs and Wrigley Field. They have done a fantastic job with the team and the facility. Now let it bake in the oven. I see Rays fans all over Tampa Bay and at visiting ballparks. You never saw that in 2007 or before. Over time they are going to have a low cost facility in a biggish market (population wise) that is a little low on disposable income. Can you make a ton of money with that market and facility? You bet you can. You burden the franchise with debt from a fancy stadium featuring ameneties Floridians are never going to pay for — you’ll bleed forever.

  17. Joe D. says:

    Just saw Marlins v. Padres highlights, reported attendance was 16k, no way there were 600 people at that game…

    • Beth says:

      Do you mean last night’s game? Newspaper reported attendance at around 12K. But do we really want to use Marlin’s attendance as some sort of benchmark? Saying we draw as well as the Marlins is hardly a point of pride.

      • Tone says:

        It is the same as using other higher attended markets as a point of reference. We that site the Marlins are just making the point that it can always be worse, constant whining and threatening about attendance to those that DO attend is silly and wasteful. The whole attendance thing is a repetive and annoying venture considering we could all talk about more positive things like having a kick ass baseball team that keeps winning. It just is old to hear about attendance and how our favorite playeras will soon leave when all it does is rain on the parade and adds nothing positve or insightful. IT WILL GET BETTER IN TIME. I see more and more RAYS gear up here in NYC each year since 08. When I go down to visit the burg I see a whole crapload of Rays gear everywhere. It’ moving in the right direction.

        • Don says:

          I still say it goes back to the media (types)…..Look… if the newsleaders are not knowledgeable enough to talk about games or players it always comes back to (general) discussions about things as attendance…That way….(media) can give their opinions and really don’t know what they are talking about…ie: are the Rays going to move…they give their opinion..
          not analysis of games or players…
          Blind (media) leading Blind (Fans)…..get it?

  18. Joe D. says:

    I meant todays game it was a day game, I guess the point it is this, at least what the Rays report their attendance is believable, but because the Marlins attendance today was reported at 16K no one will say anything, but no way they had over 1k in attendance…

  19. Alex says:

    Jaso’s defense is so much better than Navarro’s its not even funny. He actually blocks balls in the dirt, catches balls that are throw to him and calls a better game than Navarro. If he is benched when Navarro comes back then Maddon and Friedman are idiots for not putting the best 9 players out there. Navarro has zero redeeming qualities and he’s only had one fluke half season.

  20. Here is something to think about. Not saying it is effecting the Rays at all, but check this out:
    The Florida State League (A-Ball Minor League) drew 1.117 million people last year. That’s 93,000 per team for the year average. The Tampa Yankees have the largest park and play in the biggest market in the league and they drew only 92K. And they were the best team in the league.
    Granted, some of that may be the Rays v Yankees dynamic in the area, but the Clearwater Threshers (a Phillies team) drew 169K the year after the Phils beat the Rays in the World Series. Nearly double what the Yanks drew.

    It must be a Tampa thing.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Jaso does catch a great game and an awesome job blocking the ball. He also hustles, shows up and always plays hard. I’m hoping that because Maddon has changed his catching position, his throws to second will also improve (never seen him throw to third). I think it’s one of his only real downfalls–his inability to consistently throw someone out. We miss him in Durham but are excited he’s doing so well for the Rays!!!

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