Earlier today we wrote about Peter Gammons’ (incorrect) comments about the local ratings for the Rays and the Yankees. We reached out to Gammons to see if his thoughts on the Rays had changed now that he knows his information was incorrect. They haven’t. And in fact, his response was even more derogatory towards Rays fans.

Here is his response:

The radio ratings thing was presented to me at the end of April, and I now believe they were mistaken. But the fact remains that they are arguably the best team in baseball, certainly the most exciting, and the 18000? [Ed. note: we pointed out to Gammons that the Rays drew 18,000 for a Monday night matchup with the Indians after he commented that the Rays might draw 20,000 for the Yankees] fans should be angry that they don’t support the team well enough. The players are very good, the starting pitchers brilliant and management from the dugout to the front office is as good as it gets. In my mind it’s shameful that they aren’t getting 30,000 a game.

Rays attendence is up. The ratings have doubled. And just last week, Gammons himself wrote that attendance overall in baseball could be down as much as 20% this year. How is 18,000 on a Monday versus the Indians “shameful”?

Clearly there is a diconnect between Gammons and what is going on in the Bay Area. The growth of the Rayshead Army is slow, but it is growing. And rather than looking at that for what it is (good for baseball), Gammons continues to play off of old stereotypes.

And that is disappointing. We expect better from Gammons.

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37 Comments

  1. ramedy says:

    I finally got around to reading “Baseball Between the Numbers” and I conveniently just finished reading Nate Silver’s chapter partly about how different factors affect attendance.

    His analysis determined that current season performance is the sixth-most important factor, with previous season’s performance fourth-most important. The top three were stadium quality, market size and “honeymoon effect” (novelty of new stadium, lasting three years). So there’s that.

  2. Amanda says:

    Duemig just read your blog post over the air on 620. Woot!

    • ramedy says:

      I’d love to know what Duemig had to say. Occasionally I’m overcome by morbid curiosity and tune in to hear what he has to say about the Rays – most of the time this leads to remembering why I only tune in for morbid curiosity.

      • Amanda says:

        He mirrored what Cork said. That’s not to say he copied what he said, but he shared the same opinion.

        I trust Duemig, Darek Sharp, and Whitney Johnson as much as any sports news-gathering organization in Tampa. You may completely disagree with Duemig’s opinions, but factually he’s right up there. And it’s nice to have two actual on-site reporters to appear at live events. The lone sports station here in Charlotte wouldn’t know how to gather its own material if their lives depended on it.

  3. Thad says:

    No question about it. Rays are one of only three teams in MLB that haven’t gotten an updated stadium in the last 20 years. They HAVE to have a new stadium to get attendance up meaningfully.

    Market size worries me a little, but I still think there’s enough size to get another 10,000 fans on average to the Rays games, bumping avg attendance up over 30,000/game.

    “Honeymoon effect” is interesting. Did anyone realize that the Rangers, with a FIRST PLACE team in a VERY winnable division are only drawing about 2,500 fans per night than the Rays? Still a nice stadium, but one of the older “new” stadiums (1994). And that’s a HUGE market. Attendance is down by over 20% at CitiField and the Mets are arguably BETTER this year than last.

    The Rays “attendance issues” are now so famous that the issue has just taken on a life of its own nationally. They’re just an easy target, even though MANY other clubs have their own issues.

    The facts bear out that:

    A) People in the Bay Area DO CARE about the Rays
    B) Only the A’s, Jays, Rays are playing in outdated stadiums older than 20 years
    C) The location is NOT ideal for a large portion of the addressable market

    I think all the signs are there for a new stadium in a new location solving MOST of the Rays attendance issues.

  4. Gus says:

    Peter Gammons: Steroid denier (head in the sand for 20 years while Roger, Manny, Millar and Big Papi sweated out boli right in front of him). Boston snob and BoSox apologist. Shaming fans for not going to a baseball game?

    Can I make the following motion? Peter Gammons: Banned from Rays Index for life.

  5. Hal says:

    Why should we expect better from Gammons? He has done nothing but take unwarranted swipes at us for years without doing even cursory research. Am I the only one who finds the lack of ESPN coverage of the Rays at least a little surprising? I’m used to it, but the Yankees game is on the WWL tonight – you’d think that the hype machine would be in overdrive.

    • Thad says:

      ESPN covers what draws ratings. The Yankees are a ratings magnet. The Rays are not. It’s just the way it is. It’s that simple. Even with the best record in baseball the Rays don’t draw ratings nationally outside of the Bay Area.

      • Cork Gaines says:

        This is true. But ESPN might be changing their attitude a little bit. It seems as though the rest of the country has grown tired of Yankees-Red Sox and ESPN is starting to recognize this. Go back to opening night. ESPN bumped Yankees-Red Sox to ESPN2 while a women’s NCAA tourney game was on ESPN.

  6. Brian H says:

    AMEN CORK! GREAT GREAT Stuff. He does not live and experience a small market is why he has no idea. The whole tampa bay area is effected by the economy, the effect it takes here compared to a city 2 -3 times, is an enormous difference.

    Although I do agree and wish that attendance is better. that a number of things play into this thing. its amazing how far the rays have come in only 3 years. We were the laughing stock of sports, not just baseball. and i wish it was as simple as having a winning season to cure the mess of 98-07. (obviousily sternberg had alot of cleaning up to do from (06-07). just like the mantra of this season “it important to get off to a good start” because you will be trying to claw yourself back into it all year long.
    well now we have finally clawed ourselves back into this thing, and things are starting to grow, albeit slow, however the economy is working against us otherwise i think this growth of attendance would of obviousily had a more accerlated growth like the tv ratings.

    as attendance and the product has gotten better, that has opened the eyes to the front office and the tampa bay area. Although I love where the stadium is now, it has become glaringly obvious it needs to be more centrally located. Hopefully it stays in pinellas, but im for anything that keeps the team here.

    • Brian H says:

      one more thing….

      if the recession started in end of 07. when lets say the rays average attendance was what , dead last? at 12k-15k a game? now once this recession hits, and people are starting to budget like they never have before, how do they resonably cut out all these thing in their life, but add in 10-20 baseball games. What a huge challenge for a team to overcome, to come from nothing, dead last, with almost no fan base, admist one of the biggest econmic downturns in history and have growth.

      seemes it was a game of musical chairs, and when the music stopped, the rays started building a chair.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      You guys know me. I’m not a Rays apologist and I am not afraid to bash attendance when necessary. And like you said, I wish it was better. But if somebody can’t see that things are getting better, then that person just isn’t paying attention. For the first time I feel good about attendance and local support. But people need to be patient. It won’t happen overnight.

  7. Matt C says:

    The guys on 1010 just read this post and some of the comments. Great work guys!

    • Brian H says:

      can anyone get us a link to this broadcast? cork?

      • Cork Gaines says:

        Well, you can go to each station’s website to listen live, but I doubt they’ll include these segments in the archives. Somebody could try emailing them to see if they’ll hand out a digital recording.

        • Great discussion folks. We (Happy Hour with JP on 1010 CBS Sports Radio 3-6pm) were the ones who brought the “Gammons gaffe” story to light and we have been talking about this Rays conspiracy issue for quite some time. We welcome the competition finally coming to the table but they will never have a “real” discussion of the facts. They are the flagship station that enjoys protectionist treatment from the team. The Rays PR staff refuses to book guests on other stations. What do the Rays get in return for that? You can figure that out. We love the on field product and laud Sternberg for finally producing a credible payroll. What did he get? The best team in baseball! We support a new stadium in Tampa and will lead the charge for a reasonable public/private venture that creates jobs and a velocity of cash in a city/market that needs economic drivers not politicians who shy away from leadership and progress. Still the Rays odd marketing practices (they dont actively solicit their past season ticket holders!) threats of reduced payroll DURING a dream season and orchestrated denigration of fan support makes us question their motives. They can’t campaign for a new stadium or relocation if they average 30 grand! Follow the money people…it always illuminates the seedy truths! Still, we love this team on the field…but why did he stick with Choate tonight? Great sweep guys!

    • Amanda says:

      Funny, they didn’t read the one that shows their ratings for the Yankees were dead last and 620 was dead first. heh.

      Cork, this is one of those things that it’s OK for us fans to bemoan the poor attendance, but if an outsider — especially one who speaks out of his ass and doesn’t bother to use actual facts — does it, I get riled up! lol They’re a poor-attendance team, but they’re *OUR* poor attendance team, and we can analyze it a heck of a lot better than somone guessing about the area.

  8. Brian H says:

    FYI, attendance for the first series agaisnt yankees @ the trop went like this:
    33,221 (92.2% full)
    29,892 (82.9% full)
    31,253 (86.7% full)

  9. Brian H says:

    Gammons went and pulled a “don” on us. no facts no accountablity.

  10. Joe D says:

    This is beyond pathetic…I can’t believe that this was said and done….This is not over yet. I believe Gammons is getting his information directly from a Rays’ insider/employee, which is really bizarre. Why would the Rays discount themselves deliberately and not defend and go after Gammons? Why do sites like this have to be defensive and Gammons and perhaps the Rays themselves are corroborating incorrectly?? Yes, this is a bizarre and counterintuitive thought, but apparently true.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I love a good conspiracy theory, and a part of me wonders if the Rays don’t secretly want poor attendance so it will be easier to move (why no ticket sales advertising prior to the season? Why announce a cut to NEXT year’s payroll prior to THIS season?). But if they were feading info to Gammons, I doubt they would feed him something that was absolutely not true and easily verified. There is plenty of facts they could feed him, especially grey area stuff that could be used to make Rays attendance look bad.

      • Sarah says:

        Agreed — generally when something can be explained by conspiracy or by incompetence/laziness, the latter is the more plausible explanation. I’m convinced that too often sports reporters don’t do their homework — doing actual research is hard work, and it’s not as though anyone is vigorously fact checking them the way they would news reporters. So it’s easy to get lazy and then if a mistake is pointed out you say “oh well.” Much easier to believe that Gammons is lazy than that he’s got some inside track to a disgruntled Rays employee.

      • Gus says:

        Cork:

        I think you”ve described the plot to the movie Major League. Stu definitely wants out of his Trop Lease. Personally, I think it is idiotic because a move to Tampa alienates your Pinellas supporters and is only a small net gain of some corporate support (Tampa is hardly NYC; it has no great corporate community either). But they are not making the corporate entity of the Rays very loveable.

  11. Razzlegator says:

    The whole push for a new stadium is about franchise value, plain and simple. New stadium(paid for by someone else no less) increases the value of the franchise(see Glaziers). Increased value with little or no out of pocket expenses; what’s not to like if you’re Stu&Co. New stadium here or somewhere else achieves that goal.

  12. Joe D says:

    Pretty simple, please explain why the Rays haven’t put a kibosh to Gammons or a press release distancing themselves from this? Rosenthal with the contraction comment and Gammons to me show the Rays are working with Rosenthal and Gammons!!!! This is bizarre, I apologize but this could be the case…Please respond to me Cork

    • ramedy says:

      The team wants a new stadium, and keeping the poor attendance perception alive certainly helps the cause. I can imagine the team avoiding any kind of response to these opinions, without buying into any kind of Gammons/Rays collusion conspiracy.

      As reticent as the Rays tend to be with media, I’m quite certain other teams would handle these things the same way. What is there to gain from responding to each and every stupid attendance and stadium piece spoken or written in the media?

      Honestly, the Gammons quote is really more about Rays fans, not the team. The Rosenthal piece was just beyond stupid – responding to it would only lend it some air of credibility.

      • Joe D says:

        This is precisely why I have some conclusions I have no right in having, yet I have them….Where is the PATIENCE of the ownership?! Why are they forcing all of this on a depressed fan base that has little discretionary income?

  13. Joe D says:

    I say what I say because of the Rosenthal contraction piece and what Gammons said. The comments that Sternberg had the first day of pitchers and catchers reporting about slashing payroll, you can’t tell me there is a chance that the ownership was at least indirectly betting against the club?! I can’t believe I am talking like this. The revenue sharing monies the Rays get is intoxicating and would shock even the most casual fan if they knew all the facts.

  14. JMS says:

    Great article Cork, I know Duemig talked about it yesterday as well, but Gammons is what he is, a Boston lover, and will cut down the Rays on any chance he can. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, they will still do it. The Bay are still has the best team in baseball so far, and the attendance is growing. I hope the Rays get a new park, it doesn’t matter what side of the Bay it is on, I live on the beach, and regardless where they build it in the area, I will be a season ticket holder. We drive to Lightning, Rays, USF, Bucs regardless of what side of the Bay the teams are on, because that is what fans do. Ownership of the Rays can afford to cut payroll next year, and still have the best team because the salaries of guys that aren’t producing can be replaced by young players that can play. This team is fun to watch and for real this year, worry about the stadium next year, and enjoy the Rays here forever. It simply starts with fans going and stop making excuses, cheap seats are $10 most games, they offer refillable sodas you can share among the kids and wife, you can even bring in peanut butter sandwiches as long as they are bagged, so no more excuses, just go and watch the best team in baseball

  15. Armyjoe says:

    What do you say now? You have the second best team in baseball but your attendance ranks in the bottom third

  16. Jim says:

    The fact is: Rays “fans” don’t care. You guys make so many excuses you’ve started to believe them. If the “fans” really cared, they’d make it to the games, but they don’t care. It’s simple as that.

    Keep talking away why no one shows up and you will believe anything.

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