You knew it was coming. A Monday night game at The Trop against the Reds broadcast on ESPN. But there was something the ESPN crew didn’t count on: a decent crowd. In fact, paid attendance was 19,891. Not bad. Not bad at all.

But that didn’t stop the talking heads in the ESPN booth.

First there was a camera that showed a Rays fan grabbing a foul ball…

Sean McDonough: “One good thing about not many people being here. less competition for a souvenir”
Rick Sutcliffe: “Of course, for a lot of years, if you didn’t go home with a souvenir, you were the exception to the rule”
Booth: *BrendanFraser-like giggles*

Later on, Rick Sutcliffe chimed in with this doozy…

“Hard to believe people don’t want to come watch this team.”

But then, to our surprise, McDonough shot down Sutcliffe by explaining that a lot of people would like to go to the games, but that the stadium is in a “bad location.” We were floored.

Ahhh, but just as we were beginning to think that ESPN was trying to understand the situation, Jonny Gomes hit the catwalk. Of course. We can’t even remember the last time a ball hit a catwalk. And Gomes, of all people, hits on on national broadcast.

This led to McDonough comparing the Trop to playing wiffle ball in your backyard, followed by this line…

“After all, this is a major league ballpark, sort of.”

After all, ESPN knows baseball outside of Boston and New York, sort of.

 
 

21 Comments

  1. Jordi says:

    Rick Sutcliffe is my least favorite ESPN baseball announcer. Second worst overall only to McCarver and Buck. He is terrible. If he has the answer to why the Rays don’t draw 35k a night, then why doesn’t he say it if he is so smart?

    It was decent crowd. It would have been nice to be over 20k, but as thanks the Rays treated the fans to the sloppiest game I’ve seen all year.

  2. Steve says:

    With this economy 20k on a Monday night is pretty good. I had a feeling the clunker was coming for the Rays return home. Like Hamilton hitting in day games and Longo and his gloves, the lack of offense at the Trop is starting to get in their heads.

  3. Hal says:

    20K on a Monday vs. Cincy? Sounds good to me. If the Rays were in Cincy last night, what would the gate be?

  4. Sarah says:

    Last night was humiliating for Rays fans. I expected the digs at rays attendance, but then the drumbeat of insults about the ballpark seemed way over the top. If a ball gets caught in the ivy at Wrigley Field,do the ESPN announcers complain that it’s like playing in your neighbor’s backyard and why can’t a big league team afford to keep the foliage trimmed? So I was waiting for the Rays to play a solid game so they’d be forced to talk about, you know, actual baseball. And instead we got 9 innings of “oops”

  5. Dougster says:

    Sorry ESPN, wiffle ball is played at Fenway, you actually have to hit the ball hard to hit an obstruction at the Trop. At Fenway you can actually round first, sign the home run you just looped around Pesky’s Pole and never leave the base path. Wiffle ball indeed.

  6. Gus says:

    When your team’s owner is dogging your own stadium, what can we expect? ESPN is just repeating what the spinmesiters from the Rays front office are feeding them. I watched the game with the sound off, and the thing looked great. New turf is better; the Rays tank is cool and a good target in RF. Tell me the difference between Gomes’ HR and Longo’s second one which hit something above the wall in Houston and richoceted back in the field? Both were blasts and deserved HRs more than the HRs in the Yankees RF wind tunnel.

    The location bit now being repeated by everyone from Cork to the drunks in the ESPN booth is laughable — this is the same onwership group that 2.5 years ago was pounding the drum for a new stadium 1 mile away and when they got no traction on that, now the cause of their ills is because the stadium is in “some obscure location far away from the population center.” The Trop is in the downtown of the 5th largest city in the 4th largest state, 22 miles away from the downtown of the 4th largest city. It is located in the most densely poulated county in the state. The location is fine. Could it be better? Probably. But not $500M better, and not better enough that is going to turn this franchise into one that can sell $9 beers in $200 seats.

    Sick of it all. Hard enough to win the AL east without your owner belly-aching every time he can dig himself out of the NYV suburbs.

    • Dougster says:

      Can’t agree more with Gus, we’ve crossed a fatal line in buying the nonsense that the location is unworkable.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I never said the location was unworkable. I supported the waterfront stadium, and would again. But to succeed in that location, everything else needs to be perfect. And an iconic waterfront stadium might have been enough to overcome the problems with the location. But thanks to a few condo owners, that will never happen.

      Now, it is no longer about “can it work?” it is about maximizing potential and putting the team in the best possible location.

      Can it work in downtown St. Pete? Sure. The team is making money now.

      Can it work as well as downtown Tampa? Probably not.

      And if the team is going to move anyway, why pick a spot just because it can work when there are better options.

    • Let me guess, you live in St. Pete. Hater.

  7. Joe says:

    As I have said 1,245 times, why doesn’t Stu “unleash” Rick Vaughn onto ESPN to defend the fans and the market? Ahhh, but Sutcliffe also kisses Vaughn’s derrierre about Kotchman and Hellickson.

    How can anyone in their correct, sane minds not come to conclusion that Stuart Sternberg look in the least like a bad guy or culpable party, let alone lynchpin on this scheme is beyond me. This is incredible stuff and yet Tampa Bay fans take it on the chin. Stu (and I am being rhetorical), why do you let national folks take shots at your fans?! Is it because if they really dug deep, they would know you are in on it? What do you FREAKING expect when you talk before the 2010 season about 2011 payroll AND HURT YOURSELF FOR BOTH SEASONS! A self-inflicted wound, yet Stu is sympathetic figure?!

  8. Mark E says:

    I don’t believe BSPN’s disdainful anti-Rays agenda extends to its PBP staff. I think they’re just stupid and lazy. If you ask me, it was a Rays v. Reds game, they did NO homework whatsoever on the Rays, so the talking-head lemmings just simply fell in march step with the only thing that came to their shallow minds about the Rays: TB Rays = poor attendance and bad stadium. Didn’t matter if it was the case, it was something to keep their jaws flapping during a boring 3 hour game.

    Wouldn’t it have been nice to spend some of that wasted “mocking” time to talk about Adam Russell’s sister’s situation? Or the Rays community projects?

    If you asked last night’s talking-head jackasses to do play-by-play on the life of a leopard next Monday night, they’d spend the couple days and nights prior to the broadcast flying in to the San Diego airport, visiting the Zoo, and drinking and checking out the women at the local nightclubs. Then they’d show up for the broadcast and talk only about what else? — the leopard’s spots for 3 hours.

    Sorry about the analogy — I really believe that’s what we witnessed last night though. BSPN’s autocratic, pro NY agenda is much more devious when you get down to the writers and “crack researchers”. Last night was just lazy, uninformed and amateur, and I’m not just talking about the Rays’ performance.

  9. Dre says:

    unfortunately i remember the last time a ball hit the catwalk. Shoppach homerun where the umps got the replay wrong. Bitter.

  10. Bobby Fenton says:

    Gotta disagree with you, Cork. That location is and always has been terrible, as is the ballpark. It has set this franchise back an incalculable amount and is why we are in the situation we are in now. The entire idea of baseball in Tampa Bay has been done wrong from Day One.

    Get the stadium in Tampa stat or we are wasting everyone’s time and money.

    • Gus says:

      Bobby:

      If the location is the sole issue, explain why the Lighting have drawn substanitally worse at the state-of-the art SPT Forum in Channelside since it opened 14 seasons ago than they did at the Trop?

      1993 10,014 (Tampa Fairgrounds)

      1994 19,549 (ThunderDome/The Trop)
      1995 19,934
      1996 18,892

      1997 17,419 (Ice Palace/SPT Forum)
      1998 13,868
      1999 11,511
      2000 13,600
      2001 14,907
      2002 15,366
      2003 16,545
      2004 17,820 (won Stanley Cup)
      2005 20,509
      2006 19,876
      2007 18,692
      2008 16,497
      2010 15,497
      2011 17,268 (conference finalist)

      This location canard is the same thing floated by the Hillsbrough boosters when there was a competition to build a new hockey arena. The Lightning chose Channelside over a stadium in the Trop’s parking lot because of the promise of Downtown Tampa. It hasn’t really worked out for them or the taxpayers, who have had to infuse cash into the Ice Palace/SPT Forum as facility revenues (parking, ticket charges) have always been below projections (to be fair, the same may have been true had they built a hockey arena at the Trop site). But it seems like this is pretty good evidence that even accounting for more expensive ticket pricing, downtown Tampa location won’t make a substantial difference in moving the attendance meter, at least not enough to warrant a $500M expenditure and bankrupting the franchise with increased stadium costs the market can’t support.

      Now there are many factors playing into a team’s attendance. The location is one, but not the only one. And changing location won’t turn this franchise into a Prince overnight; the Lightning’s experience demonstrates that to some degree, no? Instead a new stadium will burden the team (not to mention the Hillsborough taxpayers) with debt they don’t need right now.

      Stay lean.

      • Bobby Fenton says:

        Gus-

        I’m not saying attendance will jump by 10,000 a night by moving to a better location. I agree with you that it is not the sole determinant. But it will certainly help and besides, we know they need a new stadium for other reasons besides attendance, so why wouldn’t it go in Tampa? Common sense dictates that you make your product as widely available and accessible to as many people as possible, and we already know all about the numbers comparisons and population within x amount of minutes and all that, so I won’t rehash it.

        Your comparison to the Lightning at the Dome vs. Ice Palace is very out of place since they played at the Dome for three seasons almost 20 years ago when the team was still practically brand new, and their time at the Ice Palace includes some of the lowest dog days in Lightning history.

        Your assertion that the Ice Palace “hasn’t worked out” for the Lightning is, um, let’s just say “arguable” for civility’s sake.

        And I’m fine with anyone who thinks a new stadium isn’t worth it to taxpayers. Totally valid opinion. Just don’t try to pass it off as the Trop being totally acceptable, because it’s not on any level.

        • Gus says:

          This month’s spin from the team is the location isn’t acceptable. I’m trying to get someone to demonstrate how a Channelside location is going to be somehow, more acceptable, or materially better. The comparable we have to work with shows that there isn’t much of a difference between the two sites. You are closer to some, further from others. Demographics are a little better, but that hasn’t turned the Lightning into an attendance juggernaut. One point never mentioned: by putting the Rays and Lightning on the same footprint, you are competing more directly and more head to head. Geographical diversity of franchises within a metro area may actually be a good thing (the last thing we want is the Rays to put the Lightning out of business). The Rays could draw better at the Trop, but they’ll never draw better if they continue to tell people how inconvenient it is to get to.

          The reason why this is important to all of baseball in Tampa Bay is that Tampa/Hillsborough doesn’t have the money for a stadium, and won’t have money for the next 15 years or so (absent a voted tax increase, which most people consider extremely unlikely in Tea Party America, and especially in Hillsborough County). Pinellas will have some revenue streams breaking free in 2016 or so. If we let Stu get away with the notion that Pinellas in unacceptable for baseball and Hillsborough is broke, then he is slowly making his case to yank the team out of the area, something nobody wants (except perhaps Stu).

  11. Still bad they couldn’t help themselves, but that was quite tame to what I was expecting.

  12. tpb123 says:

    That “good” crowd we got last night was the worst in the major leagues for the night. Even SD vs lowly KC outdrew the defending AL East Champs vs the defending NL Central Champs by 4,000 people.

  13. Jeff says:

    Bobby’s got it right. Although the Trop is serviceable, it’s an embarrassing “almost” real stadium to most. Honestly, it’s destiny for balls to hit the catwalks when we’re on national TV. The location, well, it can’t get any worse. The Bucs and Lightning have shown that, while attendance can still be bad when the economy or the team is bad, good teams and good times will fill the stadiums admirably or better. The Trop has never had success and never will.

  14. RayzorX says:

    You have to consider that ESPN is out of where?…Bristol CT…hmmmm lets see, right between Boston and N.Y.
    They feel the threat of the power of our organization, our rich farm systems, our keen ownership…I would feel backed in a corner too!! Just wait and see!! Their beloved Red Sux and Yankmees will feel our power for years to come! It don’t help that we have so many Red Sux & Yankmee fans that have moved and/or retired here and won’t support the home team and only show up when they are in town..(problem #1) The economy is BAD! (problem #2) Our ownership allows fans to bring in food and water, offers discounts on parking and games. It’s hard to take the family to a game or 2 when the funds are not there, unemployment is very high here and what people get paid here is not like they make in Boston & N.Y. (problem #3)
    The Rays have been in existence since 1998, so it takes awhile to build a fan base, unlike Boston & N.Y. who have been around for generations (problem #4) The Trop is old and run down, it is what it is, but for now its all we have, so make the best of it and STOP using it and the location as an excuse to not go to the games!! Wherever the team goes I will be there to support them, Tampa or St. Pete!
    As far as ESPN goes and their ugly red-headed step child NESN, laugh at them…they are threatened by our organization, we do not follow the same “ways” they do. We are a “different” team, with our own ways of doing things. And as long as our current ownership has this team, the better things will get. We will have a new park in the future, it’s coming down to it soon. Ignore the nay sayers! Don’t give them the satisfaction of the negativity they spew about our fans, our house and our team and you will see many pennants hanging in our house in the years to come, and that my friends is the best SWEET revenge!!

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