The article is titled “Rays need to get out of Tampa Bay.” And it is filled with all the typical ESPN.com rhetoric. Such hits like…

The Rays have some passionate and supportive fans. There are simply not enough of them.

And then there are nine or ten more paragraphs of “yadda, yadda, yadda” to support the conclusion that the Tampa Bay area “hasn’t been a great place for Major League baseball to do business.”

But what really puts the article over the top is the picture sitting front and center. The same one you see above. It’s great, right? It caters to every stereotype of Rays baseball. Thousands of empty seats.

There is only one problem: It is a bold-faced lie.

The first thing you will notice (here is a larger version) after the empty seats, are the old school Devil Rays logos. [Ed note: the photo has since been removed after the author of the article got ripped to shreds on Twitter. The story is now using a pic of Kelly Shoppach hitting a HR in Milwaukee, of course]

But wait. There is more.

A search through the archives shows that

the Rays used teal on the tops of the dugouts from 2003 through 2005.

Then we noticed that the first baseman appears to be wearing #19 (Aubrey Huff) and the second baseman appears to be wearing a number beginning with a “5.” Jorge Cantu wore #59 in 2004, his rookie season. So that narrowed it down to the second-half of 2004.

But then Jamal Wilburg hit the jackpot. He found the original picture in the AP archive. An afternoon game against the Royals on September 22, 2004. Attendance that day was listed as 8,392.

So…To emphasize that the Rays need to “get out of Tampa Bay,” ESPN.com uses a picture from the 8th inning of an afternoon game in September played between two teams that were a combined 61.5 games out of first place.

Ahhh, but it gets better! No, really!

Remember Hurricane Ivan? Of course. Well, this game was during Hurricane Ivan (thanks Andrew). The Rays had to travel that night to New York to face the Yankees. As a result, the team moved the game from 7:15 to 12:15 at the last minute. And according to the game notes, “the actual turnout appeared to be between 1,000 and 2,000.”

So, by all means, let’s use THAT game as an example of Rays attendance in 2011.

Yeah, that’s credible.

But we’re not done. Oh no. There is more! Here is the picture ESPN.com used on their front page as a tease (click on the image for a larger version)…

Look at how empty the Trop is! Because, you know, the Rays have terrible fans if they don’t show up for a closed practice during the 2008 playoffs on a day there was no game (more huge thanks to Jamal).

Un-frickin-believable.

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34 Comments

  1. Don says:

    I also noticed about the absence of talk in media about MIlw. brewers wonderful new $800 mil new stadium ...the other night in a rain storm fans and players were getting wet INSIDE the stadium...
    Funny... I've been to 100's of games in the Dump at st. Pete and haven't got wet one time....what's up with that??

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  2. Edward says:

    ESPN better shut their mouth. Im sick and tired of them bashing the fans. I guess tey really want the Rays out of the MLB or they just want them to suck.

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  3. AFL_Storm says:

    I am so sick of ESPN because of this. It is simple they root for the Yankees and the Red Sox in MLB; The Heat and Lakers in the NBA, etc. It is just sicking they way they dump on the Rays. I am sick of it!

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  4. Sledge says:

    I couldn't find the picture you were talking about from 2004 on the article. Perhaps someone reads your blog and removed it that fast? The practice picture was still the lead in, just no evidence of the 2004 pic. Still ridiculous though.

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  5. Sarah says:

    Well, here's a local "The Rays have no fans" column: http://cltampa.com/tampa/why-rays-attendance-is-lousy/Content?oid=2307442

    It's not as misguided as the ESPN version, but most of the ten reasons he gives are either glaringly obvious, or just idiotic. No one comes to Rays games because Evan Longoria ignored someone's 90 year old mom? And how many autographs does Derek Jeter sign before games?

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  6. AFL_Storm says:

    At least this article is a little better:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/commentary/news/story?page=bryant-110622

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  7. Josh Doan says:

    Good thing I wrote this article on June 10 about the issue (featuring Rays Index's own Cork Gaines) that actually addresses reasons for the issue rather than saying there aren't fans. http://bitly.com/kSNm9O enjoy!

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  8. Mark E says:

    SERIOUSLY! Enough is enough! Everyone who reads this RaysIndex needs to get to this article and EMBARRASS ESPN and their latest, template-driven "author" with comments using the FACTS listed here in Cork's blog.

    Rays fans, how long are we going to allow the NY Bankmee puppets at ESPN LIE to America about our team?

    Yes, Rays' attendance needs to improve--we all know it. But this is the ONLY story ESPN has chosen to EVER use when referencing the "Tampa Rays" and they embellish, exaggerate and LIE in order to create a story that's NOT.

    ESPN is the absolute powerful dictator of sports media and they know it. They're using their power to get what they want: the revenue-sharing pests out of Tampa Bay.

    Get to the ESPN Rays "attendance" articles and embarrass them with facts - NOW! Enough is enough!

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    • Caity says:

      Or Marc Tompkin of St.Pete times considering he does the same thing, reporting on the Trop's attendance and every freaking ballpark such as Miller Ball park.

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  9. Daniel says:

    I completely agree with Mark E. I think it's time that we as Rays fans show ESPN that we care. I'm going to start with cancelling my Insider subscription and emailing any baseball-related ESPN employees I can find. I will only watch their channels/read their website when it's the ONLY way I can get the content I want.

    Anybody finds relevant email addresses for me to use, please post here.

    Thanks

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  10. MJ says:

    there is a fair amount of outrage on the ESPN boards at least. not every day you see an article on the Rays fly past 2000 comments on bspn.

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  11. Cork Gaines says:

    Jason, if your buddy Jason Collette can go a week without trashing me or this site, I'll think about letting you comment. But I'm betting he can't do it.

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    • Carey says:

      That site's kinda like Stevie's Baseball Tonight: Both remind me of a dinosaur two steps from the tar pit.

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  12. Don says:

    Nothing more than an article about attendance to really get the masses fired up....too bad baseball can't do it!

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    • Mark E says:

      I AM fired up Don. I don't know a bigger Rays fan than me. My neighbors HEAR me watching games on TV. I go to more games than I can probably afford. I realize that having major league baseball within an hour's drive of my home is a PRIVILEGE. I get fired up about MY TEAM every day.

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      • Tony says:

        Wish I was in your shoes, Mark. I'm in IL...and I'm lucky if I get to see 3-4 Rays games a year. And it's usually at US Cellular Field with the crappy Sox fans.

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        • Mark E says:

          Sorry Tony. We Rays fans down here hope we AREN'T in your shoes after this stupid attendance/new stadium thing works itself out.

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  13. Tony says:

    Yea, I'm done with ESPN. Unless they are broadcasting a Rays game, which apparently won't happen if they keep posting dribble like that.

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    • Mark E says:

      AMEN TONY! When I "watch" the BSPN broadcasts of Rays games (if I'm not AT the game), I mute the TV and listen to Andy and Dave. I can not stand to hear them called "Tampa". How does this sound BSPN morons: "It's first and ten 'Green' on their own 20 yard line. Green's, Jackson, in the back field..." It sounds ridiculous right? It's the "Green BAY Packers and the Tampa BAY Rays!!!

      I don't have anything against Tampa. If they move there, I'll rejoice that "we" didn't lose them. But for crying out loud, get the name right.

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  14. Brian says:

    I just had to get off that BSPN link. There are some absolute clowns on there. Why doesn't espn trash the Pirates or the Marlins? Everything revolves around the Rays because they resent the fact that we have won 2 out of the last 3 AL East crowns.

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    • Sarah says:

      I agree. It's as though they have two categories for teams: lovable losers, and big market alpha males. Can't handle a small market team with the nerve to challenge the big boys.

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  15. Michael says:

    The Rays need be MOVED from Florida so that when realignment occurs they are taken out of the AL East, so the Sox and Yankess can jerk off on each other.

    The ESPN talking head motive here is easy to theorize.

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  16. Amanda says:

    I said it before and I'll say it again .... Cork, I stopped watching SportsCenter regularly in 1997, around the same time that ABC/Cap Cities was bought by Disney. Since then, they've cared more about putting on a dazzling product than putting on a quality product. I go to SI.com for all my news, and I only turn on ESPN to watch live sports and SportsCenter only to watch when one of our teams does something so extrodinary, they *have* to talk about it. (Except for hockey. Melrose is a travishamockery.) I get all my news from SI.com, MLB Network, NFL Network and 620 AM. (And RI, of course!) And, I'm a much more informed Bay-area sports fan for it.

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    • Carey says:

      Hope you didn't waste your time with Duemig's abortion of an interview with Steve Bart. . . (I'm not going to even try). Way to go Steve. Way to take a great opportunity and completely flush it down the toilet. Ooooh, you hung up on him. Wow! I'm real impressed (and he and his colleagues are laughing at you).

      Next time, if he's smart, he'll call into JP.

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  17. Kyle says:

    Just went over to the ESPN website to check out this thing. I noticed that in your picture clip of the ESPN website, it says the Rays need to get out of TAMPA. Well, now ESPN has changed that to say the Rays need to get out of ST PETE. This so called "world-wide leader in sports" needs to quit bashing the Rays. Maybe if they hyped the Rays for the good season they're having now (instead of ignoring them completely) people would get more interested. But no, that would be against the ESPN mission statement, which reads: To provide information 24/7 about the NBA that no one watches, the over rated NFC East, and to make Red Sox and Yankees fans, players, and employees to be the gods they are and that all should worship them. Yay Fenway Park!

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  18. Erick says:

    Steve Duemig talked to Bertiaume today! Pretty entertaining. Nothing is really settled because they kept arguing about cutting each other off. The interview is on 620 WDAE's website

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  19. Chris says:

    The problem is that the Trop sucks. It is a horrible venue for anything but for baseball it is just stupid. It is in the middle of the ghetto of St Pete which is a horrible area unless you want to buy drugs or get shot at. I have been to 50+ games there so I have experience. If they move the team into Tampa and built an actual stadium it would sell out. The majority of the people in the Bay area are not in the "burg" and people simply aren't going to drive an hour or more from Brandon, Palm Harbor, Tampa, etc to hit up a crappy stadium. Somehow the Marlins are getting a new stadium and they are horrible. ESPN can suck it as far as I'm concerned - especially when their precious Red Sux or Spankees end up below the Rays in the standings come October.

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    • Raysfan137 says:

      You're entitled to your opinion. As true baseball fan who brings his family to ALL games from the "burbs" an hour North of the Trop, I happen to have a different one. The Trop is great, fan friendly stadium. It's location and ease of access are the only challenges. Once there, it is great place to watch a game. I am less likely to want to fight the cluster of traffic that is downtown Tampa, however. It's not any easier or less crime ridden than St. Pete. A stadium will not sell out just because it is in Tampa. The Bay area simply does not have the major corporate sponsorships and group sales that other areas do. While those aren't the majority of sales they are a significant percentage that pushes the attenance numbers up nicely. A new stadium in any reasonable location will help that a little. But to reiterate, the Trop itself is a gret place to watch a game. And I have been to many stadiums.

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    • Carren says:

      Well I don't even want to respond but feel I must. The obvious gist of your post is to get the team to move to Tampa. I'm a middle class female who lives in a condo 2 blocks from the Trop. This building is in noway in the ghetto. I've walked to several games over the years and haven't had one problem. Walked there last night. I get tired of the so called Tampa fans claiming......... if only the team were in Tampa. Right, please stop with that crap it's just not true just because you want it to be. Please Tampa fans support the Rays like us in St Pete support the Bucs and Lightning. St Petersburg has a lovely downtown. The biggest reason is all the games are on TV. Not my fault that they made such a bad deal. But with gas prices what they are and every game on you never have to miss a game. When the economy gets better so will the attendance. GO RAYS!

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  20. JGRockin24/7 says:

    I love how ESPN uses photos from 2004. I am guessing they are afraid to see the true fandom behind this team? I work at the trop... in ticket sales, as well as bar-tend after the games. We have so many people come out for each game, even little ones its fantastic. The Rays "Fan Day" was a phenomenal turn out, even though they showed up 3 hrs. late due to traffic. i have been a fan of the Rays since they were the Devil Rays... and then had to re-name the team because we were losing fans due to the un-christian nature of the name.... and not being top of the league. Cold weather fans come and go as they please. They are probably the ones who complain and whine about the location of the trop. True fans stay through it all. I am proud to see the Rays and how far they have come. ESPN once more you fail. GO RAYS!!!!!!!

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