The Rays have an attendance problem. The Rays may even be having a TV ratings problem. And of course the national media is unable to create an original thought, so all they do is bash the Rays, their stadium, and the fans, any chance they can get.

And who defends the Rays, and their stadium? The fans do. But why should we continue to fight the talking heads and fans of every other team in baseball, if the front office won’t defend them (or us). And especially if Joe Maddon is just going to agree with what the national media is saying?

Asked about criticism of Tropicana Field by ESPN broadcaster John Kruk and others, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon joined the chorus…”He’s right. We do need a new ballpark. He’s absolutely right. And he’s right, this ballpark is improper for Major League Baseball. He’s right. I can’t deny that…You shouldn’t play with all these obstructions [ed. note: you mean like the ivy at Wrigley, or the ladder on the Monster, or the hill at Minute Maid, or...you get the point], and all these caveats. Of course not. It’s runs it’s course. It was here for a moment. It served it’s purpose. And now it’s time to move on. Absolutely it is. And to deny that, everybody has just got their head in the sand, period.

This is the same guy that would find a way to praise Elliot Johnson even if he literally pooped his pants in the 9th inning while trying to lay down a bunt only to hit himself in the face with the bat. And yet, when the franchise and the stadium need defending, he is right there with the resident genius John Kruk, the guy that inferred the Trop was unsafe by saying he wouldn’t want to be in that building if it was struck by lightning.

Mayor Bill Foster responded, and for the first time, we are starting to warm up to his side…

I’ve always been one to look at the regional approach when it comes to attract fans to Tropicana Field. But the region didn’t build Tropicana Fied. It was the people of Pinellas County who built Tropicana Field. So right now I am only concerned with their interests and protecting their investments…They have 15 years left on their lease agreement … so yeah, I’m holding on pretty tightly. If they want to look at sites within Pinellas County, I’m all for that.”

There is a real problem here. OK, there are a lot of real problems here. But the newest problem is that for some reason, Maddon has become the voice of the Rays on the stadium issue.

Maybe it is because the Rays limit access to those in the front office. And maybe it is because the Rays front office believes in saying nothing whenever possible. And maybe it is because Maddon has to face the media everyday.

But there is something messed up about the manager of the team constantly commenting on happenings outside the white lines.

We love you Joe. We really do. But please just shut up for once.

 
 

47 Comments

  1. JAD says:

    Not all the fan defend it. I personally think the Trop is a dump and the fanbase is weak at best.

  2. CC says:

    Hey Joe. Why don’t you comment on putting a lineup together that isn’t “improper” for major league baseball. You can’t deny the fact we are playing with minor league talent. Maybe Joe you have run your course.

  3. zenny says:

    I’m hearing lots of conspiracy theories about ownership purposely making the Trop look bad on national broadcasts to stir things up. Still trying to figure out how they got Sean Rodriguez to hit that lightbulb…

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Did you actually see the ball hit the lightbulb? (I’m kidding)

    • Sarah says:

      And perhaps they paid Curtis Granderson to loose the ball in the dome?

    • Steve says:

      Was anyone sitting in Left Center last night? Before the game the speakers were cracking and popping, there were definitely issues. Then, about the time the game started, there was a loud buzzing sound coming from the speakers. Maybe some wondered why the fans in Left Center started cheering spontaneously last night, it was after the sound stopped. I recorded it on my iPhone if anyone wants to hear it, let me know.

      • LoLJFH says:

        My son and I were sitting in 131 last night and heard it when the Chili’s sign came on. It was loud and disturbing and the sign seemed to freeze but we tuned it out after a minute or so. Maybe it was to try and drive out all the Yankme fans that were sitting there. Cano hit his homer and I swear 90% of LF bleachers rose to cheer it (as did 60% of the rest of the stadium). Thank Heaven Kruk wasn’t watching the game last night as well!

  4. Nick says:

    Karl Ravech:”The Pirates are in first place for the first time in 20 years. They had 26 K and change at the park last night. Thats HUGE for a middle of the week game and a city like Pittsburgh”

    -Seriously?

  5. Blake says:

    I think plenty of the Rays fanbase would love to see a new stadium. The Trop for the most part is a hole. I mean, they have done a good job of fixing it up under the new ownership, but a polished turd is still a turd. Joe wasn’t attacking the fanbase, he was calling a spade a spade. We need a new stadium, and it should be where a majority of the population is. Personally, I was glad to see someone from the organization say it needs to be a retractable roof, since the last design (the failed waterfront project), while interesting and unique, was not going to do anything to solve the problems of muggy summer Florida nights. I don’t really think Joe was on the opposite side of the argument from what many Rays fans think.

    • Blake says:

      And I’m not saying all Rays fans feel the same way I do, but I do know that many do.

    • Beth says:

      Yeah, Blake, but it’s OUR dump. Doesn’t it bug you that whenever the Rays are on a national broadcast, all the announcers do is insult our stadium? If they aren’t talking about attendance, they are making fun of some quirk at the Trop — as though no other stadium has any obstructions or inconveniences. What if, every time there was a rain delay at an outdoor park, Kruk or McCarver or whoever spent 15 minutes talking about the idiocy of playing outdoors? Or every time a ball caromed off the Green Monster we had a long harangue about the fools who stuck a huge wall in the middle of the outfield?

      Our region should have a discussion about whether and where to build a new stadium, but not because ESPN announcers think the catwalks are funny or because for Joe Maddon any thought that crosses his brain must be spoken out loud.

      • Blake says:

        I’ll agree with you on the ‘Our Dump’ arugment. I hate the national broadcasters consistent bashing of the stadium because I hate how they lump it in with a collective bashing of the fanbase (because its somehow our fault Namoli signed that God-awful use agreement). I feel like they use it as a tool to further rake Rays fans over the coals. However, I’ve got no qualms with Maddon speaking out on it because I simply believe its more calculated than him running off at the mouth. I think its just another step in the ownership snowballing their movement to get the hell out of the Trop. While I get frustrated with the “Oh, there are plenty of places that want us” schtick from Sternberg (whose PR is amazingly atrocious considering how well he excels at every other facet of ownership), I don’t think the Ray can seriously find a more viable place than the Bay Area to move to and thus, I consider this mainly a ploy to jump across the bay. This is a move I’m completely in favor of, no matter how it gets done, so if I have to deal with a public pissing match between the Rays and Bill Foster (who I also don’t have a problem with, since he is simply doing his duties as an elected official–but that doesn’t mean I’m not rooting for him to lose), then so be it.

        I realize this was a lot of rambling, I hope it still makes sense.

        • Beth says:

          Not rambling at all, Blake, all good points. I thought John Romano’s column in today’s St. Pete Times also summarizes this pretty well.

        • Brian says:

          Blake speaks a lot of sense.

          Sometimes people too close to the situation (diehard fans) are also the most likely to engage in denial and misplaced anger. Remove yourself from the situation and re-evaluate. It is hard to fault sternberg, maddon, longoria, the announcers, etc. They are doing their job.

      • maggie says:

        OUR dump! Yes. Been thinking this for a long time. Had to listen to a bunch of drivel last night from yank fans about how it’s “not a ballpark”. (Sec 212. full of yankees) Well I just told myself they’re yankees as well as yankee fans. Rude. They’d go to someone’s house and tell them what’s wrong with it and how their’s is better. I like for them to come down here and spend a LOT of money and be miserable.

  6. Jeff says:

    The Trop is indoors and has a field in it. You can play a baseball game in it. That’s ALL it has going for it. Stop defending it. It IS the worst stadium in MLB. By far. I’ve been to Oakland, and the Trop is worse. I think it’s good that the national media exposes it (even though there is an agenda that is annoying). This is a successful franchise playing at an extreme disadvantage to its competition and the only way to survive is to have a great ballpark in a central location. This reality gets clearer every day. We should all try to funnel our energy toward that solution. The writing is on the wall now that Maddon has injected himself into it.

  7. Don says:

    Hey Nick THe Rays are a 3rd place team, playing in a “dump” and we had23,000 on a week night…go figure.. huh media

    Maddon is a pawn/front man for the Franchise if silverman/friedman says anything OLE JOE backs them up in the media…

    Foster nailed ole JOE: “Maddon needs to worry about whats happenning on the field..the studium conditions don’t stop the Yankees/red sox from winning here,” or the last place Orioles from sweeping you on oppening weekend in your own stadium..then irony strikes.. the stadium wins one for ole joe when a routine flyball turns into a hit or Joe is a loser again
    I don’t necessarily care for Foster BUT he Is doing his JOb, protecting the interest of the people of ST Petersburg…IF the Rays management doesn’t respect that position…then thats too bad

    • Brian says:

      to me, I am immediately turned off by any comment that starts with providing (selective) stats to show that attendance is fine

  8. JN says:

    Such a spectacle this stadium debate turning into now with Madden getting involved (which he shouldn’t). This issue has been getting way to much national media spotlight (should stay local only) and ESPN always has the stadium and fanbase card to pull when reporting or broadcasting on the Rays. Lazy, classless broadcasters IMO and real professionals would not take cheap shots like they have been for the past several years. Quite frankly it is getting old and I will only watch ESPN now for their college football and Sunday Night NFL games. That’s it! A gargage of a channel if you ask me. As for a new stadium, everyone knows it will happen eventually, but at what cost. All this madness is not helping in gaining new fans and I’m sure is turning off many casual fans as well.

  9. cg says:

    hmm, more concerned about his game management.

    the trop really only benefits St. Pete, not the region. As someone that grew up in clearwater, it isn’t that much different driving to Channelside. St. Pete could make that trip too. And everyone in hillsborough and pasco etc. etc.

    don’t see what the big deal is about someone saying the location is bad but the location is bad. sure, in a dream world I’d have an amazing job and a condo on the water front of st. pete (live in nyc and will stay here)and they’d build a beautiful stadium like the one that was proposed and I could spend all day going to games… but really they need to be centrally located.

    When you live in an urban sprawl (faster growing areas are outside of city centers, you need to find the middle of that mass for a chance to reach as many as possible.

  10. Alex says:

    The trop is a piece of crap. I don’t defend it and I’ve grown up watching the Rays. How exactly is the trop a worthwhile investment at this point? It would seem to me that nothing good is coming of this situation.

    ESPN has every right to make fun of our stadium. Our fans? No, but wouldn’t you make fun of the stadium? In the past three games, two of which were on national tv, we’ve had: A ball break a light, a lightning strike knock the power out, a cf lose an easily catchable ball, and 3 infielders lose a ball that hit a cat walk. Its ugly, affects the game way too much, and its in a bad location. What more do you need?

    • Beth says:

      So, Alex, no other stadium has ever had a broken light or a temporary brown out? We live in the lightning capital of the US — we will have lightning strikes whatever our stadium looks like. And as for Granderson losing the ball in the dome — surely you’ve seen outfielders lose a ball in the sun — do we condemn the stadium in those cases? I’m not trying to defend the Trop, but merely to point out that the stadium gets blamed for stuff that can happen anywhere.

      • JN says:

        And I’d like to point out that balls hitting the catwalks, lights does not happen all that often. Unfortunately, it just seems to happen during national games, i.e., this past weekend, last year post-season game vs. the Rangers.

      • Dave L says:

        The lightning strike criticism is the most ironic of all. It causes a 15 minute delay, where as in most stadiums around the league they would have never even been PLAYING. If i am driving up and paying to park I’d much rather have a 15 minute delay than missing an entire game. I’ll take the Trop all day long in this climate in the SUMMER rather than all the rain delays we would have. And was I the only one who recently saw a Rays player hit a catwalk…..ON THE ROAD, i think it was in Houston in a brand new ballpark ( maybe not a catwalk literally, but part of the ceiling structure, same thing)
        Youk recently commented that we have the best home field advantage in baseball before the All star game, he meant it as a dig but in some ways its true, fielding wise.

  11. Brian says:

    As sad as it is, Joe speaks the truth. I am a huge tampa bay sports fan. If we continue to pretend that everything is ok, nothing will happen. and if nothing happens…

    I love this blog but the treatment of all stadium criticism turns me off. Be logical about it. There isn’t a conspiracy theory here.

  12. Steve says:

    At this point all the people of the Bay area need to send a message to the Rays. For those in Tampa and other areas around the Bay who think that the owners are their friends, you should wake up. The ownership and the team thinks we are all a bunch of uncultured hicks. And the more we take sides in these fictitious Tampa/St. Pete arguments the more we play into their hands. I hope that somebody in the area (Bubba, Cowhead, John Romano, Gary Shelton – - -where have you gone Ron and Ron?) would say enough is enough and simply lead a boycott of this team. The ownership has starved the team by slashing payroll and led a smear campaign against the citizens who support them. The fans should fight back by not going to games. This is like an abusive relationship. They give us a competitive team and then treat us like crap in every other way. We should get behind the only politician who is not buying one ounce of the garbage these guys are spewing. We have a lease and we should not in any way unilaterally relax its language. We should starve these idiots and give them no choice other than to sell. I’d rather see Vince Naimoli run this team than to continue being a fan of this current group. On the heels of a well-earned victory last night to pick up the Times and see this garbage from Madden is too much. I’m sick of millionaires complaining about the quality of the building they play in while the Red Sox play raquetball at Fenway. Wake up fans – - stop supporting this team, stop being patsies in their blatant attempt at extortion.

    • Brian says:

      hahahaha, what??? thank goodness you are not running the team. eta on bankruptcy would be plus or minus 1 year. a sports franchise is a business. thank goodness not everyone thinks like you, or winning would mean running every sports team out of town

      • Steve says:

        With every win we have eat a bowl of crap. I’d love to just watch the team and enjoy it but the ownership won’t let that happen.

    • Beth says:

      You lost all credibility with “i’d rather see Naimoli run the team.” Seriously?

    • JAD says:

      The fans already aren’t going to the games and to bring up Naimoli is a joke. This ownership is not perfect but they have put out a winner and the fans are non existent.

      • Gus says:

        Would it be too much to suggest that drawing fans is the job of ownership and that by cutting payroll by 40% and telling the market what a craphole stadium they play in and how far it is from Joe Maddon’s place in South Tampa, they might have made selling season tickets a tad bit difficult?

        They were 23rd in MLB last year (with payroll that was 24th in MLB). This year attendance will again outperform payroll (27th to 29th probably when it is all done).

        I outlived Culverhouse and I’ll outlive Sternberg’s tenure here. Sell to somebody who lives locally if you don’t like your lease, but don’t dare screw the taxpayers of this area who gave you the facility in which you are able to make such handsome profits.

  13. Steve says:

    Just for preemptive clarification a new stadium would be nice, it would also be nice if 2008 never happened and there was some glimmer of hope that the economy was ready to rebound. But at a time when it seems every headline in every major city in the country is talking about government shut downs, budget shortfalls, foreclosure rates, etc, this is NOT THE TIME to be asking for a new stadium. Tough break for Sternberg that he didn’t buy the team in 2004 the story would probably have a different ending. At this point though, nothing is going to happen and its impossible to enjoy anything about this team when ownership, the managers, the player, and half the fans are telling you the team is a joke.

    • Drew says:

      Good thing you aren’t a Pirates, Royals, or Astros fan. You probably would’ve already moved or killed yourself by now

  14. Jeff says:

    Steve, you’ve lost your mind. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We want this team here. Stu wants to stay. I agree with Brian. There is no conspiracy here. We (and ownership) simply want for the Rays the same opportunity other markets have– a competitive team on the field and a competitive facility that allows us to build and maintain that team. The fan base is already there.

  15. Gus says:

    I would note that the 2 times Maddon has talked about the Trop’s deficiencies were after two particularly painful losses/losing streaks (last year’s Twins game was the other example).

    Oldest trick in the book — blame somebody else when you’ve screwed up or your players aren’t performing.

    You want a new stadium. Build yourself. Otherwise, honor your contract and shut up.

  16. All these comments that say Joe should worry about what’s on the field. Who to say he doesn’t? He was probably asked a direct question, what was he supposed to do, ignore it? Come on.

    • Beth says:

      You think Joe Maddon is unable to come up with an anodyne response to a provocative question? Did someone first inject him with truth serum so that he HAD to answer bluntly? How about this:

      Q: “Do you agree with John Kruk that Tropicana Field is a dump?”

      A: “Well, Kruk is entitled to his opinion, but I’ll leave the stadium debates to the front office. My job is to make sure the team plays well on the field.”

      End of story.

      • Don says:

        Your expecting way too much for Joe’s IQ. Remember HEs the one smiling after he gets drummed by the RED SOx.

  17. Zach says:

    How come no one ever bashes The Rogers Centre in Toronto? I hate watching those games on TV. That place is almost as ugly as the Metrodome.

  18. How about a new name, IMTROPER FIELD.

    My most cherished memories were Fenway Park in the 1950′s. What a dump. I actually enjoy sitting in Imtroper Field at 72 degrees while the lightning strikes and rain squalls blow in off the bay.

    My only problem with our venue is the show of force on the baselines between innings. Reminds me of Germany in 1933. Are they expecting a commando raid and player kidnapping. They’re already making us pay a ransom for a beer and a hot dog. WTF

  19. MJ says:

    Gotta say that there are plenty of fans that think the trop is just as much of a dump as joema and the front office say it is. ESPN goes overboard, yes. But that place is not meant for baseball and is the worst stadium or 2nd worst in baseball.

  20. Michael says:

    No fan should defend The Trop.

    What they should defend is the market.

    ESPN is not wrong when they portray the The Trop as a piece of dogshit. Where they are wrong is to imply that this reflects on the market which has matured dramatically since the Rays came into being.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      THIS is my problem with the comments. I want a new stadium. I dont mind the Trop. But it is time for something new. But the national media constantly uses the Trop as an avenue to trash the fanbase AND the team. And by justifying Kruk’s comments, Maddon is essentially endorsing all the criticism. And THAT is what bugs the hell out of me.

      • Joe says:

        Cork, this is why I am mad at Matt Silverman and Stu too…Duemig missed that and refused to connect the dots. Just connect the dots, please, PLEASE PLEASE.

        I feel essentially the same as you, but the media has enjoined the argument, our own locals and saying the same thing. I am scratching my head and wondering if I am still sane and logical.

        Make no mistake, its a complete trashing of both the fanbase and the team, and the team itself is ENDORSING THIS! How can Stu and Matt look in the mirror and be happy about it? I am perplexed, but again, why should I expect differently? I sent you something more about how I feel about it. Some key people are missing the ESSENCE of where the root of the problem is, but I guess we don’t want to know the answers, do we?! :)

  21. Jeremy says:

    I would love to see the box office and ticketmaster data of where the credit card billing address zip codes are for ticket purchases.
    Shouldn’t this be an easy report to run? And actually find out where the team’s support is.
    Would any st. Pete resident be shocked if Tampons are actually not supporting the team in an attempt to force a move to Hillsborough?

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