Tom Jones posted this juicy tidbit yesterday:
According to data compiled by Sports Business Daily, the Rays had the fifth-best local television ratings in the majors with a 5.9. That means, on average, 5.9 percent of homes in the Tampa Bay market with televisions tuned into the games on Sun Sports. The Cardinals led all local ratings with a 9.5, followed by the Twins (8.7), Phillies (8.3), Reds (7.4) and Rays, which finished 22nd in attendance with an average of 23, 024.
That's right: the Rays had better local television ratings than any other team in the AL East. Heck, a higher percentage of local viewers tuned in to watch the Rays than 12 out of the other 13 teams in the American League. As we reported during the season, fans weren't going to games because of lack of interest. The Tampa Bay area is supporting the Rays and does follow them, but for whatever reason that support hasn't translated to more butts in the seats yet.
We can argue about why fans didn't attend games all we want - the horrible economic climate in Florida, the stadium location, whatever - but to suggest that Tampa Bay fans didn't support and follow the Rays in 2010 is simply untrue. It's become an on-going narrative in the national media, one that I dearly wish would stop.
Why is it that the media seems incapable of discussing the Rays without mentioning our attendance? There were so many great things about our team this past season, including the fact that we won the AL East for the second time in three years (the first team besides the Yankees to accomplish that since Toronto in 1992-1993). Our franchise has been revitalized, we've got exciting young talent, and our roster is built for continued success. And yet, every time I heard the Rays mentioned on ESPN or MLBN down the stretch run in 2010, broadcasters would temper every compliment by saying, "If only there was anyone there to watch them."
We all get it already. It's an easy talking point and you've buried it to death. Now would you please stop disparaging our fans?