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We Won't Be Here Forever

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Steve should be back by his next start, so this'll do it for me. Thanks for enduring the week and enjoy whatever the rest of the season brings.

Erik wrote this post about a month ago that I've been meaning to write a reply to and never got the chance to. All this stadium talk has given me the jumping off point to try and wrap my thoughts together and present them coherently. So here goes nothing.

At some point during the stadium hoopla a user asked whether we would rather the team move (presumably out of state) or be sold to a new owner. I replied relocation was preferable. This surprised even me to a degree. Most people remember the contraction saga early last decade surrounding the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A's (amongst other small market teams) and in some ways relocation is more feared than contraction. Maybe because it seems more dehumanizing; moving a team to another town with fancy new colors and treating the team like it's a new entity seems like an attempt to erase identity. Contraction is horrible too, but at least sincerity isn't absent.

Yet I'd rather deal with that existence than risk a new ownership being a throwback to the Vince Naimoli days. That's not entirely rational. The odds of getting a horrible owner are probably lower than my heart fears, but the chance exists and that's terrifying within itself. A team can overcome a clueless manager to a degree, a stupid front office sometimes, but almost never a horrendous owner. The qualities that come with bad owners are pretty simple; being meddlesome and apathy about winning.

Look at Drayton McLane. He fired Gerry Hunsicker over an ego clash and he's never really replaced him. He doesn't notice the sin of his ways, though, oh no, he'll fire Ed Wade and hire another rehash and will still wonder why his team is stuck in the mud. There's little introspection and little inspection of other organization's operating ways. Professional sports in the Tampa area and bad owners seem to encounter each other more often than not.  

Erik asked why we cheer for laundry. I've asked myself this ever since. I love baseball. I do not love football or any other sport with the same vigor. That leads me to believe there's something deeper to my passion than simply the enjoyment of athletic superiority displayed on a broad stage. It's not just statistical absolutism either. The combination created is beautiful. Ultimately baseball is a business and that's cool with me, if Pepsi Co. and Coca Cola broadcast their version of war and it went beyond board meetings and test studies I'd probably flip to it a few nights a year too.

Baseball combines business strategy and managing intelligence with physical brilliance in such a simplistic manner that it's hard to imagine that this is the same game I enjoyed as a youngster with no idea what game theory meant nor did I know what opportunity cost was called. I've played baseball (horribly) and I can associate with the players on the competitive and human level, but no, I'm never going to confuse myself as someone capable of doing the things they do on a daily basis. That leaves me on the managerial and operations side of the game.

The reality of revenue streams and market sizes suggests that the Rays will never be able to keep all the quality players; they will come and go, yes, but as long as the front office is intact, then the stream of quality players who replace them shall never cease.  That's the gospel and those two reasons are why I associate my fandom with the front office as much as any player. I will always have fond memories of Fred McGriff, Evan Longoria, and B.J. Upton but I won't know their statistics twentysomethingyears from now. I'll always remember going from 66 wins to 97.

As mentioned before, maybe a new owner would keep everything in tow and stay the course. Maybe that new owner would spend more on payroll and maybe we'd keep more quality players around while adding a few others. Maybe he wouldn't though. Maybe he would lock horns with the front office and dismiss their tactics out of hand. Maybe he'd change us into the Kansas City Royals ... again.

The team moving to Brooklyn would change maybe a dozen nights out of my year that I would head to Tropicana Field. With access to and Extra Innings that money spent on random sodas and nachos could grant me access to all of the Superbas games from New Ebbets Field. We're living in a technology-based world. As long as you have the funds, then you can choose wherever you want to live; moving from hell to paradise. There's no reason to be stuck in purgatory. That exists in something as recreational as sports too. The internal conflict with this concept is how I came to be a Rays fan based entirely off location. I haven't entirely resolved how that blends with the rest of this thought other than that's one of life's random results that are only fixable with time. 

As for those attended games. That makes up an extremely small portion of my fandom. Say 12 days out of 365, that's under 4%. Moreover, I usually try to attend games where the probability of the Rays winning is high. I hate losing. I hate experiencing losing live. The unpredictability of single game events makes this a bit more tedious than I'd like, but whatever. Some enjoy the Yankees and Red Sox games more than those random Nationals and Mariners matchups. Maybe that underdog feeling takes some of the fun out of the game for select folks; maybe it adds fun to others.

Everyone in the world is different. I'm odd. I get that. It's impossible to judge hedonic value, but one of my favorite questions to ask is whether a person would pay more money for a ticket to guarantee their team would win the game. And that's where things really fall into place. I'd probably pay extra to guarantee a win. I'd sacrifice something for a victory.  If moving elsewhere betters the Rays chances of winning, and therefore guaranteeing some extra wins, I guess I'd be willing to sacrifice those attended games.

That's just me and I'll agree with anyone who calls me stupid or irrational. Five years I didn't even know Andrew Friedman or Stuart Sternberg's name, and now I feel like the Rays can't exist without them. So it goes.