I love MLB Network and baseball tonight I think they have many great former players turn baseball personalities but they all routinley flash some sort of bias towards bigger market teams like the Yankees and Redsox while slapping the Tampa Bay Rays in the face. Just today on MLB Network I heard Kevin Millar say about an upcoming game between the Redsox and Orioles that “These are the 2 teams to watch in the AL East”. The problem isn't that he said that it's that I hear other analysts say those same exact things. The fact of the matter is not only are the Tampa Bay Rays one of the best and most exciting teams in baseball but they are also doing it on a shoe string payroll (57 Million $-28th in baseball)
The Rays are such a fundamentally sound team and the proof is in the pudding in both pitching and hitting they rank in the top half of just about every major statistical category. They 6th in runs (.475), 9th in batting average (.262), 5th in on base percentage (.330), 5th in slugging percentage (.421). If the Yankees were putting up those kind of offensive numbers this year they would be getting praise from every news outlet and there would be countless guarantees of champagne baths in October but since its the Rays they get overlooked and don't get the credit they deserve and I for one am sick of it.
Tampa Bay's fan base or lack there of is partially the reason why I feel outlets like ESPN don't give them the love they deserve. This season once again they are struggling to put fannies in the seats averaging just 17,790 per game which puts them only ahead of the Marlins at 29th in the league. Now I have been to Tropican Field it isn't the most ideal ballpark in america but its quirks make it nice to me but when it comes to stadiums in any sports it all comes down to location. For years I have heard Rays fans say that they need a ballpark built in the heart of Tampa Bay because just in case you didn't know they play in St.Petersburg and the park is in the middle of nowhere. Now We can only attribute attends problems to location for so long if a team is playing great baseball at some point more fans got to come out to the ballpark if their team is in first place.
At Tropicana Field on a nightly basis you get to see a great young nucleus of players take the field such as David Price,Evan Longoria, Ben Zorbrist, Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings, Sam Fuld, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar. The Rays are not a boring team to watch they score runs and play as a team and that’s what any fan would want from they're favorite baseball team.
Another thing that’s great about the Rays is that they have arguably the smartest manager in the game of baseball today in Joe Madden. His feel for the game is second to none and one thing you have to love about him is that he isn't afraid to challenge conventional wisdom if he thinks it work for the team and not many managers have the guts to do that. He also happens to be one of the more insightful guys in the game of baseball.
So as the Rays sit at the top of the AL East in front of the media darlings known as the Yankees and Redsox they continue to fly under the radar and receive minimal love at best from baseball experts in the media. I'm sure the players like it better that way but as a fan of the game I like to see a team get their just due. So ESPN give the Rays some more love and Rays fans get out to the ballpark and support your team it's quite sad. If people don't give them recognition now they might be forced to at the end of October.