Should the Rays just go?

Caught about a half hour of the Ron Diaz and Ian Beckles Show on WDAE this morning. The topic? Yep, the Rays and their sorry-ass attendance. Only a reported 10,511 (per the Rays’ website) showed up to last night’s game against the Texas Rangers, a figure that fueled today’s conversation as Ron and Ian tried to figure out why we can’t seem to support a first-place team. Isn’t this what we’ve been waiting for? A team that no longer guarantees the Yanks and Red Sox victories when they pop up on the schedule?

Callers and hosts alike brought up the familiar reasons — we’re not a baseball town, the drive to the stadium sucks if you live in Tampa, the Trop is a terrible baseball venue.

In his Riffin’ on the Rays blog post, Eric Snider opined that there are plenty of would-be fans (like himself) out there teetering on the precipice of attending more games, but have become so used to the Rays being lousy that old habits die hard.

My ears perked up when Ron said, in the light of the Rays’ attempts to get a waterfront stadium and the embarrassingly low turnout, the team should move to Charlotte or Las Vegas, where they’ll find better fan support.

So I wonder: Are we simply not a baseball town? Sure, this area is the home of spring training for many major league teams, but a lot of those fans filling stadium seats are tourists. And those that live here and attend those games carry their old allegiances. It's not like they're chomping at the bit for the regular season to start so they can visit the cavernous Trop and support the local boys. Could it be that no amount of winning by the Rays will translate to more than a handful of bandwagoners and true-blue fans? The Florida Marlins, who’ve won two World Series and are currently leading the NL East, have the worst attendance record in the league, with 14,520 per game. (The Rays are two spots above, at 18,180.)

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