I heard Joe Maddon got all bent out of shape over the weekend about how fans attending the Saturday Rays-Yankees fans cheered raucously when Derek Jeter got a game-winning hit to secure a 3-2 New York win.
His frustrations are certainly understandable, but it’s not a new problem for the team, nor this sports market.
I remember going to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Chicago Bears as a birthday present (I had just turned 20 two days prior) back on September 8, 1991. Back then, the Bucs were terrible, a few years away from turning their franchise around, and this was also back when the Bears would play a game here in Tampa every year with both teams playing in the old NFC Central division. Made up of mostly midwestern teams, the Bucs were the bastard child of the group.
Sitting in the broiling sun, the Bucs fell 21-20 to the more capable Bears. But being in the crowd that day, you’d think it was a Chicago home game. True, the Bears had a national following at the time having been a few years removed from a Super Bowl championship back in 1986, but I left Tampa Stadium that afternoon wondering where all the Bucs fans were.
Our market loves winners. If our teams aren’t winning, this is an area will the fans will find other things to do. That’s the way it’s always been here, and probably will be, sorry to say.