There’s a now familiar message that’s been scrolling on the bottom of the screen during Rays games. It reminds viewers that the games might not be airing on your cable system if that system is Spectrum Cable, which used to be Bright House here prior to the start of 2017.
This drama has been playing out in various regional outlets other than Tampa Bay, such as Cleveland, San Diego, and Atlanta. Deadlines pass, but yet the regional Fox Sports outlet has stayed on my Spectrum system after a few of these “deadlines” have come and gone.
I don’t know if I’ve said it on this blog before, but I know I’ve felt this way before. There ought to be a law that when circumstances like this come up, the viewer isn’t held hostage, or used as a pawn in a publicity battle like Fox has been encouraging. Matters like these should find a way to resolve themselves without the viewing public having to choose sides, or decipher who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are, because when stuff like this happens, EVERYBODY loses.
How things have changed in Raysland. Going into Sunday’s game, the Tampa Bay MLB franchise is 24-30, and only Minnesota (who the Rays are currently in a series against) has fewer wins in the American League at the present time.
On Thursday, even Brian “B.A.” Anderson, the analyst on the Rays TV crew, blasted what he’s calling a lack of leadership on the squad. I’m glad someone on TV is seeing what I’ve been seeing the past couple of weeks, and at the couple of games I’ve been to this season. The Rays look rudderless, seemingly going through the motions of a season still very young.
In my opinion, B.A. should be commended by taking the stand he’s taking, which isn’t easy because of the hand-in-hand relationship he has with Fox Sports Sun and the Rays. It needed to be said, and I just hope his statements don’t land him into any trouble job-wise. He’s good at what he does, and I’m sure if the Rays brass give him any guff, another MLB team or network would make sure any unemployment would be brief.
I want to go see some more Rays games this year, but I also want to see the Rays making an effort to be competitive. Just not seeing that right now.
On the same day the 32nd Wrestlemania was held at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, the 2016 MLB season got underway with three games stretched throughout Sunday.
Turning on ESPN early awaiting the 1 o’clock start of the Cardinals-Pirates game, I saw a preview of the big wrestling card later that night. I don’t watch the “World Wide Leader” that much these days, so seeing a WWE card, even it’s biggest event of the year, promoted on the channel caught me by surprise. But it did remind me of watching Channel 13 (WTVT) in Tampa on Tuesday nights, and seeing sportscaster Andy Hardy promote the night’s card at the Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory. They held weekly matches in Tampa back then. Now, the top wrestling promotion only comes to town a few times a year, though its NXT farm system frequent holds performances at a small arena near Pinellas Park High School, not too far from me.
Also not far away was were the second MLB game of the day was played: the AL runner-ups from last year, the slugging Toronto Blue Jays, took on the local Rays at Tropicana Field. Usually, the Rays don’t draw well for a multitude of reasons I’ve discussed on this blog before. I also think that FOX Sports Sun carrying about 95% of their games is part of it too. No knock against their crew, which does excellent work, led by veteran play-by-play man Dewayne Staats and host Todd Kalas, whom I once had a chance to meet doing the P.A. at Largo High basketball games when he worked at Vision Cable in Clearwater. The games get great ratings for the local sports network, but it also tends to eliminate incentive for fans to go visit the ballpark.
On this Opening Day however, attendance is not an issue, as a sellout crowd came to the Trop to watch the road team from Toronto get the 5-3 win. Say what you want about the Tampa Bay market, but if your team is a consistent winner, and the game is important enough, fans will come out and see the big game. The price of parking, hot dogs, beer, and hamburgers the size of a small child are mere temporary financial setbacks. The game of baseball provides memories that last forever, and the game will likely be there to be observed and savored when the NFL eventually crashes and burns.