Twin Bill

In a couple of days, Tampa Bay and Oakland’s baseball teams play two games against each other in the same day. 

Two things make this doubleheader unusual. One, the games will take place back to back, with a half hour break between the games. These days, doubleheaders are usually played with a game in the early afternoon and a game at night, so that teams can charge separate admissions for each game. 

The other unusual part of this attraction Saturday is that this was a scheduled doubleheader, not something done for inclement weather. Plus, this is only the second such event at Tropicana Field, because usually domed stadiums prevent weather from interfering with the game. 

It’ll be interesting how well this regularly scheduled doubleheader draws. Tropicana usually holds 30,000 for baseball, though it can 40,000 if there is demand for it. If it draws well, maybe this becomes a yearly attraction. 

The Great Quake Of ’89

Early Sunday morning, most of the San Francisco-Oakland area felt a sizeable earthquake, measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale.

It was the largest quake since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, which most of the country recognized as it interrupted ABC’s coverage of the third game of that year’s World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco. Broadcaster Al Michaels tried to alert everybody to the earthquake, but only got the “earth” part out before transmission was temporarily lost.

I was doing something a bit less spectacular while that was going on: I was sleeping. I had just started working for radio station WTAN in Clearwater a week or so prior to all of this, working the overnight shift from 12am-6am, and 12am-8am on Sunday mornings. Even though I was off, the sleeping pattern of my 18 year-old body had been all mixed up. About 10pm that night, I get up from bed, hoping to catch the latter part of the World Series game.

I figured my mom or dad would be watching the game, but it wasn’t on, which confused me. So, I asked my mom what’s happening with the World Series game.

“You don’t know? They had an earthquake in San Francisco. The game has been postponed.”

I thought my mother was joking around. It wasn’t unusual for my father to play that kind of joke. He once told me a space shuttle exploded and obliterated Cape Canaveral a few months before the Challenger disaster had took place in 1986. But looking again, I saw that my mom had a serious look in her eyes. So I turned on the news, and she was right.

Hope everything turns out as good as it can for the people of San Francisco all these years later.

The MLB Bourgeoisie

So while fans of the Boston Red Sox celebrated the capture of the terrorist that had held the city hostage the past week on Saturday afternoon, noted baseball columnist Peter Gammons took a cheap shot at the Tampa Bay Rays franchise.  In an interview on NESN on Saturday, he implied that the Rays draw 8,000 fans a game to their MLB games.

Oh, really?

Yes, I will admit that the Rays have problems drawing when they face teams other than Boston or the Yankees.  But there are two things worth pointing out about the franchise.  One, every night, the Rays have to compete with minor league teams well within the surrounding communities of the Tampa Bay area.  The Tampa Yankees.  The Clearwater Threshers.  The Dunedin Blue Jays.  The Lakeland Tigers.  The Bradenton Marauders.  Ask the average baseball fan if they would spend $25-$50 to go to a minor league park and pay much less for hot dogs, beer, coke, parking, and tickets as opposed to paying $50-$100 to go to Tropicana field and having to do likewise.

A good sized beer at the Trop costs $9.  You could probably get a quality beer at a minor league park for half that, if not less.

We’re one of the smallest markets in MLB with the problem of having to compete with nearby minor league teams, so by not moving all of these teams out of the area, Major League Baseball created our problem, and not a problem of our choosing.

Secondly, the Devil Rays/Rays have only been in existence for 15 years.  Boston has had major league teams going back well over a century.  They have a shrine to the game in Fenway Park that’s popular with their fans.  Fathers can take their sons to Fenway and tell their kids that when they were little, their parents took them to the very same park.

We don’t have that kind of tradition here yet.  And by the time that tradition develops, the Rays will have moved to a newer ballpark in the area, or in some other city.  Comparing Boston to Tampa is like comparing apples to oranges.  But yet some think these comparisons are fair.

And by the way Mr. Gammons, the Rays drew over 15,000 for the Friday game against the Oakland A’s, but drew 25,611 for the Saturday night game, and 25,954 for the Sunday afternoon game.  Just looking at some attendance figures at random, the Pirates only drew just over 20,000 for a game at home against Atlanta on Sunday, while the Reds-Mets game at Citi Field just drew over 26,000 that same day.  While the Pirates and Mets franchises are having problems with their on-field products presently, it goes to show you that sagging attendance can hit anywhere in MLB, and is not just a Tampa Bay area problem.