David Price, Rays Disappointed by Small Crowd at Potential Playoff Clincher
An uninspiring 4-0 loss to the Orioles coupled with a Red Sox win in Chicago kept the Rays' magic number at one, postponing what seems an inevitable postseason clinching party for at least one more day. But even if the Rays had held up their end of the bargain Monday night, there wouldn't have been many people joining in the fun at Tropicana Field.
A mere 12,446 paid to attend the potential clincher at the Trop, the Rays' fourth-lowest home attendance figure this season. The patrons' absence was noticeable, and noted. David Price took to Twitter to express his frustration.
"Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands....embarrassing," Price tweeted not long after the game.
Evan Longoria weighed in along similar lines, saying he would have expected at least 30,000 to show up for such a big game.
"It's disheartening," Longoria said. "It's something I've been wanting to say for a long time. It's not a jab at the fans. It's not a kick below the belt, but it's something we'd like to see. Obviously we want to bring a championship to Tampa. We'd like more than 12-to-15,000 to know about it."
It's reasonable to assume the fans of greater Tampa Bay will come out in greater numbers to back Price and his teammates in the playoff opener, but of course they have to get there first.
Attendance has long been a hot-button issue for the Rays, and Monday's sad showing will only fuel the discussion. Principal owner Stuart Sternberg reiterated last week his plans to slash the 2011 payroll, perhaps by $25 million, saying the team has no chance to make a profit this year no matter how it does in the playoffs.
Still, Rays fans have hardly made the 2010 regular season a raucous going-away gathering for those likely playing their last games in a Rays uniform -- Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano chief among them. Apparently, the empty seats are getting old to the team that entered play Monday with the best record in the American League.
Hearing millionaires criticize others for not spending money rarely sits well with the rank and file, though, and it wasn't long before Price returned to Twitter with a message of contrition.
"If I offended anyone I apologize I did not think it was gonna turn into this..."