Taking a break from his typical well-choreographed volleys in the Stadium Saga, Rays owner Stu Sternberg lobbed another controversial comment at Rays fans Thursday night - likely inadvertently.
Speaking at a roundtable of Tampa Bay's three major franchise owners, Sternberg said the one thing he learned about the area since buying the team five years ago was that "the water is a big divide."
The comment was a nod at the hesitance of Hillsborough County fans to cross the Howard Frankland Bridge for weekday games.
And while Sternberg went on to say, "we've learned about the driving habits of people, their willingness and ability to navigate bridges and so forth," the comments shouldn't be construed as a knock on Rays fans as much as it is an admission of a business mistake.
Sternberg and the majority of his front office come from the Northeast, where fans will routinely drive an hour or two to see the Yankees, Red Sox, or Phillies play. Growing up just eight miles from Fenway Park, I still had to spend 60+ minutes getting to the game. And we thought nothing of it.
So understand Sternberg's frustrations that many Floridians won't drive more than 30 minutes - or cross a bridge - to see good baseball.
Two years ago, Rays VP Michael Kalt admitted to me the team underestimated the psychological barrier of the Howard Frankland Bridge.
"I think we need to be honest about what people's tolerances are to travel to go to sporting events," Kalt said in July 2009.
It seems for all their dilligence in getting the extra edge in places like the draft, the gate, the concession stand, and even in sports psychology, the Rays' made one big mistake when it came to consumer psychology.