"Rays Up" is a clever play about an aspiring team that's had 90-plus wins in each of the past four seasons, its first Cy Young winner (David Price) in 2012, and three Rookie of the Year winners (Evan Longoria, Jeremy Hellickson and Wil Myers) since 2008.But as much as the slogan may be a subtle reminder for fans to support their local team, does it go far enough?
"Rays Up" also is a call to arms. The franchise hopes fans will rise up to support a quality team by attending more games. The Rays suffered the lowest attendance of any MLB team the past two seasons.
But instead of embracing their role as a small-market underdog, Rays ownership has spent too many years lamenting their profit-inhibiting stadium situation. And whether its fair or not, many fans (and would-be fans) harbor feelings of resentment toward management.
For all Stu Sternberg has done with the Rays, he should be one of our community's biggest heroes in the style of Mark Cuban or Jeff Vinik. But because of the never-ending stadium campaign...and the distrust that surrounds it...many fans see him as a foe, rather than "one of them."
Good news for the Rays is that is hasn't totally stunted ticket sales; indications are the flex packs have been selling well. But, an even more encouraging sign - something this blog has alluded to for years - is that the franchise is getting old enough that local Yankees and Red Sox fans are having kids who are die-hard Rays fans. Trigaux continues:
At dozens upon dozens of Little Leagues around the Tampa Bay area, (Mark) Fernandez says, there's heated competition over which team gets to call itself the Rays.