Longoria and Price call low attendance at Rays’ game “embarrassing”

Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria walks back to the dugout after striking out against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 6, 2010.  REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Following the Rays’ 4-0 loss to the Orioles on Monday night, third baseman Evan Longoria and David Price said it was embarrassing that Tampa could have clinched a playoff spot and only 12,446 fans (the fourth-smallest crowd of the season at Tropicana Field) would have seen it.

Longoria’s take, Via the St. Petersburg Times:

“We go out there and play hard for 162 games,” Longoria said, “and for the fans to show the kind of support they’re showing right now, you kind of wonder what else you have to do as a player.”

Price said:

“Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands….embarrassing”

David Brown of Yahoo! Sports had the best take on this situation that I’ve read so far:

Jeez, what is it with Tampa Bay athletes who live in glass houses?

No matter their good intentions, no matter their honesty, no matter if they have reason to be upset — even if they were 1000 percent correct — what Longoria (pictured right) and Price did was a mistake.

It’s a cardinal rule: You don’t criticize your fan base. It’s stupid. It’s ignorant. It won’t get you what you want. It makes you look entitled, spoiled, narrow-minded and short-sighted.

The timing was poor, too, after losing 4-0 to the Baltimore Orioles. No matter how well you’re doing — and the Rays are having a great season — nobody wants to hear how bad the attendance was on a night when your team is shut out. It’s an obvious lack of perspective.

Longoria later said he was “just trying to rally the troops and get more people in here,” which I believe.
Price already backtracked, saying, “If I offended anyone I apologize” — which is the classic non-apology apology. He’s probably sorry, though, for one reason or another.

There are many reasons the Rays lag at 22nd overall in attendance. Start with: Bad stadium, bad location of stadium, bad economy. There’s more. It’s all irrelevant to Longoria and Price criticizing the fans.

It’s just bad policy, scolding people for not paying their own money to watch you.

Sorry for the long blockquote, but Brown made so many good points that I couldn’t cut it down. He hit a home run with his comments and I couldn’t agree more with everything he said.

Tampa fans should pack the stadium on a night where the Rays could clinch a playoff spot, but Brown is right when he says there’s nothing to be gained by criticizing your fanbase. It’s in poor taste and imagine how the people feel who did go to the game last night. They spent upwards of $100 to attend a game that the Rays didn’t even show up for and now they have to listen to two of the star players bitch about low attendance.


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Mikey’s MLB power rankings

Things have shifted a lot in MLB since I took a hiatus last weekend. Wow, have they ever shifted. The Rockies have now lost 5 in a row and are fading out of the race. The Phillies have won 11 in a row to take over the top spot. The Rays are ahead of the Yankees now in the AL East and the Twins are as hot as the Phils. The Braves are whopping 7 games back of the Phillies now. Damn, this is getting fun.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (93-61)—Peaking but maybe too soon. Still, when you have Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels, it’s not really fair. And everyone else is getting healthy now.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (92-61)—They finally overtake the Yanks, but have company up here. Still, they’ve been consistent all year and they have David Price at the top of their rotation.

3. Minnesota Twins (92-61)—Even without Justin Morneau, this is a very dangerous team. But are they peaking too soon as well?

4. New York Yankees (92-62)—When I heard the New York sports talk guys being all gloom and doom after a split with the Rays this past week, I didn’t understand it. But when you look at the remaining schedules of both teams, you get it. A loss to Boston last night probably didn’t do much for Yankees fans’ confidence.

5. San Francisco Giants (87-67)—Making for one of the most compelling pennant races, because the winner will move on while the loser may not even take the wild card.

6. San Diego Padres (86-67)—Looking back, that long losing streak came at the right time, and the wrong time, at the same time.

7. Cincinnati Reds (86-68)—The magic number is 3. I wonder if Brandon Phillips will get a Christmas card from the Cardinals’ organization this year.

8. Atlanta Braves (86-68)—Now trailing in the wild card race by a half-game. This is another compelling race that shouldn’t have been so compelling, but seriously, how do you hold off the Phils and that pitching staff?

9. Texas Rangers (85-68)—Magic number is 2, will they be the second team to clinch?

10. Boston Red Sox (85-68)—I don’t think they’ve officially been eliminated yet, but it’s getting very, very late. And what a shame for a team that really is as talented as most of the teams on this Top 10 list.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

The all-star game is behind us now, which means pennant races are about to heat up for real. And there are so many teams in contention this season, it really promises to be a wild rest of the summer. Here is a look at our post-all-star-game power rankings…..

1. New York Yankees (57-32)—Playing with heavy hearts this week after the passing of George Steinbrenner, but nothing else has changed. They just keep winning, and for the Yankees, that’s just what they do.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (54-35)—David Price is the real deal, and one of many reasons this young Rays team is battling the Yankees for AL East supremacy. They’re one of a handful of teams that can compete with the boys from Gotham, but they’d better not get swept this weekend.

3. Atlanta Braves (53-37)—They suddenly have a 5-game lead over the slumping Mets (and 5.5 over the Phils), and have the look of a team that wants to send Bobby Cox out on top.

4. Texas Rangers (52-38)—Cliff Lee and that lineup? The Rangers can start printing playoff tickets now.

5. San Diego Padres (52-37)—At this point, you can’t call it smoke and mirrors. Just like the Rays, this young team plays hard, manufactures runs and keeps games close with solid pitching.

6. Boston Red Sox (51-39)—Someone has awoken the beast that is David Ortiz. Home run derby was just a tease of what’s to come at Fenway this summer.

7. Chicago White Sox (50-39)—A 9-game winning streak was snapped yesterday, but the south side of Chicago is beaming. Too bad Jake Peavy is out for the year, but that doesn’t seem to matter much right now.

8. Cincinnati Reds (50-41)—See Padres, San Diego. Dusty Baker is one heck of a manager, and that is showing again now. Of course, when you have Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen in the middle of your lineup, all is right with the world.

9. Colorado Rockies (49-40)—This year, the Rockies won’t wait to make their move until September. They have already started making it, and the Padres had better watch their collective back

10. Detroit Tigers (48-39)—They have quietly kept right up with the White Sox, just one game back and now 2.5 ahead of the Twins. And Jim Leyland is still one of the best managers in the game.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

A lot has changed since last week. The Dodgers have faded and the Rangers have caught fire. The Yankees and Red Sox have been steadily winning while Tampa bas dropped off just a bit. And the Mets and Braves keep battling for first place. Here are this week’s power rankings…..

1. New York Yankees (46-27)—Not only have they taken over first place in the mighty AL East, but the Yankees are starting to put a bit of distance between themselves, and the Rays and Sox. They just have way too much talent.

2. Texas Rangers (44-29)—We knew the Rangers would hit the ball, but did anyone expect their pitching staff to be fifth in the AL in ERA, and second in strikeouts? Quick, name me two of their starters…..I know, I couldn’t either.

3. Boston Red Sox (44-31)—Like the Yanks, too much talent, and too much straight up desire to win. No wonder the chowder heads love their team.

4. San Diego Padres (43-30)—Don’t look now, but the Padres have the best record in the National League. That is not a typo.

5. Tampa Bay Rays (43-30)—I’ll give you five reasons why the Rays aren’t going away any time soon—Garza, Price, Davis, Niemann and Shields. It’s almost like a young version of the ‘90’s Braves. But being no-hit again isn’t good, either.

6. Atlanta Braves (43-31)—Speaking of the Braves, these guys are turning back the clock with guys like Chipper Jones, Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and Billy Wagner leading the way; and with Martin Prado leading the NL in batting.

7. New York Mets (42-31)—Seriously, RA Dickey is 6-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 7 starts? It’s like suddenly the Mets can do no wrong, and they just keep winning.

8. St. Louis Cardinals (40-33)—Raise your hand if you think the Cardinals are afraid of the Reds. I see a few hands up and they’re all in Southern Ohio.

9. Minnesota Twins (40-33)—Leading a weak division once again, and there’s no reason to believe the Twins will relinquish first place any time soon. Or that Joe Mauer’s average will continue to drop.

10. Cincinnati Reds (41-33)—They might be overachieving right now, but you can’t count them out.

Price starting to live up to first round billing

When David Price signed a six-year, $8.5 million contract that included a $5.6 million signing bonus in August of 2007, the expectations for the youngster immediately went through the roof.

After appearing in five games with one start in 2008, Price struggled some in 2009 while also flashing the brilliance that Rays fans were hoping for. He won 10 games that season, but he also gave up 17 home runs in 23 starts and his ERA topped out at 4.42. His main issues were commanding his pitches inside the strike zone and dropping his arm angle when he threw his changeup, which led to hitters taking him out of the yard.

When the Rays traded Scott Kazmir mid-season last year, they had high hopes that Price would eventually emerge as their ace in 2010. But heading into the season, the club was still unsure whether or not he could be a true No. 1 because he hadn’t shown the consistency that all great front of the rotation pitchers have.

Until now, that is.

Price still has command issues, but after dominating the Blue Jays for six innings of one-run ball on Wednesday night, it’s clear that he’s starting to put everything together. To date, he’s 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA and has 57 strikeouts. His six home runs allowed are also down a bit from last season and his WHIP is a solid 1.17.

Most importantly, the Rays are currently in first place in the AL East, ahead of the defending World Champion Yankees and the always-contending Red Sox. Price leads Tampa in wins and ERA, which is huge for a club that was desperately in need of someone in the rotation to step up and be the No. 1 guy. It’s still early, but both Price and the Rays are off to fantastic starts in 2010.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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