Evan Longoria is absolutely right.
He's taking some heat for his comments about the attendance at the Tampa Bay Rays' game Monday night against Baltimore.
But he's absolutely right.
And the Rays may be an extreme example, but they are not alone.
And I don't mind hearing the players complain about it.
On Monday night, with a spot in the playoffs available for the clinching, 12,446 showed up at Tropicana Field (look carefully in the picture at the left and you may see a person or two in the stands in the background). On Tuesday night, after Longoria spoke out
(and David Price tweeted, then retracted his tweet), the Rays made 20,000 free tickets available to attempt to fill the dome.
The same night, though, in Atlanta, announced attendance was 26,338 - half-capacity at Turner Field - and way less than that were in the stands after an hour and ten-minute rain delay. But the game was tight - it went 11 innings before the Braves pulled out a huge win over the Marlins as they fought to stay atop the wild card standings.
It's hard for me to understand. If I lived in New York, and the Mets were in contention (I know, if...if...if....), I'd be there every night, if I could. But I couldn't, because there would be no tickets available.
I am watching the Braves and Marlins again Tuesday night as I write this, and it looks like there's a better crowd actually in attendance...though I'm not sure the ticket sales will exceed the 26,000 from the night before. And they're advertising that tickets are still available for a huge weekend season-ending series with the Phillies (!) where clinching a playoff spot will be a possibility.
I don't blame Longoria for speaking out because I'm sure it is embarrassing for a home player to feel unsupported when the playoffs are on the line. Especially when you look at places like Yankee Stadium or Citizens Bank Park and they are filled to the gills as celebrations take place on the field.
I'm jealous that those fans have this opportunity. I root for the Mets, who a couple of weeks ago had no one attending Mets-Pirates games, and were allowing fans in the upper decks of Citi Field to move down to the lowest level. I'm sure the same thing is happening with the Brewers in town this week. I'd love to see what Citi Field is like when there's playoff-caliber baseball happening there.
I'm sure the fans will show up in Atlanta and Tampa when the games are playoff games...just like in the late 1990s/early 2000s in Atlanta and 2 years ago with the Rays. But I also have a suspicion that when there are lean years for those teams, these same fans will say they are not going to the games because winning baseball isn't being played.
That argument would hold more water if the fans showed up when winning baseball is being played.