Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why I Stopped Attending Tampa Bay Rays Games

After reading about Evan Longoria and David Price whining and complaining about attendance at Rays games, I decided to write all this down and post it here on my blog. Not one word is invention nor exaggeration.

I moved to Florida in October 2003, and to St Petersburg in November 2004. I went to three or four Rays' games in 2006, and following the bush league manner in which I was treated by Rays management in August 2006 I swore never to attend another game. I have not. From my perspective, the management of the organization is a comedy of errors acted out by a cast of boneheads and bozos.

In 2006 my friend and neighbor bought a single season ticket for the Rays. She had some extra Red Sox tickets she had previously purchased, and treated me and few other of her friends to some random games throughout the season. Then in August she came to me and another neighbor and invited us to that evening’s Rays' game. She explained that the Rays management had invited her to a ‘wine and dine’ in a luxury box to try and get her to commit to season tickets for 2007. She told us not to eat, because they had promised her food and drinks aplenty would be provided.

When we arrived we were brought to an obstructed view box deep in the right field side line. It was like watching the game through an oversized slit. We couldn’t see much—fly balls would appear for a moment on the way up, and then again for a moment on the way down before disappearing back onto the field, most of which we couldn’t see.

There was no food and no drink. After two innings, realizing the screw up, a Rays rep explained to us that it was just that, a screw up. He apologized, then said, and I quote: “I think there are some diet cokes in the fridge in the corner.” There weren’t, just a single bottle of water, which he handed to us. About the fourth inning he came and brought us to a better vantage to watch the rest of the game—actually, to be able to see the game. It was, well, utterly absurd, and a golden opportunity squandered by the moron Rays rep. It would have taken so precious little to wow us--were I the rep I would have been able to do it for about two dollars--but instead we left the building muttering about morons and badmouthing the Rays.

And if management in some way thinks I’m making this up, go ahead and check your records. Her name was Terry, she was a huge Red Sox fan from New Hampshire, and her seat was near the third base dugout, directly behind Dick Vitale’s seats. I haven't seen her in a couple years, and for all I know she may still be sitting there.

But the amateur shitshow continues.

In 2008 I worked for a restaurant that had gotten permission from the Rays to give out coupons at Spring training games. So one day my coworker and I went and did just that. We were only allowed to hand out coupons outside the stadium, and only between innings. Fair enough, and we fully respected that. It was about the seventh inning of a blowout, and we asked if we could go in and watch a couple batters while waiting to hand out coupons. At first the security woman we asked was boggled by the request then she simply freaked out. She got on the radio with more security, they called around to more security and fifteen minutes later—after we had told her not to bother, and we were sorry to have asked—she informed us that we could go to the top of the tunnel and watch, but no further. You’d think we had asked to go on the field and solicit autographs while the game was in progress. Again, just freaking ridiculous. And another squandered opportunity to give my coworker and I a taste of the product and make us fans.

A month later I happened to turn on my radio just as a Rays game was beginning. The announcers, whose names I forget, began EATING DOUGHNUTS the very moment the broadcast began. 'Mmf, mf…somemfone…brought us a box…mfmf…of doughmfmfnuts. mmf..delmmflicious....pflitchim tomay fo da Ways...' It was beyond amateur. Have you ever heard someone eating while talking on the radio? It's not just unprofessional, it's disgusting. And I could not believe what I was hearing. They had all morning to stuff as many omelets and doughnuts down their gullets as they desired, but they waited till the moment the microphones were turned on to start munching. I was turned off, and did turn it off and haven’t listened again. I kid you not.

Word on the street is unanimous—the cowbells are HORRIBLE. Worst idea ever. The New Coke of event attendance. I’ve heard fans talk about them, and no one has ever said anything remotely approving. The perception is that they're still in the stands to this day, and if you think someone wants to drop a hundred bucks on parking, tickets and overpriced weenies and beer only to run the risk of getting stuck next to some drunken yahoo screaming and whacking a bell in their ear for three hours, well, that’s Rays management for you. Trust me, that godawful idea has cost you untold ticket sales.

Even today, I went on to the official Rays website and sent them a note through their contact form. (If you didn't get it, well, that's the Rays.) I said that if they emailed me I’d be happy to tell them why I refuse to go to games. Here’s a page of Web Design 101. You DO NOT default your website to start playing music or making any sound the moment someone clicks on it. It's obnoxious and annoying. Most people are listening to radio or music or watching television while browsing the internet, as was I this afternoon. So, after clicking to the Rays official website and being bombarded by an online replay of some Rays game that conflicted with what I was already listening to, I had to immediately click off the site, turn down my speakers, then go back and search for the very tiny ‘Contact Us’ button hidden at the bottom. What an annoyance. And as of now, about seven hours later,(well, now it's over two days) no one from the Rays has responded to my offer to tell them why some people don’t go to their games, which is further testimony to the incompetence of Rays’ management.

If you’re hiring, send me an email. I’ll come in for an interview. I've worked in pr and service all my life. You are bumbling a potentially lucrative business. Even I could have gotten 12,000 fans in to see the possible division clinching game last night. But you wouldn't even consider me, because you’re the Rays.

An exchange might go something like this:

PR Expert: "Hey Tampa Rays, you should listen to this guy Bob and put him on payroll. He has years of experience and wisdom in dealing with and pleasing the public, and any salary you might pay him would yield ten, twenty, fifty or a hundredfold in increased revenue."

TB Rays: "Yeah, right. In case you haven't seen our ticket sales, it's pretty obvious that we know what we're doing. Thanks anyway."

We know, it's not management. It's the outdated stadium, and the parking, and the neighborhood, and the local apathy, and the economy, and every other excuse under the sun. Not anything to do with management. Except, if the inhospitable ways I was treated are extrapolated to Rays' employee interactions with other locals over the years, then 12,000 attendance the other night really should come as no surprise. Hold it in the light--you are a JOKE.

And if you go to another city, as is speculated, and take this team—-this MANAGEMENT team with you--you won’t be leaving the problem behind, you’ll be bringing it along. Because you’re the Rays management team...the inept, incompetent, bumbling Rays management team.

Now get out there and vote for the criminal Rick Scott and the ultra right wingnut teabag sucking Rubio and the rest of the Republican ticket so they and their felonious cronies in congress can hammer the Republican wrecking ball on the economy a few more times, and outsource a few hundred thousand more jobs, and in the coming years nobody will have a nickel of disposable income to waste on your silly baseball team.

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