Are You Tarping to Me?

It’s not secret that the MLB attendance is an issue. According to Forbes MLB attendance dropped below 70 million for the first time in 15 years. That is an overall decrease of 4% from 2017, and six teams set new record lows in fans coming through the turnstiles: Baltimore, Chicago (AL), Minnesota, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. I get it these teams were bad, no one wants to go see a losing team.

In retrospect, the Pirates weren’t THAT bad, just fans were unhappy with management. Baltimore finished 61 games back of the Red Sox and were bottom dwellers in the American League, not to mention they traded their star player in Manny Machado. The White Sox didn’t fare much better going 62-100, having no true superstar while also competing with the Cubbies. Minnesota, I’m not sure what their deal was. They finished second in the Central, albeit with a losing record, and I think they were a victim of not having a fun team. Miguel Sano has been a bust, Jorge Polanco was suspended, and Byron Buxton and Max Kepler can only do so much. Miami is just a joke under Jeter; trading way Yelich, Dee Gordon, Mike Stanton, and Ozuna while  they actively shopped JT Realmuto. I’m sorry but Justin Bour isn’t putting asses in seats. Oh, and they traded him during the 2018 deadline anyways. That leaves Cincinnati who was holding onto the shell of what they thought Homer Bailey could be, while praying that aging superstar Joey Votto is still in his prime and that Billy Hamilton could just steal their way to wins.

Baseball has become a losing culture. America’s pastime is no longer what it used to be. Fans are bored by the game, claims it takes too long, and the talent on the depths of some of the teams rosters is just laughable. I’m sorry but holding onto vets to reminisce such as Hunter Pence, Victor Martinez, Chris Davis or rostering Jefry Marte, Lewis Brinson, or Sean Rodriguez doesn’t get fans excited. How do you fix this? You can’t reduce the number of teams. Owners wouldn’t stand for that. You can’t reduce rosters due to player limitations and them not wanting to get hurt. You can’t just magically whip up a ton of new, good players.

Well, Tampa Bay thinks they have the answer.  They are going to tarp off their 300 level seats and reduce the seating capacity to 25,000. The Rays are calling this a move to become more intimate, but let’s call it for what it is. It’s a way to not have the stadium look so empty. Tampa Bay was second to last in attendance, averaging roughly 14,000 a game. Last was Miami, maybe Flordia just hates baseball? Maybe they just aren’t putting out a product. The Rays traded away Evan Longoria, traded Corey Dickerson, Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Archer to the Pirates, and also shipped out Jake Odorizzi, Steve Souza Jr,  Brad Miller, and Denard Span (who they get in the Longoria deal), and Wilson Ramos. Rays also lost Steve Cishek, Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, and Logan Morrison to free agency. That is literally almost their entire roster gone over one season. Oh and who did they bring in? Carlos FREAKING Gomez who has absolutely stunk since he left Milwaukee.

Sure, they are rebuilding, bringing in some coveted prospects and signing Charlie Morton this off season and traded for Mike Zunino, but they also let Sergio Romo walk in free agency and have traded away Jake Bauers. I’m not sure what product Tampa is putting out there. Throwing Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Mike Zunino, and Matt Duffy on the diamond isn’t going to get me excited.

MLB teams need to put out a product on the field to be successful. Teams are no longer self sufficient and baseball is dying. There needs to be a salary cap. New York and Boston and LA Dodgers can no longer just hog all of the players. The playing field needs to be even. They won’t get one though. Pittsburgh and Kansas City pride themselves on being small market teams. The heavy hitters won’t agree to limit their payroll. Players want as much money as possible. No one will agree and unless Rob Manfred holds people at gunpoint to sign a deal, it won’t happen. MLB teams need to stop being greedy or we are going to turn into the NBA where the same teams make the final ever year. It will ruin the product and interest will fall even more drastically than it is now.

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