I saw the most amazing thing the other day. The Houston Astros, one of the worst teams in baseball, are outdrawing the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the best teams in baseball. And I just can't figure out why.
I thought the purpose of baseball was winning baseball games. Not only do the Rays win baseball games, but they're an entertaining team that features a fantastic starting rotation, a good bullpen, a good manager, two of the game's best players in Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford, and a lineup that has good defense and a good offensive mixture of speed on the base paths and power. Yet they draw less per home game than the Astros.
And as much I can't understand why people aren't going to Rays games, I also just can't understand why it is that people are going to the Astros games. This is a bad team with a poor rotation, a so-so bullpen, and except for Michael Bourn, the team doesn't really have any good young or old everyday players -- I still have some faith in Hunter Pence, though. The team is old. They can't run the bases. They're awful defensively.
The Astros are awful. The Rays are good. But more people are going to Astros games. It just doesn't make sense.
What is that the Astros are doing that the Rays aren't? The Astros play in an amusement park that overwhelms the fans with plastic shaped to look like history, and stupid enticements like choo-choo trains and hills. There's barely any spot in Minute Maid that isn't covered with some kind of advertisement, and it's impossible to hold a conversation because the music is played at "11." The food and drink prices at MMP make hotel room service look reasonable.
I've been to Tropicana Field, the home of the Rays. It's a bit dull. It's a dome. It's gray inside. The seats are plastic. There's no atmosphere. But you can bring in your own food. And you can watch a good baseball team. Baseball games are not supposed to be about loud music or choo-choo trains or hills in centerfield. They're supposed to be about watching baseball.
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I don't have an answer here. I just think it's interesting. And I also think it's a sign of why going to baseball games is becoming a miserable experience for real baseball fans. Because maybe it's not about putting a good product on the field. Or having a young, fun team that actually wins baseball games. Maybe it is, now, all about the stupid things like retractable roofs and trains and hills and flagpoles that are in play and music that is so loud that it's virtually impossible to pay attention to the game, much less to actually enjoy the baseball game.
So what if the Astros suck? It's all about going to the park and sitting inside the Five Seven Grille while watching the game on television. Maybe, just maybe, playing in a fancy ballpark is more important than actually fielding a winning baseball team.
But I would like to think there's a little justice in the world. That the Rays would actually be rewarded for playing fantastic baseball while the Astros are shunned. The season's still early, but the Rays are going to keep playing good baseball and the Astros are going to continue playing bad baseball. So here's hoping that the fans in the Tampa Bay area actually start supporting a team that seems to care about the right things.
And here's hoping that, finally, the people of Houston finally wise up and stop supporting Drayton McLane and that awful product he puts out on the field.