Mayor Bill Foster told Council members in a memo that Major League Baseball doesn't appear to want to help facilitate any deal between the city and the ball club, or, more ominously, it doesn't seem to care about keeping the team in the 14th biggest television market in the country.
Seizing on these concerns, Tampa radio station 98.7 The Fan has launched a website called SaveTampaBayBaseball.com "to raise awareness that the Rays may be in danger of leaving Tampa Bay," as well as a petition drive to let Major League Baseball know that the Rays belong in Tampa Bay.
The radio station will also host an official "Save Tampa Bay Baseball Rally" from 3-7 p.m. at Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill on Central Avenue before this Thursday evening's game against the division leading Boston Red Sox.
"At 98.7 The Fan, we strongly believe it's in the best interest of the Tampa Bay community to keep Major League Baseball here," said Program Director John O'Connell. "We will support our hometown Rays every way we can, and encourage Rays fans and the Tampa/St. Petersburg community to join us."
With the Rays hosting the always popular Boston franchise for three evenings this week (all scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m.), they might actually draw a few good crowds.
Of course, if the Rays fans really wanted to make a statement to Commissioner Bud Selig and the other wisecracking sports writers who deride them, they might start showing up to actual games. It's always a topic that's avoided when talking about the team and its stadium situation, but it cannot be emphasized enough how poor the home attendance continues to be, especially for a competitive club. It's no doubt allowing Selig and co. to feel emboldened about playing hardball with the team in their negotiations with the city.
Going into this Tuesday's game with the BoSox (and with only 11 more home dates for the year), the Rays are averaging 18,719 per game. That's dead last of the 30 teams in MLB.